I would warn anyone who is looking for a spirited school to not come to the New School. It is not your typical university where everyone is together cheering on for their sports teams. New School students are much more subtle with their spirit and keep it to themselves most of the time. Although there are different student activities going on from time to time, I've realized that not many people attend these. I think a reason for this is that students are too busy with their work and we live in the middle of Manhattan where so many other things are going on. Students usually go out into the city to explore and to experience the world, rather than attending student activities. However, in Parsons the most popular student organization would be the Fusion Fashion Show which happens annually. This is when Parsons students have the most pride. It is a fashion show that has a competition aspect to it between the Fashion Institute of Technology students. Students dedicate their semester in creating and designing their own garments and show that rest of New York City and the school of what their capable of and also their unbelievable creativity. I think that rather than drinking with other students, a lot people become closer and build friendships working together on projects in the studio and in class. Because we are all struggling in excelling and working on same projects together, we can share a lot of experiences and even complaints while working together. It's a little less overwhelming when you know someone else is going through the same thing.
First of all, single straight ladies: be forewarned, there are next to no straight guys here, especially at Parsons. That being said, my closest friend is a straight guy from Parsons, so they exist. The dorms, in particular the all-freshman dorm, Stuyvesant Hall (Stuy), are very social. People always have something to do, either at the dorm, or out in the city, on weekend nights. Stuy is suite style dorms, meaning that anywhere from 2-6 students will be grouped together in a suite, sharing a bathroom and a kitchen, with either one or two bedrooms. I met most of my friends freshman year because I lived at Stuy, and people are always awake (literally always, this is partially an art school, and the homework never stops) and they're always down to hang out. I'm usually awake at 2 a.m. on a Tuesday, and I'm either working on an art project, or watching a movie or cooking lunch for tomorrow, or even hanging with friends, though I do most of my socializing on the weekends. We don't have a greek life here, but there are a lot of connections among New York City college students, so students from NYU and the New School and Marymount Manhattan all socialize and party together. Because this is New York City, there is always stuff to do, with or without substances, so if you don't plan on drinking at all while you're hear, don't worry, there's still plenty of stuff for you to do, such as go out with friends to 18+ clubs, or go see movies and theater shows.
The most popular activities that occur at Parsons are the fashion shows, gallery exhibitions, and the free design workshops for students. There is a recreational center for athletic students and we have our own basketball team that plays against other design schools. Usually during the week I don't sleep until 2-3am depending on the assignment, and most Parsons students are at the 3D wood shop working on some form of sculptural object or sewing. Or students are at the lab center writing papers for the Critical reading and writing class or art history. The dating scene is odd. There are a lot of gay males and the school is very LGBT friendly, I can never really tell what is going on with the dating scene. Usually students date outside of the school. On a saturday night you can go to an art gallery opening, movies, shopping in Times Square or Soho (very live at night), hang out at Union Square. Usually everyoneeee hangs out at Union Square which is two blocks away from the Parsons building and some of the dorms. There is something always entertaining going on at Union Square! Parsons is the school to be at, because the dorms and the school facility is in a great neighborhood that has access to very good grocery stores, movie theaters, shopping areas like Soho, as well as the subway stop is a few stops away from Time Square. There is so much to do!
Student activities on campus are varied, but groups can have trouble cultivating or maintaining interest due to the campus being located in the middle of New York City. There are no frats, sororities, or official athletics, so most of the groups are based around politics or social justice, from communists on campus to an anarchist collective. LangArts sponsors a lot of events on campus that range from educational matters such as talks and screenings to student-based activities like student readings or monthly open-mike nights in the campus cafe. Attendance varies almost at random, and posters/flyers play a large part in promotion, as does Facebook. Most of the action happens off-campus; since NYC plays host to hundreds of galleries, theaters, and venues, it's hard for the college to compete. They do collaborate a little with outside organizations: students get free access to most of the museums in the city, and there are occasionally events held that give away prizes to other events around the city.
There's plenty of things to do besides partying at Parsons. There's all kinds of events that are constantly going on that are Fashion related, Photography related, theater related, or fine arts related, you usually hear about these things through word of mouth. Their are plenty of great museums to visit in manhattan and brooklyn. Their are concert performances, jazz clubs, and poetry clubs to go to. Their are plenty of restaurants to try out and you can always go to the major parks like Washington Square Park, and Central Park to watch people perform and view the scenery. The school does host parties every now and then like icebreakers for freshman and transfer students and halloween parties. Also if you live in the dorms the RA will throw floor parties, so there's ALWAYS something to do.
I wouldn't say there is any particular student activity that is most popular. That is what is nicest about The New School. You can find pretty much anything you want to do...from theater to dance to activist interests to rowing the Hudson. Here you are free to be whoever you are without any pressure and if you are interested in something somewhere there is a group. There are always new groups forming and there is always a welcome atmosphere. One can choose to be very involved or just a little.
There aren't any real sports at The New School, although we do have intramural teams. Most people end up meeting their fellow students in class or at campus events. During the week most people are doing work and/or studying. The weekend is for free time where we go out to clubs, parties, or just stay in and hangout with friends and watch a movie. Most of the kids that live in dorms are Freshman, so that is when you meet most of your friends.
The RA's coordinate lots of events and that is how most people meet. There is so much to in the city. There are many places to eat, and visit, that it's almost difficult to get bored. Over the weekend I went to SoHo with friends and we went to Lombardi's which is supposed to be the best pizza restauraunt in NYC. There are so many things to do in the city, it's incredible.
There are soo many to be honest, too much to list but I'll list the ones I am affiliated or contributed to in the past, they are: the New Black, New School student government and Afro-futurism.