Identities are homogenized in the structure of University community

Agnes Cho


        Identifying with a larger group is a very interesting phenomenon.

      We join other people with the same interests, motivations or goals as us. 

    Then, through our common experiences, we become constituents of this larger entity whose identity becomes our own. 

       So it is safe to conclude that the group we are part of becomes part of who we are, to some extent or another. 

     Relating our identity to the group to which we belong happens frequently and much more often than we consciously realize.

   I began to wonder whether we are truly independent individuals who can choose who we want to be or whether we are members of different groups that collectively define us as a singular person.

       And how much does our identification with a larger group affect us? Think about who you are now. 

   Think about what groups you belong to—your family, your friends, your school within Villanova, your sports team, your clubs. 

    Ask yourself how much of who you are is a result of who you independently decided to be and how much is the outcome of your membership in these various social, athletic and academic groups.

    The answers to these questions are not very obvious. Even the smartest, most put together person may question the roots of their own identity and will be unable to give clear-cut answers to such questions. 

   We believe that the more groups we identify with, the more well-rounded and interesting we become as individuals. Therefore, the more connected we feel as a larger community.

    In the beginning of our college careers, we excitedly join organizations and explore classes that we take interest in.

      In other words, we are open to trying new things and broadening our sense of selves, doing things such as joining Outdoors Club with the mindset of “Yeah, I can be nature-y!” or taking a random class in a fascinating subject simply to deepen an interest in it, even if such class is irrelevant to the declared major. 

   During this time as freshmen, and even sophomores, it is easy to  indulge these interests because there are plenty of opportunities to do so.

   We are encouraged to do different things and invest our time and efforts into exploration. 

      Afterall, part of college is trying new things to discover our true passion. 

    However, this inevitably becomes more difficult as we advance through college and we must pick our groups that we will eventually commit ourselves wholly to.Thus, those with similar majors within the schools of Villanova begin to flock together, and the stereotypes of each school come into play as our identities become seemingly more homogenized with time. 

   We have all heard the portrayals of each “typical student” in the College of Liberal Arts, College of Sciences, School of Business, College of Nursing and College of Engineering. 

   The students in each school all apparently have the same strengths, the same weaknesses, the same personalities and the same persona. 

    They all joke the same way, speak similarly, and have the same complexes and flaws, and most importantly, they all flock together. 

   For better or worse, each group possesses their own distinctive identities, and being part of one of these groups means that we submit ourselves to its identity and characteristics. 

      This  does not mean that we should not be close friends with the people we find ourselves consistently surrounded with in classes that pertain to our majors. It is important to find like-minded people to be around and enjoy their presence. 

   But this doesn’t mean that we should break the invisible barriers that increasingly separate us from the others in the course of four years—especially when we sense that our identifications with our groups hinders us from continuing to grow or explore subjects that exist beyond the barriers. 

    We must make efforts to render ourselves as dynamic and multifaceted always striving to connect with people and interests outside our comfort zone.

     We should make sure that we do not do ourselves a disservice by narrowing our options and remaining stagnant within one particular group that feel identifies us. 

    However, we cannot fulfill this task on our own. 

    We need the help of the groups themselves to make their members unique additions, rather than identical constituents.  

     We need the continued support of the groups as individuals try constantly to draw their own ties between different the different things they are interested in. This   may encompass more opportunities for interdisciplinary projects, studies or simply collaborations. 

   Only if we continue to cross the invisible barriers throughout our four years can we find what our larger community has to offer.

    In turn, as individuals we will offer the most to our larger community—Villanova. 

    Because ultimately, doesn’t the strongest, most unifying bond come from the fact that we all identify as Villanovans?