To conquer or to conform to college cliques

By Allison Heimlich
Typically when someone says the word “clique” our minds go to two places: Regina George and her minions in Mean Girls or “ain’t nobody messin with my clique” from the lyrics of a recent hit by Kayne West, Big Sean and Jay-Z .

The stereotypical reference to a clique is all the different groups in high school consisting of meathead jocks, snarky popular girls and brainiacs with glasses.

But what really defines a clique? Is it the people who make up the different representative groups in society or is there more to a clique that causes people to like or dislike them?

Upon hearing the word “clique,” many students at USD think of exclusive groups of people who care little about getting to know others around them.

Many would also argue that cliques are created upon first entering college, therefore making it difficult to become a part of a group once they are formed.

“I think of a group of people who are exclusively to themselves and are otherwise apathetic to those around them,” sophomore Jaz Tinsley said. “They stick to themselves and don’t try to diversify or branch out.”
There is clearly a negative connotation that is associated with the word clique. By definition, a clique is nothing more than “a small group of people, with shared interests or other features in common, who spend time together and do not readily allow others to join them.”

Nowhere is it said that cliques are exclusive or that the members of the cliques do not care about people outside of their group.

However, cliques have come to be notoriously recognized for the negative association they hold among high school and college students.

People attack the word when it is linked to the idea of exclusiveness or the idea that no members can join once the clique is formed. But what is so wrong with having an exclusive group you can trust and belong to?

Perhaps it has been drilled into our minds so much that cliques are negative, that we start believing it ourselves, regardless of whether or not it is right or wrong to have a small group of friends to be a part of.

Although many students often associate cliques with being negative, there are still students at USD who have a much different interpretation of the word “clique.”

“I think cliques have a negative stereotype but if a person is able to be a part of many different social groups, then I think that’s a positive thing,” sophomore Shauna Park said.

When it comes to defining cliques, people with different experiences and backgrounds came up with varying views of the term, but rightfully so, as each person possesses their own unique frame of reference. Much of our interpretation of cliques has to do with those that existed in high school or even in middle school. If our views on those groups were negative, we are often forced to believe that the cliques that exist in college are also negative.

For the sake of having a consistent denotation of the word, we will continue to define a clique as a group of people who gather for a common interest. We will also say that based on popular assumptions, the probability of infiltrating this group, or becoming an accepted member, may be difficult.

Keeping this in mind, when asked if USD has cliques, Park had the notion that they exist due to the fact that cliques are a natural and inevitable part of college life.
Other students, however, have different views on the existence of cliques at USD.

“USD has cliques but not as many and not as strict as other schools,” sophomore Jackie Muklevicz said. “Overall people are pretty inclusive.”

The consistent answer came from students being asked if they could name an environment where cliques cease to exist. The answer was unanimously a “no.” I think this is because whether the purpose be to dominate the school or comprise a team that will win a state championship, cliques are inevitable and exist in almost every environment we will ever be exposed to.

While initially it may be grueling, as members must meet a certain group criteria that may not be explicit, finding a clique is a natural part of human existence. We all need reassurance, a feeling we belong somewhere and we are important. We all want to be certain we make a difference in the world, at least in one way. Cliques grant us this opportunity.

Cliques will exist in most aspects of society and some cliques may even have smaller niches of cliques within them. However, the thought does not have to be a cynical one. Cliques accept the people within it, making it impossible for just anyone to be a part of it. Not everyone may agree with the people within the group of the dynamic of it all, but that is what makes us human.

“Cliques have the ability to make people feel completely included in something or completely excluded from something,” junior Julia Gautho said. “They will continue to exist in almost every aspect of life so long as we allow them to control the way we interact with others.”

Speaking for USD students, cliques exist but the consensus is that our school still remains fairly inclusive compared to other universities.

“Personally I think USD is one place that’s not to bad about it,” sophomore Jaz Tinsley said. “Everyone’s polite to each other and even if they’re not actively attempting to be inclusive, they’re not rejecting those who want to be included.”

In the end, if cliques must have a shameful correlation, at least our school is safe of many of the negative aspects that accompany them. We can only hope that we continue to be regarded as an inclusive community in which even when cliques exist, they are accepting of the diverse student body who call this university home.