Our student society sucks. Join a club anyways

How could you not listen to a dog as cute and extracurricularly involved as this?

As an SFU tour guide, I give every potential student I meet this piece of advice: join a club. It’s the first tip I got as a new undergraduate, and I firmly believe in it — despite how naïve that may sound to anyone who’s dealt with the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS).

You may be familiar with the failings the SFSS suffered over the summer, but not everyone realizes how consistently they botch even their organization’s most basic functions. As a longstanding executive of the SFU Choir, I’ve seen countless examples of their blunders. One must ask how an organization meant to help clubs continually makes it harder for them to exist.

As six former presidents of the choir can attest, the SFSS has made several, and often reoccurring, mistakes that hindered club experience.

“I have watched dozens of events unfold where the SFSS [. . .] have caused us problems that range from minor annoyances and inconveniences, to major issues that inhibit our operation and our growth,” wrote former president Jennifer Pollock in a compiled letter to SFSS executives.

They don’t update clubs’ contact information in their records. Processes like approving room bookings stall for weeks, despite the actual work taking minutes. Once that’s completed, further complications appear: you’re only given the space for half the semester until you make yourself a big enough nuisance that they’re magically able to give it to you for the full term, or the SFSS neglects to inform you that an exam study session is occurring during your practice time.

We at the choir hoped the upcoming Student Union Building, supposedly a space for clubs, would solve some problems. When the SFSS was collecting student input, we requested rehearsal space (which requires a room for 120+ students). Imagine our disappointment upon discovering that our designated rehearsal area won’t seat half of that. We’ll never be able to use it.

Every semester, we face the same issues from an organization that should be helping us, not wasting our time and money. Yet despite all the problems my club and I have faced, I still believe getting involved on campus is a worthwhile endeavour.

Initially, coming to a school with over 30,000 students can be more than a little intimidating. Even if you make friends in lecture, there’s no guarantee you’ll see them next semester, and that can make a 500-person class feel utterly lonely. Getting involved can change that. The best proof I have is personal experience.

I started getting involved in my first year, and since then, I’ve felt like part of a community. Joining a club means meeting people who share your interests. I’ve gained some of my best friends through clubs.

I’ve had a lot of benefits academically and professionally, as well. Some of the best courses of my degree were suggestions from clubmates, and I’ve gained over three years’ worth of enjoyable job experience by being part of the choir’s executive team — experience that has led to multiple career opportunities.

I can’t say university has been the easiest thing I’ve ever done, but knowing I had friends waiting for me every Thursday night helped me get through even the most stressful midterm seasons. Joining a club made SFU more than just a school to me: I’ve had experiences I never would have encountered otherwise. It hasn’t always been ideal, but goddamn, it’s been worth it.