Unity amid Diversity: A Closer Look at Community Building at Hillsdale College
Written by Jared Eckert
It’s no secret that there are a lot of student clubs and extracurricular activities here at Hillsdale College. From the first day freshmen set foot on campus, they are flooded with ways to get involved in politics, journalism, academics, intramural sports, or even sci-fi and fantasy movies on campus.Yet despite our variety of interests, Hillsdale’s campus has a thriving culture of community amongst its student body as a whole. In fact, even campus newcomers—prospective students, freshmen, or donors—find that the College community is warm and welcoming.
What makes us good at bridging gaps between student groups with diverse interests? How do we create and sustain a campus atmosphere where community thrives as a whole? Here are some ways we maintain that small-school sense of community.
Dinner Conversations & Mixers: Any member of Student Activities Board, Greek life, or Christian fellowship will be the first to confirm that all community, if it is to be authentic, begins organically. That is, the best friendships arise simply from shared interests and conversations, oftentimes over the dinner table. Think about it. Almost all of us have made friends over lunch or dinner in the Knorr Family Dining Room. Whether these conversations are academically, religiously, or topically oriented, organized or spontaneous, they draw us together into one overarching community. In these moments we bear ourselves to others, and others bear themselves to us. These bonding conversations extend beyond the dinner table and the classroom to any student activity: on-campus mixers, athletic events, concerts, and more.
SAB Events: At any given SAB event (take last month’s President’s Ball, for example), up to one-thousand-plus students—more than 70 percent of the student body—can be expected to attend. With such a high campus attendance rate, these events provide an opportunity for students from various groups to connect with one another. Students at SAB events have the chance to broaden their social horizons by participating in the same crafts and activities or simply jammin’ out on the same dance floor with peers of all backgrounds.
Hillsdale College Christian Fellowship: On-campus fellowships provide another opportunity for Christian-oriented students to cultivate community. In groups like InterVarsity, Equip, Catholic Society, or Lutheran Society, students come together with one mutual interest: faith-based growth. These students come from different majors, Greek houses, sports teams, and more to break bread together.
GOAL Program Volunteering: We love how much our small school cares about its small hometown. The selfless hearts of our students enhance the greater Hillsdale community, and our campus community benefits through friendships formed around service. The GOAL Program has a number of different volunteer organizations in which many students get involved. You might meet your best friends by serving on the same A Few Good Men crew, Young Life team, or other volunteer group. Volunteering in elementary school classes at local schools or bowling with special needs community members allows students to make friendships beyond the college classroom and campus, too.
These are just a few opportunities for our wide variety of students to form a thriving, unified community here on campus. No matter how different our academic or extracurricular interests, there will always be some things that bring all Chargers together.
Jared Eckert, ’17, is the Promotions Officer for the Student Activities Board.