Welcome to Manhattanville High

LAURA ELEBESUNU

I see it. You see it. It can’t be denied–we’re a very clique-y school. There’s nothing wrong with having a close knit group of friends, team- mates and coworkers. Being drawn to certain people is natural and so is bonding over shared interests, cultures and jobs. Hanging out regularly with the same people you feel a connection with, especially in college, is inevitable.

It’s not just a Manhattanville thing; it’s everywhere. From stereotypes in books, television shows, and movies, to the halls of just about any high school, the division be- tween people can be clearly seen. It has become normalized and some might go as far as to say it’s expected. Just because we’ve gotten used to the way things are does not mean it is accept- able. I’m not the only one who thinks so. I asked several members of the Manhattanville community for their thoughts on the presence of cliques on campus. Here’s what they had to say:

“The athletes always hang out with their own teams. Sure, a few are friendly with non-athletes, but as a whole they never socialize with anyone apart from themselves.”

“I feel like everyone says there are cliques on campus, which there are, but not that many people make an effort to dissolve them.”

“I’ve heard so many people say, ‘internationals only hang out with each other,’ but those same people don’t make any effort to hang out with us. They expect international students to want to hang out with them, when it’s already difficult to be in a completely different country, with different slang, customs, and laws to get used to.”

“Cliques are simply a high- school habit that people are not letting go of. It’s the opposite of networking.”

“I think this campus is very much so full of cliques–artsy people, athletes, etc. You’re either within one of those circles or not. If not, it seems like you’re kind of forced to become a part of one. And there are even cliques within cliques.”

No one’s saying that people shouldn’t spend time together–no one should ever dictate who someone else associates themselves with. The critical issue lies in the inherent exclusivity of these cliques. There is a noticeable difference in how people are treated when they clearly are not a member of a specific group. Aside from a temporary result of the petty disputes and silly drama that life on a college campus brings, there should be no reason to blatantly ignore others or treat them disrespectfully.

You don’t have to wave to everyone. You don’t have to speak to everyone. You don’t have to befriend everyone.

I have no intention of pitting insert-group-here against insert-another-group-here. I’m simply drawing attention to an issue that has been of concern for some individuals on campus. If that doesn’t include you, maybe you feel the same as another person I approached:

“The only people necessarily affected [by cliques] are people who revolve their lives around the Manhattanville community. The average person who has a life outside of Manhattanville is unbothered. Once you disconnect yourself and explore the world, social problems here won’t matter.”

They bring up very valid points. This campus is tiny and while it may be full of a variety of people, we’re right near a multicultural mecca of people. Definitely take advantage of the fact that we have the ability to influence (even the smallest bit) so many people’s lives without a single word. However you feel, let’s all try to be more conscious of our interactions with others. If you’re not already cognizant of this fact, please remember that we live in a wild world–a little act of kindness is very much appreciated.

During our time as students and members of the Manhattanville community, we should strive to take advantage, in every way possible, of the opportunities this college has to o er, from academia to the diverse community of students and staff. The only way to do so is to challenge ourselves–every single one of us–to reach outside of our cliques, our social groups, our squads, our niches, to talk to that classmate you’ve never seen before, to say hello to someone that you always see around campus but never talk to. When is the last time you’ve sat with someone new at lunch?

Dissolving cliques starts with me, and it starts with you, and in the long run, it’s worth it. We will learn so much more about ourselves and the world around us when we break down the barriers that cliques build around us. We will never know what the world has to o er unless we ask and communicate with the various kinds of people we will be meeting along the way.

Network with new people. Find new friends. Bond over that really tough homework assignment that everyone is worried about. We can all take steps to make this student body one of a beautifully diverse, inclusive, and flourishing community. But first, it starts with me and you.