An Interview On
Occidental College

Background

Interview Date:February 2019

Gender Identity: Female
Race/Ethnicity: South Asian
Sexual Orientation: Bisexual
Graduation Year: 2021
High School Experience: Public school in Manhattan, New York with a graduating class of about 150 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: Yes
Majors: Critical Theory & Social Justice (CTSJ) and Philosophy double major
Minor: Education
Extracurricular Activities: I write for the school newspaper, I [have a leadership position] for Planned Parenthood, and I also work for a neighborhood partnership program.

Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
The newspaper does because I meet and talk to a lot of people throughout campus. It also takes up a lot of my time.

Academic Experience

Can you describe your weekly coursework for your majors?
For Philosophy and CTSJ, it’s mainly reading, writing, essays, and reflections. It’s more so theoretical writing opposed to being exam based.

Is there anything that you feel either of your majors’ departments do especially well or poorly?
I can’t really say because I just declared this year and don’t know the department that well. But, regarding Occidental overall, I think the Core Program needs to be changed a little bit. I feel like the language and math courses are redundant and they remind me of high school. In general, I think they do a really good job of having interesting courses.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s definitely more collaborative, especially compared to other schools. I feel like we work more with people, and it’s more based on how you’re doing, rather than how you’re doing compared to other people.

Do you feel that people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
I think so. There’s definitely more of a liberal perspective at Oxy, but I think people are open to thinking more broadly about certain things.

How accessible have the professors in your department been?
For the most part, they’ve been pretty accessible. Most professors have office hours and they answer emails which has been pretty nice.

Why did you pick your combination of majors? Are you happy with your choice?
I possibly want to go to law school, so I was thinking Philosophy would be good for that. Also, I took classes in both and they spoke to my interests and what I care about.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Bell Young with two roommates.

Sophomore: Stearns with one roommate.

How was transitioning from Manhattan to the Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA?
Compared to being in the city, I had to get used to how much more relaxed it is here and how people mainly get around in cars.

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I generally feel safe. Because we have an open campus and aren’t in the middle of the city, random people will sometimes come onto our campus during weird hours of the night. I’ve heard stories of people being harassed on campus, but I personally haven’t experienced any of that.

Pros and cons of being located in the Eagle Rock Neighborhood of Los Angeles?
Pros:
1) It’s really pretty here. You can see the mountains from campus, especially if you’re up where my residence hall is.
2) The community here is pretty diverse. Eagle Rock has both Filipino and Armenian communities.
Cons:
1) The lack of transportation in general.
2) You have to go out of your way to go do things.

Social Opportunities

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
Oxy is a pretty small campus, so sometimes the parties aren’t the best, nor are they what people would deem a wild college party. My friends and I go clubbing once or twice a month. For the most part, we just hang out and play [party] games with each other.

What nights of the week do you regularly do things?
Usually Friday or Saturday. Greek life isn’t prominent at our school, but a lot of sports teams have their own houses, so we usually go to those parties. [There are 7 recognized Greek organizations.]

What’s an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
Usually hanging out with my friends. We have small dorms, but they’re big enough to hold 10 to 15 people.

How has identifying as LGBT influenced your nightlife experience? Are there any LGBT nightlife options that you like to go to?
I personally haven’t gone to many LGBT parties on campus, but I know there is this gay night at a club we’ll go to. Certain nights these clubs are 18+ and certain nights they’re not.

How happy are you with the weekend options at Occidental? Is there anything you would change about them if you could?
Sometimes it does get a little repetitive and boring. I wish there was a bigger party scene here, but I think for the most part it’s not that bad.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
I met my friends through other people on campus, and just being here the first few months.

How was transitioning academically as a first-generation college student? Are there systems in place that help you transition?
Socially it was a change I really liked. Growing up, I wasn’t surrounded by that many White people, but at Oxy, it’s predominantly White. Academically, it was kind of hard because growing up I didn’t feel like I needed to try that hard to do well in school, but now you have to. I joined some clubs my first semester, but I didn’t follow through or keep in touch with those.

How would you describe the overall social scene?
People are really friendly. It’s a small campus, so you either know, or know of everybody. For the most part, people have a solid friend group they hang out with.

To what extent do you think people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
People of different sexual orientations and races do socialize here, but I feel like it’s hard for people of color to find their space at Oxy because it’s such a White institution. [The student body is 14% Hispanic, 5% Black, 51% White, and 13% Asian.]

How would you describe the student body?
I feel like the people here try to be very socially aware and liberal. People really like hiking, and a lot of people are vegans or vegetarians.

To what extent do people in Greek life and not in Greek life mix socially?
I really have no idea about Greek life, I don’t keep up with it or care for it much. There’s a few fraternities and sororities on campus, but I don’t really know anybody in them. [There are 7 recognized Greek organizations.]

How do you like the size of Occidental in terms of undergraduate enrollment? How was transitioning to a school with [about 2,055] students?
It’s nice. You get to know everybody and get to see a lot of familiar faces. It can be a little annoying at times when you don’t want to see people.

How strong is the LGBTQ community on campus?
I’m not really involved in the LGBTQ+ community, but I do hear of it a lot. There are clubs on campus, I know we have a Queer house, so it’s pretty prominent.

How would you describe the South Asian community on campus?
I know a few South Asian people, but the community is pretty small.

Careers

What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
I used the career office for my resume and finding internships. They were actually really helpful.

Financial Aid

Have you used financial aid? If so, accommodating was the office to your needs?
I’m on financial aid. Oxy does really well with financial aid. I haven’t been to the office, but they are pretty accommodating. I didn’t submit a lot of my financial aid documents on time, but it didn’t affect the aid I got. [The total cost of attending Occidental is $72,610. They meet 100% of the demonstrated need of admitted students.]

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about Occidental before entering as a freshman?
I didn’t expect to be spending most of my time with a lot of White people, but it’s fine.

Reasons to attend Occidental:
1) The financial aid.
2) The Economics, Politics, and the Diplomacy World Affairs departments are great.
3) How nice and pretty the campus is.

Reasons to not attend Occidental:
1) How predominantly White the student body is. [48% of the student body is White.]
2) The Core Program, depending on how much you like it.
3) You need a car to do things.

Notice: Occidental College is a trademark. Induck uses it for descriptive purposes, not to imply affiliation with, endorsement from, or sponsorship by Occidental College.

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