It’s not uncommon for students at Vassar to attend after an older sibling. However, it’s far more rare to find siblings who spend their entire four years at Vassar together.
Twins Zayne and Westin Sibley ’17, for example, decided that it wasn’t enough just to share a womb together.
“We didn’t really plan or not plan on going to the same school,” Zayne explained. “We were both looking for the same type of school and Vassar fit that.”
Zayne and Westin liked the College so much that they both applied Early Decision. However, they told Vassar straight-up: They could have both of the Sibley sisters or neither of them.
“We put on our applications not to accept one of us and not the other,” Westin explained simply.
Unlike most of us who go to college knowing very few or no other people on campus, Zayne said, “Especially freshman year, it was nice to have someone you know in a sea of new people. Also, we share a lot of things, like clothes and stuff. And it’s nice to have someone who knows your family life, and someone outside your group of friends to talk to about social life or school.”
Though it can be nice to have someone so familiar on campus, for the Sibley twins, it can be like experiencing the stresses of college twice over.
Zayne described, “If one of us is going through something, we both go through it. Like if I’m sad, she’ll be sad and if she’s sad I’ll be sad.”
Zayne and Westin spend a lot of time together on campus because they have the same group of friends, and last year they were both members of Vass Shakers, dancing together in a few of the numbers in the final performance. Nonetheless, they don’t have as much one-on-one time as you’d think.
“We don’t really hang out that much just the two of us,” Westin clarified.
She continued, “We’re not in any of the same classes so we don’t see each other much during the day.”
Anna Brashear ’15 has a younger brother, Zack Brashear who is in his freshman year at Vassar. While Zack decided to attend of his own accord, Anna said, “I think I did encourage Zack to apply to Vassar, simply because I was having such a good experience here.” She continued, “I think he had a really positive impression from the way I talked about my satisfaction with the school, which probably made him pay Vassar a little more attention, but ultimately it was his decision.”
In addition to seeing his sister have a positive experience at Vassar, Anna added, “I think he saw that he could be involved in lots of different, diverse activities at Vassar, which is something we both liked in high school.”
Though Zack admitted this was true to some extent, he noted, “Having an older sister here probably didn’t affect my decision beyond the fact that I knew more about Vassar because of her.”
David Garfinkel ’15, whose brother Jonathan Garfinkel graduated from Vassar in 2012, felt similarly. “Having an older brother here probably influenced my decision a bit, but I chose Vassar mainly because I liked the school,” he wrote in an emailed statement.
Since Zayne and Westin are the same age, seeing each other in the context of campus nightlife isn’t as strange as it might be for siblings with an age difference of any kind. Even though Anna is a senior and Zack is a freshman, they have run into each other a few times when going out on the weekends. Anna commented, “Of course we run into each other on campus. Vassar is way too small to prevent that from happening!”
When Anna and Zack both attended Middle School Mug Night, though, it was of no consequence. “Everything was too dark to see anyway,” Zack joked.
Anna went on to say, “Zack and I like to joke around and typically have fun together. We have a good sibling relationship. So when we run into each other in the Mug or at a party it’s actually really funny. I mean, I can only speak for myself, maybe he actually runs in the opposite direction without my noticing, I think it’s pretty fun to see him around—never awkward.”
David’s brother Jonathan seemed to have a similar philosophy, seeking out opportunities to hang out with his then-freshman brother on the weekends and bringing him into his circle of senior friends.
“He would invite me to his TH or his friends’ TAs sometimes for parties, and it was never awkward—always more fun than awkward,” wrote David.
While crossing paths on the weekends might be common, few siblings take many classes together. David and his brother never had a class together, but David commented, “I did take a class with the same professor in different semesters. The professor would occasionally ask how he was doing after he graduated, but that was the extent of it.”
Anna and Zack haven’t had a class together yet either, and Anna noted it was probably for the best—sibling rivalry need not apply.
“I’m not sure if I would want that—I think I would come across as his annoying sister who talks too much in that setting,” she said. “I’m just a little different in class than I am at home, and sometimes we have pretty different opinions about things, so that’s one place where I would probably get on his nerves.”
Though having a sibling on campus has many logistical advantages—someone to travel with to and from school, someone to borrow clothes from, someone to swipe you into the Deece when you lose your VCard (maybe)—on a basic level, it brings a piece of home to school.
While it’s been three years since his brother was on campus, David remembered this being true. He ended, “It was nice to know I would have a friend here when I came, and it gave me a bit of a comfort zone.”