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Forging Friendships and Curating Connections: How the Spartans of Michigan State University Find Their People

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MSU chapter.

Picture this: it’s late August and you’ve just finished settling into your residence hall on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI. You’ve got your mattress topper, Brita pitcher, and box fan (basically the college essentials). As you watch your parents wave goodbye from your window, you realize the adventure has just begun. The next step of the college experience awaits you – making friends! Here is your guide to finding the people you’ve been waiting for.

1. Bond over common identities

Michigan State has a constantly changing student body with endless identities represented. Finding an organization made up of people with whom you share an identity will help you match with your niche. The Lester and Jewell Morris Hillel Jewish Student Center has been a place where sophomore psychology major Shelby Cohen has found community. “I have met so many people just by being involved in this Jewish organization”, she said. “Hillel also has weekly Shabbat Dinners where everyone celebrates the holiday together while socializing!” Cohen stressed the importance of meeting people with common identities.

2. Go Greek!

According to the Fraternity and Sorority Life website, 13% of MSU students are involved in a Greek letter organization. “Rushing”, otherwise known as formal recruitment, is a process designed to help students identify their sisterhood or brotherhood. Cohen is also a sister of the Beta Beta chapter of Sigma Delta Tau, which she says “has so many ways to become involved and make friends”. MSU’s Greek Life is governed by 4 councils: the Interfraternity Council, National Pan-hellenic Council, Multicultural Greek Council, and Panhellenic Council. Under these councils, there are 62 individual chapters for students to explore and find a home at.

3. Professional Development Organizations

When you’re studying for a degree at a four year university, it is wise to strategize how to build your professional network. Luckily, there are organizations designed to help you! The Coalition of Packaging Professionals and Academic Connections (CoPPAC) welcomes students in the School of Packaging to engage in membership. Their goal is to “provide a platform for companies to network and engage with students within the School of Packaging at Michigan State University.” Senior packaging student Emily Tran says that “Joining CoPPAC has helped me gain friends and make professional connections by introducing me to other driven people in my major.”  One strong benefit of professional coalitions such as CoPPAC is that it gives you an atmosphere for socializing and conversing that you don’t get during classes. Tran says she has “met a fair amount of people in [her] packaging classes”, but emphasizes that “there is not a lot of opportunity during lecture to socialize and get to know each other.” Junior packaging student Anna Breitbarth says “At the club’s social events, I am able to get to know my peers more on a personal level and truly build college friendships.”  She says that she values these friendships because she’s made through CoPPAC because “these connections can help me professionally as [I] start my career in the next year or so.” Follow them on Instagram  @MSUCoPPAC!

4. Registered Student Organizations

According to the Department of Student Life, there are over 1000 Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) at this school. There truly is a niche for everybody! CHAARG is an RSO that hosts weekly workouts for women at MSU. Their goal is to create an environment in which active women can feel comfortable, safe, and supported while working out. Senior advertising management major Lilia Zubieta says “I feel like I am constantly being uplifted by 200 women in the club.”  You can find CHAARG on Instagram @MSU_inCHAARG. 

The beautiful thing about clubs at Michigan State is that if you can’t find a club that has already been established, you can make your own! All you need to get started is a constitution, 4 members, a staff, faculty, or graduate advisor and set up your meeting with the Department of Student Life to discuss the goals of your RSO.

Additionally, one common thing that ties together everybody mentioned in this article is that they are all members of the Spartan Showstoppers (@SpartanShowstoppers on Instagram), an RSO for dancers to choreograph and perform with. Tran serves as the President of the club and says that Showstoppers is “a tight knit team” and a “safe space to share [her] passion for dance.”  Most importantly for her though, she has “made some lifelong friends that [she] would not to imagine [her] life without.”  Zubieta serves as the Social Media Director for the club and says that because of joining the Spartan Showstoppers “I really felt like I had a family, and I felt like I had a safe space.”

College is the time to not only find yourself, but to create yourself, and Michigan State’s student involvement initiatives have created a culture in which everyone can feel like they belong.

Maggie is currently a second year at Michigan State University studying journalism with the College of Communication Arts and Sciences.