September 6th, 2012 Editorial

Campus blazed to life this past week, set alight by a healthy mixture of eager-beavers and feet-draggers. For those who have settled into their niches at MSU, their excitement (or indifference, as the case may be) is colored by investment in various clubs, jobs, extracurriculars, friendships and even the occasional night off. However, for those still adjusting to the many changes that the school year brings, finding their place both on campus and in the community may prove daunting.

Among MSU’s 14,000 students are people of vastly different backgrounds, opinions and perspectives, and accompanying them, myriad clubs, organizations and activities which reflect this same diversity. In short, there’s something out there for everyone. And better yet, these organizations are always looking for student involvement.

Despite the wealth of opportunities, not all students choose to invest their time in extracurriculars. Many may cite apathy as the cause for low involvement, but Carina Beck, Director of Career, Internship & Student Employment Services, has a different opinion.

According to Beck, students most commonly choose to abstain from engaging due to habit; students who have conditioned themselves to operate only within their comfort zone rarely take the plunge into the uncharted waters of college involvement. Behind habit, said Beck, comes fear. Many students find the college atmosphere intimidating, choosing instead to stay in their comfort zone.

Several initiatives have risen to confront this issue. Champ Change, now in its third year, is a program through the Office of Student Success in which students gain points by attending and engaging in campus activities. There were 346 regulated Champ Change events last year, with 860 “highly-involved” students taking part in these events.

Another initiative presented by ASMSU is the “Say Yes” campaign. According to ASMSU Vice President Lindsay Murdock, the goal of “Say Yes” is to “broaden the definition of engagement.” She wants students asking what engagement is, who has it and how to get it. “Say Yes” isn’t purely an ASMSU initiative, said Murdock; the logo and slogan are available for use for events across campus.

The Champ Change and “Say Yes” campaigns present two sides of student engagement. Kathryn Tanner, Director of the Office of Activities and Engagement (OAE), offers an additional perspective: “An engaged student is someone who is actively pursuing their interests and passions.” Tanner’s office encourages students to invest in activities on and off campus, working with over 70 organizations outside of MSU to involve students.

The goals of Beck, Murdock, Tanner and their associated offices focus around student success, and they’ve all found common ground: engagement.

Student involvement, whether on or off campus, holds great value for both students and organizations. “Engagement is like breathing,” Beck said. “What’s the downside?”

For additional involvement opportunities see these resources:
http://www.montana.edu/careers/
http://www.montana.edu/engagement/
OAE Involvement Fair, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.