King's culture: What is a Kingsian, anyway?


Hannah Stewart ('16). Submitted photo.

Enter: Two Kingsians.

Student 1: So, you're a freshman?

Student 2: Yeah! You are too?

Student 1: Sophomore, actually. And where are you from?

Student 2: Texas!

Student 1: Oh of course! Half of our student body is from Texas.

Both: So what brought you to King's?

And so it begins. The conversation that we as King's students have each had at least three times this week, the one we have repeatedly at the beginning of each year. The question that pierces our ears with a painful familiarity with each fellow Kingsian that we meet and swallows our hopes of escaping small talk that day. The question that somehow weds itself to an equally familiar answer, that I would argue 95 percent of us have given, whether casually or enthusiastically:

"Well, I'm not the typical King's student...."

Ah, of course. You aren't either? That's very peculiar--neither are the majority of us, given that nearly every King's student--myself included--has used this phrase to lead into how or why we got here. In that respect, I would argue that we are, in fact, very typical King's students.

For some reason there has been a potent force within the King's community that has, over time, crafted the idea of what the ‘typical Kingsian’ looks like. It means something different for everyone who says it, but the idea is generally someone who knew Plato personally, wears five-piece suits to the pool in the dead of July and has decided which of the seven institutions he or she will be changing tomorrow.

This student is on the Dean's List and smokes cigars without coughing. This student is fifteen minutes early for class and has memorized all seven syllabi from their six courses and one audited PPE elective. This student is an intellectual Rambo with a great sense of humor and a dashing smile.

Now, I won't attempt to trace the origin of this archetype, but I will say that it is unequivocally false. All caricatures aside, the aforementioned King's student does not exist, and even those of us who do vaguely resemble said student comprise a minority of the student body.

To be sure, I don't think the common sentiment is necessarily one of arrogance or inferiority, but more often one of distinction, identity. For such a small group of people (in relation to other undergraduate institutions), we are extremely diverse, in interests, origins and beliefs. At King’s, this diversity is ubiquitous, and students as a whole are vocal and passionate. We meet and discuss with people whose beliefs conflict with ours, with people who share our interests and with people we aspire to be like.

The truly typical King's student probably does not refer to him or herself as the typical King's student. He or she is vibrant and passionate about life, whether that manifests itself in political leanings, creative endeavors or even just an intentional appreciation of the little things in life.

We are not all Christians and/or conservatives, and we did not all graduate high school with 4.0s. Some of us only read fan fiction, and some of us really do feel like Plato is our spirit animal. Some of us want to be lawyers and policymakers, but some of us just want to be decent individuals with the ability to think for ourselves.

The point is, none of these things make us King's students. What makes us King's students is the fact that we are King's students. We just are, and it's time we took pride in and control of that. We as the student body make The King's College what it is, and that's difficult to do positively if we don't even believe that we fit here.

So I encourage myself and all of you—in whatever you choose to do, to love, to believe—embrace that as a part of the King’s college culture, the part that maybe you alone add. You are the typical King’s student, and so is your polar opposite that you sit beside in Ethics on Wednesdays.