From an upcoming electric bike rental initiative by Student Government, Inc. (SGI) on campus, to open mic nights at WSJU Radio, St. John’s University’s fall activities calendar is geared toward making students’ safe return to campus more engaging and exciting.
“With a highly collaborative academic environment and the enthusiasm of student leaders, the campus community anticipates an exciting semester filled with engaging extracurricular activities,” said Kathryn T. Hutchinson, Ph.D., Vice President, Division of Student Affairs.
More than 120 student clubs, organizations, and University departments gathered on the Great Lawn on Monday, September 13, for the annual Student Activities Fair and to launch recruitment of new members. After an extended period of much remote learning and online activities, club presidents expect more participation; they are hopeful that students have returned to campus excited to become involved in the extracurricular life that St. John’s offers.
Students, in turn, seem to be up to the task. On a warm, sun-splashed, and crowded Great Lawn, they explored the many opportunities for academic, athletic, artistic, social, and community engagement. A few students who have not been physically on campus for more than a year said that joining a club is an important step toward building a network beyond their immediate classmates.
Even though clubs have prepared an exciting line-up of in-person events, their presidents have made an effort to adapt all activities to the University’s COVID-19 safety policies and regulations. Izzy Asuncion, President and General Manager of WSJU, described how during the peak of the pandemic, their club was one of the few that was permitted to continue operating on location in Marillac Hall through social distancing and diligent sanitizing efforts in the studio. Now that we are slowly returning to a new normal, students can look forward to in-person open mic nights and the ability to join one of their almost 50 on-air radio shows.
Other clubs, anticipating that the return to campus would not be easy, focus their energy on boosting students’ spirit by resolving some long-standing campus issues. SGI is working on a new initiative called “Wheels” that will station electric bicycles across campus; students can rent one to move quicker between buildings, or to venture out in the local community and grab a bite to eat.
“We hope this makes us more eco-friendly, of course, and also increase morale across the student body,” shared Sadia Rahman, SGI Press Secretary.
Consistent with the University’s Vincentian mission, some organizations like the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship promote social justice, social service, community, and faith. Natalia Acervedo, President, shared that the club aims to provide much-needed community spirit after a year of being remote.
“Our organization helps the St. John’s community process their hard times through a lens of faith, while trying to be more inclusive and loving toward one another,” she said.
Long known for its community spirit, ample clubs are offered on campus with deeply rooted social justice missions where like-minded students promote the causes in which they believe and can identify. For example, the Catholic Relief Services student organization discusses topics such as environmental sustainability, human trafficking, hunger, and poverty, and engages in advocacy through information-sharing and legislative visits.
The Earth Club raises awareness of environmental sustainability with a mission of helping students live a more environmentally friendly life on campus. “We have many plans for this year,” said Earth Club member Jordan Ban. “Students are welcome to help us cultivate our large, organic, vegetable garden on campus located near the Residence Village.” The organization also has plans for a series of craft nights, vegan food nights, and a large art festival with the theme of sustainability and climate change.