To preface: there are Hampsters from all over the globe. This is the beautiful bit about Hampshire College and the Five College Consortium: we're an international relations community where people commonly come to study politics, diplomacy, society, and the sciences. I live with my Malaysian hermano and a new girl from China; they've both been tutoring another modmate studying Mandarin (to little avail ;P). Our neighbors are from Taiwan, Nepal, Germany, and France. I'm from far Northern California; my mom is half Chicana. People are just people - we have our cultural differences, we acknowledge them, we work around them. I end up drinking sake rather than Mickeys - so it goes. We're chill with each other...except for that one time that I stepped into the sauna and a randomly naked Tibetan hombre was all disturbed, but I suppose that's just disjunctive cultural interpretation. It happens - like drinking with Germans, you regret it afterwards. The dining hall isn't the primary eatery at Hampshire - people's common troughs are kitchens in Mods, our food is what we can create for each other. My Malaysian bro cooks too many amazing dishes to start listing them here. Of course, this leads to contention among the entitled population whose parents shower them with money and who expect to be provided for (without reciprocation) by their modmates. Dear children from NYC and alike metropolises: the world doesn't work this way and taking advantage of people with a "Fuck you, Buddy" mindset gets you nowhere...except perhaps Wall Street, but the U.S. is just pathetic that way. Isn't it? This brings me back to the privilege question: it isn't a clean split, but I measure it 30/70. 30% of the kids are immensely wealthy and may be attending 'college' for the wrong reasons (i.e. mommy and daddy told me to, so I might as well attend the hippy/ster school). The majority of Hampshire students attend this college because we're sick of 'academic' nonsense and sophistical 'ideal types' of educational development. For the majority of Hampsters, our camp is a pedagogic statement denouncing the mythology of ivory towers. Concurrently, we attend classes at these ivory towers (through the consortium) where we're welcome to shit all over their structured fallacies. The Amherst students 'on the real' tend to love us, same with the professors; Smith administrators hate us and their students tend to be a bit on the slow-side socially. I don't mean this as an insult to feminisms - I truly believe that Smith students are brilliant, but emotionally underdeveloped. They tend to be very privileged people without much world experience, trapped in a bubble whereby any penis is a biopolitical enemy; Mount Holyoke students are historically the legit feminists and they're our closest/friendliest neighbors. UMass is too diverse to ever classify and an excellent resource - it's a zoo, and I hear that they're gonna start growing medical pot soon (a great opportunity for any aspiring nouveu-botanist. Yes, Hampshire students lean heavy to the left, but the former president of the collegiate young republicans of Massachusetts was a Hampshire Student. This school's philosophy is open to libertarian interpretations. Personally, I've stopped calling myself a democrat and come to identify as a preference utilitarian - if Ron Paul tones down his rhetoric concerning public education and recants his stance on abortion, I just might vote for him. Yes though - in that 30% I mentioned earlier, many kids are politically clueless and de facto 'liberal' (again, because their parents 'said so'). It's super frustrating talking political philosophy with these imbeciles, because the argument inevitably turns ad hominem (e.g. 'you're only rehearsing the patriarchy of dead white men'). Then you turn the argument to Hannah Arendt, comparative to Kant, and they still can't keep up; isn't it shameful when one claims this elitist revolutionary political philosophy without any understanding of the past three hundred years? Anyway, yeah: the school sways left, though there are multiple dimensions to the left. There are no nationalist proto-blood-and-iron, god-and-family Hegelian American exceptionalists at Hampshire; if there were, they'd at once have too many readings to contend with to maintain these positions. I came to Hampshire touting Ayn Rand (who I 'needed' at the time), then I found Mill and recognized how confused a Russian she really was. What do people wear? All sorts of everything - the more outlandish the better. Who would feel out of place at this school? People who came to 'college' as 'to attend college.' People seeking an ideal type of pedagogic development (i.e. 'a major' in 'a dorm' with 'a cohort') tend to fair poorly. Also, religious people from the Midwest may find a culture of 'Easter Keg Hunts,' 'Extravaganjas,' and 'Trip or Treats' offensive. Sorry, it's the community that our combined cultures create. Do students talk about how much they'll eventually earn per their degree? I had to laugh writing this. No. That's an Amherst culture, and they're sick of themselves with it. Life is vibrant and many of us may eventually make money. I'm currently writing my first book, entailing over a year of research - the only Amherst kid who has been able to say this over the past twenty years was Ted Conover. "I happen to believe ya make your own destiny. [...] You're gonna have to figure that out for yourself," -Momma, Forrest Gump. Hampshire prepares you to direct your own fate, and to never stop learning along the way - where adaptation is the catalyst to all life and prosperity, Hampsters carry around an ever evolving tool-kit, all our days. We're taught how to pack it at Hampshire...(I mean this in sooooo many ways xD).
Hampshire is with out a doubt the most politically, religiously, racially and economically homogenous community I have ever been a part of. With very few exceptions, we are a far left, wannabe-buddhist, white upper middle class school. Many students are from small towns, and have never been exposed to any kind of diversity. These people make up the majority of the student activist groups, which are probably the most prominant of our social blemishes. They are inept, ill-advised and often work entirely outside the proper process (both administratively and socially) for organizing anything, with the result that most "demonstrations" are ragtag cliques of attention seekers banging on pots and pans and playing inscrutable music from their boomboxes. Their level of preparation and structure call seriously into question the legitimacy of their devotion to whatever cause-of-the-week is stirring up trouble. Hampshire students are also, by and large, isolationist. They want little to do with the other five colleges, believing at least UMass and Amherst to represent the invented monsters of their childhood: "jocks" and "preppies." While I'm sure some Hampshire students (like everyone else in the world) have experienced some unmerited bullying, it cannot justify the abhorrance they hold towards any alien subculture. Hampshire students are generally an intolerant, opinionated and often ignorant lot, but we have a few real gems, and could certainly use more. Bottom Line: If you're brilliant, love to think (or love to do any one thing, really), capable of navigating social and administrative byways, and open-minded, you will find a place to fit in here.
Again not diverse, but often a great group of people who are often very engaged and independently driven to a great range of interesting goals. After talking to people at Hampshire's it is hard to leave because you never will get as good of an answer when you ask a student what they do. Since the majors are all independent the students are very excited to talk about what they study why they study it and what they want to do with there life. This is actually why I attended Hampshire. At all the other schools people would say something along the lines of: "Ahhh i dunno, my major is physics but I don't like it that much". They all seemed to be at college because it was the next logical step after high school. At Hampshire people seem more to have found it as their ideal place to go. Many came after taking a year of to figure out what they wanted to do, and realized that Hampshire was the place most able to make that happen. It is also not uncommon for Hampshire students to take a break from their studies and do something else that interests them for a semester a year or more, and the things that they do are often fantastical, things that you only read about, until you attend Hampshire. If examples are needed: I knew a couple of people who took a year off to bicycle all over Europe. Someone else went and worked at a bike factory learning how to weld titanium frames together by hand. I personally have taken the past semester off to build a boat and sail it down the Ohio to the Mississippi.
Campus is extremely liberal. I have more often heard negative comments directed towards meat-eaters or conservatives than towards homosexuals, or people of color. With that said, Hampshire being the liberal institution that it is attracts many students who want social change. The breakdown occurs when students don't know the best ways to communicate their ideas. Anti-Racism has been a hot topic on campus this past year. Many students came away from the discussions quite offended, not because they disagreed with the principles of what the students were fighting for, but more because they disliked the way the students were "fighting." Socially, there tends to be something for just about everyone, especially when you look at the 5 colleges. The only students I have ever seen not fit into to Hampshire socially were 2 students who left my first year. They were both quite "preppy" and felt very out of place. the only other person i know who left for that reason was a spring transfer student. She told me that it was hard for her to find friends because everyone had already established their social groups, and no one was interested in expanding them to welcome her. Not being a transfer student myself, I can't vouch for this from personal experience, but social groups at hampshire are usually formed first year in the dorms and last all four years.
Since Hampshire is a fairly new college and has a small endowment, tuition is high. So there are a lot of well-to-do students. However, not everyone is rich. There seem to be a fair amount of students from the Northeast, but I have also met students from California, Georgia, Virginia, etc., as well as international students. The majority of Hampshire students are white (I believe about 87%), although there are some students of color and international students. Although I haven't personally witnessed any racism, I've heard that instances of racism do occur on campus. There is a cultural center, as well as identity-based housing for students of color and international students. A lot of Hampshire students dress uniquely. Sometimes I feel like I don't really know what's "in fashion" because I don't know if the trends I'm seeing are popular in the wider world or just among Hampshire students. It sometimes seems that by trying to be "different," Hampshire students sort of become the same. Instead of pressure to fit in by being "normal," there is pressure NOT to be "normal." Many students are politically aware and active. Students are predominantly left. I believe there may be some republicans somewhere at Hampshire, but they are definitely in the minority. Conservative students might feel out of place at Hampshire.
In terms of the student body, Hampshire is certainly a mix of all different types of people- from race to religion, sexual orientation to socio-economic status, we range between all possible extremes. In terms of groups on campus, I have found that they are extremely passionate and active and we strive to make everyone more aware about both the struggles and accomplishments of all types of people. Hampshire's campus is incredibly open to all types of people and all types of activities, and if you enter it as a close-minded individual you can rest assured that you'll either experience a change or feel pretty uncomfortable. This is shown on a large scale by all the various events on campus, but can also be seen in day-to-day life- you don't see many fake tans, ugg boots, baseball caps, or starbucks coffee cups- people are always sporting unique clothing and hairstyles- from parachute pants to dredlocks. In terms of financial backgrounds, most students are upper-middle class- tuition is an issue for many people here, and most people are on some sort of financial aid and/or have a work study job. Politically, the majority of the student body is active and are predominantly to the left of the political spectrum.
Hampshire is not diverse. Racially, financially or socially. Hampshire is, for the most part, a rich white school full of potential activists. Students wear whatever to class. Some come in pajamas, some in jeans and t-shirt, others in skirts. I am no longer surprised to see men walking through the library in skirts and dresses, people with overkill tatoos and piercings and people who's gender is questionable in my mind. There are people who dress everyday like pirates, drag queens and soviet soldiers from world war I. If you think you are a standout dresser, come to Hampshire. People talk about people but it is not for what they wear but how they think. Telling gender at Hampshire is a tricky thing. Everyone is liberal and pronouns can be confusing. I feel like Hampshire is a very safe place for gay, transvestite and transexual persons. I can only speak from what I have seen as a heterosexual female but it appears to me like everyone is very accepting and if someone has an issue with a gay person, the problem is never with their sexuality but with the way they conduct themselves.
Hampshire students can give the feeling of being entirely homogenous and of being intensely individualistic. They are generally very left leaning, although not as much as they like to claim. They are mostly from a white-upper-middle class background, something which is a very controversial issue on campus. The students have a reputation for being politically active, but often don't live up to it, although sometimes they'll suprise you. I would say that the Hampshire community has a very bizarre dynamic in that most, if not all, of the students were outcasts at their highschool. What this leads to is a place where you have to be "enough." I've had many discussions with friends who identify as an LGBT individual, however they feel outcasted from the LGBT community at Hampshire because they don't want their LGBT identity to be the defining characteristic of their life. This is not an isolated feeling, many individuals feel outcasted from a community that they indentify as because they don't want that identification to be their sole indentification.
Hampshire is very queer-friendly, even verging on heterophobic in some communities. There are people from all walks of life, but I must say that there are a lot of deceptively wealthy people. They dress like they're homeless, and then, one day, you discover they're a trust fund baby. It's the oddest phenomenon. There is not enough diversity, but "people of color" (as they are ALWAYS referred to at Hamp) are greatly valued in the community. I would say the most popular religious background is Jewish, although most Jews are non-practicing. The most heated debate on campus is Israel vs. Palestine. Many students are politically active, but I've found that issues that don't directly affect their lives tend to be overlooked. Certain causes become trendy to the point of being trivialized. While there are sincere activists, some students compete to be more oppressed-than-thou.
Very white student body. Quite a number of wealthy kids, but they are balanced off by the numerous receivers of financial aid. It makes an odd combination some times. People are friendly but there are also a great deal of introverts at hampshire. The sense of community is a little iffy. They only really pull together when some one throws a campaign about some issue or another. Hot topics are race and sex. Students are almost entirely liberals a couple of anarchists sprinkled in, and supposedly a few republicans. There are students who are politically active but mostly students like to talk about the hot topics mentioned above without an understanding of the big picture, and sometimes without an understanding of the small picture either. This being said Hampshire is proportionatly political when compared with other colleges that I have visited.