‘I Hope I Make Friends’

The Life and Times of of Anderson Hall C-Sec, 2017

Alex Brockman, Feature Writer

Take a walk through Anderson Hall on a Sunday night, 8:00 p.m. and a strange silence will surround you. Each dorm room remains empty, aching for its owners. Reaching the end of the hall, the silence is broken by the warm chatter of a meeting of friends soon to be a family. It is section meeting night in Anderson Hall.

Section dinner in Prentiss dining hall. Photo by Samarah Uribe

Third week of college, treading the line between unnerving anxiety and the bliss that comes with finding your new friends. The members of C-Section, fondly known as C-Sec, slowly trickle into the section lounge. I sit on the shiny green couches, waiting for the second time in my college career to meet my new section mates, even if it’s only for an hour or so. Each new entry to the room results in a double take as their eyes dart back to me, the unknown figure, before giving a little smile and sitting down on the floor.

As the flow of first-years begins to slow, Katie Davie, the RA for C-Sec calls everyone together. The first matter of business is the section flag football team’s first game. “I thought that flag football was capture the flag, and it was only yesterday that I found out they were different. So it will be great!” grins Katie. As laughter ripples around the section lounge, the individual personalities of the section begin to shine through.

“Well I thought it was soccer!” chimes in a girl across the room. Soon the section is all roaring in laughter.

“It was about a week in that I started to feel like people were coming out in their personalities. The first section meeting was like a lot of ‘AHHH!’ I was also feeling that way, and now its seems like people are getting more comfortable,” Davie said.

The members of the section agree. As they took turns sharing their rose, thorn and sexy gardener, a tradition at Anderson section meetings, many people say that their high (or rose) of the week was becoming more comfortable at Whitman.

The shift towards feeling at home is welcomed by many, as they agree that their first week of college was very nerve-wracking and stressful. At section dinner later, I joined Lena Friedman, Lauren D’Angelo and Brooke Neupert, all members of C-Sec, on the lawn of Prentiss. We each sat with our plates of sustenance ranging from salad to pasta.

Photo by Samarah Uribe

“I was pretty nervous [during orientation]. There were people everywhere – all in the halls – and the RA’s and SA’s were helping me carry my stuff up. It was kind of like going to summer camp, but then you’re staying here for a lot longer,” D’Angelo said.

For Neupert, orientation was busy and overwhelming, but as the school year has progressed, she is beginning to realize how big of a change college is. “I was just thinking in steps. Like, okay, you do this next and then this and this. I didn’t really have time to process in that moment. And now I’m settling in, and I’m like, ‘Oh crap!’”

For many of the section members, coming to college was a welcomed change from high school, but there are some things they miss.

“As far as curriculum and school stuff, college is already way better,” Neupert said. “Not to, like, bash my highschool – I did go to a really good high school. But I mostly just miss my old teachers and friends. They’re all scattered across the country at their respective colleges.”

In recounting their week in section meeting, many residents of C-Sec had a common low: the seemingly all consuming piles of homework that have entered their lives since beginning college.

“[There is] a lot more reading than I expected. I mean I expected the humanities classes and social sciences to have a lot of reading, but basically every class is reading so, like science and math and more STEM classes you’re reading from a textbook, and it’s just a lot of reading, so you have to prioritize your time for like … [getting] the amount of reading done,” Friedman said.

The section meeting is one part of college that Friedman did not expect when coming to Whitman, but has grown to love. “[I] didn’t know there were a lot of planned activities and that you’re closely linked with the group of people in your section. I just thought you move into a dorm and that you come and go and make some friends that live near you.”

Lena said that she appreciates all of her section activities. “Even if you’re not going to be best friends with your section mates, they will be just another face on campus you have a connection with.”

The section dinner theme was birthday, and the residents of C-Sec made their own party hats. This idea sprung from a suggestion made by a section member. At the section dinner, she broke out in laughter and suggested that they sing happy birthday to an unsuspecting person in the dining hall – many of her section mates giggled in agreement.

“I think we all get along really well. I think roommates tend to hang out with each other more than everyone else, but I think we’re pretty cohesive when we’re all together and I think we have a good vibe going,” D’Angelo said.

While sitting between Brooke and her roommate at section dinner, they laughed and exchanged jokes as if they had known each for years.

“I think that’s it’s mostly one big group, but our wing definitely hangs out a lot. We have the bend on the side and we all know each other pretty well,” Neupert said.

“I’m kind of surprised by [how comfortable my section is at Whitman] … I mean I’m happy people are really doing well, but it’s kind of funny to see how quickly people feel like they’re acclimated and comfortable.”

Davie links her surprise with being able to look back on her own first-year experience and see that there is still more growth to come. “In hindsight, I can tell that when I thought I was acclimated, I still went further and became more comfortable. So at the time you feel like you’re far, but there’s still more to come.”

Photo by Samarah Uribe

Throughout each Whitman students’ college careers there are many milestones to pass. One of these milestones is the infamous first-year 80’s dance. A night when first years gather in the courtyard of Prentiss in their craziest 80’s costumes and dance with their new classmates. Legendary for the sloppy first drunken nights in college, cringe-worthy hookups and strange social dynamics, many Whitman upperclassmen are sure to remember their own 80’s dance. These fond or embarrassing, and often funny, memories are what draw many upperclassmen to the windows of Prentiss hall to observe the new class on the infamous evening.

Friedman and many of her fellow first-years found these observers odd, but they did not let them ruin their night. “It was cool that it was right outside and it was a cool dance and the 80’s has a lot of good jams. But it was kind of awkward because all the upperclassmen in Prentiss were like videotaping me, so it was, like, you know … uncomfortable.”

During my short stay in C-Sec there were echoes of my own memories. I was brought back to the sheer nervousness and exhaustion I felt while meeting what felt like half of the world and having to put on a big fake smile, the happiness I felt when I realized the girl two doors down and I were becoming friends and the often embarrassing memories of entering a college party as an awkward first-year. Looking back a year, I know that the residents of C-Sec have much more to experience and grow, but the process is all a part of the first-year experience.

Many of the girls of C-Sec are unsure what the rest of their year will hold, but many of them have goals they hope to achieve.

“[I hope] to get good grades and not get so stressed out. And I hope that I make friends. And succeed at most things that I do. And just generally be not super stressed, that’d be nice,” Neupert said.

Davies’s goal for her section is to simply make Whitman their home and its students their family.

“I hope that people would have their doors open. It was one of the things that was really nice about my first year. And I think that’s happened a good amount. Another thing … [is] I hope that people can walk into the dining hall and feel not afraid of like, ‘Who am I going to sit with?’… That they would see a group of other people in C-Section or just in general other people in Anderson and feel comfortable sitting with them.”