This afternoon I had the pleasure of being part of a workshop brainstorming ideas about how UBC should organize its approach to getting more students involved on campus. A lot of great discussion was had, and I really want to comment here on how different kinds of involvement are valued.
First of all, I think it’s important to broaden what we define as “involvement.” Yes, starting your own club or heading a committee is an involvement, a huge one, but sometimes it can feel like if you aren’t doing a BIG thing, it doesn’t count. Something like going to one of the gardens on campus, seeing a play, attending an event, or just showing up for a recreational club meeting (you don’t have to be on the exec!) all count, in my books. There is a broad spectrum of depth of involvement, ie. how much time and commitment an activity takes, but all should be counted and valued equally. For example, someone commuting and taking six courses is probably not going to have the same amount of time to spend doing extracurriculars as someone taking three courses and living on campus. If the six-course commuter gets involved by attending the occasional AMS event or club meeting, there is nothing “less” about that in any way than the three-course rezzie being an SLC co-chair. They’re just different experiences, and both are important.
Secondly, the type of activity one is involved with can sometimes vary in value. I am going to use myself as an example this time: personally, committees tend to drive me nuts, and while I commend those who love charity work, it’s just not for me. My life can be a hell sometimes, and I want involvement to be an escape from that, just to be fun. To be a place where I make/be with friends. I want to help myself. If that’s selfish, well, quite frankly I think that’s a rude label because all human beings are selfish at some time, so excuse me for being selfish. So I joined knitting club. Now personally, I don’t think that joining a recreational club should be any “less” than say, joining a club that fundraises for cancer research, or being a residence advisor (also not my thing). Wanting to get involved for the sake of finding your “people” or your “home”, or just purely to have fun, does not make you a worse person, or a less important person, than someone getting involved to give back to the community or hone a skill set.
The main thing I’d like to see more of, I suppose, is all involvement in its myriad forms to be recognized equally.