UCSC: What I wish I had known about my college’s reputation


By Alexandra Leong
Unigo Campus Rep at UCSC                                                                                                                                            
One of the most underrated yet basic things to know about the college of your choice is its social reputation, and unbiased opinions are often unavailable to prospective students.  There are definitely some things I could have known beforehand about UCSC reputation and UCSC college reputation to prepare me for what I would eventually learn the hard way, especially about the social scene at the University of California Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz, like all major universities, has its stereotypes.  Often misconstrued as a hippie or stoner school, UCSC is probably more similar to other UC campuses than all of its 10 internal residence colleges are to one another.  UCSC’s campus is truly segregated, which is one thing incoming freshman are often unaware of.  

UCSC is made up of ten domestic colleges: Porter, Kresge, College Eight, Oakes, College Nine, College Ten, Crown, Merrill, Cowell, and Stevenson (in no particular order).  Each college has its own theme, which tends to attract students with those specific interests.  Over time, these categories have stuck and created the stigma of the stereotypes that each college bears with each UCSC college reputation.

Before picking Porter, all I really knew about the college was that it was the “artsy” college.  My reason for picking it was based on the decision I had then to be an art major.  Little did I know Porter was a haven for the typical hippie demographic: vegans who deem meat as murder, girls who don’t shave their legs because they think it’s oppressive, people who walk around naked because they think it promotes freedom, and every other typical and endless cliché that students feel the need to represent simply because they live at Porter, thus the self-fulfilling prophecy.  In hindsight, I should have realized that the brochures of Porter were targeting a specific culture, or cult.  I should have known that incoming freshmen have expectations of college, and the second they get there they feel the need to overcompensate and do something “unheard of” to truly feel they’re where they belong.

oakesIt’s not just Porter that has a bad reputation. In fact, Porter is probably has one of the best, depending on what college you go to and what kind of student you are.  Arguably, there are worse.  One of the most unfortunate consequences of the campus’ de facto segregation is that Oakes is colloquially known as the “minority” or “ethnic” college.

Its theme is one of social justice and caters to “historically underrepresented groups,” thus its prevalent multiculturalism.  While this special interest may be favorable for those groups, it tends to condense these minorities and keep them remote from the rest of campus; Oakes being physically the most isolated college on the West side of campus, housed in what appears as cabins.  This kind of segregation gives the other colleges a predominately “white” demographic which at times makes Santa Cruz feel very much like a bubble. 

What other students wish thy had known: 

andice Tiffany Marais, a third year film major at UCSC says, “I wish I had known that the majority of social contacts are made freshmen year.  Every year after that the opportunity to meet new people seems to decline.”

Ashkahn Jahromi, a third year theater arts major at UCSC says, “I wish I had known that there was no center of campus.”

Dana Rietdyk, a third year Literature major at UCSC says, “I think it would’ve been nice to know how campus is interconnected and the secret paths you can take that you can’t get via car or bus.”

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