Are We Basic?

By Branwyn Wilkinson

Opinion Contributor

Spring Break, despite the nice weather implied by the name, has been long upheld as the perfect opportunity to get away to some place sunny in the middle of what are still winter months in upstate New York. When you can’t afford to travel far,Spring Break becomes the perfect opportunity to visit and catch up with high school friends.  Since every school’s Spring Break seems to fall a little differently, it can be a great opportunity to visit friends at their own colleges and get a change of scenery.

Over my break, I did just that. Two of my best friends attend Rochester Institute of Technology, a mid-sized tech school. This was the first time I spent a significant amount of time hanging out with college students who don’t attend Canisius. And I noticed something.

The students at RIT are very different than us Griffins, but they’re also different than one another in a way that Canisius students just aren’t. There were many kinds of people at RIT and a number of distinct social groups. There were tech heads, of course. But there were also artists, hipsters and people I can only describe as punk.

I was able to pick up on all of this just by walking around campus with my friends for 20 minutes. It got me to worrying that I had chosen a “basic” college, in which everyone conforms to some unwritten social code.

We embrace diversity here at Canisius, and students aren’t afraid to express their individuality. At the same time, though, there aren’t many students who stand out as completely unique. We all kind of resemble each other in one way or another. Plus, we don’t have social groups here. We all have our core friend groups, but we also all have the potential to be friends with pretty much everyone else as well.

We don’t seek out specific kinds of people to hang out with, because, at a small college like Canisius, there just aren’t enough of those people to form a social group. The only social group here is Canisius Student.

This isn’t a bad thing, however. College isn’t like middle and high school when conforming with a social group or “clique” often means compromising one’s values. In college, one doesn’t have to find a way to fit in to survive. Because, unlike middle and high school, we all chose to be here.

Something about the atmosphere here at Canisius appealed to each of us. We chose this school because, even before we enrolled here, something about it struck us as a place where we could make friends, grow into the people we wanted to be, and thrive.

So what if we all start to blend together after awhile? It’s not because we’re compromising who we really are, because Caninius already harmonizes with how we view ourselves and who we want to be. It’s because we’ve chosen to assimilate with a community we feel strongly connected to.

We do the same thing here that the students at RIT and other mid to large sized schools do. We fulfill the basic human need for affiliation. It looks a little different at a smaller school though, because there aren’t enough other students for one to be specific about who they affiliate with.

We aren’t basic. We just chose how we wanted to affiliate long before we ever started classes at Canisius. For the most part, we knew what we were getting into.

We all made the choice for ourselves to enter this liberal community with Catholic roots where science and humanities nerds live side by side. Where we show our school spirit loud and proud, even if it’s silly sometimes, and where we all live in fear of “Snowvember.” And hey, if we didn’t love it here, we’d leave.



  1. how exactly are we basic???? we have those same cliques you described. And those cliques do in fact exist. The hipsters, the prepsters, the hip hoppers, the very few skaters, etc all exist at canisius.

    Those cliques without a doubt exist, it’s just that the school is so small that the cliques are able to seamlessly mesh together (most of the time). In larger schools, students don’t tend to associate with each other, and even less association with someone who doesn’t fall into the same clique (having the same clique is an easy way to identify and relate to a stranger).

    At Canisus, our small classes support and encourage talk, even between people of different cliques. The cliques aren’t all frilly nilly all the time either. You can see the confused glances at “strange” hipsters, or hear sneering of who is “still wearing boat shoes.”

    TL;DR I don’t agree with your stance that we are “basic.” Perhaps you could explain your reasoning?

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