I think that PAWS is the best student group on campus. It is a Peer Education club that holds events throughout the year to educate the student body on things that you don't learn about in classes (sex, alcohol, stress relief, ect.). It's definitely a lot of fun to be involved with. Students don't usually leave their doors open in the dorms, but tend to hang out in lounges in the dormitories themselves. Sports aren't that popular, but there are a lot of free or very cheap cultural events on-campus. We just had a visit from PostSecret and it cost $5 for students. I met all of my closest friends through my classes. You really get to know your classmates and then you'll see them all over campus so it's really easy to hang out. The best tradition on campus is Exam Breakfast the first night of exams. The cafeteria goes all out on breakfast food and the fruit is to die for. There is also Karaoke and you can make stress socks. It's free for anyone and just a whole lot of fun. People usually party by having small get togethers of 5-10 people. The fraternities/sororities aren't really that prevalent. We have a couple, but there are no regular parties except for the fraternity halloween party. Last weekend, I hung out with my friends a lot. We had study sessions (It's the week before exams) dowtown at the Book Exchange during the day and then watched movies at night. I usually go downtown to go to coffee shops or the local bars (there's a great music scene).
Ultimate Frisbee is our #1 group here; they travel and have a lot of fun. But people also participate in Student Government, Outdoors Activities (hiking, kayaking, caving...there are trips every weekend), Yoga, all types of intramurals and club sports, fencing club, you name it! We have over 110 clubs. I'm an ambassador--which means I give tours and tell people the wonderful things about our school! There's a lot of on-campus events, from movies to speakers (from Post Secret or musicians, etc.) so there's always something going on. Basketball games are somewhat popular and a lot of people do date, it's a small school though so you'll get to know each other well. I met my closest friends through a program we offer called the Wilderness Program where we went backpacking in Pisgah and climbed and mountain biked, but that gave me the chance to get to know other folks before school actually started. People mainly party off-campus or at clubs or bars downtown.
I love the office of cultural events. They bring really cool things to campus: a ukulele player, Indian musicians, and post secret among other acts. Tickets are only five dollars for students. In addition a lot of other things happen on campus. We have "block" parties in the Spring which are really cool. Our drama department does amazing shows. Athletics aren't as important but when big games happen people get really pumped. There isn't much to do after midnight during the week besides study. On the weekend there are a lot of parties on and off campus. It is better to party off campus though bc RAs have to be really strict if they catch you. Fraternities/sororities have mostly nice people in them but most students aren't involved in them. For my friends in them though, they have had really good experiences bonding and getting to know other people. Many weekends in Asheville I go out to eat at different local restaurants. On a Saturday night I can go to downtown Asheville, get some food and walk around. My favorite movie theaters are the Fine Arts theater and the 3 dollar theater at Asheville pizza and brewing which shows movies after their original run.
Overall, students at UNCA are passionate about expressing their interests socially and extracurricarly, while still allowing themselves to have a good time. The most popular student organizations on campus are ASHE (Active Students for a Healthy Environment) and College Democrats. The most attended sports games are basketball and soccer, which are always a lot of fun. Students are generally friendly and trusting, so dorm doors are usually left open. Most parties are in off campus apartments or houses on Thursdays or weekends. There is very little partying on Sunday through Wednesday. Marijuana and alcohol use is very popular, and harder substances are definitely there if you look for them. On-campus fun that excludes substance use is easy to find; Underdog Productions, the school's student-run programming organization, organizes the performance of bands, comedians, and speakers. There is one fraternity and two sororities on campus that do a good job of putting on events for the student body, but mostly keep to themselves socially. Off-campus activities are endless; from hiking along the Blue Ridge Parkway to seeing awesome shows at the Orange Peel, Asheville has a lot to do.
Social life = a good reason NOT to come to UNC-A. You can easily make friends with classmates, floormates, etc., but if you're well experienced with the Asheville area, like I was, then you'll have nothing to explore and you'll ultimately miss out on a key, explorational aspect of college life. I talk to people who are even from far away and are incredibly bored on weekends and after class. Many people leave on the weekends, which is no fun. All of the good parties happen far away, off campus ... and drinking is HEAVILY scrutinized in dorms. So don't try it. People smoke, and it's easy to get away with, and the lay-back-chill-and-smoke vibe is much more rampant than a "let's party!" attitude on campus. Theatre auditions are open to everyone, not just drama majors, and sometimes we get okay speakers to come to campus - emphasis on "okay." We're just too small to bring in anyone great. Go to the Orange Peel, Grey Eagle, or Civic Center if you want to see some good shows.
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