It's hard to say what groups/organizations etc are the most popular on campus. I know a lot of people who do intramual or club sports, or participate in some kind of musical group. I'd say the most popular are any kind of organization that an audience can watch - so intramural sports or performing arts groups. The a capella shows and Sheer Idiocy shows (an improv comedy troupe) often get sold out, as well as the plays by the RPI Players. I'm involved with the Pep Band at RPI. We support the women's and men's hockey teams by playing at home and away games. It's so much fun, because we're like a family - we spend basically every weekend during hockey season together, whether it's playing at the field house here, or traveling with the team to different rinks in the ECAC. Plus, we get the best seats at the field house - right behind goal! As a freshman, everyone always left their doors open. People would stop by the door and introduce themselves in the first few weeks, and then once you got to know your floor everyone was friends with each other. Now that I'm a sophomore, a lot less people leave their door open because we've all made our core group of friends...plus I know that I'm hardly ever in my room because of classes and stuff. Athletic events are pretty popular, especially the hockey games. It's really fun to go to them and be able to yell and cheer for your team. It's a great way to get all of your frustrations from the week out. Theater is pretty popular as well, whether it's the spring musical put on by the RPI Players, or the movie playing in the DCC on the weekend. I met my closest friends through classes that we were having trouble with (I started going to extra help sessions with one of my friends my freshman year), through my roommate, and through joining Pep Band. If I'm awake at 2am on a Tuesday, I'm either doing homework, or surfing the internet. Every year, Big Red Freakout is one of the events I look forward to the most. It's the big hockey game, usually sometime in February. Everyone who goes to the game gets a "Freakout gift"...usually something like a noisemaker, team pennant, or baseball cap. Everyone gets really into the game, paints their faces, hold festivities all day, etc. In the Pep Band, we have a lasagna dinner, then all of the alumni and current students play at the game in one huge, awesome sounding band. Afterwards there's a student-alumni mixer at an alumni's house in the area, with awesome food, and then an after party at someone's apartment. Fraternities/sororities aren't the main focus on campus, which is nice. You know they're there, but the majority of people here aren't in one. During rush week there are a lot of fun events open to everyone, like cookouts or volleyball games. I know a bunch of people in sororities and fraternities and it seems that here, it's just another way to connect with people and really have a strong group of friends. Last weekend, we didn't have any Pep Band events so I cooked a steak with my boyfriend, played pool in the Union, and went to a Wing Tasting charity benefit in the Union that was DELICIOUS.
There are supposedly over 150 extracurricular activities on campus, but most of us have never heard of a good number of them. However, even the smallest clubs have a few devotees, and if you look hard enough, you're sure to find something that interests you. If you really can't find a club you like, then there's probably some kind of event going on on hosted by one of the clubs, or one of the fraternities or sororities, that would be fun. Greek life has been one of biggest recent controversies on campus, with Shirley Ann Jackson wanting to ban Greek life from campus after a series of incidents involving drugs and alcohol. However, after many alumni voiced their opinion to retract their financial support for the school, as well as an outcry from then-current Greek students, the decision didn't go through and Greek life carried on. One of the interesting things about RPI is the male to female ratio, which is still about 3:1, though the current freshman class has 31% women, beating out my class' former record of 29%. There's a slew of jokes about how easy the girls have it, but truthfully, it's just like any other school, and just because there are more men than women doesn't mean we'll want those particular men more! It's also interesting because that seems to exclude those who date people from other schools, as many I know do (having carried over a relationship from high school, transferring, or just meeting someone from elsewhere at an event). I'm involved in two extracurriculars, RenXchange and racquetball. RenXchange is probably one of the most interesting opportunities on campus, because not only do you get to interact with a lot of students, but you also get to talk to alumni about their experiences at RPI (and believe me, some of them LOVE talking about their times here!).
Hockey season is big at RPI. Lots of students get season tickets. The Big Red Freakout is a HUGE deal, too - it sells out every year by November or so (it's in Feb) because lots of alums come back. Students take a survey when they send in their acceptance paperwork before freshman year, and part of that is to match them with a roommate, and then with a dorm. So people who tend to keep the doors shut will be in one hall, while those who love the open door policy will be in another. My roommate and I always talk about how perfect we are for each other. She still is my best friend after 3 years, and we are stilling living together. My other good friends I just happened to meet, most of them freshman year, when no one knows many people so you talk to everyone. Only 4 of those good friends (out of maybe 20?) actually lived in my dorm though. I will admit that it is hard to keep in touch with people sometimes, especially when you aren't the same major. None of my good friends are civils, so I had to make new friends in class. I liked meeting new people, but I still don't "hang out" with any of them. Fraternities seems to be pretty popular. Many of the more social people on campus graviate towards them. There are only 4 or 5 sororities though, so it's not so much the same for girls. If you aren't inclinded to go to frat parties (or any party) on the weekend, there is UPAC, which plays new movies for only $2.50, there are plays every now and then, a cappella groups (RPI has 3, and they are all fantastic), cultural nights, other club events that are open to campus. There's an annual drag show that's pretty entertaining. (By the way, if you are awake at 2am on a Tuesday, you are probably doing schoolwork or playing video games)
You will probably hear near the top of any promotional material or speeches the number of clubs we have. It's a big number, to be sure. But what no one ever mentions is the dirty little secret that a lot of these clubs exist primarily as resume material. So that's what that "look at all our clubs!" nonsense is all about. Honestly, there is not a lot of stuff to do at RPI. In a sense, RPI itself does the best it can in this regard - the issue is the surrounding area. It is a wasteland. Don't let anyone tell you that the Capital District is underrated. They are wrong. It is not underrated. I've been "giving it a chance" my entire time here, and it has fallen flat at every opportunity. So that means "things to do" must grow out of the RPI student body itself. If you read what I wrote above about the RPI student body, you should have a growing sense of dread right now. In general, intellectually and spiritually unambitious rich white kids only know one way to have fun, and that explains why something absurd like 40% of our student body is greek. We have around 20 social fraternities, and you can't tell their rush calendars apart. I will say that it should be possible, if you work your ass off, to find enough stimulating activities to fill up your time. The problem is that the school culture as a whole doesn't value these things, so they will never permeate your life here. You will have to seek them out and it will be a chore. As I've stated, most students solve this problem by being boring and not caring.
My dorm experience was great, our hall would be active and social at all times. We would play games, go out together, eat at the dining hall together, and i still live with a core group formed from the initial few weeks of school. I am a part of the Cycling club, which is a blast, and a great way to connect with a lot of guys with similar interests (aka bikes). I am also a part of the Outing Club, which is a good way to meet people that love the outdoors. The outing club is the largest club on campus, but also is very connected and it is easy to get to know a lot of people in it at the events the club hosts. The biggest yearly event is the Big Red Freakout, which is a big hockey game that everyone goes to. It is an awesome time, and all the little traditions that go on during the games are an awesome way to develop school spirit and have fun with friends. Other big events are the Oktoberfest at the Narwhal, Clam bake at Pikes, GM Week, and various others. You can find a party every single weekend, including during finals. Greek/non-greek, cliques or open, there is definately a spread of social atmospheres at RPI. But if you arent into partying, like I was for a long time, you can always find a good time hanging out with friends, or playing LAN games, arranging crazy CTF games through campus, anything you want.
Hockey games are the major athletic event of interest. We even have a hockey line celebration to buy season tickets. We have special games such as the Big Red Freakout and there is a club entitled the Red Army that is dedicated to hockey. I am involved with Habitat for Humanity, but there is a plethora of community service oriented clubs, with one example being Circle K. I am also part of the Resident Student Association because I have had a great experience in my residence halls. I met my best friends on my floor last year, and the people in our hall were almost inseparable. Other major clubs involve the Outing Club and Red and White, the student alumni association. We also have academic honor societies and clubs based on major or ethnicity. We have annual events such as Alumni Weekend and Winter Carnival, both of which garner a lot of student participation. As a non-party goer I always have something to do, such as Sheer Idiocy student improv shows, UPAC cinema, the RPI Players shows, and miscellaneous club-sponsored events. I also hang out with friends; we have tea parties. Greek life is definitely present on campus, but there is not pressure to join or not to join. I happened to go through recruitment this semester and have been thrilled with the decision, even though I never expected this for myself.
The dorms are pretty social as many people leave there doors open. The kids on the floor vary though from people who you may like to those who you would never talk to. The range of students at rpi is very broad as you have the kids who busted there asses in high school then you have students that were jock/preps and coasted. One of the saying amongst many of the people i surround myself with is RPI is the school for kids who could have gone to MIT if they had actual tried prior to coming here. As for activites there is plenty to do, but the problem is much of it may be stuff you arent into. The social life lies primarily on fraternites for the large parties. Other than that the sports teams throw there own partis and others have apartment parties. In order to get involved in the social life though you are most likely going to have to get invlovled in some sort of team or fraternities as most parties are not open to guys. Girls are always welcome into any party on cmapus as part of the ratio.
Activities. Number one: video games. Not for me, personally, but that's the one I see the most often, from World of Warcraft to Metroid Corruption to some version of the Legend of Zelda to Super Smash Brothers...what's the new one coming out? Brawl? Anyway, aside from that, there's a lot to do at RPI. My favorite is the Tae Kwon Do club. Everyone there is so nice, and so encouraging, even though I've never had experience with martial arts I feel like I belong there. It's just a lot of fun. As the night goes on, most people get to work studying...usually in groups. This makes it harder to focus but a lot more fun, so studying doesn't get too tedious. And, when it's the weekend and we're not all working, we can go to the DCC and see a movie--it's $2.50 and they even have midnight showings, so you can have the evening to do whatever and still go see a movie.
Lots of video game playing (Halo, Warcraft, etc) and a lot of very nice flat screens. doors always open and very friendly people. athletics fairly popular. be ready to practice twice a day and have a hectic semester if u plan to do team thing. i opted for a club (which is just twice a week) ALSO, I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH!!! READ THIS - RPI has a cool freshman program where u can pay 150 bucks and go on a 2 day 3 nite thing. either white whater rafting, camping, etc. i did camping at Lake George and that is how i met all of my friends. Take advantage of this cuz NO OTHER college does this. for one week before school starts u could do this, then rpi has a bunch of activities like a BBQ and then another day trip of ur choice. i rowed with the rowing team on the hudson river.
One group I am involved with is the pep band. We hold rehearsals on Saturday mornings, and we get to play at all the home hockey and football games. We even get to go some away games for hockey, which are really fun! Some students leave their door open almost all the time, others I don't even recognize because I've never seen them before. Men's hockey games are huge. I met pretty much all of my closet friends at NRB, through the pep band, or by just hanging out in the hall. Last weekend, I continued my James Bond marathon with my roommate and a friend from down the hall. There are plenty of things to do on a Saturday night that don't involve drinking! These include going to the movie at UPAC, going to a show at the Union, or attending a hockey game.