Hello Claremont!

This is a call to action. This is a personal request, even a challenge, to every single Forum reader and Claremont McKenna College student campus-wide. Together, we have the power to make CMC’s campus an even friendlier, happier, more inclusive place.  How could this be possible on the happiest campus in the nation, you may ask? Let me begin by saying that I think our CMC community already does pretty well on the friendliness spectrum. That said, we are CMC, so we don’t have to settle for “pretty good,” we can be exceptional.

My request is simple, its concise, it requires one small consistent action from every one of you. Ready for it? Here’s what you do: Say hello to everyone you pass on campus; old or young, whether you know them or not. That’s it.

We all decided to go to a small school because we like a close-knit personal environment. Greetings in passing should be expectation, not a courtesy granted to your inner circle. Picture if you will, an old-time town where everyone knows everyone, and welcomes outsiders as their own. This is the atmosphere I think we should strive for.

We have all had those awkward moments where you are walking alone down the sidewalk and you spot that person that you know you know 50 yards away. “I know we met last night, I wonder if they remember” or, “I’m great friends with her friend, but we’ve never actually been introduced.”  Usually the situation plays out with a casual and oblivious glance the other way, or a sudden urge to check your phone as the optimal “hello” moment approaches. Imagine--these moments can be a mere thing of the past, never to occur again within the bubble that is Claremont.

It’s small and silly, I understand, but think of all the possibilities that a simple hello could bring.  Hellos invite further conversation, they make you more comfortable talking to that person in the future.  On the receiving end, someone acknowledging your existence makes you feel more welcome on campus, creating a closer-knit school community.

Greeting your fellow classmates is not only good for the school environment, but it is also good for you personally. Did you know that the more you smile, the happier you are? It’s true: Studies have shown that the mere act of smiling, no matter the reason, increases seratonin levels in the brain, giving you an instant mood boost. The act of saying hello almost always puts a smile on your face, try it--try giving saying a genuine “hello” without turning up the corners of your mouth-- you can do it, but it feels unnatural.  The simple act of saying hello can improve both your mood and someone else's.

Though I would love to take credit for this innovative, albeit simple, concept, it is hardly my own. There is at least one other college campus that has been doing it for years, and it works. At Washington & Lee, they call it “The Speaking Tradition.” When I was looking at colleges (seemingly eons ago), I was almost set on W&L mainly because of this idea. I asked W&L students what they loved about their school, and they raved about the Speaking Tradition. They love it because it helps people get to know each other and feel welcome.

Now, I’m not advocating we steal another college’s tradition--wait, yes, actually, yes I am. They do it, it works, students love it, it makes the atmosphere more friendly and welcoming... why shouldn't we do it too? Now, it doesn’t have to be called the “speaking tradition” we can modernize and Claremont-ize that title, perhaps the “Stagthena Salute” or the “Claremont Call.”  I trust that Forum readers are wittier than I, and I look forward to seeing your proposals in the comment lines.

So as we get ready to roll out another year at our beloved Camp Claremont, lets make a new-school-years resolution to say hello when we pass on campus. Freshmen especially, I’m looking at you. You can set the norms for your class and the classes below you. We older folk are more set in our ways. It’s the youngins that’ll bring change.

It’s going to be up to every one of you readers to make this work, but together, we can do it.  Lets start a movement. Are you with me?


Want more from Ellie Beckett? Read her life changing article on happiness and positivity, her list of places to go if you are in need of stress relief and her hilarious article on birdwatching around CMC.