When I came to Wellesley a little over a month ago, I had no idea what to expect. I knew my academic life would be both challenging and rewarding, but I was completely unsure about the path my social life would take. Though Wellesley College is known for many things, its social life is definitely not one of them. In order to adequately prepare for college, I watched YouTube videos made by both Wellesley alumnae and current students, and read through many online forums about social life, eventually coming to the conclusion that any possible social life at Wellesley would have to be fostered off-campus. However, after a month as a Wellesley student, I am beginning to question the validity of this statement.
It is true that many common spaces around campus originally meant for socializing have been repurposed for studying. For example, when I walk into the Tower dining hall for breakfast or even Café Hoop, there are always a number of students simultaneously eating and studying. To be honest, I have done this too. However, there are also a great deal of students who sit with their friends and talk about their day, among other things. Since both studying and socializing occur on a regular basis, I don’t see this as a particular problem that the college needs to immediately address. Some of my most fulfilling conversations here have been in the dorm room with my two best friends — which is a more private setting — and I think that’s completely normal, as this form of bonding also occurs in schools that place a greater emphasis on a social life.
That being said, most people need to unwind in some capacity after a stressful week, and while some students enjoy getting off campus, not everyone does or can afford to do so. This is why there need to be more student-led events around campus, whether through parties like Remix and Noise Complaint or more relaxed and chill events like Bingo or Movie Nights.
There are, however, other components of having a social life that I don’t think are nurtured at Wellesley. There is inevitably some truth to the statement that to maintain a social life at Wellesley, one must leave campus. Every weekend, there are a number of students who head to Cambridge or Boston to attend parties and relax after a stressful and intense week. Sadly, though, not everyone has the luxury to do this due to a variety of reasons ranging from financial reasons to lack of time. It is sometimes forgotten that not everyone can afford frequent weekend trips to the city because of the inevitable costs of a night out. Furthermore, as fun as late-night trips to Cambridge and Boston are, we always have to be cognizant of the bus schedules and make sure we safely catch our ride home.
Thus, the biggest problem that needs to be addressed is the occurrence — rather the lack of — academics-free events. And this is the student body’s responsibility.
I do think that both administration and students have taken actions to reach this goal. Although some aren’t as talked about as others, there are usually different events, led by student organizations, happening around campus that cater to specific interests. Furthermore, residential life has started Community Engagement hours, where resident assistants go to common areas and have conversations or do activities with their residents. This goes back to the idea of taking back common areas and making them a place for both socializing and studying rather than just studying.
Actions have been taken to improve the social life at Wellesley, and while there are still problems with it, there are problems with everything. Ultimately, Wellesley College’s social life is a work in progress, but it is, in my opinion, something that is improving with time.