They are athletes, musicians, farmers, filmmakers, scientists, philosophers, and, above all, debaters
On opening day, August 20, we were thrilled to welcome 119 new students. Of this group, 79 are first-years and 40 are transfers. Including returning students, we have 425 in residence for the fall semester; 46 have opted to commute to campus; 55 decided to conduct their studies remotely. Nearly 30 deferred their start to the spring or fall semester of 2021.
After weeks of intense heat, clear blue skies and temps in the low 80s made check-in and move-in to Dakin, where new students are housed this year, especially pleasant. Immediately after getting settled (while all wore masks and observed physical distancing), all students were required to participate in asymptomatic COVID-19 testing, and we’re thrilled to begin the school year with no positive test results.
Members of the incoming class come to Hampshire from 18 states, largely in New England but from as far away as Alaska. As a result of the current US political climate and global pandemic, only one new international student matriculated, from El Salvador, though 16 of our deferrals are from other countries, and we hope to welcome them in the coming months. Six new students have a family member who attended Hampshire. Thirty-nine are first-generation college students.
Their interests and experiences are diverse. The most popular academic areas of study are creative writing; film, video, and photography; environmental studies and sustainability; psychology; politics; and biology and life sciences. Of the entering class, 32 are interested in a sport, whether the martial arts, soccer, cross country, swimming, fencing, skiing, and figure skating.
Several were president of their class in high school, one interned for presidential candidate Julián Castro, and another won a silver medal in a national debate challenge (and many were members of their high school debate teams!). One was the Philadelphia Youth Poet Laureate and another is fluent in Esperanto. One performed with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
Many have enjoyed working with kids — as teacher’s assistants, dance instructors, mentors, and coaches — and giving back to their communities through volunteering. Several have already demonstrated an entrepreneurial spirit, having founded groups for slam poetry, chess, political science, cycling, gardening, and philosophy. One founded her school’s newspaper. Some are multilingual. Several have been involved with LBGTQIA+ clubs and organizations.
New-student orientation took place over three days and incorporated interactive workshops, presentations, and student-led activities. Despite mask-wearing and physical-distancing requirements, incoming students enjoyed getting acquainted with the campus and one another, learning about support services, and discussing the Common Read, the New York Times Magazine’s 1619 Project. Orientation culminated in the Book and Bell celebration, a dinner at which President Ed Wingenbach welcomed them officially, after which they received a small bell, a symbol of the beginning of their college careers, working toward ringing the big bell at the library — the Div-Free Bell — when they graduate.
All of our new students are fascinating, and we can’t wait to see what they explore and create during their Hampshire years.