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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

The importance of being involved

Published: November 11, 2005
Section: Opinions

What do you do with all your free time? Well, if youre like me, not much. This is pretty surprising considering the over 150 organizations, clubs, and sports teams on campus which cater to just about every possible interest from athletics and religion to politics and activism to pottery, and everywhere in between. Even just showing up at Chums with some regularity can become a social activity due to the regularity of some of its visitors and performers. As Mike Sitzman (graduate student, Biology, 2007) said to me in an interview, When I play Rather Be Giraffes on my I-pod, it takes me immediately back to the college, and will do so forever, whereas someone who never went to Chums wouldnt have that experience even though we both went to Brandeis.

Many of you, like I did at the beginning of the semester, may be wondering, If there are so many clubs to join, what are they and how can I join? There are three answers to this query. The first is to go to which has a pretty comprehensive listing of all the clubs on campus. From this list, you can click on links to web pages giving descriptions of each group and, usually, a name and/or an e-mail address of the person to contact about involvement in that particular group. The second answer is to attend the activities fair at the beginning of each semester, where representatives from many groups have set up shop to advertise themselves. Lastly, you could actually read Alwinas insistent e-mails, because if its Thursday, there really IS something going on around campus. I understand that the overflow of these messages into our inboxes can seem annoying, but they actually are helpful. Its all just a matter of how much you really want to get off your duff and do something. I have actually gained some semblance of social activity because of those e-mails.

As someone who has been there before, I can completely understand the sentiment that all the good clubs, which in my experience include the a-capella groups or the UTC shows or the improv groups, either fill up too early or are too selective. A number of students have, in fact, expressed the feeling that these clubs give call backs just to be fair, but then give the space to their friends. While Im sure that this has happened on very few occasions, it is by far not the norm, and shouldnt deter people from trying out. After all, there are more than ten a-capella groups on campus, and UTC does at least 6 or 8 shows a year, not to mention the confusingly large number of improv/sketch comedy troupes around campus. With all the people that end up being necessary for their shows to function, there must be something you could do for them, even if its not performing. And besides, tech work is not so bad without the tech workers, the performers have nothing to work around.

In the end, if there really is nothing that interests you on campus, there is a plethora of activity off campus. There is hundreds of years worth of sightseeing to do in Boston, as well as many of the other cities a little farther away like Concord or Plymouth. If thats not your thing, there are clubs all over the place, shopping in Cambridge and Boston, or even just walking through the city of Waltham. As Yara Halasa (MS, International Health Policy and Management, Heller, 2006) has told me, Whenever I get an e-mail about anything going on in the area, I immediately respond yes because I dont want to miss out on any opportunity I have for an activity. So, basically, there is no shortage of things to do in the area, but now hopefully Ive inspired you to be more adventurous in your search for activity.