California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

    Shame placed on students who don’t get involved

    I was amazed when I first came to California Lutheran University and learned that almost everyone lives on campus, and to what extent the majority of students are involved in school activities, clubs and organizations.

    As an international student, I strive hard to get through my classes, and by the end of the day, I just want to go home, to my off-campus apartment and relax.

    Sometimes I think that I am the only one at Cal Lutheran with this attitude, but then again, I notice students with the commuter tag on their cars go to classes and shortly after all rush back to their cars and leave the college experience to go home to their regular lives.

    Senior Christina Davi, a psychology major who was a commuter last year, but now a campus resident, has first hand knowledge of both types of living situations. She said she believes there is more to the college experience than getting involved on campus.

    “I’m here to go to school and get my degree. I have made friends, but I’m not here to network myself through the school,” Davi said. “I don’t want to be involved and I feel like I don’t have to be.”

    At Cal Lutheran, no one is forced to join any clubs, but for students that don’t want to get involved, there is always that underlying shame on us, and once we tell others about it, we are looked at as if we were ghosts.

    Should we feel bad because we don’t want to join clubs and take part in after-class activities on campus? We might be more interested in getting involved out there, outside the Cal Lutheran bubble.

    Senior Wais Niazi, a communication major and commuter said he thinks there are several indicators that make it less tempting for commuter students to become involved.

    “At this school, if you don’t live on campus, and you haven’t been here since freshmen year, it’s very hard to maintain a friendship with someone and be involved,” Niazi said. “It is very hard for a commuter to be involved, almost impossible.”

    Not to mention how much time and effort it takes for a commuter who might live 40 miles away from school to be part of the community at Cal Lutheran by joining a club they can never meet up for.  If being involved in clubs and organization is equal to being part of the Cal Lutheran community, no wonder a lot of commuters scatter to their cars faster than cockroaches disappear when you turn on the lights.

    Is there an unclear and unsaid distinction between commuters and residents, involved students and students who aren’t involved? Is this a type of underlying and closeted university community we have at Cal Lutheran? Giving each other shame over who’s involved and who’s not?

    “I think they know that [its difficult for commuters to be involved], and that’s why they pressure you so much to join clubs and do other things, but at the same time, there is that pressure that they want you to, but they are not going to force anyone to,” Davi said. “It’s more like a stigma, if you are in a club, you are one up, and you are a little better than everyone.”

    When did becoming part of a club make you better than other students, and even though it sounds completely absurd, is there truth to this statement?

    Coordinator for Student Involvement, Ri’chard Caldwell said he doesn’t think there is a distinction between involved students and students who doesn’t get involved, and he said he believes everyone chooses as they want without any shame brought upon them.

    “That’s why we don’t have mandatory things, but we have the options available for the students that want to,” Caldwell said. ”We want you to get involved, but if that’s not what you want, we don’t want to force anything on anyone.”

    Caldwell said he realizes that there are students that have full time jobs, families and busy schedules and that don’t have the opportunity to get the full college experience, but student life appreciate when busy commuters take the time to stop by some of their events.

    What about the busy commuters, juggling between classes, full time jobs and their families that actually want to get involved, what holds them back?

    “For me, I would be interested in it, but to be honest, if you commit to something you have to go all the way into it, and for me, going to classes and doing good in classes is my number one priority,” Niazi said. “Sometimes, clubs expect a lot out of you, even more than classes.”

    Niazi also highlights an important factor to why commuter’s involvement in clubs can be tricky.

    “A lot of clubs and events start late, and you are in classes all day, and at the end of the day you just want to go home, take a nap, eat, relax or do your homework,” Niazi said.

    Caldwell recognized that late club meetings may be an indicator for less commuter involvement, but he also believes that mid-day club meetings would neither work out for resident students nor commuters.

    “It’s a really difficult position for student life to be in to try to get commuters involved with clubs and organizations,” Caldwell said.

    When it comes to other campus events, student life tries to host the events on times where the commuters have a fair chance of being involved.

    “We plan [events] specifically for the times when the commuters will most likely be on campus, and we try to program in the middle of the week, at the peak hours between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.,” Caldwell said.

    For commuter students who want to get involved, the university is definitely trying to involve everyone, but for the students that don’t want to be involved, we should not be afraid to speak up about our opinions.

      Although it may sound obscure to other students and figure out for ourselves what our ultimate college experience is, and then live it out to the fullest – college doesn’t last forever.

    Karoline Johannessen
    Staff Writer
    Published September 30th, 2015