By Will Duquette
I distinctly remember on my first visit to Denison, my tour guide told the group that Denison is where lifelong friendships are made. Although we do not have lifelong friendship data, we do have some data that could be used to analyze current friendships on the hill. Using the information, we want to know if it is true that Denison students have lots of friendships. It is no secret that Denison is a relatively close-knit community, especially due to the four-year on-campus housing requirement. But does that closeness correspond to friendships?
Overall, Denison students have people they can fall back on in a pinch. Denisonians can get class notes from many people, but that is not as much the case with driving to the grocery store. It could be that Denisonians simply do not have enough cars to go around. Nevertheless, four people is not zero people, so it is good to see that Denisions are willing to put their cars on the line in some regard.
What if we break it down by class year? Do seniors have more friends (people they can fall back on) than freshmen? Unsurprisingly, Seniors have more people they can fall back on the freshmen, especially with bumming a ride. The average senior has close to six people they could ask for a ride, while the average freshman only has about three people they could ask for a ride. This is not particularly surprising because more seniors have cars than freshmen. We can see the overall trend: the longer you are on campus, the more people you feel like you could fall back on in a pinch, which is encouraging; this seems to confirm the belief that Denison really does create lifelong friendships.
Many people meet their friends in activities and clubs around campus. And it is clear that Denison students are involved on campus. Looking at the plot below, we can see that students are engaged in about three activities across class years. Unsurprisingly, Freshmen are a little less involved than other class years; they just moved to a new place and have to navigate meeting new people and exploring new activities. What was slightly surprising was that Juniors are involved in most on-campus activities. It could be that once people become seniors, they start to narrow down their interests, but it could also be that students are involved in activities for resume purposes, and once jobs are secured, their interest/motivation decreases.
But it is clear that involvement in campus groups is a way to build social support. It’s not like the uninvolved have no supportive friends (they average 4 across the 4 dimensions of support). But that number climbs by 50 percent when people are involved in 4 groups (they average 6 supportive friends). Yet again, we prove President Weinberg and our previous writers correct when we establish this link of involvement to social support. Extracurricular activities are some of the most important experiences you will have in college.
I would hope all students at Denison want to make lifelong friendships at Denison. It is a place where so many fond memories are made for so many students. It appears, at least after a preliminary analysis, that Denison students make more friends the more years they have been on campus. This seems to confirm the theory that on-campus housing leads to better and stronger friendships.
Will Duquette is still brainstorming, but is bound for great things.