Strangers of Colgate Highlights the Range of Students


Strangers of Colgate’ Highlights the Range of Students

When you walk around campus, do you recognize the people that you see? Of Colgate’s 2,890 students, how many do you know? How many have you talked to? The answer, for many of us, is not as many as we would like. Sophomores Iris Kang and Kayla Robinson started “Strangers of Colgate” in hopes of bringing the Colgate community closer. Hundreds of interviews later, “SoGate” for short is now a campus fixture. 

The inspiration to start SoGate came after Kang attended SophoMore Connections, an event sponsored by Colgate Career Services. The event taught sophomores how to network and make decisions that will mitigate the stress that comes after college. After the event, Kang felt motivated by the alumnae but didn’t know how to channel that motivation into something tangible. 

“Naturally, I vented my frustration on not knowing what to do next,” Kang said. “But fortunately, my friend Kayla [Robinson] and I were scrolling through Facebook and were inspired by Humans of N.Y.” 

The idea of Strangers of Colgate is simple: Kang and Robinson interview one Colgate student almost every day. They then post a photo and the interview with the person on SoGate’s Facebook and Instagram page. Anyone who follows the page is able to learn about a peer they would have otherwise possibly never met.

Kang remembers the initial uncertainty on whether the idea would gain any traction or how the interviewees would respond. 

“We were hesitant to start it because it seemed daunting to just go up to random people and ask questions, and also because we knew that it would be a challenge to evoke non-generic answers from every person we interviewed,” Kang said. “But we decided to do it anyways and called it ‘Strangers of Colgate’ instead of ‘Humans of Colgate.’ It sounds better when you abbreviate it to SoGate as opposed to HOC.” 

The selection and interviewing process is pivotal. Robinson and Kang typically take turns interviewing one person a day – usually alone but sometimes together. They do not look for a particular type of person to interview.

“We normally don’t really have anybody particular in mind, and I decided that we do this because I genuinely want to meet someone fairly new to me,” Kang said. “But we try to put a good balance of people from all class years.” 

The response is usually positive. However, Kang has had her fair share of rejection. 

“Those who already follow our Instagram and Facebook are super excited, and those who aren’t are still friendly about it,” Kang said. “But I have definitely been rejected a handful of times. Their reasoning is usually because they don’t want to feel exposed, which I respect because one fifth of Colgate’s student body is following both SoGate’s Instagram and Facebook account.” 

When asked about her funniest

interview, Kang admits her interview with Senior Tyler Marks stands out, as they spoke while climbing “the dreadful hill from fifth floor of Case.” 

Despite SoGate’s success, Kang is still miffed by the lack of community on campus. 

“The term ‘strangers’ is fitting, because no matter how much we think we know someone, we really don’t,” Kang said. “On top of that, most of us on campus always lightly say ‘hey how are you?’ ‘good, how about you?’ ‘same’. I know that SGA had an event for a few days called ‘Hello!’ where people wore name tags around campus just so that people could at least acknowledge other’s presence.” 

But Kang thinks this isn’t enough. She believes SoGate can be a stepping-stone to unite a campus still reeling from a tense fall semester.

“I want Colgate students to talk to each other, especially with people that they aren’t familiar with, and make new friends. I hope that SoGate will spark conversations amongst strangers.”


First-Year Isa Riquezes

[What are you doing in the library right now?]

“I honestly don’t know. I think I’m trying ‘to try’ to do work.”

[How did you find this book?]

“I was roaming around everywhere, and it found me. I didn’t find the book.”

[What did you struggle with at Colgate?]

“I once yakked: Why is there a guitar in the middle of the library?? And it got downvoted to -5. I don’t know why but people just really hate questions on yikyak. Now I would never know why/what happened to it. I still wonder why. And it’s horrible.”

[Any last words you want to say?]

I’m not cool enough for this question. Can I read you my old tweets? Why do tomorrow when you can do never? Yesterday a little bit of soap got in my nose while I was showering and I made a bubble with my nose…Celery sucks.”