OPINION: The student involvement problem on campus


Photo courtesy of Gabriella Pettijohn

Gabriella Pettijohn, economics junior with a Spanish minor

*Columns are the opinions of their respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Wichitan as an organization.*

I was a Freshman college student during the peak of COVID-19. I did not go to meetings, make friends or get to know any of my classmates. I joined clubs and a sorority but never felt fully included or active. Student involvement last year, to say the least, sucked, and it still does.

Student involvement on campus is something that every university strives to improve. From various events and outings to promoting organizations, campuses nationwide are experiencing a drop in student activity. Yet, interestingly enough, very few studies have been created to monitor this drop and its impacts on the student population. Student involvement in clubs, activities and Greek life is abundant in the general public idea of “collegiate life.” The stereotype of a college student super involved on campus while attending classes is heavily seen in popular movies, tv shows and social media. Yet, even here on the MSU campus, many organizations say that club members are difficult to find and even harder to keep involved.

That said, this is an opinion piece, not an editorial. I did not interview or conduct extensive research on this topic. Nonetheless, the more I become involved on the MSU campus, the more I see this burgeoning problem in many aspects of student life. Everyone on campus wants to start a club, but no one wants to be a member. We have so many various organizations like anime club, German club and more, yet the active involvement of those clubs is startlingly minimal. Many clubs cannot find officers or leaders to fill their leadership positions, and there are a lot of leadership positions available. With this lack of student participation, many clubs are left being ‘founded’ but not active on campus. They can’t host events or activities due to not having people to work them (or come to them!). This creates an endless circle of not enough meaningful events on campus and an even more loss of student interest.

So, with the problem being stated, one may ask, what are MSU staff members doing to fix it? And the answer to that question is not an easy one. We have some pretty amazing (and overworked) faculty who pour their hearts into bettering MSU. At the same time, the diligent work of a few cannot overcome an entire culture of ineffectiveness that can be seen in organizations. The better question I would ask is, what exactly can people do about furthering student involvement? How can one reasonably jumpstart and engage an entire student population concerned with mid-terms, personal jobs and the ongoing pandemic? This is a question many have been asking since the beginning of the 2021 school year and continue to contemplate. Unfortunately, no one truly has a perfect solution, and we can only hope that we are helping rather than hindering. There is only so much campus leaders can do before essential committees and organizations start to break down. There is only so much campus leaders can do before they are burnt out of running entire organizations independently. So, I must ask the student body: what do you genuinely think is the answer to student involvement?