Living outside Westminster's 'ski culture'

Sean Mellin, a Westminster College student, plays a match of Magic: The Gathering in the Shaw Student Center during a meeting of the tabletop games club. Mellin said he prefers to play games with friends instead of skiing or snowboarding. Photo by Alex Boissonnas.

Sean Mellin, a Westminster College student, plays a match of Magic: The Gathering in the Shaw Student Center during a meeting of the tabletop games club. Mellin said he prefers to play games with friends instead of skiing or snowboarding. Photo by Alex Boissonnas.

It’s no secret that many Westminster College students are avid skiers and snowboarders. But for those students who don't participate in the college's ski and snowboard culture, connecting with their peers can sometimes feel difficult.

Bailey Sill, a sophomore dance major, has never skied before and said she feels that creates a social disadvantage.

“You feel left out because everybody’s first question is, ‘What’s your major?’ and then right afterwards, ‘Do you ski?’” Sill said.

Despite her lack of engagement in Utah's ski and snowboard culture, she said she enjoys Salt Lake City because it has a strong art presence.

“[Salt Lake City] has a great art community, so there’s always performances here, like dance or art shows to go see,” Sill said.

Though some say it can be hard to connect with others off the slopes, Sill said she has managed to become friends with other people who enjoy the arts like she does, allowing her to surround herself with people who have similar passions.

Though some students just aren't interested in the winter recreation, others choose not to ski for financial reasons.

Elijah Carter, a senior psychology major, said he can't afford to ski each year, which makes it hard for him to connect with some of his classmates.

“If they want to become closer friends, most of the things they want to do involve skiing or snowboarding,” Carter said. “It’s something that’s cost prohibitive at least for me and I think a lot of other students.”

Carter said he skied and snowboarded as a child and enjoyed it but hasn’t gone in recent years. Instead, he said he spends much of his free time reading.

Carter said Westminster’s campus culture isn’t as one-sided as people think.

“I think the overall culture of Westminster is very much the skiing and snowboarding community," Carter said. "However, I think there’s very much kind of a nerd subculture."

Sean Mellin, a sophomore sociology major, also said there's more to Westminster than most people think—though they may need to look closer to see it.

“You just have to look a little harder for them,” Mellin said. “For example, I didn’t find my group of friends for the first year of being a freshman. It wasn’t until the very last month of the year that I found where that culture was.”

Mellin said he prefers indoor activities, like playing video games and board games with friends, rather than outdoor recreation. Though he was able to find other students at Westminster who shared his interests, he said he believes it’s harder than it should be.

“I think the clubs are underutilized,” Mellin said. “Part of that is that they’re not super well organized. I think they have the support but not the leadership.”

Mellin said students need to take the initiative to find clubs and organizations that fit them. He also said the clubs leaders don't do enough to promote awareness of the clubs' existence and said taking actions like lengthening the time of the club fair or moving it to a more accessible time might go a long way toward helping students become involved.

Ultimately, Mellin said students who are not interested in the outdoor recreation culture can find other people on campus who share their interests if they look hard enough.

“If you want to find the people who are like you, you might have to dig a little bit more than you thought,” Mellin said. “But they’re there.” To find a list of student clubs and organizations at Westminster, visit https://myasw.org/clubs/.