Is Wesleyan cliquey?

D22 likes everything she reads about Wes, but we wonder whether it might be too cliquey socially. The concern derives from the various theme houses (some of which can be joined by First years?) and some comments in Unigo student responses.

She also wonders it might me too competitive around performance arts ECs for someone merely seeking hobby/social participation/performance (as opposed to jockeying to be the next Lin Manuel). She at this time is not seeking to pursue a career in performance or media; instead she is looking with interest at the various humanities and social science options and interdisciplinary programs around them (including COL and CSS) to find herself within that. Theatre and other performance arts have provided an effective social platform in high school, and she very much enjoys consuming and critiquing all types of art, so she was looking to being able to engage without having to be all-in with the professional theater crowd.

This won’t answer your question directly, but for a close look at Wesleyan at a, in my opinion, still relevant time, consider reading the memoir by one of its former presidents, 100 Semesters.

Yeah, i guess I can see her point. But, I look at it this way: Wesleyan’s housing system was one of its saving graces during the COVID-19 pandemic. It allowed a large swath of the student body to form family-style pods with their housemates while the kids in regular dorms were subject to fairly stringent mask requirements.

But, there’s a lot of porousness to these houses. The way I see it, any place that has a kitchen is a place that can host a party. Even if one house only throws one party a year, that’s hundreds of dance parties, movie parties, fondue parties and other get togethers throughout the year.

I thought you were going to ask me something hard like, “Why do all the black kids sit at the same table in the cafeteria?”


The performing arts question is tougher because I’ve sat in on some of the talks by alum like Thomas Kail (Broadway director) and Rick Nicita (one of the most powerful agents in Hollywood), and they are always full of students who have every intention of making a go of it. It is heartbreaking listening to their enthusiasm and cheerful suspension of disbelief in their ability to defy the odds. Your DD will have them to compete against.

No, not cliquey. There are not many first years who join theme houses - my impression is only a handful at most. In fact, the percentage of upperclassmen in theme houses isn’t large either.

My son attends and is a CSS major. He’s also found many opportunities for involvement in the arts - mostly music - despite not being a major. In fact this was one of the reasons he decided to attend Wesleyan since it’s very easy for non-music and non-arts/ theater majors to be involved. His circle of friends is broad, which is typical for Wes students.

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