By Alyssa Jarrett
City on a Hill Press Reporter

<a href="#" onclick="‘;,’mmwindow’,’width=400, scrollbars=1′); return false;"><img src="; alt="" /></a>

<p>To the untrained eye, UC Santa Cruz is just one huge, sprawling campus. But every Slug knows that it’s broken down into 10 individual colleges, each with its very own personality.</p>

<p>These colleges within the university were built with the hope of providing students with the benefits of a major research university, while simultaneously maintaining the more personal environment found at smaller schools.</p>

<p>Now, 43 years later, this residential experiment has yielded some interesting results.</p>

<p>At the top of Cardiac Hill, Crown supposedly produces the best and brightest: biologists, engineers and mathematicians of the future, while Merrill boasts a queer-friendly community. Further east, Cowell and Stevenson share the most breathtaking view of the campus overlooking Monterey Bay. Colleges Nine and Ten, the campus’ newest additions, offer modern housing at the center of campus. </p>

<p>Deeper in the woods, Porter and Kresge have acquired reputations of holding free-spirited and artsy hippies who live in a perpetual state of drugs and debauchery. College Eight represents a sunny SoCal ideal, with picturesque landscapes eerily familiar to suburban track homes. And with its tight-knit feel, Oakes is home to many students of color.</p>

<p>Like Harry Potter’s Hogwarts, students often get caught up in their own college niches and forget that they live as a united community. Judgments start to be made about the other colleges based on race, academics and social scenes. Now full-fledged stereotypes dominate the campus.</p>

<p>But stereotypes don’t just afflict a few colleges. They afflict every college at UCSC, and are so well-known among students that they easily turn from harmless water-cooler gossip into permanent archetypes. These cheap, cardboard cutouts have come to represent the entire college on the basis of a few accepted perceptions. </p>

<p><b>Racism Disguised</b></p>

<p>To outsiders, Oakes’ dark, wooden exterior that blends into the scenery may make it seem gloomily hidden away from its college peers.</p>

<p>Fifth-year Stevenson biology major Ankur Denapiya described it bluntly: “Oakes is ghetto as fuck!”</p>

<p>In a small survey compiled by City on a Hill Press, Oakes was often characterized as “African-American,” “black,” “ethnic,” “the minority college,” even, shockingly, “the box Colleges Nine and Ten came in.”</p>

<p>As an Indian-American, third-year Jessica Gill takes offense when the diversity of her college has negative connotations. </p>

<p>“Just because it’s at the bottom [of campus] by itself, doesn’t mean it’s shady or ghetto,” Gill said.</p>

<p>When she came to UCSC, Gill said she felt overwhelmed by its largely white population. </p>

<p>“I checked it out, and I felt at home, because it was mixed,” Gill said of her interest in Oakes.</p>

<p>Gill also revealed that she hates to eat or attend class at Crown and Merrill, because she feels like she sticks out like a sore thumb.</p>

<p>Race is a huge factor not only in Oakes, but in other colleges like Merrill, known for its Latino population, and Nine and Ten, seen as “the Asian colleges.” However, College Nine’s population is 46.7 percent white. College Ten’s Asian and white populations are about equal. </p>

<p>Cowell seems to be packed with white students, and Stevenson has a religious twist, often characterized as the Jewish college through its nickname: “Stevenstein.” </p>

<p>The Office of Institutional Research and Policy Studies (IRPS) reported in fall 2008 that 96 of 396 black students at UCSC reside at Oakes. Twenty-three percent of Oakes’ population is white, whereas over 60 percent of students from Cowell, Stevenson, and Porter are white. </p>

<p>However, while the IRPS data shows that Oakes is diverse, campuswide assumptions that it is “ghetto” have no evidence to support them, and only perpetuate the racist perceptions of inferiority. </p>

<p>“It’s more acceptable to stereotype by college than by ethnicity,” said Kirby Conrod, a second-year Porter student. </p>

<p><b>Academic Clusters</b> </p>

<p>In addition to race, academics play a major role in forming the purported personalities of each college, since incoming freshmen often choose a college with a core course based on their interests.</p>

<p>“Porter’s core course ‘Writing Across the Arts’ sounded awesome,” said Conrod, a literature and linguistics major.</p>

<p>In fact, “Writing Across the Arts” gives great insight about most of Porter’s population: Porter is home to approximately 35 percent of the entire student population in the Arts division, according to the 2007-08 three-quarter average of undergraduate majors by college compiled by IRPS.</p>

<p>Even students from different departments enjoy Porter’s creative reputation.</p>

<p>“Porter was the most attractive, and I felt comfortable in its artistic, alternative atmosphere,” said Thuy Tien Pham, a first-year biology major who chose Porter as her first choice when applying to UCSC. </p>

<p>Other core courses directly relate to the academic trends of students. It is not surprising that College Eight has the most environmental studies majors, when its core course’s theme is “Environment and Society.” </p>

<p>Similarly, Crown’s core course, “Ethical Issues in Emerging Technologies,” hints at the fact that the college has the highest percentage of engineering and physics majors on campus.</p>

<p>University faculty members are responsible for constructing core courses and choosing the location for their departments.</p>

<p>“The faculty has some role in reinforcing [the stereotypes] because they moved into greater clusters, instead of being scattered around campus,” said Deanna Shemek, Cowell co-provost and Italian studies professor.</p>

<p>Shemek said she believes that the division of departments is convenient, since professors can often teach at the same college where their offices and mailboxes are located. She also said, however, that students rarely choose Cowell because of its reputation as a humanities college. </p>

<p>“Overwhelmingly, students choose Cowell because of the view and its proximity to OPERS and the bookstore,” she said.</p>

<p>Choosing a college for its location is practical, and Shemek finds that because of this, Cowell students are sensible and intelligent in a variety of subjects.</p>

<p>“Since our most popular majors are biology, psychology, literature and sociology, we reflect the statistical spread of the campus,” Shemek said. “Our goal at Cowell is to be a microcosm, a sampler box, of the university.”</p>

<p>Although Cowell is widely characterized by students as a home to the “jocks” of UCSC, Shemek refutes the stereotype that athletes are less academically-focused students.</p>

<p>“Athletes are very dedicated to personal development and health,” Shemek said. “Student athletes really have to organize their time, keep an agenda and keep their grades up.” </p>

<p><b>Where the Party At?</b></p>

<p>“Drugs, drugs, drugs. Hippie artists who love drugs,” Pham said, summing up Porter and Kresge’s well-known social reputations.</p>

<p>Conrod added that Porter is known for its partying, loudness and nudity, while Kresge students are frequently characterized as not showering.</p>

<p>The accuracy of Kresge and Porter’s stereotype as the party colleges is difficult to ascertain. Although numerous sources were contacted, no solid, factual information regarding the amount of drug use between colleges is readily available. And even if such data were compiled, it would only be able to reveal the individuals who received drug violations, not the ones who use drugs but don’t get caught.</p>

<p>“CREs and RAs have openly admitted to me that they really don’t want to catch drinkers or smokers,” Conrod said. “It means a lot of paperwork and hassle for them, so the students understand that as long as they don’t flaunt it or explicitly rat each other out, they’re reasonably safe from repercussions.”</p>

<p>If Kresge and Porter’s wild and crazy personae are at the top of the social coolness pyramid, the other colleges seem to pale in comparison. </p>

<p>Pham called Eight the “preppy Barbie college” and Conrod called it “Barbie and Ken’s dream house.” </p>

<p>Not many students commented on the social scenes of Crown, Nine and Ten, though the three are sometimes referred to as “World of Warcraft heaven.” Like those in most American colleges, students in artsy, eccentric Santa Cruz seem to think that science and computers do not follow their definition of a rockin’ good time.</p>

<p>For the most part, Merrill College is socially stereotyped as “Sterile Merrill” — boring and bland. No other social stereotype was mentioned in the survey, perhaps implying that nothing ever happens at Merrill that is actually worth mentioning.</p>

<p>Seth Hodge, Merrill College programs coordinator, is aware of this stereotype. </p>

<p>“Merrill often goes unnoticed, because it really is nestled up at the top of campus hidden away in the redwoods,” Hodge said. “I think this year we have begun to grow out of that stereotype even more with the amazing success of our dances.”</p>

<p>Hodge stated that Merrill’s Moat Jam and Halloween dances each gathered over 500 students from all 10 colleges, and spring quarter’s annual Glitterball is expected to draw an equally large crowd.</p>

<p>Hodge himself considers Merrill “the best-kept secret at UCSC” — adding that this year’s college T-shirts bear the slogan “Merrill College &#8230; totally worth the climb.”</p>

<p>After a closer look at each college, unique personalities emerge and frequently tear down the generalizations. Fortunately, most UCSC students are wise enough to grasp that although the college stereotypes can be fun to talk about, they don’t necessarily reflect reality.</p>

<p>“Although some of the stereotypes may be true,” Pham said, “it’s not the only thing that college is made of.”</p>

<p>—–<br />
<a href="">Discuss and share this story on SlugLife.</a></p>