Cafe discussion on Thursday, Sep. 12
Gillian Hunt (Scribe), Tommy Matt, Kat Lukens, Asana Hamidu & Nicole Eigbrett
As we sat outside the Sullivan student center we looked around us at a campus we all know well and discussed the different cultures present on our St. Lawrence Campus. We then, based on our discussion in class, broke them down into the five different groupings of culture that Raymond Williams outlines: the effective dominant, oppositional, alternative, residual and emergent.
In the effective dominant culture (hegemonic as Gromsci refers to it) we found quite a few, but the overarching dominant culture is the “bubble” that we call “the Laurention” community. We are located in such a remote place that our campus has produced a very tight-knit community that rallies around athletics as fans and athletes with all the spirit gear and paraphernalia to match and a certain style that when you see it you can’t help but think “that is so St. Lawrence.” With the athletics we realized that, however good our women’s sports teams are, it is a male dominated part of the Laurention culture where people are much more excited about going to the men’s events than the women’s. The partying and drinking culture is also very big on our campus, there is almost certainly something going on every Thursday, Friday and Saturday and more times than not throughout the week. On the academic side of things the most popular majors we discussed were economics, history, psychology and biology. Biology we noticed seems to be a favored major as we sat under the shadow of the high-tech, air-conditioned Johnson center whereas we global studies majors were suffering in 80 degree weather in the E.J Noble center. Thelmo is the last dominant culture we discussed that is present on St. Lawrence. They are the student body that controls the money and what clubs are allowed on campus and a number of other things that decide what we as the community get in our Laurention experience.
When we discussed oppositional cultures, we realized that there were not any absolute ones that we could think of. And this made us wonder, are we just content with our culture and don’t see a need to seek or create large changes? The only ones we could think of really are the sustainability house whose goal is to change how people think about sustainability on campus. The other one may be the global studies majors and community because we also want to change the way people think about the world.
There are, however, a lot of alternative cultures that are fine just existing by themselves and not trying to change the system. When it comes to the partying and drinking culture there are two main cultures: the Tick Tock culture and the Java culture. The Tick-Tock culture seems more accessible to a lot of students and it is a “must do” experience on every SLU students bucket list because there is so much hype from peers. It is also really the only club-like place in the area and accepts people 18 and over so there is a larger population that can go than the Hoot. The Tick Tock also plays a lot of mainstream music so it is a lot more accessible in that respect as well. The need to go to the Tick Tock, we thought, stems from the national “clubbing culture” that is at every college and that the Tick Tock is really the only place that there is that kind if vibe. On the other side of the spectrum there is the Java Barn culture. This is a much chiller atmosphere with a very different style of music, more alternative, reggae and others like that. There is a sense that you either love it or you don’t get it. Our group argued that it is a free music venue which should be more attractive to the student body, but it only is to a select group (even from other schools). Another alternative culture is all of the different theme houses that function in their own realms around the inner SLU community. There are houses and living situations for people of all different interests from the artist’s guild and Habitat to the I-House SWELL, scholars and wellness floors. We did notice that there aren’t really any extreme alternative cultures on campus because St. Lawrence attracts the same kind of people who are already here because of legacies and the tradition of students coming here from Prep/Boarding schools.
The only residual culture that we could identify on St. Lawrence campus is the Greek life. It is not a huge part of our campus now in particular, but it is trying to keep alive the tradition that used to be a bigger presence at SLU. It is also trying to keep up with other campuses where Greek life is a much bigger part.
The emergent cultures that we identified and discussed were the sustainability house/semester program where they are taking the recently growing phenomenon of sustainability and putting it into practice. There are also the increased international students that St. Lawrence is trying to attract to increase our diversity. Though within this there is selective incorporation of those students who can afford an education at a very expensive school even with scholarships. In this way SLU is exclusive. We also believe that the global studies program is emergent because it is promoting a different way of thinking than the dominant majors that have been around for a long time. A lot of these ideas are coming with the exploration of the interconnected global community.
(A small part of the Laurention, global studies culture)