Involvement makes the University a smaller place

The University doesn’t have one community that every student can identify with. The main reason for this is the size of the University’s student body, which spreads out over three large campuses. Finding a community to identify with is a responsibility students are left to shoulder. The best way to find one is to become involved in the University.

The opportunities for involvement abound. Within the residence halls, students can participate in their hall councils or become part of the Residence Hall Association, the student government for its 6,000 residents.

Upperclassmen can volunteer as U-Crew peer mentors or as Health Advocates. It is also possible to be a Health Advocate within the greek system.

The Student Activities Office in Coffman Union provides involvement opportunities that range from the planning involved with Homecoming and Spring Jam to joining Student Alumni Leaders. Additionally, many student groups meet in Coffman Union. But if you can’t seem to find a student group you enjoy, with $15 and three people you can start your own.

There are political student groups as well; the most well known of these are the UDFL and the Campus Republicans. There are also student groups for the independent parties, as well as student groups that aren’t affiliated with any particular party, but instead organize around a particular issue.

Students with a political bent that specifically want to impact the University can run for the Minnesota Student Association (for the Twin Cities campus) or the Student Senate (which affects the entire University system).

The Recreation Center offers intramural sports teams. The Center for Outdoor Adventure organizes weekend trips and longer excursions off campus, as well as maintaining the climbing wall in St. Paul. The cultural centers allow students of diverse backgrounds and abilities to share their University experiences. Some student groups are based upon religious affiliation, whether it be Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism or Unitarian Universalism.

Some of the most helpful student groups on campus are those organized by departments, such as the American Institute of Architecture Students of Minnesota or the School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s Ad Club. These groups can help students decide upon their major and learn that all important skill of networking.

If students can’t get involved in any of the above ways because they need to work, then campus jobs can help provide a connection to the University community. Student co-workers see each other walking across campus and might even end up in classes with each other. Student jobs also provide contact with University faculty and staff.

Whether it’s involvement through a student group, a leadership opportunity or employment on campus, there’s no quicker way to make the University a smaller and more welcoming place.

R.S.S. Stewart’s columns appear every other Wednesday.

Send comments to [email protected]