The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Students, staff, faculty reflect on community at Guilford

It’s a concept that comes up again and again in diverse contexts all across campus. As one of our core values, it influences the experience of anyone who lives, studies, or works at Guilford College.

That concept is community. Guilford defines community as the “cultivation of positive relationships between, and common experiences among, students, faculty, and staff.”

However, knowing how to cultivate community and deal with all its nuances is difficult. We talk about the community at Guilford, but then we hear about low club attendance, divides, and even apathy.

It does seem that students are concerned about this topic. The Guilfordian conducted an anonymous, informal survey of 67 students. 42 respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that the community at Guilford is strong, however, 45 respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that the community at Guilford needs improvement.

The following quotes and perspectives are offered as a starting point — a way to expand the dialogue over what community means to us: what our current sense of community is, and how we might approach it differently.


“In the over 21 years I’ve been here, I’ve seen a variety of changes that have negatively impacted the possibility and practice of community at Guilford. When people didn’t get someone by phone, they used to get out of their office and go across campus to talk to that person. That doesn’t happen anymore.” – Max Carter, director of the Friends Center and campus ministry coordinator

“There are definitely splits within the faculty. We try to model good, honest dialogue, but I don’t think we always do that. But the majority does try to listen with charity and empathy.” – Maria Rosales, assistant professor of political science

“(I’m a) CCE student — who has time to think about community?!” – Survey Respondent 25

“We’re all too busy. We have to think about what we have permission to spend our time on. Those things are credits, work study, and jobs. Then we get to engagement and community-building.” – Zak Wear, senior and Community Senate outreach co-chair

Getting Active

Some students have started rebuilding community on their own. Levi’s Coffin, a “dead poets society,” was started recently by juniors Hadley Davis and Jamie Sisk.

“Essentially we all just come together, people read poetry, they sing songs, and it’s quite emotional,” Davis said. “Our first meeting lasted for about three hours, and about 40 kids came.”

“We actually had a poem read by a student talking about how you meet someone your first year … and by the time you graduate, you don’t even acknowledge each other,” Davis said. “That’s the kind of distancing of people we’re trying to fight back against.”

“(At Levi’s Coffin), Guilford College didn’t exist,” Sisk said. “It was a weird conglomeration of us. It was bursting the bubble within the bubble.”

This is just one example of students actively reestablishing community.

Involvement and Improvement

“Statistically speaking, there should be about 50 to 100 ‘queer’ people at Guilford, but we usually get about 10 at Pride meetings. There are more people here that we haven’t been successful in reaching out to yet, and we’re not sure why.” – Seitz

“I believe that community starts with involvement. If more people came out to sports games, OSLE activities, and Residence Life programs, then people that don’t normally hang out could get to know each other.” – Survey Respondent 28

“I think it’s important not to dwell on having community just for the hell of it. If we attain community, it’s possible to push that even farther so we can explore ourselves.” – Sisk

“Don’t tell me there’s a problem (with community at Guilford) unless we’re talking solutions. Otherwise, we’re just perpetuating that problem. If there’s a problem, let’s do something about it.” – Alt


“There are several small circles or sub-communities. Those groups create their own common good, but it can become isolating and doesn’t provide broader benefits. In our worst moments, we promote that isolation.” – Carter

“I feel like there is much more of a sense of integrated school-wide community than at other colleges, but the internal divides and cliques are still very present — athletes, Greenleaf workers, even racial division.” – Survey Respondent 58

“Looking at the campus in general, there are a lot of different friend groups, but I see diversity within those groups. People here are generally accepting and even celebrating of minority groups.” – Taylor Seitz, sophomore and religion and spirituality outreach coordinator for Pride

“At Guilford we’ve taken differences and turned them into ‘divides.’ That’s unhealthy and counter-productive. It leads to false dichotomies and dualism.” – Aaron Fetrow, vice president for student affairs and dean of students

“There are certainly rifts in the community. There are divides … that fragment the community. However, these divides exist in every community and Guilford, unlike most, acts to bridge these gaps.” – Survey Respondent 26

“I think those divides are perceptions. I can see them, but I don’t buy into them. I think the minute I give acknowledgment, I make those perceived divides stronger.” – Tammy Alt, associate dean for campus life

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