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Monday, Mar 4, 2024

From Proc to TikTok: social life on campus

The Zeitgeist survey asked respondents about different facets of social life at Middlebury, ranging from questions about substance use to TikTok. College social life invariably evolves for students as they get older, but nevertheless, we tried to depict a general snapshot from first-years to super-senior-Febs.  

A majority of respondents reported having partied where alcohol or drugs were present, or having used one of these substances themselves, before coming to Middlebury. Of these respondents, more than two-thirds, 79.8%, said that alcohol was the most commonly seen substance. Over half of all respondents, 53.1%, had smoked marijuana, and just under a third had vaped or juuled before coming to college. A mere 14.1% reported being around or doing none of the above.

Patterns of substance use are similar across different school types. Students from public and charter or magnet schools were slightly more likely to have smoked marijuana, while private and boarding schools were more likely to have used a fake ID. Respondents who attended private day schools were the most likely to report doing at least one of the options listed. 

The data show that coming to Middlebury was generally associated with increased substance use. Around 75% of respondents said they partied in the presence of alcohol and/or drugs more at Middlebury than they had before, while 73% reported consuming more alcohol than before. 

When asked how drunk they usually tend to get at Middlebury, approximately half (48.7%) said that they “get drunk.” A tenth of all respondents reported not drinking at all, and the same number said they barely drink. A small number of students — less than 6% of respondents — reported getting “brownout” or “blackout.” 

We also asked respondents about their usage of various social media platforms. Instagram was the most popular form of social media among respondents, with almost two-thirds, 63.4%, rating it their most-used platform. Though more respondents reported using Facebook than Snapchat, the latter was used more frequently: 71.2% ranked Snapchat among their two most used platforms. Facebook reached this rank for only 41.1% of its users. 

Tumblr and TikTok were both relatively unpopular among respondents, with 14.9% and 13.2% reporting using them, respectively. While only 23.9% ranked TikTok among their top three platforms in November, the app became a popular meme since stay-at-home orders were put into effect in March. (The Campus tried to get in touch with a number of habitual TikTok users for comment, but none of them wanted to go public about their use of the app.)

81% of students said they had met friends through mutual friends, making it the most common way through which students formed friendships at Middlebury. Classes, residence halls and extracurriculars trailed not far behind, with approximately 76% of respondents choosing each. 40% of respondents reported having met friends on nights out. Under the “other” category, “Feb” was the most popular with 18 appearances. “Sports” appeared 10 times, “First@Midd” 7 times. 

When asked about friend groups, 63.4% of all respondents reported being part of multiple groups, while 9.5% felt they were part of none. The data show some variation between different ethnic groups. Black and Hispanic/Latino respondents were more likely than white and Asian respondents to consider themselves part of only one friend group. Black respondents were also the least likely to consider themselves part of no friend group. 

When asked about their Saturday nights, 75.2% of respondents selected hanging with friends as a pastime. Out of the five specific campus buildings listed on the survey, Atwater was the most popular with 39% of the vote, followed by the social houses with 35.6%. Approximately a tenth of respondents reported to be working. 

Respondents were asked to mark where on campus they feel most uncomfortable. The resulting heat map shows a hotspot that spans the entirety of the Atwater suites, as well as clusters around the athletics complex and the Ross and Proctor areas. The data show overlap with reports of vandalism, as well as the 2019 It Happens Here map which documented incidents of sexual assault and harassment.