ZOE WILSON | Correspondent
The Wolfpack is a strategic choice for a mascot because it represents a group. Wolves can be fierce against a predator, but they are social by nature and flourish when surrounded by company. Although our mascot upholds an idea of welcoming in new members to the pack, how friendly are students to each other on campus? Anxiety and depression rates for college students are rising on a nationwide scale.
Could this be caused from challenging environments in or outside of the classroom? Usually having a friend to vent to about problems to can help decrease anxiety levels, but if there is no one trustworthy to confide in it is easy to see how a vicious cycle of depression could spiral out of control. For outsiders, it can be hard to familiarize themselves to a completely new campus that has academic, social and cultural barriers. Although NC State takes pride in being a diverse campus, students do not frequently interact with those they do not perceive to have much in common.
Communication major Julie Kemp transferred from a small college last spring as a sophomore, and found it intimidating to make friends at first and said it was difficult especially because “I lived off campus and although there are more options to make friends at a big school, I think its easier to do at a small school.” Although she found herself constantly surrounded by peers on campus, she said even though there’s so many people, it is hard to surpass the acquaintance level into becoming actual friends, and it’s hard to connect with people on that level especially when they already have their group of friends.”
Associate Director at the counseling center, Michael Bachman, often hears many students disclosing they feel lonely whether by themselves or when with a larger group. “I have found that many don’t feel connected to others in a more personal or meaningful way.
They may not feel that they have enough in common [interests and values] with those around them or that others don’t really know, understand, or care enough about them,” said Bachman. In an initial interaction with a classmate or peer it is usually impossible to know what kind of positive or negative situations the person is going through.
It takes time to build trust in strangers, and for some people their past social experiences can trigger a more cautious or hesitant insensitive to share themselves with someone new. Mr. Bachman said, “Some students may be going through a period of intense questioning of their identity which can lead to feeling disconnected to both themselves and others they have known, giving rise to a greater sense of loneliness.” While it may seem easy to dismiss the quiet kid in the back of the room, making an effort to welcome every unfamiliar face will spread a feeling of unity in our Wolfpack.