Socializing at a small school

Six tips for navigating Hamline’s bizarre and treacherous social straits

Will Nelson, Senior Columnist

Even after two years here, socializing at Hamline still feels like walking the surface of one of Jupiter’s moons to me. 

With it’s ever-shifting cliques, stark athlete/non-athlete dichotomy, fantastical rumor mill and saga-like melodramas, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what makes the social scene at Hamline feel so strange– but there’s no doubt that it can be difficult to navigate, especially for first-years. 

Heightening this problem is Covid, which has prevented a large percentage of ‘socializing’ from occurring at all, leaving many students feeling isolated and in the dark. 

Though I feel  underqualified to do so, I thought I’d write a list of tips that could be helpful to underclassmen, who might feel lost and confused. This is by no means an exhaustive list; just a few things that I’ve found to be beneficial in my limited experience.

  1. Be aware of how your background and identity are affecting an environment.

Every space you enter– be it a classroom, dorm room, dining hall or party– you bring with you a specific presence that you must be cognizant of. Race, ethnicity, ability, gender, sexuality and religion all help to make up your identity. If your identity affords you some form of privilege, that fact should never stray far from your mind. Also remember that the only person with a responsibility to educate you on how this privilege should affect your behavior is you.

  1. Don’t spread rumors, it’s a small school.

At Hamline, word spreads like COVID-19 at a frat party. Be careful what you say, and be careful who you say it to, especially if kindness is something you value. Besides, it’s bad karma.

  1. If you have bad friends, let them go

There is a vast multitude of good people at Hamline, and no need to waste your time with the bad ones. If you find out your friends are toxic– or even just not socially compatible with you– find new ones. You don’t owe them anything.

  1. Know when to listen and when to stand up

This one ties back to tip number one. Given your identity, there are times when it’s appropriate to speak out about your experience, and times when you should listen to others and amplify their voices. There’s nothing more obnoxious than a guy mansplaining feminism to a group of people who have been experiencing misogyny their whole lives. Sometimes it’s best to sit quietly and pay attention.

  1. Connect yourself with well-connected people

Whether or not you befriend well-connected people can make or break your success at Hamline. They have the ability to set you up with resources that will ensure you come out of your college experience a well-rounded and capable adult. By ‘well-connected people’ I don’t just mean professors– chat with the dining hall workers and the cleaning staff. It’s good to have friends. There are also students who are particularly influential around campus. Look to org leaders and HUSC reps. You’d be surprised at the places it’ll get you.

  1. Don’t exaggerate normal things for the sake of drama

Hamline University is the most sexually repressed community I’ve ever been part of (more on this in a later column). I believe that a big part of this is because, since we’re on such a small campus, things get pretty quiet and students have the tendency to grasp onto regular occurrences like sex and oversensationalize them. Because of this, the community has an inflated perception of the significance of situations like this, and students are hyper-cautious to enter into them. While sex can be incredibly emotionally significant and shouldn’t always be taken lightly, it doesn’t have to be this way for everyone.

  1. Lean into your individuality

Due to the smallness of this school, it can be terribly easy to find yourself slipping into a certain ‘genre’ of student– liking the same things your friends like, dressing a certain way, following behavior and linguistic patterns… While it’s perfectly ok to enjoy the same things as others, it should never be done in a way that makes you feel ingenuine. No matter who you are, I guarantee you’re tenfold more unique than you think you are. You only have four years here, get weird with it.

I believe that these tips will not only lead to a more fulfilling and enjoyable social life at Hamline, but also promote a more tolerant, pleasant, and welcoming community for all.