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University of Wisconsin-Madison

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What are the most popular student activities/groups?

There is no ‘most popular’ group on campus. The athletes are clearly worshiped by all, because they give us the many titles we earn each year. The school has two newspapers, The Badger Herald and The Daily Cardinal; both respected and frequently read all over the city. For people who were high school athletes, there are many club and intramural sports on campus that people get involved in. There are clubs for pretty much everything. From business, to photography, to Habitat for Humanity, pretty much everything is covered on campus. And clearly, if it is not here already, you can bring it here. My sorority, as of right now, is what I am most involved in on campus. We meet at least once a week, and are extremely involved both on and off campus. Each Greek organization has a philanthropy, or charitable event that they do annually. We have three. First, we have a fashion show that benefits the Make a Wish foundation. We have even gotten to help film a commercial for the foundation with a child whose wish it was to be in a commercial! Also, each Friday, we visit local Madison public elementary schools and read with students who are below their expected reading levels. Finally, we have an event called Celebration for Shona, in which we spend time in local pediatric units of hospitals. Besides these philanthropic events, we have socials with other groups across campus; participate in the competitions of homecoming week, and much more. However, I do have to say that being Greek on campus, I am actually a minority. While Wisconsin is a huge school, it is different from most schools in that Greek life here is lacking as compared to most other large schools. While going Greek is certainly fun, it is not at all necessary to enjoy your time here. It is actually more like the University is all of our fraternities, and Chi Omega is just my smaller group within that larger Frat. Games are a must. Season tickets are the most amazing thing that have ever happened to me. However, my best friend here hates sports, so it is definitely not a requirement. But really? Go to games, freak. I have personally been to many guest speakers and shows across campus, but I know that most people do not. I have been to a step show performance but the multi-cultural sororities and fraternities on campus, I saw Barack Obama speak twice, Chelsea Clinton once, Hilary Clinton once, a show called “the race show” on prejudice, the Ying Yang Twins, the DJ GirlTalk, Rockapella, and much more, all at the student union literally 3 blocks away from my dorm. And it is not just famous people – there are many student-run events and performances across campus as well. A lot of people do not take advantage of everything available here on campus, because it is nearly impossible to do so, but take in as much as you can – it is worth it. I met my closest friends in my dorm. Of my two best friends at school, one is my neighbor, and one went to high school with a different neighbor. My dorm is extremely friendly, and my door is always open. There are constantly people stopping by to say hello, hang out for a while, and talk about anything really. However, once your door is closed, everyone is aware that your privacy is needed.

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there are like 700 student orgs. you're dumb if you can't find one you like... or 6 you like for that matter. yes.. students leave their dorm doors open for the first half of the year. after that everyone knows each other pretty well and doesn't feel insecure about knocking to come in. i found that the second part of the year i wanted a little more quiet time being i had already met a lot of people and had a pretty good idea of who i wanted to spend time with. so yes.. open doors are prevelent... i personally had mine open when i felt like it and closed when i napped. athletic events- deservingly popular. football games are unbelievable. guest speakers are really popular too.. but they happen more frequently so there's not as "dense" of a crowd. theater is popular too. probably similar to guest speakers. the union has a lot of free movies offered... like superbad and that recent one w/johnny depp. can't remember it's name. the dating scene. well... there are a lot of cuties on campus. the girls seem to be more concerned with dating than the boys... who tend to have the "college mindset" of only living once. they get more mature though eventually.. i met my closest friends the first year in the dorms (SELLERY ROCKS!!! SOUTHEAST DORMS ALL THE WAY!) and then also through my sorority! i didn't know a single person at WI when i came.. and now have over 500 wisconsin friends on facebook :) it really becomes a small place.. and you meet SOOOOOOOO MANY PEOPLE. if you're awake at 2 am on a tuesday.. you're most likely studying. however.. you might be watching a movie w/friends/boyfriend/girlfriend or stumbling back from the bar. it all depends what your preference is. frats and sororities are as important as you want them to be! i'm in delta gamma and love it ..even though i'd never thought of myself as a sorority girl to begin with. it basically quadruples your network of friends.. how often to people party? thursday, fri, sat are a given... sometime wed... or sometimes just once a week. for the most part you usually are so burned out from using your brain all week that thursday is perfect timing for a little breath of fresh air. there's a lot of stuff you can do besides drinking. like i said.. the union has free movies. the union south has bowling. someone's always in their room playing video games. shopping... ians pizza..

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One of the great things about the university of wisconsin madison is that there is so much to do any given evening. As i tell prospective students on my campus tours, if you are bored on a friday night, you're not looking hard enough. Our student union offers a plethora of activites. From nightly concerts at the rathskeller and on the terrace to movies shown throughout the week, there is always something to do. one of the best things about our student union as well, is that beer is sold to students of age. While very strict in enforcing the 21 and over rule, it is none the less something very fun to do with friends on a lazy saturday afternoon on the terrace, over looking lake mendota. Elsewhere, you will find year round badger sporting events to attend. Whether football in the fall or hockey and basketball in the spring, there is always some even to go and cheer on the badgers. The Kohl center is another endless source of entertainment, hosting regular concerts and speakers. Recent events include the blue man group, Barak Obama, billy joel, bon jovi, and, i am ashamed to admit, brittney spears. Off campus, the university offers two malls, one on either side of campus. Both are readily accessible to students through our free bus passes, and perfect places for girlfriends to drag their significant others for a torturous night of shopping. It would also be heinous if i did not mention state street. Running six blocks, from campus to the capital, state street is my favorite place in madison. It has sources of entertainment, from bars with local and semi local bands such as Youngblood Brass band and Zox, and our famous overture center, which plays host to traveling broadway musicals such as Spamalot and The Phantom of the Opera. All this aside, my favorite thing about state street is the endless supply of food it offers students to sample. with over sixty different resturaunts, you can get calzones the size of your head, or pizza topped with hamburger and french fries! who can say no to that? A friend and myself have made it a goal to eat at every resturaunt on state street by the time we graduate. In this past year, we've made it about 2 and a half of the 6 blocks, which shows you how much more we have to go!

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I honestly can't even decide which student organizations and groups are most popular because there are so many different ones available, and so many different types of students that each one is important to many people. With this said, there are a few well- known organizations, but everything is truly interest oriented, and there is something for everyone. A prevalent organization on campus is called Hoofers, which is and outdoor oriented group that takes trips or outings that are focused on outdoor activities. Different branches of this group include the outing club, skiing and snowboarding club, equestrian club, scubadiving club and so on. This is just one example of the way that students organize groups based on interests, and how it can spread to so many different people. Also, even though it is not a group or anything, football games generate a lot of school pride and festivity that many students take part in to support the school and friends. I am a season ticket holder for football, and I wouldn't think of missing such a fun, exciting game during the season. Games generate so much school spirit and a sort of unique feeling that unifies the students in supporting the university. UW Madison is notoriously known for being somewhat of a party school as well, and while it can be very fun, not everyone does it, and there really are so many things to do that you don't always need to feel pressured to go out to a party. In fact, since so many students are so studious, it is understood when school comes first and you can't go out with friends. Otherwise, it really comes down to who you surround yourself with, and you can easily be accepted for doing whatever you like on the weekends because there are so many possibilities and so many different people to share them with. There is also frequent movies playing at the school unions, and a bunch of concerts on campus, so you can easily find something to keep you busy when you're not studying. Also the city around campus holds even more opportunities, and every student gets a free bus pass so it is easy to travel out to a mall or surrounding areas if you look at the bus schedule.

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I think oftentimes incoming students look to a school's Greek system to gauge what the social scene is generally like. At the University of Wisconsin, the Greek system exists but does not dominate the social scene. I was part of a fraternity, and while I appreciate the social, academic, and philanthropic avenues which my fraternity provided me, I also realize that there is a large social life in Madison outside of the Greek world. Many of the advantages of Greek involvement can be found in non-Greek contexts. For instance, students can take part in social and community activism through the Associated Students of Madison (a body of student government) or one of the two major student newspapers. Because the university is so large, students are intent on finding smaller communities in which to immerse themselves. While attending the university is enough to solidify one's identity as a Badger, extracurricular involvement is important in finding a more intimate, meaningful context. In other words, students find their way into the university through extracurricular activities which fit their interests and personalities. At the same time, these extracurricular activities allow them to expand their horizons and take on risks that are educational. Students find employment in the unions, the school cafeterias,the University of Wisconsin Foundation, and the libraries, which allows them to financially support themselves while providing fundamental services for their peers. Other students join business organizations to form networks and find like-minded peers. Students who excel in a certain language or who simply wish to experience a totally new culture study abroad.. I went to London during my Junior year, which was definitely one of my most rewarding, valuable college experiences. These activities are all lively, enriching ways for students to develop and grow.

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Since there are so many diverse students on campus, it's hard to pinpoint exactly what a "typical" student" is like. There are some commonalities though. Many students are involved in some organizations. One of the most popular is the Hoofers, which invites students interested in all sorts of outdoor activities to get together. They scuba dive, sail, ski, snowboard, horseback ride, hike, kayak... basically any activity outdoors, you name it, they do it! Another uniting aspect of UW-Madison is the sports and leisure activities. The culture surrounding football in particular it is as much a part of the football season as the games themselves. When basketball season rolls around people go nuts and host parties around the games (they provide a great respite from studying too!). Union South has a great, contemporary theater that screens current movies every weekend--for free! There are many options such as the theater if you're not into drinking, as many clubs host activities during the weekend that don't involve alcohol consumption. If, however, you are fine with drinking, you'll find no shortage of ways to have fun doing so. Seeing as Wisconsin and beer go hand in hand, students here enjoy having a few brews while hanging out with friends and partying. Though sometimes it becomes excessive--think the Mifflin Street Block Party--people usually have a good handle on their drinking and don't act stupidly. Other traditions like Mifflin include the All Campus Party (which doesn't involve alcohol) and Go Big Read, which is a school-sponsored event where a renowned author comes and speaks.

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There are all kinds of things to get involved with on campus, and not one group is obviously most popular. Sports are a big deal, and everyone has pride in our excellent teams, even if not an athlete. Football especially is a big deal, and going to games is an important part of the fall semester for many students. Student organizations cover a wide variety of interests, from Model United Nations, to Sci-Fi club, to Cheese Club, to Classics Society. I personally am the secretary for the Ten Percent Society, a social group for queer and allied students on campus that has weekly meetings involving lots of board game playing, as well as trips for things such as apple picking and laser tagging. I also am involved with UW's Hillel, the Jewish student center. I attend Friday night services weekly, and eat dinner and socialize with other Jewish students afterward. There is a pretty active Greek Life on campus if that's what you're interested in getting into. It's also pretty easy to avoid Greek Life on campus if that's what you're into. UW is constantly bringing in speakers or holding special discussions or lectures. Last year we even had Barak Obama come to speak. These are great opportunities to learn about things that don't necessarily have anything to do with your major. Madison itself has lots to offer students. There's the (in?)famous FreakFest and other Halloween celebrations, which I love, since Halloween is my favorite holiday. Also popular is the Farmer's Market, which is the largest in the area and is great for people looking for fresh, local food on a budget.

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Student orgs is where I met most of my friends. The Wisconsin Union Directorate is a great start. There are nine committees within WUD including Film, Music, Art, Society and Politics, Hoofers (horseriding, mountaineering, SCUBA, etc). I'm on WUD Film and we program free movies on campus 6 days a week ranging from Hollywood blockbusters to experimental avant-garde shorts. I'm on a long-form improv team called The Titanic Players that I auditioned for freshman year. I now live with 5 of my teammates and they're the best friends I could ever imagine. There's a big Greek life on campus, but I've avoided it completely. Madison is in Wisconsin, so of course that's a huge bar scene. There are dozens of cool pubs and bars of all types of styles, classy, typical college bar, gay bar, everything. Some even have 18+ dance nights if you're not of age. State Street is the main shopping and club street and it's got many restaurants open until 4 am, so even if you're out late there's something to do. The Henry Vilas Zoo, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Chazen Museum of Art, and Veterans Museum are all located on or near campus. There are many traditions in Madison including Mifflin Street Block Party every April where one can drink outside, Freakfest every Halloween (bands have included OK Go, Third Eye Blind, and Neon Indian), Badger football games, and the weekly Farmer's Market around the capitol every Saturday morning.

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Wisconsin, I feel, really spoils us as a student body when it comes to activity outside of study. There's just SO much to do. Sporting events, for me, are number one. The badgers are pretty much good at every sport. That makes going to games fun and exciting. The girls at UW are GORGEOUS. It's almost unfair. There is a strong dating scene here. Even Freshmen who get paired up early are happy about it because Madison is a dating-friendly city. Greek life is NOT that important, but it's something that I enjoy. Give it a shot if you want, and if you don't, you'll probably have a friend who will. Once they're in, you can go to their parties. This IS, as much as I hate to say it, a party school. People party. A lot. In the beginning it was almost disturbing. Welcome Week is the week after move in and before classes formally begin. Needless to say this week is the birthplace and manifestation of regretful decision-making, but it also was a lot of fun. There are things to do that don't involve drinking. I don't know how popular they are because of my living situation. On that note, and in ALL caps: IF YOU DON'T LIKE TO PARTY, PLEASE DO NOT LIVE IN THE SOUTHEAST NEIGHBORHOOD. I cannot stress that enough. Lakeshore and southeast are your living options for public dorms. Lakeshore is quieter and tends to be more academic whereas southeast is overbearingly social at times.

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Due to UW-Madison's size, students can find virtually any activity or group. Groups range from fantasy sports leagues to music groups to community service teams. Sports teams, clubs, and intramural leagues are also very popular. I myself am involved in both intramural volleyball and soccer, as well as music and church service groups. Because of all these options, it is easy to find things to do on weekends instead of just partying. Places such as the Orpheum Theatre and the Overture Center offer shows and concerts, ranging from local music groups to famous bands. If the weather is nice, the Memorial Union Terrace is also a great option for fun, friends, and music. Weekends in the fall will likely be a little more wild than normal, due to football games. I met most of my friends in the dorms my freshmen and sophomore years. I also met friends in classes and through St. Paul's Church. I considered joining a sorority, but opted not to. There are many options for frats and sororities, but the whole scene is not outlandish. There isn't a typical "frat row" that you see at many other colleges, but rather the frats are more interspersed and on the whole very welcoming to students outside the frat. If you get tired of campus life, there are also options off campus. Busses can take you the West Town or East Town malls, Target, nightclubs, and music bars.

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