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Smith College

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Describe the students at your school.

I would say our campus is very liberal. Sometimes I leave the Smith campus and have political conversations with peers I meet at conferences, and am surprised that anyone could my age could be a republican. Sometimes being in the Smith "bubble" disconnects you from the reality of the outside world. Constantly being around women who are very vocal about their liberal political stances makes it easy for one to forget that many people outside of Northampton do not feel the same way. One of the reasons I came to Smith was that I expected it to be a politically active campus. I was dissappointed to find out that the school is not as politically active as I had thought. I imagined protests and great enthusiasm at rallies, and yet for the most part this is not the case. This is not to say there aren't activism groups on campus because there are. The Student Global AIDS Campaign, and MassPirg have been very active on campus, and yet the level of committment and involvement by the student body is somewhat dissappointing. It is easy for students to get caught into their work, never leaving the library and constantly pushing themselves for that 4.0. Sometimes, it is discouraging to see so many brilliant women focussing only on their work and not getting involved in politics or coming to watch a basketball game which would improve the exciting atmosphere of our campus even more.

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I didn't think Smith was as racially diverse as it could be, although I went to a very diverse high school so I had high expectations. There is better socio-economic diversity, but a lot of students are reluctant to talk about it. Religious diversity is pretty good, although I would say the majority of students are not from a fundamental or evangelical religion; maybe about 10% of the student body would consider themselves VERY religious. Students are very politically aware and active and sometimes skip classes for protests, etc. Most Smithies are from the Northeast, but there's a pretty big international crowd and enough from the rest of the country to have a presence on campus. It's a very progressive/left campus, and although the Smith Republicans are very vocal, they are also very few in number. Students usually eat with their housemates, so there really isn't a lot of dining hall table separation. Most students wear jeans to class, occasionally pajamas if it's an early class, and sometimes a skirt or a nicer outfit if you feel like it. Lots of eclectic clothing. Because of the housing system, you definitely meet people from different departments, with different interests and with different backgrounds.

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There are obviously some radical groups on campus, but in my experience it is easy to both get involved if that's what you like, and stay away from them if you are not interested in their causes. Closed-minded people will probably feel out of place. You don't have to change, but you have to be open to accept other people's personal decisions, which are frequently very different from what you would encounter anywhere else. People wear anything, and most are pretty careless. Unless it is really cold, Sweatpants and Flipflops are probably the preferred way of showing up to class. The campus is small enough to get people to interact with all kinds of people, but also large enough that you are able to avoid crowds that you don't get along with. There is not prevalent financial background. Students are very politically aware and active, and mobilize easily to fight what they believe in. Students are predominantly left. Seniors that get offers for jobs after Smith will talk to their friends about what the conditions are, but there's not much boasting about future earnings.

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Smith students are for the most part liberal, and extremely "LGBTQIA" friendly. That's the biggest issue on our campus, it is a safe haven for people questioning their identity so anti-gay marriage supporters might feel uncomfortable. I think what's great about Smith is that we are all different. There aren't a whole lot of pressures on students to dress or act a certain way. Whether you want to wear Prada or sweatpants to class you will be treated the same. Furthermore, the housing system ensures that you are meeting all kinds of people and becoming friends with them because you live with them. As with anywhere though, people who are similar tend to hang out with each other. Financial backgrounds are very widely ranged and we are working on addressing issues of awareness around class equity. Overall we are incredibly diverse. We are also more focused on our own personal development than a lot of other schools I think. Though we have an excellent Career Development Office, students really feel free to pursue their passions, not just what will make them the most money.

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There is at least one of everybody, even after a bunch of people transfer out the first year (and a lot of people transfer in). People wear skirts to gym pants to class. Conservatives have a hard time on campus. It seems like a lot of groups are "in your face" and involved all the time, but I think they just stand out more. I've gotten my fare share of dirty looks because I was drinking a glass of Coke during lunch, but you just have to not let it get to you. Coke has been kicked off campus so it is not an issue anymore. Many students feel really strongly about certain things, which means that they never shut up about their opinions during class and often get into heated debates with other people. Either get into the debate with them or just leave them to their own demise. I try not to get involved. I've found that even though students are mostly liberal, they aren't open to a difference of opinions.

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There is at least one of everybody, even after a bunch of people transfer out the first year (and a lot of people transfer in). People wear skirts to gym pants to class. Conservatives have a hard time on campus. It seems like a lot of groups are "in your face" and involved all the time, but I think they just stand out more. I've gotten my fare share of dirty looks because I was drinking a glass of Coke during lunch, but you just have to not let it get to you. Coke has been kicked off campus so it is not an issue anymore. Many students feel really strongly about certain things, which means that they never shut up about their opinions during class and often get into heated debates with other people. Either get into the debate with them or just leave them to their own demise. I try not to get involved. I've found that even though students are mostly liberal, they aren't open to a difference of opinions.

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Smith is, by the book, very diverse (sexuality, race, socio-economic class). I don't think any student should feel out of place at Smith--however, I do think students should be aware of Smith's history as it pertains to certain groups and know what incidents may have happened on this campus in the last few decades. Smith is always trying to improve itself, but the campus community should be aware of what we are trying to avoid and work away from. We are also a predominantly political-left campus. However, we do have a healthy and active Smith Republicans student organization. As for class, there is a very wide spectrum, so expect to see students from all different times of socio-economic backgrounds.

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The only students who would feel out of place at Smith are those who are just academic robots with no outside interests. The typical Smithie takes a large variety of classes, is involved in all sorts of sports, student orgs, or musical groups, and also finds time for socializing. There is a little bit of everything at Smith, so it really just depends on who you hang out with whether you get the jocks, the super-activist hippies, the music-fanatic hipsters, the studious intellectuals, or any number of combinations of theses and others. People are pretty accepting of each other, though there can be some unintentional grouping of students in social groups by race and/or socioeconomic class.

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a lot of people can't dress themselves. it's kind of pathetic. sweatpants to class is okay once in a while, but honestly, pick up a copy of vogue and get your shit together. this is one of my biggest issues with the smith student body: i just want to put them on What Not To Wear and have tim gunn beat the crap out of them. i mean, what are we, twelve? can we stop shopping at hot topic? we're adults now, let's start acting and DRESSING like them. on a more positive, note, however: one thing about any smithie is that you should never make any assumptions about her(/him if applicable, you shouldn't even assume a gender). everyone will surprise you in one way or another.

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The diversity of the Smith student body ranks better than most schools, as well as I can recall (something like 10% Afro Am.), and there is a very active LGBT community. For the most part, Smith is very generous with financial aid, but the majority of students I have met are of upper-middle class origin. I don't think this has a huge impact on who interacts with who, unless the person is a snob. Most people interact based on their extracurriculars or where they live. Smith is fairly liberal politically, but there is an active Republicans club. Most Smithies are politically aware but you will get the occasional "do-nothing liberal" or raving Neo-con.

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