Social Interactions in Sharples

There are a multitude of experiences, commonalities, and quirks shared by Swarthmore students. Add the plethora of traditions and the collective grind of academia, and the Swarthmore experience feels like a unified struggle.
However, perhaps nothing brings together Swarthmore students like the ever-polarized SHARPLES! As the only dining hall on campus, Sharples is a hot spot for hungry students after they’ve languished under the ungodly expectations of professors the whole day.
The lunch rush is a sight to behold. Your best bet for avoiding the long line in Sharples during the lunch rush is going to the grill. If you wish to satisfy your tastes at any other station after 12:20, a long line awaits you.  I know a lot about line trends and students’ individual feeding clocks because once upon a time, I used to spend as much time in Sharples as in a Seminar. During my freshman fall, I was known as Mr. Sharples. I’m less inclined to spend unbelievable amounts of time in Sharples nowadays, but I’ll never forget the memories that came from my time learning in Sharples 101.
Freshman fall: on a typical school day, I wasn’t thinking about my chemistry problem sets, my 100 pages of seminar reading, or any of the extracurricular engagements with which I had needlessly burdened myself. It was pass/fail and all I could think about was Sharples. Not necessarily the food or the understated ambiance, but the people. Who am I going to meet today? What whacky new stories will grace my ears this evening? Anticipation kills. I’m having Sharples withdrawals as I sit in my classes. Watching the clock is an exercise in torture as the minutes tick by way too slowly.
But then – the time comes. Classes are over and dinner awaits. I’m there at 4:30 on the dot, a little bit after Sharples open for dinner. I want to meet everybody, so I always arrive as early for dinner as possible. Most days, I wouldn’t make any dinner plans with anybody because they were so restricting. Armed with a smile, a generous sense of humor from the big G O single D himself, and a myriad of interesting stories, I’d greet everybody. I’d shamelessly interject myself into group discussions, and soon I had lovely friends and acquaintances from all social circles.
Such behavior earned me the admittedly deserved reputation of a “homie hopper.” For those unfamiliar with the definition of a “homie hopper,” it can best be defined as a person who chooses not to settle down in a specific friend group for the sake of enjoying the benefits of numerous friend groups. Integrating yourself with so many diverse groups of people starts with “playing the game,” as my friend Angel Padilla ’18 puts it. Playing the game involves asking and receiving basic introductory questions about hometowns, majors, summer plans, and the less personal bits of information that rarely pique anybody’s interest. However, asking these questions is essential to establishing a foundation of friendship, and these questions sometimes even procure gold.
After getting through the often-unavoidable awkwardness, my efforts were rewarded with raucous good times, bellowing laughs, and deep bonds that will never be severed. Sharples is also a great place to satisfy other motivations. Let’s ponder a hypothetical situation in which you peep a fine lass or lad who tickles your fancy, but you have reservations about approaching said person. Having many friends is great because the object of your affection may be sitting with people you know, and your connection with those people allows you to make yourself present before said person. From that point on, you can put your best self forward and woo the person of your dreams. I have employed this technique many times in my short Swarthmore career, and it’s almost foolproof.
Sharples is truly a microcosm of different cultures, attitudes, and backgrounds. It isn’t always a harmonious experience, but there is a general sense of tolerance and acceptance present among the student body when we pack into Sharples like a bunch of sardines. Despite the contentious debates and tense moments that naturally follow from such close proximity with so many people in one building, we’re all in this together; respect for peers is always at the forefront. Given the current sociopolitical state of America, it might behoove certain politicians to examine how we do things in Sharples for tips on how to run this country.

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