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Need for a simple 'hello' to encourage social interaction

Am I the only one who realizes that people don't speak to each other outside of the classroom at Princeton?

Not speaking is a foreign concept to me. I thought the whole point in attending a college, rather than a private tutorial, was to interact and socialize with others. I used to think that when someone didn't acknowledge my existence it was because I was black, but I have found that at Princeton people consciously speak only to their close friends. Who cares if you were my lab partner, sat next to me in precept every week or even shared the same JP advisor as me?

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It's the blatant inconsistency that really bugs me. If you speak to me everyday in Spanish class, sit next to me at dinner or are my friend's roommate, you obviously know me pretty well – that is, well enough to exchange a common greeting.

I think that it is rude and unacceptable for people to speak to me at particular times, but not at others. I'd rather never speak to a person who doesn't feel that I am worthy of their consistent acknowledgement.

Granted, just because we attend the same school, live in the same dorm or have mutual friends doesn't necessarily mean that we have much in common. However, I respect those individuals who make it clear on every occasion that they care not to associate with me.

Perhaps the majority of us who didn't go to Choate, Exeter or St. Paul's need to remember why we applied to such a selective school. We were thrown together with the intention that a sharing and exchange of ideas, morals and experiences would take place. Yet, it is likely that those 10 people you meet during freshman week or the ones you share locker room space with are the same people who you will associate with throughout your entire Princeton career.

I am an open-minded individual who accepts varied opinions and enjoys interaction with different types of people. Yet, ultimately, I am most comfortable spending time with my close friends. However, it is one thing to differentiate your close friends from your acquaintances, and another to exclusively speak to only 10 people – ignoring all others you come in contact with.

Now, I too find myself not speaking to many people who I know and spoke to on previous occasions. Although I realize this is rude, I can't help assimilating to the Princeton norm, rather than addressing the problem.

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The social norms of the University are neither written in stone nor stamped at the bottom of your acceptance letter. Rather, they are learned upon interacting and socializing with other students. We all know that there is pressure to find a comfort zone of compatibility with others and this is why we all have different social networks. However, communication is a very important factor in socialization. Maybe we should not limit ourselves to this comfort zone but attempt to interact with those outside our social circle by simply saying, "hello."

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