By Fifi Yousseff
New Yorkers tend to distance themselves and avoid any interaction with others in public spaces such as the city streets, subways, and now college campuses.
A survey conducted on 26 John Jay students concluded that students are applying the rule of isolation from the streets of New York City to the John Jay campus and social life.
The majority of the participants recorded that it is unlikely for them to approach an unknown student around campus.
Author of “Here is New York”, E.B White writes New Yorkers norm of avoiding eye contact and conversations with others is a form of respecting personal space. However, some students on campus claim the lack of communication is due to John Jay College being a commuter school. “I only have a couple of friends at school. I just go to do my work and go home,” said Elvis Hernandez, 21, a John Jay student majoring in Criminal Justice.
For Renata Dragan, 21, a senior majoring in Forensic Psychology, socializing on campus seems to come natural for her. “For the most part I feel confident because, from my experience everyone I encountered was friendly.” Dragan and her friends from John Jay tend to share similar classes and go out to lunch together.
The importance of communication is essential in today’s professional work field. One student, in a survey response, felt that communication is crucial around campus because “you never know who’s gonna contribute to your future.”
Dragan is just as open and confident to socializing in city streets and subways as around college campus. “I get to meet new people and experience,” said Dragan.
Richard Ocejo and Stephane Tonnelat, authors of “Subway to Diaries: How People Experience and Practice Riding the Train,” explain distance between strangers is a result of security issues.
“I don’t feel like I need to socialize. The people I socialize with are more than enough,” said Hernandez. “You just made me realize that I don’t socialize because people come and go so what’s the point of going through all that trouble.”
According to Michael Argyle and Janet Dean, the normal eye contact between strangers should last approximately 3-10 seconds. “When glances are longer than this, anxiety is aroused,” they said.
Imani Stone, 24, a John Jay student majoring in Literature, disagrees with Argyle and Dean. Stone finds that eye contact “makes me feel like I am making them uncomfortable, but I’ll stare at someone in the eyes for an hour with no problems.”
Freddy Velez, a 21-year-old John Jay student, can relate to Argyle and Dean. “Well I get very uncomfortable making eye contact, I don’t do it for more than 3 seconds actually,” said Velez. “I get very shy and tend to look away a lot.”
By applying these New York social norms to a college campus, students are affected on a professional network scale. Isolation means a limited range of opportunities and connections.
Stone describes herself to be “antisocial” but claims it hasn’t affected her on a professional scale much. “Isolation affected my professional scale but not to much. I am still able to get involved in things as quick as a person that is more sociable,” said Stone.
A way to break out of these norms could include planning time to attend club activities. John Jay College offers a wide variety of clubs and organizations where a student may find something they enjoy.
Students also receive John Jay emails that can allow them to keep up with opportunities and events that occur throughout the semester.