Comets often complain that UTD is largely a commuter school and lacks a social life compared to other Texas universities. However, both the administration and students are to blame for the antisocial culture.
According to US News, 78% of UTD students live off campus. While not living in the dorms has its benefits, developing friendships can be difficult when less time is spent on campus. Not having roommates to bond with in a large school, eating meals alone at home and studying at 3 a.m. in their room instead of with friends are all things that cause students at UTD to feel isolated.
As a commuter school, UTD needs to improve on systems for students to socialize, such as updating the database for student organizations and ensuring that events are planned properly.
On the other hand, students themselves should encourage positive attitudes toward socializing by putting in more effort to get to know peers in an academic-focused environment.
Many people will recommend joining clubs to expand one’s social circle on campus. However, UTD’s confusing student organization website makes this difficult. Meeting times for organizations are not clearly indicated, making it more difficult to plan around one’s schedule, and there aren’t enough links and contacts for active clubs, which can make students want to give up. In my personal experience, it was a lot easier to learn about clubs from people I already knew, but this choice is not available for everyone.
Freshman global business major Cameron Stallings said that as someone who has both commuted and lived near campus, socializing has been incredibly difficult when she must drive 40 minutes to class. The lack of awareness about campus events has made it even tougher.
“It’s a little harder to attend some of the other social events,” Stallings said, “because I can see them through the UTD app, but a lot of the time I don’t really check it, so I don’t really know about them.”
The UTD app does have a dedicated section for campus events. But, be honest, who is really checking it every day? Additionally, not every event is listed on there, as the app particularly excludes those that might cater towards students’ special interests. Why not announce events more often on Instagram, such as through a dedicated account for that purpose? I’m sure most students wouldn’t bother checking the official account for events, anyway. In the same way, a dedicated Instagram account for clubs with weekly spotlights could help bring attention to organizations open to more members.
Student events are a crucial step towards making UTD a more social campus. Events tend to be hit or miss, with praise for the content of the event and criticism for their organization. However, administration and university organizations are not the only folks who deserve blame for this. UTD students themselves tend to contribute to the lackluster social life with their negative attitudes and self-isolating tendencies.
“A lot of people are more focused on studying rather than talking and hanging out,” Stallings said. “Even with me, a lot of the friendships I’ve made have been through study groups, and then we move on.”
I mean, I get it, I’m a commuter myself. I know that after classes you just want to crawl back into bed in the safety of your own home. But you can’t complain about not having any friends and blame it all on your school when you barely even try. People in your classes are there to learn, not just to make friends, so it’s important that you try to socialize at events or wherever there’s a lot of people. Most importantly, you aren’t going to instantly make friends at events either. It’s a matter of trying repeatedly. Eventually, you’ll find people you can click with. But if you go to one event, feel like you haven’t met anyone worth a friendship, and then go online to complain about how your university sucks, that is on you.
It’s a deadly cycle. Most events are forgettable, so people avoid them all together, then complain about the lack of social life here without attending a well-planned event. Students stray away from seeking out groups that have common interests with them because it is difficult to do so online. Then the same people will complain that there’s no active or interesting clubs for them to join. Poorly planned events feed into bad student attitudes, which feed into lack of attendance at events, which continue to feed into the negative feelings about socializing at UTD… you get me?
Events can help tremendously with socialization on campus, but the issue is not only a lack of events. The issue is spreading awareness of such events and undoing the negative attitude towards socializing that has developed from a commuter-based campus. UTD should advertise events and clubs on a larger scale and students should attend them. A better system for creating and advertising clubs needs to be implemented so that students can find more people with common interests, and students should seek organizations and events out instead of complaining first. This requires team effort.
We can become the most active, eventful campus in Texas if we try, but that will never happen if students’ attitudes or proper event planning does not improve.