The root of it all: Digging up interest in student groups

By in Opinions

With Welcome Week, Orientation and an uptick in populace inhabiting the tunnel impending, we’ve reached a crucial point for student groups campus wide. They’re all looking for one thing: fresh meat with potential for consistent commitment.

It seems that the one thing plaguing all student groups alike is a growing atmosphere of indifference. Across the board, the struggle to maintain consistent involvement and participation is a common concern.

Whether it be a college association, improv group or pizza- eating club, student groups are a useful and important part of the university experience. At the University of Saskatchewan, over 130 student groups were ratified as of the 2016-17 academic year. That’s 130 places to find your niche, or for some, 130 potential responsibilities to dodge like a rogue city bus.

Is it a unanimous fear of commitment? Is it a sign of the times? Are we degrading as a society to a state of solely self-motivation, and have we lost all sense of community and togetherness? Do all of these groups just suck once you’re in them?

I think it’s fair to put some of the blame on the plain fact that Canadian universities simply pale in comparison to our southern neighbours when it comes to active participation in campus culture. If you’re new to the U of S campus, let me tell you straight, it’s not much like you’ve seen in movies.

Another culprit might be insecurity. It’s a thing, people experience it, and for some reason, it’s really easy to let it govern your choices. Social obligation is more terrifying than a carnivorous swamp monster taking up residence in the koi pond at Boffins Public House would be. Unfortunately, student groups really only have one setting when it comes to reaching out to people — they’re aggressive and in your face and it’s generally quite uncomfortable to be subjected to. Imagine yourself going out there and pushing participant propaganda in a similar fashion. The thought probably makes you want to puke.

Why do they do it? Why do these ragtag organizations, associations and unions keep trying, when the only thing they seem to be working toward is securing more members? Is it just some lustful quest to establish power structures in a boundless system? Do people join these student groups for titles?

Yes, student groups and the students who form them can be kind of toxic and cliquey. Welcome to the world, baby. People will always find a way to make things suck. Maybe you’re avoiding joining student groups because you don’t think you jive with the type of people who join student groups, but doesn’t that seem like a hasty judgement?

If you’re fresh from the oven of your respective high school — I’m talking to you, ambiguous small-town class of 2017 — student groups are a great place to find some purpose in your newly liberated life. Joining a student group can also set you up with a group of older mentors and students to call on for advice.

Here’s the simple truth: student groups are purposeful and worthwhile, if you can put in some time, and you find a way to care about what you’re doing. In my first year, I joined the Arts and Science Students’ Union, because I needed new friends and the dude that gave their presentation at Orientation seemed cool. I’m still not sure what the ASSU really does, but just attending weekly meetings helped me come out of my shell and learn some new skills.

Don’t let the lacklustre get you down, lower your expectations and join whatever interests you even a little bit. The student groups we’ve got aren’t just going to get better, flashier or more fun without your help. Groups need active members and people who are willing to put a little bit of themselves into something. That’s why those blood-thirsty pamphlet pushers keep harassing you in the hallway and why I hope they never stop.

Graphic: Lesia Karalash / Graphics Editor