Required involvement: more help than harm?

By Jordan Jackson
Contributing Writer

 

The first semester is in full swing and students are immersed in their commitments to school work, jobs, and co-curricular activities.

All first-year students at Simmons College are required to join at least one extracurricular for the first semester of the school year. Students must journal about their experiences with these clubs for a grade in their First-Year Seminar.

According to the college’s website, Simmons has always “encourage[ed] each student to get involved with at least one organization during her time at Simmons.” However, first-years’  being required to join is a more recent development.

The new requirement is generating plenty of discussion among undergrad students on campus.   Elisa Christensen Stone, 18, is a physical therapy major at Simmons College who is excited to get involved.

“I agree with the requirement,” Stone said. “I think that without [it] a lot of students wouldn’t have the motivation to get out and become a part of the community.”

Like many science majors at Simmons, Stone has biology and chemistry classes to study for and late-night labs twice a week. However, she is able to find time to attend meetings for Organización Latino Americana and the Colleges of the Fenway intramural tennis club – activities that give her a sense of connectedness to others  at Simmons.

However, not everyone is so enthusiastic.

Many students have conflicts that prevent them from meeting regularly with their chosen organization. They have schedules loaded with classes and homework and the additional demands of a job. Students are working part-time jobs both on and off campus.  For students who work, joining a club is a time commitment that adds to their stress.

This requirement to join a club can also create difficulties for commuter students.

For nursing major Insun Hendriks, 18, the commute from her apartment to school takes about 25 minutes. When selecting a club to join, she had to take into account the time that it takes to get home.

“Most of the clubs meet pretty late,” said Hendricks, who has late-night classes and labs. “If the club meets at night, I’m more reluctant to join.”

Although Hendricks is a member of Simmons Christian Fellowship, she admits that she would most likely not be member of the club if it wasn’t for the requirement.

For some Simmons students, getting involved around campus has always been a part of the plan. Many students are getting involved with groups on campus even without the requirement. For them, the requirement is less of a burden, and they are happy to add the additional activities to their work load.

This is the case for nursing major Mary Ying, 18. She joined the crew team even before she knew about the extracurricular requirement, and has been enjoying her experience so far.

“My life consists of nothing but classes, crew and then homework,” said Ying. But she predicts that changes in her crew schedule will eventually allow her to get involved in more activities.

“I do hope to join more clubs…but I don’t plan to quit crew because so far it’s been a really great team sport and experience,” Ying said.

Much like Stone, Ying intends to stay involved with many organizations throughout college as a way to stay integrated with the Simmons community.

Whether students are joining a sports team, a cultural group or student organization, it seems that students are stretching themselves in new ways because of the first-year requirement.

As Ying put it, “It’s really part of a whole process of trying out new things and growing in college.”

Whether this process will prove to be helpful to the Simmons experience is still to be determined. But one thing’s for sure: this requirement has been a challenge for many students at Simmons.