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American University

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What are the most popular student activities/groups?

There are so many groups on campus! I'm not really sure what the most popular are because of that, but the a capella groups are much-loved, and there is a club devoted to almost every cause or cultural background. I have a friend whose life centers around the swing dance club, one who has devoted herself to the Latino-American Student Organization, one who edits the school yearbook, and one who secretly loves the AU Gamer Society. Some of the more visible groups are the AU Democrats, Women's Initiative, Queers and Allies, student government, etc. The Mission Improvable improv troupe usually performs to huge and enthusiastic crowds! There's a great fair on the quad every semester where the on-campus clubs advertise themselves, hand out fliers, and give out freebies. I've acted in plays with the AU Players and the AU Rude Mechanicals, and while audiences aren't usually huge, they tend to be enthusiastic, and most people express an interest in student theatre. The DPA (Department of Performing Arts) shows often sell out, and get quite a lot of attention. Most of the actors in student-run theatre shows aren't even theatre majors, but are very talented and dedicated. I've only been to one sporting event-- a basketball game--on campus because they usually conflict with other activities, but I know that the Blue Crew has quite a presence-- that's a group of students that wear blue body paint and blue spirit t-shirts and create a huge, happy riot at the games. Free pizza, Coke, and smoothies are often given out at these, and I've heard a lot of enthusiastic comments. Sports aren't a massive draw at AU, but there are always devoted followers. I don't drink and rarely go to parties, but I'm never at a loss for things to do. There are often performances on campus on weekend nights, and the Student Union Board shows movies in the Tavern on campus at least once a month-- this year, they showed Thor, Bridesmaids, The Princess Bride, the Rocky Horror Picture Show, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Contagion, and a few others. All got pretty good turn-out. They hold other events there, too, like gaming tournaments, trivia nights, and craft events, and threw on-campus parties for welcome week, Halloween, and Christmas. Almost every weekend, my floormates hang out and watch movies, play games, dance, or just talk in the lounge. I also like to go for excursions in the city, visiting the monuments at night or going out to eat at a new and exciting place that I haven't visited-- there are always so many options. Many of my best friends do drink and love to go to nightclubs and parties, but I'm not as social. Sometimes I just like to curl up with a book and listen to Disney music. It really depends on the weekend. The AU Methodist Student Organization is a huge part of my life, and I've made some awesome friends through it. It's so welcoming, fun, and friendly, and I know some people who take part in all of their events despite not being Methodist-- a Catholic friend, a Lutheran friend, two Jewish friends, two agnostic friends, a Greek Orthodox friend, and an atheist friend all attend. They often serve free dinners after services, show movies once a month, do service projects like making dinner for the homeless or cleaning up parks, and go on exciting outings. This year we went to the Maryland Renaissance faire and picked pumpkins and apples at a local farm, among many other excursions, and we have a Christmas party coming up soon. We also have a murder mystery party each semester, with a specific theme and characters for all of us to play. I was the murder victim (and her evil twin!) at the last one! Last weekend, I went to see the new production of "Much Ado About Nothing" at the Shakespeare Theatre with two of my friends, and loved it. I also attended a benefit concert where my boyfriend's brother's band performed to raise money for a little girl with a rare form of lung cancer, had a great time singing in the choir during our weekly church service, and watched Guy Ritchie movies with some floormates. Some of my closest friends at AU are floormates from last year, including my boyfriend, who was a good friend for over a year before we started dating.(I never set out to find a boyfriend, so I can't comment much on the AU dating scene-- we just happened to find each other and fall for each other. I know a lot of girls are frustrated by the lack of available men on campus, but it's not nearly as bad as it seems. I know lots and lots of girls with boyfriends on campus, as well as many lovely single men.) Other closest friends are current floormates, theatre people, Methodist people, and former classmates, and some started off as friends of friends and became incredibly dear to me. If I'm awake at 2 AM on a Tuesday, it means it's a typical night for me! I feel like most students here stay up pretty late-- even if I was in bed at 2 AM, I would be able to hear my neighbors talking and giggling, and people running up and down the halls. I'm usually finishing up some studying, procrastinating on facebook, or watching SNL online at 2 AM, just about ready to go to bed. I can't say students leave their doors open, although usually people will knock on my door about four or five times a day to talk to me about whatever silly random thing pops into their heads! We've actually had problems with thefts in my dorm this year, especially of laptops, so people make to lock their doors all the time. This is sad to me, because it doesn't sound like the AU that I know.

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AU prides itself on being the most politically active school in the country. For example, after a volleyball game in September, our student leaders brought TVs to our arena so we could watch the presidential debates. Let's just say the debate brought people to the volleyball game -- not the other way around. Sports are not very popular on campus. For whatever reason, we're a Division I school. One notable exception to the popularity was when our Men's basketball team went to the NCAA Tournament for the past two years. But those are notable exceptions. At many sporting events, there is a smorgasbord of freebies -- burgers, pizza, shirts, smoothies, etc. that they have to entice you to show up. One thing you shouldn't miss are Kennedy Political Union lectures. I've seen Elizabeth Edwards, David Gregory, Helen Thomas, Newt Gingrich, Norah O'Donnell and Martin Sheen. That's just to name a few. KPU is funded by the approximately $75 student activities fee that's billed to your account. The residence halls each have cultures of their own. I have lived on both "north" and "south" sides and here's how I can sum up each dorm: South Side: -Anderson: Loud, lots of parties. Will be renovated over the next two years. -Letts: I lived there freshman year. Also pretty loud, though not as boisterous as Anderson -Centennial: Just renovated, suite-style living. Don't expect to live there as a freshman though. North Side: -Leonard: Probably the loudest of the north side dorms -- also the international dorm. But it really is the best of both worlds. You can compare it to Letts. -McDowell: Lived there sophomore year. Lots of athletes who are cliquey amongst themselves. It kind of messes with the social dynamic of the hall. -Hughes: Don't come here to party. I don't think that happens too often. It's a very studious dorm.

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College Democrats and Republicans are very popular. All of the Division 1 sports are equally as popular, while the club sports get less attention. Students in dorms at the beginning of the year will keep their doors open in order to meet their floor/hall. However, as the year goes on, it is less frequent. Guest Speakers are extremely popular, with at least a few occurring each day. Sports events are next, which do attract a good crowd. Theater productions are popular, but not so much as the other two. I met my closest friends right across the hall from me in my dorm because at the beginning of the year we kept our doors open. Greek life consists of about 22% of students, so it is there if you want it, but not a necessity and you certainly won't be pressured into one. Last weekend, I went to the movies in Chinatown and shopped on Friday. Saturday, I ate at a downtown cafe and went to the Smithsonian Natural History museum. Sunday, I had a meeting for a group project, went to a review session for Microeconomics, and did homework. I do not drink, and about 26% of AU students never touch a drink, so each activity I do is without drinking. You can go monument hopping, museum hopping, shopping in Friendship Heights or Pentagon City, explore Georgetown, go to the Capital, go to a movie, go to the National Zoo, go to the National Archives, get a bite to eat with friends, and even go to a Frat party and not drink on a Saturday night. I only touched on a couple of activities--you will never be bored in this city!

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I would say the most popular student groups include political ones, environmental ones, and then Greek life (both social fraternities/sororities, and professional fraternities). Greek life at AU is something that is big, but also totally avoidable if you don't have any friends involved in Greek life; basically, it is there if you want it but you don't have to be consumed with it if you don't. I am involved in Phi Sigma Pi National Co-Ed Honors Fraternity, which is an amazing organization. Athletic events are overall not very popular, however, guest speakers populate AU all the time. The theatre puts on multiple shows each semester, yet is about a 15 minute walk from main campus. The dating scene can be a bit tricky, as AU's male population is about 30%, and of that 30% a lot of men are gay. However, DC is a college town so if dating at AU is not working out, there are plenty of other schools to check out. In general, I feel that people have a great mix between partying and studying. Since AU is a dry campus, none of the partying is actually done on campus, making it easier to get work done if you need to. DC is a very 18+ friendly city, so students can often be found at clubs, and once 21, bars. On a Saturday night that doesn't involve drinking, many times there is a concert or event on campus sponsored by a student group, and there is also The Perch, which is a hang out/coffee shop with games. I think it is very easy to meet people at AU.

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There are a lot of activities on campus to choose from. We have an active frat/sorority scene, however that is by NO MEANS the only option. Only about 10% of AU students join a frat or sorority. Other groups to get involved with are RHA, Student Government, and Model UN - those are perfect for the aspiring politicians/ambassadors who go to AU. There's also several theater groups - AU Players and the Rude Mechanicals (a Shakespeare troupe that I'm in!). Sports are all very popular. AU's basketball team is pretty good and the games are always packed. AU also has tons of amazing guest speakers that come to the University. Lots of politicians, world leaders, etc. A couple years ago, the Dalai Lama came to speak! The LGBT community is also very active on campus, as are various multicultural groups and the Women's Initiative. People at AU do party, but not extremely. I've had friends who go out every night and friends who have never gone out drinking in their life. Most people save their partying for the weekend, though many go out on Tuesday night as it's fairly easy to arrange your schedule to have no classes on Wednesday. Basically, there's a lot for people to do no matter what their interests are. People at AU tend to find their niche and do their own thing, whatever that is.

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The political organizations & volunteer groups are definitely the most popular on-campus activities. AU has a dry campus, but that certainly doesn't stop people from drinking anywhere, really. I write for student publications and volunteer pretty frequently off-campus. I also am a part of various social justice groups. I have never been to a game or an on-campus play. However, if the right political speaker comes, people will flock to the event. I got to meet Dan Rather thanks to an event by the Kennedy Political Union, which organizes most of the on-campus speaking events. A freshman year tradition would be waiting for a frat bro to give you a ride to a party, since you can't just walk into the frat houses at AU. (They're all off campus.) Not sketchy at all! I admit, I did it for a semester, but then I found real friends who were 21 and willing to help a girl out. If you're underage, like to party/drink, but don't have any way to buy alcohol, this is your best bet. If you didn't want to drink on a Saturday night, you could go out into DC and do...anything, really. You could go to a museum, a play, an open-mic night, an athletic event, a concert...there's loads of (free and/or low-cost) things to do in the city.

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The two sides of AU have very different atmospheres. Southside holds more students and for the most part Greek Life. It's busy, loud, and has an affinity for parties. Northside is more quiet, and better for people who have early classes. As long as I'm on the floor I leave my door open, but if I'm going out of the dorm the door is locked which is pretty standard. Their hasn't been a problem with theft in my experience, but there have been some reported problems so there's no need to tempt fate. The dating scene for women is pretty dismal. as a 66-33 ratio there aren't nearly enough men to go around. We have what we call the law of thirds with men-a third are gay, a third are taken and the last third are jerks. Being in DC however, there's a lot of chances to get off campus. When it comes to meeting people, I'd just sugest talking to people. People are really friendly. There are enough events that you meet plently of people. Last weekend I went salsaing. And there are plenty of things to do rather than drink, and while a lot of parties do have alcohol in my experience there's been no pressure to drink (as long as you stay away from frat parties) people just find ways to have fun, intoxicatedly or not.

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There are tons of groups at AU that in some way deal with politics - whether it's by representing a particular group of people on campus or by promoting the awareness of some social or environmental issue. These are the most popular student groups along with fraternities and sororities, but there are many other groups at AU and there is always room for more; for example, the one my friend and I founded this semester. It's called the Student Historical Society of American University - or "SHS" for short, and it's geared towards promoting the study of history on campus as well as volunteering at various places dealing with history in the city, like the National Archives. Additionally, the club also organizes trips to historical sites in and outside of the area, and hosts screenings related to historical events. Along with student groups, guest speakers and theater are very popular here. We've received lectures from Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of Homeland Security (whose building is right across the street from AU), Dan Rather, Colin Powell, and plenty more. There are at least a dozen performing arts groups on campus, whether they are relating to theater, singing, or instrumental performance.

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Being a politically active campus, the most popular groups are College Republicans and College Democrats, and with it being an election year, Students for (Insert Candidate Here) are popular as well. In general the Kennedy Political Union is very popular with students as it gives them a chance to meet the politicians that KPU brings in. On the whole, students are very friendly and will often leave their doors open if they are inside doing work. Making friends was easier than I thought, and if you are friendly, it finding your group of friends should be easy. We only have about 7 or 8 fraternities and sororities each, so Greek Life is not big on campus, and you can definitely have a social life without going Greek. American is not by any means a big party school- we are a dry campus, even if you are 21 and living on campus. Generally there is one or two parties per weekend night, but because we are dry, all parties are off campus which can make it a hassle to get to sometimes. If frat parties aren't your thing, there are a multitude of dance clubs, movie theaters, and plenty of options to do within DC that are student-friendly.

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Frats and politically active groups are extremely popular. The debate society does parlimentary debate across the north east against other schools ranked in American's category. Including every Ivy League in the nation as well as other tier 1 schools. Some students leave their doors open, anti social people don't. Atheltic events are not very popular. Guest Speakers are huge! Theater not very popular. Many people meet in class/ at parties and live on the floor. I met my closest friends because we all shared a same interest for politics and could talk to each other very easily. If I am awake at 2 am I am either on the internet or doing homework. D.C. Has many traditions that happen every year. People party every night if you know the right people. Frats and sororities are only important to those who want to party. Last weekend I stayed in on friday and watched a movie. Saturday went shopping in Georgetown. Sunday took pictures at the National Cathedral and went to the White House at night. You can go out to clubs and hookah bars and things of that nature. Off campus you can do whatever you would like.

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