The Bard student is an awkward individual who eschews normal social conventions of politeness and etiquette- he will often snub acquaintances out of a paranoia of social interaction. He maintains the jaded deportment of one who has been there and done that although at the other end of the spectrum lies the student who is so young and idealistic that he actually thinks selling chocolate chip cookies at a bake sale is really going to have some impact on the slaughter in Darfur. The Bard student enjoys talking about world travel and its enlightening possibilities and often a conversation between two people about a foreign locale will grow competitive as they both attempt to "out-culture" each other. They will inwardly sneer at the other's experience, smug in their knowledge that they alone possessed the true, authentic taste of whatever wild, exotic culture they at that moment chose to fetishize. They are seeking "authenticity" which leads many to delude themselves into believeing that their own histories are either much more grandiose, romantic or tortuous than the bland reality from which they have actually emerged. No one wants to be thought of as soft or "over privileged" since that would surely undermine their liberal credibility. The Bard student is a condescending individual who is intent on showing you the error of your ways while he sits righteously on his high horse- a sunshine crusader who is willing to fight as long as it doesn't involve relinquishing material comforts or a dinner date for sushi. (Anyway, sushi is good because it's "cultural" and "sophisticated" and therefore must find resonance on the palate of any good liberal arts student.) The Bard student is a collegiate watchdog of liberal causes and if there is no villain to fight in the immediate vicinity, he will invent one regardless of who he is attacking or how egregiously he is misdirecting his energies. At the same time, the student cloaks his petty agendas under the mantle of noble, unassailable causes while proceeding to subvert real issues for his own ignoble ends. Although the students claim to resist trends that affect the rest of society, they are just as prone to being seduced by what is chic at the moment or what advertisers suggest will facilitate a certain image. Of course, these "rebellious" students would deny it vehemently that they had been subconsciously coerced into their fashion trends and tastes but their collective efforts to pursue lofty goals of individual expression are still chained to the social norm. White guilt runs rampant at Bard where a low level member of the administration has stated that the white student population is inherently racist. There is not so much a motion to understand other cultures as there is to flagellate oneself with other cultures. Somehow through the fetishization of non-caucasian cultural modes the students hope to be able to absolve themselves of their inter-racial dating phobias and other repressed social instincts that prevent them from truly sympathizing with the racial "other." By suffocating themselves in what they perceive to be alien, they are atoning for their genetic material and the wrongs of a degenerate society. The Bard student in short is taking drastic measures to reverse the decline of the world- one Girld Scout cookie at a time.
When you run into these people, they leave a lasting impression which can make it seem that their numbers are greater than they actually are but it would be incorrect to slap the entire student body with these generalizations.
The professors at Bard are willing to work individually with students and the class sizes are usually under 20 people, creating a close knit academic environment. Classes are usually discussion based, with students reading texts beforehand. Most of the student's aren't competitive but if a student feels that his intellectuality is threatened, he will suddenly raise his cerebral hackles and fiercely defend himself. The moderation process during the second year allows the student to reevaluate his work before attempting to major in any one subject. Unlike other schools, the departments at Bard reserve the right to refuse a potential major. Students are admitted through a process known as moderation during which they must defend a paper against a panel of professors. In the fourth year, the student is expected to complete a senior project over the course of two semesters before going before their board once again and discussing it.
The various student clubs sponsor social events every weekend often with the same vapid music and ambiance. The social atmosphere can be stagnant since students will often try to avoid meeting new people but at least there is always a lecture to attend or a film to see. One of the great things about the campus is that it is located on the Hudson River close to some prime carp fishing and striped bass in the spring.
The Bard student is typically hyper sensitive to stereotypes and tries not to fall into any one category but one stereotype that students seem to gravitate towards is that of the self hating, Jewish anti-zionist. Another might be the introverted type that smokes too much, makes sarcastic comments as a way to avoid actual conversation and invariably winds up denouncing the United States' imperialist agenda, regardless of discussionary relevence.
Bard has a lot to offer to the liberal arts student who is interested in music since the president, Leon Botstein has pushed the college in an increasingly musical direction by establishing a conservatory, constructing a performing arts center and putting on a music festival every summer. The student body has been expanding over the past several years creating housing shortages and swelling the once diminutive class sizes. Recently, tensions have been running high due to allegations of racism against the student government. During the budget allotment process this semester when the various student clubs received funds, the ethnic groups felt that they received less than they deserved. Their response was to hurl accusations of racism at the student planning committee responsible for the allotments. The crisis is being resolved now in talks between the administration and the student government.