Benjamin Krimmel: Erasing the lines between social groups

During a pregame last weekend, a girl asked me which fraternity I am in. When I told her I wasn’t in a fraternity, she tilted her head to the side and said, “Oh. So you’re a GDI?”

And then she walked away.

I was perplexed that our conversation ended with my nod in the affirmative, but it got me thinking about a discussion in my philosophy class about Jean-Paul Sartre and how one creates both his identity and his life’s meaning through his choices. I wondered how, with that one question, the girl thought she knew enough about me to walk away.

Now, her behavior doesn’t speak for the majority of people I have met in the Greek community, but that quick judgment does represent a problem I’ve seen across GW: the lack of overlapping social circles and a reliance on labels to govern social interactions.

Everybody forms social circles – from the people in your hall freshman year to members of student organizations. There is nothing wrong with this, but the identities formed in these groups makes overlap difficult. With limited inter-group engagement, this is a less unified campus.

No wonder students at this school so often feel disconnected.

Right now, each group on campus is operating as an independent Venn diagram, and these differing circles don’t have much overlap.

Having a degree of anonymity at GW is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing when something embarrassing you do while partying goes unnoticed, but it’s a curse when you walk into a friend’s room for a pregame and you have the same conversation with the same people all night.

The reliance on small groups can be solved by opening up social circles. Rather than always attempting to “make GW smaller” through these restrictive, label-driven allegiances, there should be greater macro-allegiance to the community as a whole.

GW students are too often driven to associate strongly with a student organization in order to feel a sense of unity on campus. But whole-campus cohesion is what we need now. By relying on smaller groups, students are cutting themselves off from fellow students and writing people off before they even meet them.

Labels shouldn’t determine groups; they should serve as welcome signs for others. Student organizations shouldn’t drive sharp wedges between others; they should allow others to blend with them.

Benjamin Krimmel, a sophomore majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet columnist.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.