Student comments on nature of social sub-groups on campus, visible effects

Connor Burke March 25, 2015 0

“But what we found out that each one of us is a brain, and an athlete, and a basket case, a princess, and a criminal. Does that answer your question?”

With those words, the classic 1985 film “The Breakfast Club” came to a close, and teenagers everywhere learned a little more about social sub-groups, whether it was one they were a part of or ones that they observed from the outside. Those social sub-groups were prominent in a lot of high schools 30 years ago and even today. But do these sub-groups exist in college, specifically at Elizabethtown College?

After asking a few students, the phrase “social sub-groups” became synonymous with “cliques”, and many believe that these groups are still around, and still prominent even in a college setting. The examples of sub-groups that exist on campus were varied, with interviewees naming practically every major on campus from business to occupational therapy.

The most popular answers when asked which sub-groups were the most prominent on campus were mainly sports teams, such as lacrosse and baseball.

Sophomore Michaela Fetterolf explains, “The lax (lacrosse) and baseball guys are always eating together and constantly around each other. I think they’ve got the biggest presence on campus.”

Along with the sports teams, one other group was constantly mentioned as a prominent sub group; the music department. Fetterolf continues, “You do see the music students together a lot. Like, it’s not like they’re an exclusive group. I’m friends with a lot of them, but they spend so much time together in classes and stuff so it makes sense that they’re really close.”

The amount of time that the students spend together does seem to make social sub-groups come into being, even if it is an accident.

Within the Theatre and Dance Division of the Department of Fine and Performing Arts, while that is a sub-group on its own, there are sub-sub-groups with the casts of each production because of all the rehearsal time they spend together. Their shared experiences make them closer.

Shared experiences are what create these sub-groups, whether it is as small as a group of people being involved in the same club and being friends outside of the club’s meetings or as large as an entire department.

“It’s all where you stand in being in or out of the group, you know?” Junior Luke Smith said when talking about which group was the most prominent on campus. “If you’re a part of the group it probably doesn’t seem like that big of a deal to you, it’s just you hanging out with your friends. But if you’re outside of a prominent group, you seem to notice them all the time because you’re not there.” Whether or not a group is “prominent” is circumstantial, according to Smith.

These social sub-groups, whether they are prominent or not, don’t seem to affect campus life very much.

While it is true that a lot of these groups sit together at meals, especially the sports teams, there has never really been a “you’re not part of our group so you can’t sit with us” instance, at least as far as I’ve seen.

Campus life goes on as usual with these groups, with friends talking to each other and trying to reach out and form new friends, even if they aren’t all in the same sub-group.

Overall, while it’s true that these sub-groups do exist, it’s not like they are ironclad deals in which the members of one can’t talk to members of a different one.

Just like the ending of “The Breakfast Club”, in real life people become friends whether or not they’re in the same sub-group. They become friends just because they like each other’s personalities.

These sub-groups do exist and will continue to exist in college, and even after graduation in “the real world” there will be sub-groups. But these groups are not negative and don’t affect life in general.


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