Weekends on campus: expectations v. reality

By Madison Lewis

When I toured Rider one weekend in 2021, one of the many times I visited, I pulled my car in front of a group of students that were standing at the entrance of the parking lot, holding pompoms, clad in their Rider gear. 

The upbeat ’90s and 2000s music emanating from their speakers shook my car, making it impossible to refrain from smiling. The pure excitement that radiated from those students was intoxicating, and the experience became the moment that secured my place at Rider. 

Throughout the aforementioned tour, students emerged from dorms and school buildings, and I deduced that every weekend must be bustling with activity. Other universities that I toured previously, such as Ramapo College and Quinnipiac University, felt like an absolute ghost town in comparison to Rider’s small, yet exuberant student body.

When I enrolled and began my educational journey at Rider, I found that the exuberance and excitement I encountered on my tour may have been a one-off experience. Subsequently, I began to question whether or not that electric environment created on my tour was just a ploy to recruit more students such as myself.

Rider is almost empty on the weekends, and the abundance of activities that were promised by the very tour that I discussed were few and far between.

Graphic of Expectations of students gathering vs reality of one student on laptop
Raashee Mishra/The Rider News

Hannah Wallace, a freshman graphic design major, had similar experiences pertaining to the mental toll a barren school environment could have on a student. 

“I definitely think that Rider becomes a ghost town once the weekend comes. Hardly anyone is on campus, and it feels very lifeless and empty. I definitely think that it’s depressing and doesn’t make me want to stay,” Wallace said. “I was surprised that the weekends were so barren and devoid of students. I’ve come to expect it now, but initially it was somewhat surprising, especially since Rider seems to talk up all the events and programs they constantly have going on.”

Some students even argue that Rider misleads incoming students when giving tours.

Freshman psychology major Alison Mandel, speaking on her experience on Admitted Students Day this year, said, “When [my friends and I] toured on a Saturday, they had Saxby’s open. Now being students here for a few months, we’ve noticed that Saxby’s is never open on the weekends, so we’re disappointed.” Mandel was not affiliated with the tour, but witnessed them passing through while the restaurant left out samples for the groups.

Another concern regarding an insufficient weekend life at Rider is that students feel as if they are missing out on opportunities for the college experience. 

Wallace said, “I usually go home on the weekends because, A: all of my friends do too and B: there isn’t anything making me want to stay. It’s definitely lacking entertainment and the feeling of community that they advertise.”

This situation is not as despondent as it may seem, however.

Rider prevails in enjoyable activities and entertainment such as the “R Factor,” “Build-a-Bronc,” sports and a plethora of theater performances.

Ultimately, Rider has a lot to offer when it comes to engaging opportunities on campus; however, it would be rewarding to see more of this advertised and available on the weekends, making students feel less inclined to go home.

Students need an incentive to stay and feel as if they are an active member of the Bronc community.

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