Spring Sing. Social Clubs. Swings (x3). The perceived and widely accepted “Harding Experience” is made up of rituals and norms, some passed down through generations and some created by our current culture. To those who claim that the Harding bubble doesn’t exist, I would kindly ask them to explain the process of social clubs to someone outside our world of jerseys, while of course making sure it’s known that they are not fraternities or sororities. It’s a fun time.
By Harding bubble standards, I’ve failed at having the “Harding Experience.” Currently in the hectic throng of junior year, I can honestly say that I have never had a romantic encounter involving one (or three) of the Front Lawn swings. I confess that I have never danced in a Spring Sing rehearsal, as much as I enjoy being made to layer shorts and leggings. And it is with a humble heart that I admit I have never once had the urge to join a social club. Please forgive me, friends.
You see, I’m not a Harding legacy. I never attended Honors Symposium and my wardrobe was never adorned in black and gold Bisons shirts. I didn’t know much about Harding at all before moving here. In my senior year of high school, I planned on attending another university and ended up choosing Harding before graduation. I am incredibly glad that I did, but it did not change the culture shock I experienced upon entering as a freshman. I was (and sometimes still feel) unaccustomed to the culture of which we are a part. I was unfamiliar with the chanting and strange names and non-hazing hazing of these so-called social clubs. I was intrigued by the power complex and societal ladder that these clubs made up. I probably still can’t explain the process of social clubs, and to be honest, I thought the whole thing was a little bizarre two years ago. So, I decided it wasn’t for me.
I would never write this to discourage anyone from participating in clubs. I have seen how incredible they can be for students here. I’ve witnessed the deep, powerful friendships that have come out of these groups. But I’ve also seen the other side of them. I’ve seen friends deeply hurt or rejected by clubs, completely altering their self-perception and college experience. I’ve seen so many discouraged because they didn’t fit what this Harding culture declares as normal.
There may be a bubble, but I’ve learned there isn’t just one “Harding Experience.” I chose not to join a social club, and surprisingly, I have friends. I have a whole host of great memories from my time here, even if they’re not the norm. If I have any nugget of wisdom to give, it’s that your worth is not found in jerseys or letters. And you are enough with or without them. Go create your own experience.