Wellesley tauts its diversity during the admissions process, and on one hand, it's true that the campus is very diverse, on the other hand, I don't think that we mix all that well all the time. LGBT is definitely a part of daily life on campus, and I think it would be tricky to make it through Wellesley without having that experience personalized in a friend, roommate, yourself... I think that for me, coming from a more socially conservative family, having gay friends, gay role models, gay coaches has been something which has both made me and allowed me to be really reflective about my own beliefs and my own worldview - and that's something which I don't think would have happened somewhere else, because here, it's part of the mainstream much more so than I think at many other schools. Generally, the campus tends to lean left, which can sometimes drown out the more conservative voices on campus, leading to a misperception of the general liberality of the campus. Religion is, on one hand, an important part of many students' experiences, and our Division of Religious and Spiritual Life does, I think, a great job of exposing students to each others' traditions and supporting students who do want to practice their religions, although that's definitely true for larger religious groups moreso than smaller ones. We have a Multifaith Council and a Multifaith Cooridor, and those are both great experiences for students who choose to participate. At the same time, I think that there are always going to be very loud voices on campus, proudly liberal, proudly atheistic - or at least, seeing themselves as unencumbered by religiously motivated conservatism - which sometimes create an odd disjuncture in daily life. On one hand, I feel very comfortable being Catholic here, especially because the Newman community is very welcoming of people at all points on the spectrum of Catholocism. On the other hand, I've had friends tell me that they think religion is stupid, religious people are stupid - and they often backpedal from that, or say, "well, not you, but most people" and that can be really frustrating.
Here is Wellesley's student body in a nutshell (keep in mind that I am generalizing a bit): Race- there is interaction and friendship between students of all races, but there is still a bit of a divide between the African American population and students of other races. Religion- practice whatever religion you want, or no religion at all...other students don't really care. LGBT- I have many gay friends, straight friends, and bisexual friends at Wellesley. It doesn't play a factor in friendships...people are people. Socio-economic- Thanks to Wellesley's generous financial aid, there are many students that come from low-middle income families, but women from wealthy families still probably hold the majority of the student population. That's not to say they are all "poor-little-rich girls." Most of the students who have a lot of money are still very down-to-earth. You will probably feel out of place at Wellesley if you are unaccepting of alternative lifestyles or if you are uncomfortable being around same-sex relationships. I usually roll out of bed 5 minutes before class, stuff a hat over my bed-head, and pull on jeans to go to class. This is typical of a Wellesley student, but many students also go to class dressed like they are going into a business meeting- it's just personal preference. Ok, so here's a scenario of 4 tables of students in the dining hall: Table number one consists of 3 or 4 seniors and juniors with books open studying for a chemistry exam they have in 20 minutes. Table number two consists of a very loud bunch of 5 African-American students, 1 Latina student, and 2 white students. Table number three consists of a group of 6 friends who all work at one of the student-run food co-ops on campus and also work at Wellesley's radio station. Table number four is like table number three, except they don't work at a co-op or the radio station...one is a swimmer, one is an econ major, one is a math major, one is a history major, one is a theater major, and one is on the rugby team.
For the most part, the Wellesley community is open to differences. I haven't heard of any rift between groups of any sorts. I think that a conservative, homophobic, racist, 18th century woman would feel out of place. Students dress decently to class. There are some that put more effort, but there is never any seriously sloppy people. I think there is much interaction- my main group of friends covers many religions and cultures and socio-economic statuses. One table has a student or two studying for their exam next class, the second table has the rugby team just relaxing, the third table has a group of everyday friends seeing each other for the first time that week and making plans for the weekend. The last table has a rather enthusiastic lot of students, laughing away at something that happened. Most students are from New England and California, like me. I don't necessarily think that a certain financial background is prevalent. I think that it all depends on what financial background the observer is. I have a knack of spotting the Abercrombie, Coach, Louis Viutton, Gucci, DKNY, etc. people because it is blatantly obvious.I would say the majority of the students are politically aware and active, personally I find it difficult to keep up with it. I think there are more left wings. I think that students talk about how much they will one day earn because of how much we need money now.
I could tell you coming in to Wellesley, I was probably one of the minorities of minorities. I was a pansexual, Wiccan, lower-middle class Mexican. And yet, I have managed to feel like I was a part of this campus and not some sort of oddball. I became involved with Wellesley's LGBT organization, the Latina organization, and the Pagan group and found people I can share a background in. My socio-economic status was not a large factor in whether I got along with certain people or not- it just didn't matter. I feel that even if students are worlds apart, it is still possible to get along. For example, my roommate was the type of person who reads Cosmogirl, Vogue, and really picked her outfits well, took the time to do her hair all nice, and her make-up etc. I was the type of person who would wear mostly black outfits, couldn't care less about makeup, doing my hair meant brushing it, and I didn't read any sort of magazine. When we saw each other for the first time, I'm pretty sure both of us must have thought that the housing office had mistakenly paired us up. Nevertheless, we still respected each other, we didn't become BFFs but we sure didn't set up a wall between us. We say hi to each other whenever we see one another even after we don't live together. So yes, I do believe that different people can interact.
Wellesley girls tend to be very 'liberal' (what ever the hell that means) but rather close minded to the views of their 'opposition'. They would rather be PC, green, democrat then a conservative, traditionalist. There have been many times where I have mentioned my conservative side and then I am automatically branded. Examples... 1. any liberal politician or other type of speaker, preaching the saving of something or another can come in and present and over half the student body will show up, make banners, display pins of support, donate money. A republican politician or speaker comes in and half the student body shows up, 5 (only the brave few) show up in support the rest come to protest with banners and buttons and making rude comments or very pointed questions. 2. The 2004 presidential elections. I am a republican, I was watching the debates and election returns, all the while being berated by 'fellow students'. I was a freshman (I am sorry that is un-PC, first-year), now does that make me feel welcome in my school? Not really. I can't wait until they are in the 'real world' for a few years and start seeing the 'other side' for its good values.
The student body at Wellesley is diverse. I'm an international student, and have many friends from many different backgrounds. Some might say that some groups are under represented, however I wouldnt say that any of them are non-existant. Its a typical elite school. 10% international, 5% African American, 25% Asian American/ Pacific islander (including South Asian), 7% Latina and 45% White. And people are from many different economic backgrounds. Racial and ethnic groups are very active on campus and I find that people are very open to learning from one another. I did have my complaints about how little people knew about where I come from, but that was me setting my sights too high. People are difinitely interested in knowing about one another. Our multi cultural requirement also adds to that. In addition we have many different students that identify with different sexual orientations. They too are very active. A great thing about Wellesley is that everyone interacts with one another, and its easy to go from one group of people to the other. People are politically aware, and active and its not difficult to be active on campus.
Wellesley students can't really be described in a nutshell. As noted above, there are prevailing stereotypes of Wellesley students but there really is a niche for everyone. So don't worry, if you don't own a set of pearls, or you aren't really into dating girls, you'll be ok. I would however put in a disclaimer. Wellesley students are not, on the whole, activist hippies who chain themselves to trees. We are more likely to change the world through bureaucracy and intelligence than through protests and sit-ins. Another thing that most Wellesley students are not, is conservative. Whether it is New England, or feminism or just being young, the prevailing political atmosphere on campus is definitely liberal. There might be 5 republicans. As for the racial and socioeconomic background of Wellesley students, Wellesley is one of the most diverse campuses in the country. There really is incredible opportunities to meet people who come from different cultures and to discuss your culture with them.
I dont know if anyone would feel out of place here, because I think there are so many different kinds of students that it would just be a question of finding one's niche. There is a LGBT community on campus, but I've found sexuality to transcend all groups, and to become a non-issue among friends. People don't really care either way, and its just not a big deal. There is a lot of money here, but Wellesley is great about being very generous with financial aid, so there are definitely students who do not come from great means. The greatest thing about Wellesley is you can really be who you are, some people wear full make up, pearls, and heels to class whereas others come in their pajamas, or work out clothes if they just came from practice. All Wellesley students are serious about their studies and are at school to get a good education, they're all special or talented in one way. Every Wellesley woman is going to be successful in her own way.
The student body here is so diverse, which was another thing I didn't think was so important when I originally looked at schools, but I was lucky and fell into a good one. It makes such a huge difference. You get to meet people you never dreamed about meeting. Sometimes its a good thing and sometimes its a bad thing. That's just a part of living on a college campus. There are so many different organizations and people and classes and groups that anyone from anywhere can feel comfortable. I'm from a tiny Midwest town and I get along fine with people from New York City and California (there's a huge Californian population, by the way). Wellesley has predominantly left thinkers. There's a group of Wellesley College Republicans, but they're motto is "We do exist!" if that tells you anything about how few there are. But sometimes I think that's required for an all-girls school.
One of the stereotypes about Wellesley that actually is true is the student body's tendency towards liberalism. While there are definitely Republicans on campus, the overwhelming majority of us are Democrats. The campus is very diverse in every other way, however: students identify with every religion, race, socio-economic status, nationality, and sexuality imaginable, and with few exceptions we all interact and befriend each other without problems. One of the great parts about going to a women's college is that when it starts to get cold or when it's finals week and you don't have time to sleep, let alone put on makeup, no one give you the side eye when you show up to class in tights, a hoodie and no makeup. Although lots of students wear heels and classy outfits to class year-round, no feels judged when they show up to class in clothes they could easily have worn to bed.