Safe space for spontaneity: part 2
Yesterday I suggested that we need more blanket forts. (I still believe this to be true). I also argued that Columbia needs more spontaneous fun and student interactions, especially those outside of formally organized situations. I lamented the lack “safe spaces” for spontaneity, and concluded by suggesting that because so many student spaces have to be reserved by student groups, the spontaneous connections that are so vital to healthy community are in fact often inhibited. This brings me to my argument here in part two: that the (wonderful!) plethora of student groups sometimes contributes to the culture of isolation on campus.
In order to use space, you often have to reserve it, and in order to reserve space, you must be affiliated with a recognized student group. This policy affects buildings across campus, from Earl Hall to Lerner. And this is a phenomenal problem. It severely limits and even at times prohibits the opportunities for spontaneous social interaction between students outside of formal student groups.
Don’t get me wrong—student groups are rock stars for our campus. The heart of our campus and it’s vibrancy can be found in the passion and vast array of our clubs and extracurriculars, and these groups are often the best ways for Columbian’s to find community on campus.
But for many of us, our attempts to find community by joining student groups sometimes works at the expense of the community at large, as we partition the student body off into isolated spheres, and our interactions become wholly separated and dictated by organized clubs and activities.
If the only interactions we have are through student groups and organized events, our community actually suffers in the long run.
We need more organic, spontaneous interactions across campus. Juniors and Seniors may remember the Great Snowball Fight Of December 2009, an example of one of my fondest Columbia experiences. Well, we need more of that.
We need more unorganized, non-student-group-affiliated interactions and fun-faring, like impromptu dance parties on college walk, pop-up jam sessions between strangers, and tandem-sled rides down the snowy steps of Low late at night on a cafeteria tray with a complete stranger (true story).
We need to step outside of the student group structure more often to initiate student interactions on campus. We need more spontaneous use of spaces, and more spontaneous interactions between students, especially outside of organized student groups. And we need more blanket forts.
There is a lot on our campus that is limited: our time, our space, our friend circles, our perspectives—let’s maximize the potential of the space and time we’ve got for the benefit of a whole community.
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