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Hampshire College

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Describe the students at your school.

alternative. kind. unique. politically ignorant

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There are students...that make up a body.

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With only 1500 students, Hampshire can be very limited, diversity-wise. Students of color are under-represented, although Hampshire tries to recruit as many as it can. The LGBT community is, however, incredibly visible- I've heard that over 40% of Hampshire students self-identify as queer, and I'd bet that number is low. Hampshire is one of the most trans-friendly schools around- we have a completely gender-blind housing policy (only 10 percent of our rooms are doubles, but roommates can be of any gender whatsoever) and almost all of our bathrooms are gender-neutral. Hampshire also has one of the few openly gay Presidents in the country, which of course ensures that Hampshire will continue to be incredibly queer-friendly. As a matter of fact, straight students often complain of feeling somewhat marginalized on campus. Race is an issue that can be very divisive on campus, as there are many very vocal anti-racism groups, and some students who aim to provoke intense discussion on these issues. Hampshire tends to have a few weeks of really intense race-related activity every few years, as new students constantly need to be educated on issues of white privilege and the racist underpinnings of society. Most Hampshire students are the misfits and outcasts from their hometowns and home high schools, and that creates an interesting atmosphere- Hampshire kids tend to arrive priding themselves on their "unique" hobbies and interests, only to find that there's already a sizable contingent of students with the same interests. Ultimately, this creates a great freedom- Hampshire students can wear whatever they want without raising much of an eyebrow. There's a sizable hippie population, a sizable hipster population, and a lot of students in between. There's also a very visible geek/gamer scene, and plenty of Hampshire students who are comfortable moving between different groups. The first semester of Hampshire is a time of intense socialization- everyone wants to be everyone else's friend. By Div II, most people have settled into a small, very close group of friends, and those groups can come to resemble cliques, although most Hampshire students don't want that to happen. Hampshire students are usually very friendly to each other. Geographically, Hampshire represents most of the US, although the majority of students come from New England or California- I have friends from all over, though, and, truthfully, geographic backgrounds don't mean much at Hampshire- the length of our flights "home" doesn't usually have a lot of bearing on our everyday lives. Hampshire students are very much left of center. "Center," as a matter of fact, is somewhere near socialism on the Hampshire campus. A Republican, or even a relatively moderate-by-national-standards student would probably feel very out of place on Hampshire's campus. Social conservatives will be horrified- in addition to being super-queer-friendly, Hampshire is very sex-positive (we hand out condoms instead of candy on Hallowe'en, the biggest party of the year) and hosts a huge Reproductive Rights conference every year. Fiscal conservatives may be able to survive, but Hampshire's been called a commune, and most students are definite proponents of at least democratic socialism (the Frisbee team, the only major sports team, is called the Red Scare). Hampshire students like to try to ignore money- those that come from more money are able to do this quite well, and those that have to struggle to keep their financial aid obviously have more trouble. Hampshire is a young school with alumni who tend to go into non-profit or other socially conscious work (i.e. low-paying) and thus has next to no endowment- a fact students are very aware of, as it translates into buildings that aren't maintained as well as they should be, and a very high (and ever rising) tuition, with financial aid a frequent point of contention. Hampshire students are definitely not out to get rich themselves, though- one of our cliches is that every Div III/class/club/party must have the phrase "for Social Change" added to the end of it, and we know that there's no money in Social Change.

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Hampshire students run the gamut in so many ways. There was one kid who went around barefoot in shorts all winter even though there was snow on the ground. He was an exception, but plenty of people walk around without shoes. Piercings and dreads abound, but there are plenty of people who dress "normally." You can't tell looking at people which friend group they will be in. There is no obvious segregation along class, or pop culture affiliation lines. Most people have liberal political views, some more aggressively so than others. There are some militant vegans you have to watch out for, but most people are very live and let live. Racially, there has been some controversy recently. There are not many African Americans on campus, not because the school doesn't actively try to recruit, but because it cannot compete with other schools in terms of handing out merit and need-based scholarships. The queer community is totally accepted at Hampshire, to the extent that it's not really an issue. Which is not to say that there are not discussions about which pronoun people would prefer to be addressed with, but you'll never hear anyone on campus suggesting that there's anything wrong with any sexual choice consenting adults make. Hampshire does have a Spriritual Life Center, which is fitting since the majority of the student body is into spirituality rather than organized religion. There is a very close-knit Jewish community here, but even some of the Jewish kids would describe themselves as culturally, rather than devoutly, Jewish. No one talks about what they'll earn one day. People come to Hampshire to learn about what they are passionate about, not to add an attractive line to their resumes.

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Hampshire is a predominately Caucasian campus, but it is open to all people. There are a lot of students of color, but there are more white students. I know people of all religions (although there seem to be a lot of Jewish folks), ethnicities & races, genders (male, female, gender queer, undecided etc), races, economic backgrounds, sexualities (it seems like at least half the campus is bisexual or pansexual, but there is a large queer AND straight crowd) etc. I think the only kind of person that would feel out of place here was someone filled with hate. There are some conservative people who attend and even if they don't agree with any economic and social thoughts of anyone else, most people here just want to make friends. You see people come into class wearing very, very little to, barefoot folks, dressy people, people all in black, people dressed casually in jeans and folks with mohawks. It really varies. A lot of Hampshire students are from Massachusetts and New York. I think that's where I see most people coming from. But we also have a lot of international students and people from other states as well. People are very politically aware. I watch the news regularly with me house mates and we like to keep on top of the political debates (especially for this up and coming presidential election). They like to being active in activism and make a difference both on campus and off campus.

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A very liberal campus. Pretty homogenous in terms of race, but no more so than other schools like it. There was a big movement about race last semester, which got a lot of the student body involved and led to limited (some would say disappointing) changes. Financial backgrounds are more varied than I expected from such an expensive school. Big LGBT presence. All bathrooms are co-ed, even in classroom buildings. A lot students from the Northeast, but also a wide variety from all over the US and some international presence too. Clothes are pretty much anything goes, but there isn't much of the preppy style-- thats more Amherst. Salvation army is really popular. Quite a few 'hipsters.' Students as a whole are not as politically active as I expected-- there's a lot of apathy towards action, although just about everyone has an opinion. Politically active people can definitely get themselves heard, though, if they're motivated. A wide variety of interests & a lot of intellectual conversation outside of class. People are quite friendly although there is some separation between first years and everyone else, mostly because first years are concentrated in the dorms. Social groups definitely emerge, but I don't see them as competitive or particularly exclusive.

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Hampshire students are very accepting because they are all different in their own way. I find that people living in the dorms do not really interact with people living in the mods, which is unfortunate because first year students don't get to really form relationships with second-fourth year students. Students are very liberal and very outspoken and very active in their opinions and beliefs. They come from all different financial backgrounds, though most hate capitalism even though it pays for them to go to college. I find that Hampshire is admitting more people who I feel don't belong at Hampshire and are simply attracted by the fact that Hampshire has no grades. These are the people who are not intellectually curious, who do not care about thinking, and who are more interested in discussing how to seduce the hottie down the hall rather than Ionesco's use of existentialism in his absurdist plays. These are also the people who come to Hampshire for the drugs and who use drugs incorrectly. I find that generally Hampshire college students don't so much care about how much money they'll be making one day, but how much they will be able to change the world.

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85% white, 20% Jewish, mostly wealthy or upper-middle class, lots of prep/boarding/Waldorf/magnet school kids who took things like AP philosophy and art history but don't know how to wash their own dishes. Lots of vegans/vegetarians. Hipsters, hippies and geeks are everywhere. We're way below the national averages for all students of color. There's pretty good queer visibility for white women + transmen. Pretty bad ignorance about issues of racism and classism among students who are white and class privileged (the majority.) Decent feminist and queer activism/awareness/allyship and strong concentrated group of white anti-racist allies. People will say that they're far-left but tell you you're hurting the cause for calling them out on their own prejudices. Activists have earned a reuptation for being elitist, even between varying groups, but that seems to be getting better....(?) There are multiple shit-storm controversies every year. One thing it's safe to say is that even people who claim to hate Hampshire really have a stake in the school and will duke it out over important issues.

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A lot of people would say that Hampshire's student body could be boiled down to three classifications: the hippies, the hipsters, and the geeks. The hippies are predominantly vegan, fight unendingly for various activist causes, fix the yellow bikes on campus and take OPRA (Outdoor Programs & Recreational Athletics) classes. The hipsters smoke, play in bands called things like "Rektal Mucus", do large scale incomprehensible yet impressive art projects, and dye their hair every color under the sun. The geeks watch science fiction movies every Saturday night, have a bi-annual role playing tournament, fight with foam weapons on the library lawn, and play video games in the ASH lab. I realize, of course, that these are all stereotypes, and certainly not everyone Hampshire fits into one of these three categories (and students would probably be angry that I tried to fit them into categories at all). But I will say this: Hampshire is a college made up entirely of those strange kids you knew in high school. Wonder where they went? They all go to college together, right here.

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Most students that go to Hampshire are very liberal, and a good number of students are politically and socially active and aware. There are oftentimes spur-of-the-moment demonstrations on campus, and there are usually student/faculty forums that you can go to. There are definitely cliques on campus; there are the hipsters, the hippies, the skateboarders, the international kids, the kids of color, the lgbtq kids, the theater kids, the art kids... And a whole bunch of others. Although all of these different groups exist, they all interact (for the most part) and the only way you can tell there's any sort of divide is by the way people dress. There's this saying on campus that Hampshire is made up entirely of kids who were the outcasts in there high school, which I think is pretty spot-on. It's strange, because everyone is so unique individually, but when you see us all together, we all look the same.

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