Here we are, back in class, back in those uncomfortable desks, back to fighting to keep yourself awake during that post-lunch foray into your general education requirements. Just as inevitable as the fact that that class you really want to take is full (with a thirty-person waiting list ahead of you), there are certain issues that must be dealt with each September in order to maintain superlative Gaucho chi. One such process is deciding who you’re going to know again this year.

Being thrust into whole new classes is a process we have all grown used to. Since we were children in our pigtails and/or bowl cuts toting our My Little Pony and/or Transformers lunchboxes off to preschool, we have been indoctrinated into the idea that the new year brings with it new teachers, new things to learn, and new classmates to learn with.

During your first class at UCSB you may not have known any of those shining, eager-to-learn faces that you sat amongst, but by the end of the quarter, you surely knew a couple of people. Even if they were just to say “Hi” to. Even if it was just to ask them for their notes.

This process repeats itself each quarter. Each new course brings new quasi-friends that you see only a couple of times a week when class meets. Maybe you had coffee with that girl in your psychology class so that you could study together for the midterm. Maybe you semi-bonded with that guy from English after complimenting his Shins T-shirt. We collect these acquaintances liberally throughout the quarter and we might even feel a pang of remorse when we part ways after the final.

Fast forward three months.
The summer has passed and you’re sitting in a new class with new faces. But maybe some of these faces are a bit familiar to you. Among you are some of those vaguely formed acquaintances and allegiances of classes past. It is that vital moment…

Which of these people are you going to know this year?

As odd as the concept may sound, I’ve found that many of my friends have experienced this same phenomenon. It seems to be an unwritten rule that if your acquaintanceship with someone is solely based on cramming for midterms and catching up on in-class notes, then you’re given a choice as to whether or not you have to know them once again if you run into them during subsequent quarters.

This is not always the case, of course. But these semi-acquaintances seem to fall into one of four general categories: the overly friendly, the static, the nonplussed, and the not-interested. The overly friendly casual acquaintance is, of course, overly friendly. He or she seems to think you two were the best of friends and introduces you with enthusiasm to his/her fellow acquaintances despite your attempts at hiding behind a textbook/in the bathroom/under an assumed name/in another country. In my experience, these acquaintances are usually the ones who want help from you as opposed to being helpful themselves. They probably introduced themselves to you the last time and they don’t give you much of a choice as to whether you’re going to “know” them again or not.

These people are either genuinely clueless or heinous bitches. Sometimes both.

The static acquaintance, conversely, gives you a choice. You don’t have to approach one another or acknowledge one another’s existence if you don’t want to. There might be a smile or nod exchanged, but it is entirely up to you whether the relationship goes beyond this stage.

These people are probably shy. Unassuming.

The nonplussed acquaintance is much like the static until you approach. If you approach the nonplussed, they may feign confusion and/or blow you off. Reminding them of that rainy day when you shared your umbrella with them is brushed off with a shrug. Why might this be? Perhaps this person has a real friend in this class and doesn’t want to cop to knowing you. You might not fulfill the criteria of this person’s usual clique and admitting to actually knowing you in front of aforementioned friend could be dire to this person’s rep. It’s best to keep your distance from the nonplussed. They may contact you later, safe from the prying eyes of others.

These people are weak-willed. Followers, not leaders.

The not-interested acquaintance is, again, much like the static. However, this person won’t behave in the socially acceptable (yet suspect) actions of the nonplussed on approach. This person just doesn’t need you this time. They may turn away at your approach, walk away from your wave, or just stare at you blankly until the mood is excruciatingly uncomfortable. These people are dicks.

As you toddle into your new classes to begin the cycle of acquaintance making anew, consider what curriculum-based acquaintance you yourself might be. Are you a bitch? Unassuming? A follower? A dick? It is my hope that this year finds you modest and unassuming.

Because, quite frankly, bitches and dicks are detrimental to my chi.