Rebekah Nathan’s “Community and Diversity” focuses on the changing definition of the word community on college campuses and how that change affects the way students spend their free time and interact with other students. While campus directors set up and promote campus life community with good intentions of providing every student with interesting activities and helping first-time students make the jump from home-life to college-life, big communities usually only take away from the little free time left in the day and make students feel more isolated and alone. The demand on students to participate in every campus activity in order to form a healthy campus life community pushes students further away from organized groups and makes forming small, exclusive social networks even more desirable.
At the beginning of her essay “Community and Diversity,” Nathan notes most students only feel a sense of togetherness in three areas: “age, pop culture, and a handful of (recent) historical events” (Nathan 101)—areas that do not exactly function as ties that bind. Even as campuses pour more resources and energy into trying to involve students and to create a functioning community, many students instead opt to reserve time for themselves and small groups of friends, forsaking the large, time-restrictive group for networks of “individualism, spontaneity, freedom, and choice” (Nathan 105). While these egocentric groups often overlap, they rarely have identical matches, as each student creates his or her own network on a basis of proximity and similar interests. Many of the groups are also either entirely comprised of a single ethnicity or include only one or two persons of different races.
Although the large, organized form of campus life community has largely become obsolete for most students, smaller social networks continue to function as a way for students to participate in community on a convenient more individual level. While college presidents and organizational leaders might view a student’s choice to not participate in community programming as “‘student apathy’ or ‘program irrelevance’” (Nathan 104), students would analyze this choice in a much different light. Every decision a student makes to hold back time for him or herself creates an opportunity to form a close bond with a fellow classmate or friend. This essential bonding time creates a mini-community that helps students become well adjusted and cared about, instead of becoming just another number at an event or in a club.
Dave Eggers, a man who created an afterschool one-on-one tutoring program for students in Elementary through High school, understood that in order to thrive, students often just need someone to care about them and give them the necessary tools to succeed. When Eggers originally began this program, he asked teachers what would help them and their students the most. Amazingly, most teachers “really need . . . more one on one attention [for the students] . . ....