500 Words At A Time: Community

This may seem odd or wrong to the people who attend or work at Ferris, but remember this is from my perspective. At other colleges that I have attended or stayed at for long periods of time, there is a sense of community, some might say school spirit, that permeates the campus; you know you are on X campus part of X community. Here, that sense is missing, at least for me.

I can find various posters and flyers for groups and such, but they are not in one central location and plastered all over the campus. The groups tend to be small groups, RSO’s (Resident Student Organization), around a single topic or course or interest. From what I have seen, most live and die based on the person who founded the group and when they leave most die off. There are some larger, school organized groups, but even they have membership issues and problems finding people to do things.

Its weird to me. As an example, I am a gamer. I was hoping to find a gaming group or gaming organization to join to play games with, it was not until the third year here, that a gaming group formed. Except that is not a school sanctioned organization (RSO), but some people who initially invited people to game at their house and once the group grew large enough to game at the local barslashbowlin alley. I’m glad that there is a gaming group, but this is the first college campus without an “official” one.

There are other examples, but they follow the same pattern of a feeling of a lack of community, maybe even school spirit here. Now, if you are wondering if this is a big deal to me, it is not. I really do not care if there is community here as I tend to come in do my thing and leave. However, the lack of community stands out to me, which is interesting.

As lacking in community as the campus has to me, family housing is worse, in every way except one. Family housing has been an interesting experience. Because family housing is at the far end of the campus it has always gotten everything last (that is changing of late-I like to think my blogs have something to do with it :)); notifications, snow removal, lawn care, and so on. The continual, yearly new manager has not helped form a community. I understand that residents come and go, but having a manager, instead of a new manager each year, would give family housing a sense of stability that it lacks.

A regular manager who was not a student could take the time to introduce themselves to the new residents, such as giving them some information about the town or about campus. We had to learn about Big Rapids via exploration and from other students. Had the manager stayed long enough to answer some of our questions and given us some basic information that would have gone a long way to making us/new residents feel welcome. Instead we got, like I have seen many other residents, the five to ten minute, “here is your paperwork” introduction.

If you were wondering what the exception to the community is it is the Arabic students. I have watched for five years people and families move in and out. With only a few exceptions, families move in with one or two assistants who leave as soon the moving is finished. They are not greeted by people who already live here. They do not receive assistance from other people living here when they move out. Nor do they have a support network from day one. The Arabic students do and it is totally fascinating to me.

I have not seen an Arabic student move by themselves. Typically, two or more students who have been here for at least a semester help them move in. During the semester, there is one or two vehicles that picks up and drops off students for classes and shopping trips. They gather together for dinners and outside for conversation, I know should not be “something, but here nobody else does that. Nobody. An Arabic student moving out is a sight to behold. First there is a dinner where each person or group brings a dish. Then as they are leaving each person or group leaves with something from the house. Lastly, the men work together to move the student out. Amazing, I wish this was something that happened for every student in family housing, but as I said before there is a lack of community here, at least from my point of view.



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