Shimer, as Sam Sandmel has already noted, attracts all sorts. Being a Great Books college, however, I should venture to say that its diversity of greatest note would be, not necessarily one of culture or of interests in general, but rather one of books. Shimer attracts the avid readers of any number of different genres, from fans of post-structuralism, to Jacques Lacan aficionados, and, yes, even to dogmatic Aristotle/Aquinas-types. A perk of this diversity in literary taste is that, no matter your interests and despite the tiny student population, you can probably find someone at Shimer to meet with on a regular basis to talk over a text you're interested in.
My first experience with such a reading group is thanks to Joe Bradshaw (now in his fourth year at Shimer), who kindly did the student population a favour in hosting an analytic philosophy reading group once every week or so at his apartment. Analytic philosophy (the philosophical school that dominates philosophy departments in the Anglophone world) is not much read in the Shimer core, nor are electives often offered with a major analytic component in their reading requirements, so I am grateful to Joe for providing an opportunity I shall perhaps never see again: a discussion of Frege, Russell, and the early Wittgenstein with other Shimerians. Whether or not discussion-based classes foster skills applicable to the whole of life, they certainly teach one how to get to the meaning of a text with the assistance of others. I never would have caught half of what I learned from the writings we discussed together had I read them on my own, so it was with a distinct pleasure that I attended the meetings with Joe and friends to talk over the obscurer points of that week's reading. Schoolwork, alas, eventually put a stop to our fun, but not before some of us devised a means of continuing our bookish past-time into the summer.
During one of our last meetings, one among us (I believe Sam Elalouf, a fellow second year) suggested that, over the summer, we organise a similar book club, now with a different philosophical theme so as to attract other students. Sam, Joe, and myself decided, after throwing around some ideas, to dedicate the book club to the early modern rationalists: René Descartes, Benedictus de Spinoza, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, and their quasi-rationalist successor, Immanual Kant. Of the four, only two (Descartes and Kant) were represented in the core, and even in their cases, a second reading never hurt anybody; moreover, each of us had read at least one of the authors before, so we would have someone each session who would be less than completely in the dark about the reading. All in all, therefore, ours seemed a good selection, and quickly enough we had compiled a reading list and schedule for the group. Sam helpfully placed notices for our first meeting around the Shimer floor, and he and I both spread news of the group by word of mouth.
After a few initial hitches, the group was set in motion: every week we would meet at Sam's place, hang out, possibly have dinner or engage in some other social activity, and sit in a circle around a (non-octagonal) coffee table to work through any problems, questions, interpretations, etc. we had concerning the text of the week. It was easily my favourite part of the summer: relaxing on a large couch with a list of questions about Spinoza's views on immortality, the prospect of a long, illuminating conversation to follow, with the further prospect of dinner, ice cream, or a movie beyond that. And I know of nowhere outside Shimer where I might have had the chance to enjoy it.