COLUMN: Take advantage of extracurricular activities

It’s the second week of classes. It's the time of year when you can eat dinner for free on a daily basis. 

The strategy is simple: go to a callout meeting for a different student organization every night. 

Yes, it has its downsides. You’ll be eating more pizza than is advisable for any human being to do.

Plus, if you go to callout meetings you aren’t actually interested in, you may find yourself sitting through presentations about topics you never thought even one person would be passionate about, let alone a whole club of IU students. (Looking at you, IU Sweet Potato Club.)

But with more than 750 student organizations in existence at IU, the chances that not a single one of them represents an interest you have are almost zero. Whether your passion is Chinese calligraphy or Quidditch, there’s something for you at this university.

We have student organizations for sports, games, languages, religious life, food, books, music, visual art, academics, politics, culture, film, volunteering and more.

There is also a number of organizations that are useful for international students who want to connect with students from a similar background. There are organizations for students from certain countries, as well as ones for broader regions of the world.

The breadth and diversity of IU’s student organizations is a major advantage of a large campus like IU—Bloomington. 

The website BeINvolved lists all of IU's officially registered student organizations.

It is possible to come to IU, make decent grades and graduate without ever getting involved in anything beyond the classroom. There are certainly quite a few students here that do this. But those students probably have a less fulfilling experience, a harder time making friends and a weaker sense of community.

I’m not saying that IU’s student organizations are the only way to get involved in things outside of class. It’s also great to get involved with activities in the greater Bloomington community and informal activities with friends, like forming a band or a book club.

You can also participate in extracurricular programs run by departments. For example, the mainstage productions of the IU Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance are open to auditions by any IU students. That’s also the case for the plethora of theater productions staged independently by undergraduates every year.

You can go too far with this. At a certain point, making too many extracurricular commitments can add to your stress, when it should ideally be a form of stress relief. But everyone should at least try getting involved in something.

Now is an especially important time for all the political and advocacy organizations on campus, which facilitate student activism on a huge range of causes. Students have a history of participating in some of the most important political movements in the United States, such as the movements against white supremacy and the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 70s. We should be continuing that legacy.

In other words, don’t just go here. Do something outside of class, whether it be to effect change or purely for your own satisfaction. These extracurricular activities make the difference between a school and a community.

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