Let me define UCR in one word- diverse. The students that attend UC Riverside come from different racial backgrounds, socio-economic backgrounds, religious backgrounds and family backgrounds. On the first day of class, I have heard stories from my classmates about how they're the first in their families to attend college, and everyone in the classroom smiles (and some even applaud) because that's the interesting fact that the student chose to share when we were all getting to know each other. Different students representing different religions have joined my team during practice and have asked if they could lead a prayer with my team so that we can do well this season. It seems like every week, we as a school are celebrating or remembering an event that is sponsored by different student groups like the LGBT group, the African-American students group, the Chicano Students group or any group on campus that wants to share something with the campus. Not only do I see these groups sharing but I also see the students participating by partaking in these groups' activities or wearing a shirt or accessory that the group is selling in honor of the event they're hosting. Everyone is open with everyone else. The Greeks set up couches and tents in the quad near the Belltower and they talk with normal students who pass by. I see people of different races mingling in the Highlander Union Building as they eat their lunches. There is no exclusivity- everyone mixes with everyone else. Let's picture this- there are four tables of students in the dining hall. One table has an entire hall of freshmen that haven't gone off in their own separate group of friends. This table is usually loud with students who are excited about their freedom away from home as well as a little jittery being around others that they don't know too well. Eventually, the students at this table will break into smaller groups, but for now they're all just loud and enjoying freedom. The second table is the study table. Now this is a rare sight, but it isn't impossible to find. These are the ones that are cramming for that big exam. They didn't want to lose a minute of studying so they brought their books with them to dinner. These are the ones that have acknowledged their freedom from home but still realize why they're in college. See, not all college students are party goers because you definitely have the smart kids who prioritize and know what's important. The third table consists of the athletes. They probably only have the roasted chicken and salads on their plates because they're afraid to gain weight and bring shame to their teams. This table is probably the sweatiest and smelliest table, so even though they welcome others to join their table, other students can't stand their stench. From personal experience, the athletes are UCR arefriendly and grasp onto other non-athletes for friends because let's face it, being around people who are obsessed with sports and practices and workouts 24/7 can be tiring to the mind and body. Plus, we need someone to anchor us to reality that we are STUDENT-athletes, and not just athletes. We tend to forget that school is why we're really here, so please, talk to us. The fourth table is the mix. Let's face it- everyone goes in groups to the dining table and there's only so many table to choose from. Some groups co-mingle with other groups and that's how friends are made (in fact, that's how I made a lot of my friends at UCR). No one really cares what race you are, how much money your parents make, or what major you're in. What it all boils down to is that in a college dining hall, people are there to eat and relax (minus table two). This isn't high school where there are strict boundaries of where you can and can't eat. The people you eat with in the dining hall are the people you'll be eating with for the next year or so, so whether you have had a good day or bad day, they'll still be there when those dining room doors open.
UCR is what you make of it. UCR students have a lot of agency, and that's what I like best about the college. There are many leadership, research, social, and personal development opportunities at UCR - to access them, you have to be proactive. If you really want to grow - professionally or personally - there are many resources at UCR for you. There are also many ways to fail your classes, abuse substances, and get kicked out. It can be easy to get lost amongst the masses (it's a pretty big school - I think about 18,500 students), but that also means that you can connect with so much more. The hugeness of UCR means that a lot of students have trouble finding their 'niche' on campus - but the opportunity will always be there. There isn't much school spirit at UCR, probably because we don't have a football team anymore. The administration is trying to increase school spirit with a "Tartan Soul" campaign that advocates Integrity, Accountability, Respect, and Discipline, but it hasn't had much effect. UCR doesn't have a "college town" feel, but it's located an hour away from the beach and the mountains. It's possible to get by with just public transportation, but its comfortable to have access to car. The budget cuts affect UCR enormously. Many services (like free trolleys that take students around Riverside) have been cut, building the medical school has been delayed, and class sizes are swelling to the point where students find it difficult to get classes. There are ways to ensure priority registration - enrolling in the Honors program, or playing for a school athletic team are a couple methods that give your first pick at classes. Incentives and disadvantages, UCR has both. Unfortunately, there will always be people who focus on the school's negative stereotypes. I remember hearing about an encounter my roommate had with an acquaintance she'd met at a party. She had told him she attended UCR, and he'd given her a surprised look, then said "Wow. Really? I never would have guessed - you sound so intelligent." It's irritating, but that reaction can also be motivating. It's up to the student to make their experience memorable.
UCR is incredibly diverse as I've previously mentioned. One may stay within their racial realm or branch out, either way there is a place to fit in. Many sororities/frats, clubs, although unspoken, are ethnic.. Asians, Hispanics, Africans.. It's a fantastic way to preserve one's culture. LGBT is definitely huge.. They also pass out free condoms if you need some at their office. Don't forget to check out a Vagina Monologue. People are really relaxed in their dress code at UCR.. it's incredibly hot and humid so theres no need to dress up and wear too much makeup as it will melt.. Just t shirt, shorts, flip flops.. 4 tables at the dining hall? -I would say there are a group of international students from China, and India (perhaps in their late 20's) discussing the advanced Business course they are taking, and how it can relate to their own country's economic growth.. Somewhat a small, friendly debate, in white and yellow polo shirts.. with more class, culture and poise than most other students. -A huge extended Greek section.. each sorority, fraternity in it's own group of 4 or 5, as their own members come and go in between class.. Although they try so tough to be separated from one another.. they can't help but be addicted to the gossip.. and to 'stay close to their frenemies'... and a random non-sorority groupie that is hopping from frat boy's lap to lap.. -A group of religiously, racially diverse- a Christian white man, a Muslim Girl, an Indian guy in his turban, 2 asian girls in Hello Kitty shirts, a white girl from Arizona, innocent freshman dorm-mates sharing their high school memories and what major they plan to take, and what organizations to join.. thats the great thing about college. -Sports table - soccer girls and the hot baseball players, in their gear, ready for the game. Politics: It seems as though more people at UCR are liberal than conservative.. but it also seems as though most people don't know much about politics, nor their own country..
Students at UC Riverside greatly vary. It is one of the most ethnically diverse universities in the nation. The majority of students are Asian, with Hispanics/Latinos, Caucasians, and African Americans each accounting for a significant portion of the student demographics. The fact of the matter is there is no average student at UCR. There is such a large diversity amongst the students that nearly everybody is welcome, and a person would be hard pressed not to find a student who shares similar views or tastes. There are campus resource centers for every student who is looking to connect with other students. In fact, there is an LGBT Resource Center, a Women's Resource Center, a Campus Health Center, and many other diverse resources that can accommodate any student's needs. Because UCR is located in a desert, it is usually hot for the vast majority of the year. This means most students show up in either shorts and a shirt for guys or dresses and skirts for girls. When it does get cold in winter, jeans and sweatshirts become commonplace for the majority of students; however, it seems like sandals or ugg boots are worn year round regardless of how hot or cold the weather gets. Being in California it is no surprise that the majority of students are predominately left on the political spectrum. While there is a Young Republicans of America organization on campus that enjoys lots of participation, most students tend to be more liberal. There are many students who are politically active and every Wednesday on campus there are students protesting. Usually these protests either revolve around the "Occupy" Movement or the school administration and the tuition hikes prevalent across California colleges.
If you are the type of person that just wants to party until school's out, you will feel out of place. We have a population of Christians, Muslims, atheists, and agnostics. There are no religious tensions that I am aware of. It isn't uncommon to see people wear headscarfs and turbans. We have a Mosque and Christian church almost right next to each other near the school. Everyone has a "to each their own" attitude. The LGBT center is especially strong. I can say this from experience, because I am a transgender student. I have never once felt unwelcome at the campus. However, be careful about being publicly LGBT outside of campus. The area around there is rough. Most students are from the nearby area of Riverside county. They tend to be politically apathetic and politically aware. They are more likely to vote democrat than republican. A large portion of our students come from poverty and are first generation college students. If race is important to you, people at UCR tend to hang out in same-race groups at first. However, as time goes on, you are more likely to hang out in mixed-race groups. Most of the students stick with their own groups. However, if you put yourself out there and ask to hang out with a different group, almost always will they include you. Groups tend to be inclusive than exclusive. One sorority even openly accepts and recruits transgender students. Fraternities will also extend invitations to transgender students. Students here generally don't care about how much they earn one day. They tend to just want to enjoy what they do and pay the bills. College is generally seen as something to advance a career and a place to grow as a person.
The students at UCR are diverse, tolerant and understanding of one another. My experiences with the various races, religions and groups were generally positive. Again, UCR is the most diverse university out of the 10 esteemed campuses in the UC system, and is also the fifth most diverse university in the nation, so there are ethnic, religious, and social groups of all types at UCR. As a Muslim, and a part of the Middle Eastern groups on campus, I was able to interconnect with all of the various groups on campus, such as interfaith meetings, collective fundraising with the support of other groups on campus, and simply the organizing of the groups coming together. The majority of the groups on campus support each other and their various causes. There are a small number of certain groups that are intolerant of other different groups, however, the positivity of the collective and combined support of the majority of the groups supersedes the minor intolerances of some organizations on campus. This is why no individual would feel out of place at this campus. Students of different races, religions, and social groups interact with each other all of the time on campus. I had many LGBT friends, many Christian and Jewish friends, and the many friends from the African Student Union. Often times we supported each other’s causes and organized events together. I would say the students at UCR can be quite politically active, and events and protests are often scheduled on campus. There are groups from various financial backgrounds, and various political views, and there is no majority of any one group, which is what’s so unique about UCR. Anyone could fit right in.
There are so many relgious groups on this campus. Matter of fact, the Korean Christian Club was trying to encourage me to join their club. I was flattered but I chose not to because I am not a Christian. I honestly don't think any student would feel out of place here, there's room for everyone. It really depends on the weather, but if it's hot most students will wear shorts or dresses. Nobody ever wears anything too revealing on this campus. Yes, different types of students interact. Whenever I'm walking around campus I always see tables with study groups made up of students who come from different religious or racial backgrounds. In the dining hall, I'd see a table of girls from the volleyball or basketball team. I'd also see a table with a group of Asian boys laughing. I'd see a table with a group of students who live in the same hall eating together. I'd also see a table with a boy laughing with his girlfriend. It's always different each day. Most of my friends just happened to be from Northern California like me, but there are students from everywhere. Most of the students I've met are from California, but I have met a couple of students from Spain, France, and China. Most students come from unwealthy backgrounds, like myself. We're all heavily supported with financial aid, which is a beautiful thing. Yes, students are definitely politically aware and active. There are many departments that have open discussions about today's politics. I have a few friends who talk about how much they'll earn someday, which is great because I encourage everyone to dream big. We all deserve the best in life.
I am involved with the Pacific Islander Student Alliance on campus, and they are great. I danced hula in high school, and was sad thinking that I had to give it up because colleges don't usually have hula teams. I was practicing a routine in the Recreation Center one day, and one of the girls from the group was there and asked me to be a part of their group. Now I'm still able to do what I love, and I'm meeting some amazing new friends. I also became a part of the LGBT center on campus. As a recently outed LGBT-indentified person, it was awesome to have a safe place to go and meet other people I could talk to about whatever I wanted. They have some amazing staff there that are always available to talk and counsel or answer questions. There are so many clubs and groups at UCR, that I truly believe every student can find something that fits them, no matter how abstract it may be. If they can't, you can always start your own group, and I guarantee you'll find other students interested as well! The students at UCR are generally accepting, of anyone, no matter what race or economic position you may be in. Many students embrace themselves at this school, and are free to express themselves in the way they dress, act, or things they do and become a part of. Students are generally solid in who they are, or are in the midst of finding themselves, like I am. I truly believe that there are many resources and opportunities this school gives for the students to help them define themselves and ready them for the world, which is an unmeasurable gift to every student.
There is no dominant type of student here on campus, which is why I always push UC Riverside as one of the more diverse schools in the state. Its possible for people to think that the dominant ethnicity for our school is Asian-American, however from my 4 years here on campus, thats definitely not true. You wont feel out of place here because you're always going to find somebody of the same ethnicity or religion as yours, however its the people you meet outside of your comfort zones that always seem to be the most interesting. From my point of view, people here aren't the most social people I've met. Yes it takes some time to meet people and build relationships with them. I believe this to be true just because school spirit here is a bit lacking. However, if you become involved and spend some time outside of your dorm room, you're going to meet some awesome people on campus. Most students here are from Southern California and the Inland Empire. There are a few from Northern California as well out of state, but those people are maybe 1/10. To really emphasize my point on campus diversity I will say this, as a Korean American attending UC Riverside, I have maybe only 3 other Korean friends here. The majority of my friends range anywhere from Hispanic to French. There are very ambitious and friendly students here on campus, you just need to step out of the box to meet them.
Passion is never in short supply at UC Riverside, whether in regards to state laws, religious beliefs, or just the food. It's the most diverse college in the state of California, and with this, students are bound to get heated over cultural differences. It certainly isn't out-of-the-ordinary to find a 40-year old balding minister spewing out Bible verses by the bell tower, while Jewish or Muslim students fight back. I refuse to think that these arguments are negative, though, because it gives our campus the opportunity to express our opinions without any "high-school yard duty" to tell us to go the Principal's office. The fashion is all over the board at UCR, with some students wrapped in Indian saris & others rockin' their Greek letters. UC Riverside is predominantly Asian-American (40%), but has an unusually high Hispanic population as well. The student leaders represent every background imaginable, allowing for a fair & distinctive way of administrating policies. As one of the United State's "Best College Buys", the university is home to people from extremely varying financial backgrounds. The student to your right can have a father who's a stockbroker and a mother with a Phd, while the the student to your left may be living off of food stamps. It's truly a one-of-a-kind classroom setting and is chalk-full of different ideals.