Stay engaged with Wash. U. in light of no debate

At this time last year, excitement on the Danforth Campus started to rapidly climb as students eagerly awaited the Oct. 9 debate between presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and now-President Donald Trump. Discussion surrounding important political issues at stake, voter registration efforts and general student interest in politics peaked as the debate – and the election – crept closer and closer.

Although this coming year lacks a central event equivalent to the debate to rein in Washington University students, that should not mark the end of students’ involvement within our campus community as the new semester unfolds.

At the Fall Activities Fair tomorrow, over 300 student groups will descend onto Mudd Field to win the attention of eager first-years with slowly melting candy and decorative posters. That means over 300 opportunities to engage with the Wash. U. community at large, over 300 opportunities to explore interests in a non-classroom setting and over 300 opportunities to make new friends.

Having a community to rely on—other than the all-encompassing Wash. U. community—is an invaluable tool to succeeding in college and attending the Activities Fair can help students get one step closer to finding their niche. A smaller community provides emotional support, an avenue for meeting upperclassmen who have helpful advice and a possible introduction into previously unknown areas of interest.

Regardless of where students stand on the political spectrum, politics still remains important in light of the election. Numerous groups on campus bring together like-minded students who are passionate about aspects of the economy of social issues and who often share party affiliations—all of which continue to learn and advocate despite a debate-less and election-less year.

Last year, student-planned, hosted and led protests brought the ideals held by many members of the University community to the forefront of campus politics. Issues such as immigration, Black Lives Matter and counterprotests to groups like Westboro Baptist Church remain relevant both on a University and national level.

In addition to allowing opportunities for political engagement, student groups also give students the ability to broaden their horizons by meeting peers from across class years, schools and the backgrounds. Some of the most important learning opportunities in college come through connecting with those from different experiences, and we urge students to take advantage of the opportunity to meet a broader cross-section of peers through extracurricular activities.

Outside of classes and clubs, Wash. U. offers a slew of other exciting experiences, which are included in the sticker price of an elite college education. The Sumers Recreation Center offers free workout classes and brand-new athletic equipment. Both the University’s Assembly Series and Student Union’s Trending Topics bring engaging speakers to campus, who talk on a whole range of different issues. And Social Programming Board puts on more than just the behemoth that is WILD: There are comedy shows, film screenings and smaller concerts throughout the year.

Although it’s impossible, with just four years on campus, to take advantage of every single opportunity Wash. U. offers, the Student Life editorial board encourages students to remember that all of these resources and activities are readily available on campus—and they’re all included in the cost of tuition.

While we know there’s no chance to spot Wolf Blitzer in Brookings Quadrangle like there was last year, attending Wash. U. is still in and of itself a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And at a price tag of nearly $70,000 per year, this opportunity is not one to squander by failing to get involved: Even if you’re a senior, it’s not too late.

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