Citizen. Speak. Amplify.

The 10 cliques you’ll meet on South African campuses

So you’re a first year on and trying to navigate the weird and wonderful social scene of your university life. Maybe you’re coming from a small town, rural village, the inner city or leafy suburbs. Maybe you partied a lot in high school, or never really went out much because of financial constraints or a conservative home.

Perhaps you, just like most young adults, are trying to find yourself and where you feel you belong.

Along the way, here are some of the groupings you’ll likely meet on your journey. These are, of course, not exhaustive – and you’ll likely find that you’re a mix of these stereotype – so take the list with a pinch of salt.

1. The jocks and preppy princesses

They’ve got the spirit, yes they do. They’ve got the spirit, how about you?

No? Okay.

But really, these folk are somewhat standard in most spaces. Both guys and girls are physically fit and either play some kind of competitive sport, gym or crossfit.

The guys take an odd interest in how much you bench, bru, and may or may not wear shorts and flip flops (sandals) even in winter.

The women are likely friendly if you’re not poor or completely alien to their somewhat sheltered upbringing. Most of these people either come from smaller white towns, ex-model c or private schools. Mostly commonly found in the commerce, law and engineering faculties.

And while most of this crowd are white, there’s a peppering of coloured, Indian and black friends who form part of this subculture. Mostly because they went to the same schools and now have that accent.

“Jas boet, how’s that oke, hey?”

They’ll more than likely vote DA.

2. The Comrades

Whether EFF, SASCO, PASMA, or a non-partisan fallist, these people’s daily lives are inseparable from student politics. They live on acronym soup.

While there’s a diversity of political thought between each of these, what they have in common in is the Black love of Steve Biko, a strong will to fight social injustice and thorough knowledge of struggle songs.

Socially, they tend to stick among their political homes and can often be identified by political regalia.

Black feminists can often be seen wielding sjamboks to smite the nonsense out of hoteps who run their mouths.

You’re most likely to come across comrades: occupying a building, marching down a main road, burning tyres, being arrested, or using a condom to clear their eyes of pepper spray.

While some will go on to make a career for themselves in politics – beware those ones – most are just trying to carve a more welcoming place for themselves, and those who come after them in the elite spaces, universities can be.

While comrades can be found in almost every faculty, most are in law and humanities.

3. White hippies with dreadlocks and no shoes

These folk are impossible to miss. Usually sitting in grassy areas rolling tobacco or weed, they’re more than likely into the psytrance scene and outdoor festivals.

They dress like they’re poor, even though they’re not, and will appropriate the fuck out of your culture, while simultaneously meditating to balance their chakras.

They’re really into Eastern spirituality and will have plans to backpack through Asia, South America, and perhaps parts of Africa – or they just got back. They probably have Africa tattooed somewhere on their body.

They’re usually very chilled and accepting people: non-violent good vibes are what they live by. They may or may not be a vegan who have taken acid and shrooms more than once. Some even think they’re black, but let’s not go there.

4. The gamers, scene kids and internet nerds

These folk usually have colourful hair and multiple piercings, but don’t have to because some might still live in their conservative parents’ basement – I joke.

If your campus has a gaming society or club, they’re usually part of it.

They have LAN parties for online gaming, enjoy board games, Magic the Gathering, Dungeons and Dragons, go larping (live action role playing), and are probably into anime and/or manga. Some are more than likely to own a Guy Fawkes mask and have a somewhat obsessive fascination with the movie Fight Club.

They’re sometimes considered socially awkward and a tad grimy, but probably have an amazing online presence – and a dank meme stash. Mostly found in the science, engineering or IT faculties.

Their music taste is likely rock, heavy metal and drum and bass.

(May or may not secretly support the “Alt-Right”.)

5. The CV Hunters

Otherwise known as yuppies. These folk are deeply ambitious, and are gunning to achieve a dream – and likely a high place in the social hierarchy. This group overlaps with the jocks and princesses quite a bit, but the difference is that CV Hunters are likely more liberal, worldly and opportunistic. They know when to speak and when to shut up – even if they don’t want to.

University is but a stepping stone towards the greater ambitions and future awaiting them.

Stick around with these people and you’ll find yourself in some of the most interesting and elite of spaces, doing remarkably well at your studies or possibly running for SRC.

But beware, some of these friendships only last as long they are convenient or useful.

Their father may or may not be a lawyer (with land), who will sue you.

6. Bougie Blacks

Otherwise known as the cool Black kids. They’re mostly coloured, black and Indian students from privileged backgrounds that moved in same circles as white jocks during high school, but now mostly hang around with other wealthy Black people.

You’ll almost always catch them in designer clothes and nice cars. They also gym regularly and are thus physically fit and well groomed.

Most are really into hip hop culture and know everything about American lifestyle. Some regularly spend weekends in the club popping bottles and getting involved in lit sexual relationships that could be used as material for reality TV.

While bougie Blacks speak english more than vernac, most still can. Many don’t necessarily have anything against student protests, but would be very unlikely to ever attend one, unless it was seen as a social event.

They’re almost entirely in the commerce faculty.

Their parents may or may not have some ties to the government or big corporates.

7. The eternal students

They are an institution within the institution. They’ve been registered for about the length of time it would take to complete two degrees, but dololo graduation status – and we’re not entirely sure why.  Funding and ability are not a problem, but apparently attending lectures and writing exams is.

They’re clearly very fortunate to be in a position to pay for eight years of studies – imagine what an excluded student would give for that kind of privilege. They can’t walk across campus without stopping to talk to everyone – from first years to final years – because they’ve studied with them all.

VVIP status at fresher’s parties, anyone?

8. The conservative group who only ever interact with their own race

You always see them and might even have regular classes with them, but for the oddest reason, you’ve never really heard them speak. To you, that is.

During lunchtime or free periods they’re always at the same place with the same people.

They’re most likely from small towns or suburbs where apartheid relocations took place. They come from a conservative background where parents emphasised religious teachings. Usually shy to “outsiders”, but aren’t ill meaning.

They may or may not unconsciously hold bigoted sentiments.

Depending on whether they’re coloured, Indian, white or black, their music taste varies. It might be eclectic but there’s definitely a greater sense of individual cultural appreciation.

These are probably the least pretentious people on campus.

9. The queer art kids

Avant garde and intersectional AF, the queer artists are either the coolest or strangest folk you’ll meet on campus – depending on your perspective.

Think you’re cultured? A chat with one of these people will leave you wondering how you’ve never noticed how basic you are. Either that or you won’t understand a word they’re saying.

In terms of identity and orientation, the queer art kids can be as fluid as their stream of ideas, and that can make them come across a tad all over the place – but you’ll never lack excitement with them.

You’ll be able to identify the art kids either by their flamboyant sense of fashion, or complete disregard for it – despite always coming across as stylish.

They may or may not tend towards excessive drinking and regular recreational drug use.

10. The cloud of smoke

Look close enough and you’ll find a group of people inside that cloud of smoke, masters at blowing smoke rings out their noses.

You’re never quite sure if they go to class, or if they’re even registered, because they’re there smoking hookah/hubbly/shisha all day err’day. And probably playing thunee too.

They have a minimum selection of four tobacco flavours to choose from and will argue over which flavour is best (protip: apple mint is the one).

We’re not really sure about much else about these people because we’ve never really seen them doing anything besides smoking pipe – heck they’re probably even there right now.

6 Comments
  1. Nemesis says

    Lol! So true!

  2. Ndui says

    This was fun to read. You have an interesting sense of humor…though I couldn’t find my group or rather, the closest group that I ID with…

  3. Joe Black Sam says

    Accurate AF

  4. Musawenkosi says

    I found myself in two groups – good one

  5. Shadzie says

    When you’re a mix of numbers 5 and 10!!! When we’re not blowing circles we’re shining at our future law firms. BRILLIANT. Most accurate article I’ve read about varsity.

  6. Pumpkin says

    4 months later and I still have no friends

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.