By Ryan Dickinson
CCC Journalism Program
BLACKWOOD – Walking the halls of Camden County College is similar to riding the bus – everyone is in the same place, but no one is talking. A few students stand as silent as statues, avoiding eye contact with intense persistence, while others merely talk with past friends or high school acquaintances. This is the sentiment among countless Camden County College attendees. Many students around campus believe their fellow classmates are introverted and less willing to socialize with those around them, creating a social unease not apparent among students of more traditional colleges.There are a number of prevailing reasons among the Camden County College students who attempt to explain the introversion found within their population. Andrew Bonnette, a first-semester student at the Blackwood Campus, believes the problem stems from the non-localized nature of Camden County and community colleges in general. The fact that “students leave class at the end of the day and go in a hundred different directions to a dozen different towns” creates a feeling of disconnection among the student population. Unlike traditional schools, where classmates conventionally live together in dorms, students at Camden County are spread all throughout the state. Bonnette supposes this difference makes students hesitant to initiate seemingly futile friendships. When you “realize that the only time you may see a person is during one class, you find it hard to start a meaningless conversation or relationship.” Consequently, students may tend to keep to themselves rather than try to cultivate 50-minute friendships.
Another argument for the timidity of Camden County College students places the blame on the organization of the school itself. Tony Devlin, another first-semester student at Camden County College’s Blackwood Campus, believes the lack “of activities, mixers and other social events make students feel like they are not part of a community.” Devlin, who attended Rutgers University before making the switch to Camden County, says incoming students at traditional four-year colleges are inundated with opportunities to meet fellow classmates, an opportunity not afforded to most Camden County students. He believes this deficiency deprives students of a forum outside of class to congregate and socialize with their peers, placing the social burden solely on the classroom.
Although Camden County does offer clubs and sports, neither is directed intentionally toward socializing or making friends, such as a student events club. Clubs and athletics, as well, can be very time-consuming, adding unnecessary pressure to busy students simply looking for a social outlet. These lacks of social activities, Devlin contends, “are the reasons why Camden County College can often seem like such a lifeless place.”
A review of Camden County College’s Campus Events yielded little more than a few exhibits and activities undertaken during school hours. The only extracurricular event is a bus trip to Washington, D.C.’s Cherry Blossom Festival, an event aimed toward a seemingly limited population. The promotion of this event is similarly limited to a small announcement on the college’s Event Calendar. When questioned, a number of students agreed they knew little or nothing about any ongoing events. Although they preferred not to be formally interviewed, among their suggestions for solutions were school functions and parties during the weekends, as well as better promotion and notification of the events. It is these implementations, many of the students believe, that will refill the silent halls of Camden County College and make the school a much better place to attend.