Features: Fitting in and standing out

In high school the hallways were full of cliques – jocks on one side, theater people on the other. Whether labeled a nerd or a snob, many can relate to an identity associated with a certain group. At GW, many students say the groups have not left the forefront of the social world.

Freshman Jason Leblang said he believes GW has many cliques. He defined the groups as people who hang out with each other and exclude those who do not belong.

“People are nice here, but they wouldn’t necessarily let you into their clique,” Leblang said.

He said forming a small circle of friends is a natural social tendency, which can occur anywhere from high school to college and even beyond.

Sophomore Gabrielle Gotta, a member of the women’s crew team, said she recognizes people may consider sports teams cliquey.

“GW is cliquey, but who cares because everyone finds their own group of friends,” Grotta said “Once you have that, it shouldn’t matter.”

Students said it is natural for people sharing the same interests and time commitment to be friends. Therefore, many groups appear to the outside world as cliques.

But cliquey does not involve only close friends. It implies an element of exclusivity.

Sophomore Megan Robertson said she often thinks people with the same ethnic and religious backgrounds tend to hang out together.

“I think that at a school as large as GW, people tend to stick with people who are similar to them,” Robertson said.

Sophomore Seth Milchman said GW perpetuates the small-group atmosphere. He said GW does not offer enough school spirit activities that bring students together.

“Midnight Madness was one of the few events that united all GW students,” Milchman said. “If people came together more often, groups would be less divided.”

Milchman said becoming involved in campus activities brings some students together while also closing them off from other parts of the student body.

“If you’re not in an organized club or group, it basically impossible to meet people with similar interests,” Milchman said. “If your friends are in fraternities or sororities, you can assume you are not going to hang out with them as much as you used to.”

Sophomore sorority member Michelle Strikowsky disagreed. She said groups at GW are far from fitting the normal definition of a clique.

“People are definitely in their own groups,” Strikowsky said. “That is because they go where they feel comfortable. The only thing holding someone back from meeting people is themselves.”

Location can play a factor in how open social settings are.

According to freshman Lisa Fineberg, the Mount Vernon Campus is generally a more friendly atmosphere than Foggy Bottom.

“We know each other’s faces and are acquainted with most everyone,” Fineberg said.

She said Foggy Bottom, where she spends most of her time during the week, is a less intimate setting. But she still would not consider the main campus a cliquey atmosphere.

“From what I’ve experienced, everyone I have meet has been open socially,” Fineberg said.

Opinions vary across campus over what crosses the line between a group of friends sharing common interests and a clique.

Freshman Alex Otwell’s defined a clique as “just a group of people with similar interests who hang out together.”

Otwell said he feels although every college campus is cliquey to some extent, GW seems more so than others.

He offered a solution to the small groups: “Members of cliques should branch out and invite more people in and those who feel excluded should not be intimated by these exclusive groups.”

Even if students say GW is cliquey, junior Stephanie Downey said, opportunities exist to get around it.

“There are so many opportunities and so many ways to make friends that it is all up to the individual,” Downey said. “If you don’t look down on other people, they will respect you and groups of friends can coexist.”

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