Students Put the “Extra” in Extracurriculars

Theodora Guliadis '08

Colorful banners and signs adorning an endless array of tables, enthusiastic and eager college students milling around, music pumping rhythmically in the background, people dressed in boxes and costumes and handing out fliers – if you can recall any of these images then you were most likely at Colgate’s annual Student Involvement Fair on September 7. Every organization on campus joined together to advertise itself with the hopes of achieving a jam-packed sign-up list. This yearly event, put together by all clubs and CAB director James Devito, focuses on promoting student involvement options on campus. The purpose of the Student Involvement Fair is both to increase membership in various organizations and to give students an idea of the diverse opportunities for leadership and involvement offered on campus.

Colgate offers students the opportunity to partake in clubs and organizations that run the gamut from indoor and outdoor athletics, music and theater to volunteerism, politics, religion, culture, Greek life and events planning.

Elisa Benson, an active senior on campus and student advisor of CAB, maintains that “there is just such a rich campus life and there are so many programs available at Colgate. Eventually everyone, despite the time it takes to discover them, finds his/her niche in terms of extracurricular activities and student associations, which he/she greatly enjoys and is willing to dedicate energy, leadership and expertise towards.”

Due to the lack of a city life and the paucity of non-school related activities, student involvement at Colgate is highly dependent upon the participation of its students in order to flourish as a campus and community. Junior Brandon Green agrees, saying that having transferred from a city school, he originally “had a ‘go out into the city and do it yourself’ attitude towards student involvement.” After coming to Colgate, however, he realized that “student involvement is necessary to bring entertainment and other activities to you.”

Junior Sun Robinson claims that “Colgate would be a totally different place without student involvement” and that “it’s great that all of the students can craft activities for themselves and invite their peers to get involved. And not just parties; I mean lectures, debates, film series…they’re all such good ways to expand an education.”

Unlike other schools that have extensive options for off-campus entertainment, Colgate relies on the creativity and commitment of its students. Many may even argue that student involvement is what defines the Colgate atmosphere. It is nearly impossible to complete all four years of Colgate without participating in one club or organization. The university’s small size makes student involvement engaging and personable.

Many advantages accompany student involvement on Colgate’s campus. Student involvement is a means through which students familiarize themselves with their school and personal interests. Due to a small campus size, Colgate fosters the ultimate involvement experience wherein students are not limited to just one group.

Another obvious advantage is that student involvement establishes meaningful and wonderful friendships due to the time spent with one another. When asked about student involvement, senior Jameson Hyde remarked, “I think it is good because it gets people to meet other people and increases the interconnectivity among the students and also between the town and college.”

Sophomore Jon Byer agrees that student involvement at Colgate is a “positive” aspect and “brings students that might not normally have associated with each other together for a common goal.”

Sophomore Audrey Steven, president of the Native American Student Association, added, “Student involvement also teaches people certain life skills like social skills, leadership and responsibility.”

Despite the joy of exploring hobbies and intellectual interests, student involvement on campus also has negative (yet not dire) consequences, including burnout, fatigue and lack of time due to overwhelming commitments. Senior Will Birnie stateed, “The disadvantages are that us students often get consumed by our extracurricular engagements and sometimes can feel overwhelmed or pulled in a million different directions.”

On average, Colgate students participate in at least three activities offered on campus. This can definitely result in exhaustion or result in a lack of time in which to pursue a social life. Sophomore Liz Bubriski asserts that a big problem is over-involvement, which “can sometimes stress people out, because they want to be involved in all the things they have a passion for, but they don’t necessarily have the time for them all.”

Heavy student involvement can also have a negative effect on grades and damage potential relationships with professors, administrators and Colgate employees. Nevertheless, it seems that the positive aspects of student involvement far outweigh the possible negative ones.

Sophomore Rob Sobelman happily affirms that debate has been his favorite activity thus far because it has given him the chance “to engage in intellectual topics outside of the classroom and learn what I want to learn how I want to learn it. It has also given me a chance to have myself challenged in a fun, yet competitive atmosphere.”

Junior Tiffany Butterfield says that she loves Kuumba and other dance groups because they “take my mind off classes and help me to unwind.”

In addition, student involvement is not always about personal gains, but also about supporting fellow classmates and team members. Sophomore Drew Carlson believes that “by attending that CAB sponsored lecture, that Thirteen concert, that game and that play, you are getting involved in campus activities, and supporting your peers.”

Colgate also has a strong student government, the SGA, in which officers and senators voice their opinions on behalf of the student body. Many students involve themselves in the Greek system and Greek life plays a large role in unifying members of the Colgate community with the campus.

And if there isn’t a group available to fit certain interests, Colgate students are ready to take the initiative and form new clubs. Senior Erin Grundy advises “trying something you never thought you’d do. It may be the best decision you make, it may be the worst, but in the end you’ll meet new people and expand your horizons.”

Many students agree that people tend to overwork themselves; yet, all it takes to be reliable and committed is proper time management and the ability to prioritize. Senior Natalia Linares recommends we not forget why we came to Colgate when we join a group.

“Naturally,” she says, “we want to cement friendships and have a fun social life, but we are also here to pave a successful path to our careers and futures.”

Student involvement at Colgate might require time, perseverance, diligence and intensity, but it is enjoyable and social, ultimately creating “the Colgate experience.”