University life: are you involved?

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CMYK-Clubs Days-Mark Burnham

Why your happiness at SFU is determined by you

By Leah Bjornson
Photos by Mark Burnham

It’s easy to go through life at SFU while remaining relatively unseen. Riding the rickety road up to Burnaby campus, sitting at the back of classes, then heading home as quick as you can to escape the grey of the mountain. This was my reality for the first year and a half I attended SFU. This is what life was like before I realized how important it was, not for my school, but for my own happiness, to connect with my campus.

It must be strange for new university students to transition to higher education. Especially if you live off campus, the busy hallways and spacious lecture halls can be intimidating. Personally, I was kind of the kid in high school that did everything: student council, grad council, sports, and other clubs. Then all my friends went to UBC or ventured out east, and I went to SFU.

Maybe I was burnt out from high school or maybe I just wanted to make sure I passed my first semester, but whatever it was, university became just a rigid schedule of classes. As I drifted by my first, second, and third term on the hill, I began to question the idea that university would be the “greatest years of my life.”

I kept hearing stories from friends about what frat they’d joined, or how they were training to lead Frosh week, and I wondered: why can’t I find somewhere I fit as well as they do? I tried to get involved, to “engage SFU” as President Petter might put it.

I’d gone out to the Rugby team for a few practices, but a hectic class schedule and long commute from North Vancouver stifled my enthusiasm. Again I tried to help out with a club when I began to speak with World University Services of Canada (WUSC) at SFU, but my help never reached much further than my good intentions.

Things changed when I started writing for The Peak. It finally felt like I had somewhere to call home on campus, other than the stool in West Mall overlooking the mountains. That was also when my thoughts seemed to cement: university has the potential to be the best years of your life, but only if you are determined to make them so. Opportunities, and especially those which really speak to you, don’t always arrive at your doorstep. Therefore, it’s up to you to reach out. Joining a rugby team or WUSC was obviously not the right fit for me, but over time I was sure to find comfort within one of the myriad of groups and clubs at SFU.

Clubs are important for university students for many reasons. While it’s always possible to work up the courage to make new friends in tutorial or lecture, I find that these friends can quickly turn into “Kin 140” buddies, or “Pol 241” buddies; the class ends and we part ways, perhaps meeting again in future courses. When you join a club, not only are you participating in an activity you enjoy, but you’re making connections with other students who share the same interests.

This semester, my column will attempt to shine a light on the numerous ways we as Clansmen connect to our community and to each other through the multitude of lesser known or underrepresented opportunities at SFU. Maybe you’ll be inspired to join a club of your own. Maybe you’ll find that cliché university friend who shows up when you’re married in 20 years to wreak havoc, You, Me and Dupree style. Maybe you’ll find a club you love as much I love The Peak.