Angelica Grau, School of Music Mentor
This seems like such a stupid idea for an article, doesn’t it? Making friends is easy. Well, I’ll be the first to tell you that it’s not stupid. This was the article I spent the most time thinking about and drafting over and over, because it is more difficult than you think. I don’t have word-for-word advice for you on how to make true friends in college, but I can offer you the story of my first semester.
My first semester at West Chester began with meeting my random roommate for the first time on move-in day. She was great! We had connected on Facebook over the summer to discuss typical roommate things (ie. Neatness, things we wanted to share/bring, etc.) and we were very lucky to find out that we had a lot in common. I was very excited to have a roommate that I didn’t know, because it would force me to go out there and meet new people. And that I did.
I lived in Tyson hall my first year, on the fifth floor. With Hurricane Irene impeding on our orientation weekend, all of the residents on our floor bonded very quickly. We quickly dubbed our group “Tyson 5” for very obvious reasons. We played Frisbee every single day after classes, went into town on the weekends, and spent our nights in the lounge bonding over our homework or making silly videos on our laptops.
I thought it was perfect. Who wouldn’t?! A highly diverse group of people from all over the tri-state area, all different majors, hanging out all the time. Our RA’s loved it. With my birthday being in mid-September (September 14th, to be exact….hint hint…), they surprised me by decorating my room, singing to me, and bringing me my favorite cake. It felt like everything was going great!
When classes went into full swing, I had a passing thought. What about all the people in my classes? Swope was still very new and I would make small talk with my class-mates, but nothing beyond that really. I ate all my meals with Tyson 5, would go to the gym with Tyson 5, and hang out in the evenings with Tyson 5. No biggie, I thought. These are my real friends anyways.
That idea was thrown out the window in October. I began going through a personal crisis, from having fights with my family members to wanting to change my major to feeling depressed all the time. It was one of the lowest points in my entire life. And yet, none of Tyson 5 was there for me. I felt as if they wanted nothing to do with me because I was going through a hard time. They stopped asking me to come to dinner with them and they would all go to the gym without me. It made me feel like they didn’t want me around.
Truth is, they didn’t. One piece of advice I can explicitly give you is that the walls of the dorms are paper thin. I went to one of my floor mate’s rooms to hang out, and just as I was about to knock on the door, I heard my name. They were talking about me. And not in a positive way. I was heartbroken. I thought these people were my friends. This is the icing on the cake that was my first semester. Nothing had gone right, and now I didn’t even have anyone to talk about it with. I went back to my room and cried my eyes out. Then, I made the sterling realization that these people were not my friends, and they never were. They hung around me (and each other) solely out of convenience. Once they became comfortable with each other, they didn’t have to search for true friends, because they had Tyson 5. They felt powerful since I didn’t share as much in common with them as I had initially thought, so they kicked me out of the group. Or rather, they didn’t have to. That moment made me never want to have anything to do with them ever again. And I didn’t.
I decided over winter break, after having a long talk with one of my closest friends from high school and fellow mentors, Danny O’Neill, that I needed to make more of an effort to branch out into the Swope community.
Come spring semester, I never spent time in my room. I was always at Swope practicing or in the lounge trying to meet new people. I found three amazing girls who were just as silly as me. I met people who there to lend an ear when they heard me crying in a practice room. I was hugged once a day by many different people. I found who I now call my closest friends here at WCU. And I’ll never look back to Tyson 5. Why? Because they were not my real friends.
Making friends all over again can seem really scary. You are surrounded by a completely new environment filled with people you have never met before. I encourage you to branch out as much as possible, both inside and outside of Swope. When I think about it, my friends from home and my friends from school are two completely different groups of people. But trust your gut. If you’re getting doubts about people, don’t ignore them. Don’t trust people fully until they give you reason to. And most importantly, stay true to yourself. While I was typing out this article, I realized that I became depressed because I was trying to change who I was just to remain friends with these people. You should NEVER EVER have to change something about yourself to be friends with someone. College is all about experiencing the diversity of others, and celebrating it. If you keep that in mind, you will have absolutely nothing to worry about. I promise :)
Ensembles. Ensembles. Ensembles.
Michael W. Pettis, School of Music Mentor
What ensembles are there?
There are over 20 ensembles to participate in your career at WCU. In the choral department is the standard Men and Women’s Chorus, both separate by gender. The is also Cantari Donne which is a higher level Women’s Chorus, that usually partners with Men’s chorus for a combined concert at the end of semester. The next level from those choirs is Mastersingers, which is standard SATB. At the top of these choirs in the Concert Choir, which is also SATB. Out of these choirs, there are also smaller ensembles that student are able to participate in, for credit or for fun. Vocal Jazz, also called Chamber Choir and Opera Theater. In the band/(orchestra) department, there are several wind band ensembles, and one orchestra. The biggest of these ensembles is the 324+ WCU Incomparable Golden Rams Marching Band. Indoors, the Basketball band, which is about 40 people large, and has made a huge impact on the basketball teams and school morale. There is the Concert Band, which is usually half of the marching band size. Next up is the Wind Symphony, which resembles more of wind ensemble like size. Then the orchestra, that consists of all of the string instrumentalist, and a small wind section and percussion. At the top of this list (for some wind instrumentalist/percussionist) is the Wind Ensemble consisting of about 55+ people.
Other than those large ensembles there are also smaller instrumental ensembles. Brass Ensemble; Trumpet Ensemble, Horn Ensemble, Flute Ensemble, Tuba/Euphonium Ensemble, Brass Quintets, Clarinet Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, Chamber Strings, String Quartets, String Quintets, Trombone Ensemble Woodwind Quintet, and Chamber Winds.
On the other side of the world, there are a couple of jazz groups as well. There are about 2 – 3 jazz combos, which are made up of started rhythm section instrumentation and any other instruments that meet the audition requirement. There is a Latin Jazz Group and two big bands. They are the Statesmen Jazz Ensemble and Criterions Jazz Ensemble, being the more advance group of the two.
When do auditions happen?
Auditions for all wind band instrumentalist happen on the Sunday before school starts. Results follow suite, because…well school starts the next day. Vocal ensembles have their auditions Sunday, Monday, Tuesday of the first week of school. Jazz Auditions are usually held the first Monday and Wednesday night of the first week of school.
What is required to graduation?
All majors have a number of required semesters of ensembles. Small ensembles do not count for some majors. Most people continue to be in ensembles until they graduate due to the opportunities and experience that they have already received from being in the ensemble. Check your handbooks and with your mentors to find out more information
My favorite ensemble?
My favorite ensemble has to be Wind Ensemble for a couple obvious and on so obvious reasons. For the obvious reasons, it is a talented group of individuals who get to play pieces that can be technically hard, harmonically hard, and rhythmically hard and still do an awesome job at them. There are also a lot of performance opportunities. This spring the Wind Ensemble made a trip to Boston to perform at the CBNDA Conference at The New England Conservatory. For some of the not so obvious reasons, Wind Ensemble pushes you to be better. Because this ensemble has a high standard of achievement, every member knows they are accountable for their part in this ensemble and that their part matters. Also, the friendships made in this ensemble will be the kind that will only get stronger as the semester goes on. Also, the learning aspect of this ensemble can really give inspiratins on how you can teach your ensemble and bring them to the next level. Ultimately, the ensembles are what you make it out to be. If you want to be in a great performing ensemble, then do it. Practice.
Time to venture off-campus!
Stephanie Ashman, School of Music Mentor
While the WCU campus is always buzzing with activity, sometimes getting off-campus is exactly what you need after a long week of classes. The town of West Chester and the surrounding Philadelphia area is rich in arts, culture, cuisine, and offers lots to explore. Even though most everyone is without a car at least their freshman year, it is still completely possible to get around. Lucky for us, a change of scenery is not hard to find. You can walk across the street from campus in any direction and you’re in a lovely little neighborhood. Walk less than ten minutes and you’re in the heart of West Chester.
On a nice day, a stroll in town to check out the bakeries, cute boutiques, ethnic restaurants, and the never-ending festivals is a great way to spend your time. If you’re in the mood for something sweet, be sure to check out Kiwi, the local frozen yogurt place on High Street, Yori’s bakery located on Church Street, or my personal favorite on Gay Street, D’Ascenzo’s Gelato. I also recommend walking in the many art galleries in town or painting your own pottery at the Painted Plate on Market Street. There is also an old used bookstore on Church Street that’s always fun to look around. The books are very cheap, perfect for the college budget. The Chester County Historical Society is located in West Chester, walking distance from campus. I’ve heard they have great displays and special exhibits to enjoy. On Saturdays from 9am-1pm May through December, you can find a local farmers market on the corner of Church and Chestnut Streets. Expect fresh produce, delicious pastries, live music, and a great atmosphere. This is only one of the many special events and festivals, which seem to be constant in our lovely town. Definitively don’t miss the annual Restaurant Festival in September. It’s the perfect chance to sample food from the plethora of eateries we have to choose from. Craft, jewelry, and local businesses set up stands while bands play in the streets. It’s a good time! The other big event is the Old Fashioned Christmas Parade in West Chester. It is probably the longest parade you will ever see if you’re not already in it with the marching band. Be sure to get there early to watch or participate in the Jingle Elf Run. Everyone dresses up in crazy holiday outfits to run 2 miles around town before the parade starts.
Since you can’t get everywhere on foot, learn to love public transportation! It’s very easy to get on the 92 bus to Exton. You could go to the Exton mall, Mainstreet at Exton, and a variety of other fun places for $2 and maybe a 20-minute ride. King of Prussia is also a hot spot for shopping since it wins the title for largest shopping mall in the United States! The buses are very easy to understand, safe, and will get you where you need to go. Check out the SEPTA schedules online to plan your trip. There is also now a shuttle bus to the Exton Train Station, which allows easy access into the city. If you are new to the Philadelphia area, like I am, be sure to plan trips to the Museum of Art, the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, the Franklin Institute, ball games, concerts, and so much more. This is only the beginning of what a big city like Philly has to offer.
One other excellent transportation resource I would like to introduce is Zipcar. When walking and taking the bus just won’t do it, this may be the answer. Zipcar is a rental car service and has a WCU campus location. In the parking lot by Lawrence there are two cars that can be reserved with a Zipcar membership and an hourly fee. All the information is on their website and as a member myself, I highly recommend it!
Important Contacts at WCU:
The West Chester University main campus
2014 Annual Campus Security & Fire Safety Report
is available at
PASSHE Center City campus
2014 Annual Security Report
is available at
The 2014 Annual Campus Security & Fire Safety Report for the main campus and the PASSHE Center City 2014 Annual Security Report contains safety and security related policy statements and crime statistics. The Annual Campus Security & Fire Safety Report also contains fire statistics associated with each on-campus housing facility, including number of fires, cause, injuries, deaths and property damage.
The 2014 Annual Campus Security & Fire Safety Report main campus and the PASSHE Center City 2014 Annual Security Report is provided in accordance with the Pennsylvania College and University Security Information Act and the following federal statues: the Higher Education Opportunity Act, the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, the Accuracy in Campus Crime Reporting Act of 1997, the Campus Fire Safety Right to Know Act and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 amendments to the Clery Act.
You may obtain a physical copy of the 2014 Annual Campus Security & Fire Safety Report main campus and the PASSHE Center City 2014 Annual Security Reportfree of charge, by contacting the Department of Public Safety at 610-436-3478 or by making a request in writing to West Chester University, Department of Public Safety, 690 South Church Street, West Chester, PA , 19383.
What better way to celebrate
National Coming Out Day
then by coming to meet
Ms. Janet Mock!
Saturday October 11th – 3pm – Sykes Theater
Janet Mock is a writer, speaker, TV host, cultural commentator, the founder of #Girlslikeus and
the New York Times bestselling author of Redefining Realness. Learn about her journey and work!
Please Join us…..
Private Reception & Book Signing to Follow for all
RSVP Required: https://doodle.com/iniybyxn9mbsswdd
ü Redefining Realness is now on sale in the SSI Bookstore!!