After 3 years in high school, many Jesuit students in the class of 2014 have come to know just about all 261 students in their class. In addition, many have come to know anywhere from 5 to 100 students in the other classes as well. Each student is different, though. Some participate in theater while others participate in football. These interests lead students to form closed groups, shutting themselves off from branching out to fellow classmates. These dreaded groups, cliques, serve as positive influences to some people but as negative influences to others.
A clique, according to Dictionary.com, is “a small, exclusive group of people.” This group forms when people in clubs, organizations, or teams establish a strong comfort zone within that group. In other words, these people become so comfortable that venturing off and joining a new group becomes a different world for them.
For example, a football player who usually hangs out with his team may experience extreme discomfort when socializing with theater students, or maybe a trumpet player feels out-of-place when with basketball players.
This tension between groups hurts the school as a whole. Students fail to open themselves up to their fellow classmates, thus leaving them to be very distant from each other socially, even though they may sit in classes together each day. In order to really connect with other classmates, one must attempt to go outside his comfort zone. In order to be Men for Others, we must become Men for Each Other first.
Some students at Jesuit form cliques unknowingly; it is just impossible to prevent. Their focus and judgment become so centered on their group that they fail to see other people and their talents in different groups surrounding them.
The class of 2014, for example, the class that is expected to grow as one family, only grows further and further apart, similar to the ground during an earthquake. This can happen to any class, though. The issue persists not only at Jesuit, but at schools everywhere. It is in every student’s human nature to form cliques; because we feel comfortable with one group, we stick with them.
Separation from other classmates and groups can sometimes result in controversy and tension. Groups often become tagged with stereotypes that offend the participating members of that group. For example, teens who are apart of out-of-school, heavy metal bands may be tagged as gothic, drug-using people. Because their music choice has been associated with these awful stereotypes out in the world today, people make these generalizations in school. In addition, cliques can also lead to the encouragement of negative peer pressure. If one student sees his friend ridiculing a group or person because of his beliefs or interests, he may feel obligated to join in because of the friendship he has.
Finally, cliques may limit students’ ability to have diverse friendships. If students are completely focused on their friends in football and not in any other organization, they fail to branch out and have a variety of friends with different interests.
On the other side of the spectrum, cliques can also be a good thing. Establishing a bond with a solid group of friends, such as guys in band, for example, can bring much happiness to someone. Having a group that you enjoy will always make you feel good inside, and it can just make your life better. In most cases, people in a clique all have similar hobbies, interests, or personalities. Being around people like yourself can make you feel comfortable, even if your surroundings are not too pleasant.
Cliques can also serve as a support system. When you are in need, when you are stressed, when you are sick or hurt, your “group” is there for you. They are there to back you up, to make you feel better, to be there when you need to talk. Without this group, one may feel isolated from the world and lonely, thus causing feelings of depression or sadness because he must endure pain and hardships alone. Great friendships can be established, and these friendships can often get us through the most difficult times. Would it be better to have more people than just those in your one group? Probably, but having some foundation to fall back on for help is something every person needs.
After watching the seniors on the football team, it is obvious that spending over 25 hours a week together can bring guys closer. In reality, they grow to be one big group. For example, after an outstanding article by Sports Editor John Michael Lucido ’14 on his first half predictions for our football team (click here), the guys on the team came together to fire each other up and build up confidence in everyone. They stood together as one strong family, and when they were at lunch searching for Lucido, you knew the football team was one big group together.
After watching students of all grade levels participate in theater, it is obvious that sharing similar interests and participating in the same activities allow people to form friendly groups. In both of these groups, guys can joke around, have fun, and just feel happy being with the friends they have in their clique. Yes, many of the students in theater may only hang out with their friends in theater, but if they’re happy and comfortable with the people in that clique and they have a healthy circle of friends that they can count on, let it be.
Cliques can be both good and bad. Each person is entitled to their opinion about them, and many people have different experiences with them. Cliques may be positive because they allow students to have a circle of friends that have similar interests and beliefs with them. However, they may be negative as well because they keep students from reaching out to new groups and seeing the unique talents that other students have. Either way, in order to have a fantastic time at Jesuit, ask yourself, “ Why have a select group of friends when you can make friends and grow close with all 261 classmates? Do I want 10 Jesuit brothers, or 261?”