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Stereotyping peers decreases ability to expand social circles

As the semester turns from orange to red on the responsibility scale, students are running instead of walking to 8 a.m. classes, outfits are seeming more and more to resemble sweatpants, and the chronic exhaustion is increasing the cracks in students’ composure. One area that this can be seen is in our everyday behavior and social interactions.

It is not new to anyone that Concordia is known and loved for its extensive social network and strong bonds in the campus community. One of the huge drawbacks to having such an extensive social network is the slime that grows in the petri dish of our social structure when we are all living in close quarters.

As most Cobbers know but do not easily admit, the business side of campus and music and art side of campus do not mix. That is not to say that there are not students who participate in both, or that students who go in between social circles or have jobs that allow for the divide to be closed are not out there. But more often than not, observation of our social structure exhibits a tolerated segregation, rather than students going out of their way to intermix.

On top of this social divide, small social actions further isolate students within their own segregated communities. A big example of this is in labels and branding. In college, everyone starts with a clean slate or the possibility of reinvention.

Or do they?

Because many Cobbers come from local Fargo or Moorhead schools, or simply took advantage of high school opportunities and got to know the community before becoming freshmen, there is a large part of the student body that brings their reputation to college alongside their futon and microwave. In this regard, it is likely that alongside their reputation they brought the high school habits associated with these people and in turn, these negative habits seep into our campus much easier.  

Many students excuse their actions of spreading misinformation and branding their peers through gossip by writing it off as an issue that pertains to the size of our campus. To a degree, yes, information travels faster in smaller environments, but we students are the ones giving steam to these assumptions and allowing for them to pass on to others and exaggerate with each story spread. Examples of this range anywhere from personal conversations to misinterpreted actions during the weekend festivities to downright gossip about other students. These create stories that students have trouble correcting or avoiding. As Cobbers, we signed up for a supportive community network, but the environment that keeps putting students in the wrong light or allowing for extreme rumors is irresponsible of our student body.

As more elements centered around diversity are plastered in our headlines, the Concordia bubble should be reversing the misconceptions and assumptions that boil down complex people into labels and aggressive stereotypes. If students are more aware of what they say before they spread it to others, it will not only reverse isolation on campus, but it will also allow for us to truly integrate and get to know more of our fellow Cobbers. This is a goal of most students, as one of the biggest complaints about Concordia is how tiny and stifling it can feel at times. This complaint can be solved when judgment of those around us does not separate us from half of our already intimate class sizes. This hostile reaction to students who have more in common than they do different with you is preventing you from having more friends than just those within your living proximity. It is easy to interact with what we know and not branch out to others around us, especially when we hear false statements about their character, but it is paramount that at Concordia we prevent high school tendencies from seeping into our college life and truly open ourselves to those around us and what they have to offer.

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