A common stereotype of the students at the University of South Dakota is that we are a "party school." Like all colleges, students at USD love to have fun, but we also have a variety of other options. The university has over 120 clubs ranging from academics, philanthropy, intramurals, hobbies,and just about anything you can think of. USD also has a strong community base in Vermillion, with activities for students both on and off campus. Athletics is also a large interest at USD, whether you want to join a team or be a fan. USD football has moved into division one and reignited the rivalry with SDSU, whose first game will be November 17th, 2012. Opportunities are continuing to grow at USD both academically and recreationally. Although partying can be part of the college experience, it is only one of the many options that USD has to offer.
One association/organization that seems very important at USD (as compared to other schools in the surrounding area) is Greek life. There are several fraternities and sororities on campus, and pledging at the beginning of the school year is a big deal. Stereotypes that exist about greek life are that different houses become too cliquey, or isolate themselves from others. As a non-greek, I have several friends in fraternities and sororities, and have found that most members aren't as isolated as rumored to be. The same kind of cliquey stereotypes also holds true for athletes at USD. The general stereotype is that athletes pretty much keep to themselves and to others in their organization. This holds true for a few select sports, but often many athletes still branch out and get involved with other students and clubs on campus.
Here at USD, we have the typical stereotypes that are universal at all colleges. Students do not have to be segregated to one group of course. I have met many students who are genuine people even though I may not have wanted to hang out with them prior to college. The overall feel of the campus is a close knit community. It is hard to walk around the courtyard without saying hello to someone that you know. If I were to summarize the general population, I would have to say average. However, this is not a negative attribute. It is just a wholesome community of students who do not practice a social ladder of any kind.
Here in Vermillion, the population of USD isn't exactly diverse. In terms of how cliques form, I would venture to say that the athletes tend to stick together most. Other groups are somewhat less visible, but they exist. Brainy writer-types hang out at certain events and locations, while science/math students fill their time together in their own respective clubs and societies. There is also a fair amount of hipsters, that wear tight corduroys, smoke pot, and wear fedoras. They are harmless though.
From what I have seen, the University of South Dakota does not have a lot of stereotypes. People are very easily accepted into all aspects of the college life and can very easily make lasting friendships.
One of the most difficult stereotypes to dismiss from an outsider observing our student population is a lack of diversity and that our students are all "farm kids." The University of South Dakota is located in southeastern South Dakota, which is a daunting thought for someone who has always lived in a large city. The population of Vermillion is about 10,000, and many students are afraid that our student population is made up of students who have only lived on farms their whole lives. While some of our population is from the rural Midwest, we do have a lot of students who are from urban areas of Florida, New York, Texas, and California, to name a few. We have a student population consisting of Caucasians, African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and many who are not from the United States. Our population is incredibly talented and diverse.
The notion that USD is a "party school" is pervasive, both outside and within the university. USD very well may be a party school, as any college is or can be to some degree, but it is not simply or only a party school. USD also has a exceptional faculty, an advanced and expanding campus, and a capable and committed student body. In addition, USD offers a number of extracurricular programs like intramural sports, drama, language clubs, writing clubs, and myriad of others organizations tailored to the interest of students. Partying, as traditionally associated with college, does happen at USD but this partying isn't indicative of a lazy or unmotivated student body or a lax faculty. While it si true that some USD students will part, the larger and more important truth is that all students at USD will be given a broad and challenging education.
A lot of cowboys and hicks. but it's easy to find other groups that aren't those types of people