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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


College offers students chances to join ‘tribes’

Whether through sports, government, volunteering or Greek life, many University of Wisconsin students manage to find their niche in a sea of more than 40,000 peers. As The New York Times put it, students don’t just attend a college — they join its tribes.

Badger football games are a big way many UW students come together, UW senior Brian Zblewski said.

“It gives you a chance to unite with people you know and a team you’re familiar with,” Zblewski said, noting the campus community comes together for football games. “We like to identify with something. I really don’t think it’s anything deeper than that.”


UW offers nearly 700 student organizations, according to the UW website.

Zblewski is the president of the business fraternity Beta Alpha Psi. He said the group has professional meetings with various business and accounting firms as well as outings to Milwaukee Brewers games and socials at the Nitty Gritty.

“We’re a pretty close bunch as student organizations go,” he said. “I dedicate a great majority of my social life to Beta Alpha Psi.”

UW junior Krystal Buchert said she joined a social sorority because she was looking for a group with common interests and because she wanted to get involved on campus.

This year she is among the directors of the annual Humorology show, a Greek comedy performance to benefit Camp Heartland and the Chris Farley Foundation.

“Being a director [is] a good way to keep up with interests I’ve had since high school,” Buchert said, noting she was involved in dance and choreography.

Buchert added she is proud to wear her letters around campus.

“I think of my sorority as a very positive thing and I feel lucky to be a part of it,” she said.

Some, like UW sophomore John Mendel, said involvement in philanthropies is crucial to their campus identity.

He is working with three other members of his fraternity to organize their annual “Tour de Touchdown,” a bike ride in which the entire fraternity cycles to an away football game to raise money for the UW Children’s Hospital. They hope to raise $10,000 this year — an all-time record amount.

“A large part of joining the Greek system is social,” Mendel said. “But you can’t discount the other things Greek life gets you involved in. Right now my social life is taking the back seat to Tour de Touchdown.”

Eileen Lalor, a UW senior, has worked with the sexual assault awareness group Promoting Awareness and Victim Empowerment for a year and a half. She is the campus outreach coordinator.

“I think [PAVE] is an important part of who I’ve become. I learned a lot about the campus and the community,” she said.

Lalor said she spends between 15 and 20 hours each week working at PAVE.

Sports teams are another way in which students form an identity.

Kari Harmon, a UW junior, said being on the crew team is a big part of her college experience. Just as Buchert is proud to wear her Greek letters, Harmon said she enjoys showing off her crew gear.

“The first days were incredibly hard, but I stuck with it and got better,” Harmon said. “Now my whole team is like my best friend. I live with all rowers.”

UW junior Mike Clay is the co-captain of the UW club water-polo team.

He said talking about his involvement in water-polo serves as an “immediate ice-breaker” with people.

“It’s something to do to make yourself interesting, because not a lot of people know about water-polo or have ever been to a game,” he said. “I like being part of a team. It’s like a whole different group of friends I have.”

Ashok Kumar, a UW sophomore, said he was involved in student government in high school. He ran for UW Student Council before joining the finance committee and, after interning with the academic affairs office, he became the chair.

“I’d say it’s a huge part of my identity,” Kumar said. “Identity is what distinguishes one person from another. Student government is what distinguishes me.”

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