From the moment freshmen step onto Alden Street during New Student Orientation they are bombarded with the idea of “getting involved.”
Students are highly encouraged to get involved with clubs, athletics, intramurals or other co-curricular opportunities on campus as a way to help develop in the spirit, mind and body philosophy of the institution.
Many students eventually buy into the co-curricular “Kool-Aid” and begin to overwhelm themselves with a series of different clubs, or they invest a ton of their time and energy on playing a sport.
Yet most co-curricular activities on this campus do not offer any monetary compensation or academic credit. Athletes can get a .5 physical education credit for being a full-time athlete and that’s it.
Some schools offer to pay their orientation leaders, but Springfield College does not pay its New Student Orientation or Pre-Camp leaders.
Students are encouraged to get involved as a way to make friends, make a difference and educate themselves further.
There is no doubt in my mind that playing a sport or being involved in a campus club will pay dividends in the long run. But what about the short run?
What happens when the academic demands begin to pile up against the co-curricular? The rigorous demands of classes, paying for college and/or having an internship can sometimes lead to a drop in club involvement. Even more so, there are some students on campus who will sacrifice their academics for the passionate love of a club.
Or in other cases, students will choose not to get involved out of fear that their academics will suffer.
Students should not have to feel the pressures of their academics and co-curriculars clashing. There should be a way to reward students for being strongly involved in both their academics and co-curriculars. There should be a stronger link between the two.
Credit should be given – and not just the credit of saying “good job” or giving a pat on the back to student leaders or athletes.
Academic credit should be given in some way, shape or form. Students are busting their tails way too much not to be given something in return.
It can be done in a variety of ways. Students should be allowed from three to 12 credits of student activities credit, similar to how some majors offer credit for internships. Or maybe more professors should allow students to combine their efforts between academics and student involvement.
One example that comes to mind is how event management students are sometimes given assignments to work an event as a class assignment, such as this year’s Hoophall Classic.
Yet, the upperclassmen sport management club/students who were selected as “supervisors,” running the event alongside Special Programs, received nothing but a line on their resume for a job well done.
They, too, should be rewarded with credit for their involvement, especially if they were not paid for running the five-day high school basketball showcase.
The Hoophall Classic is not a club sanctioned by SGA, but many members of the sport management club volunteered to work the event.
Regardless though, it is still involvement outside the classroom.
Yet, there are still many examples.
Why can’t SGA members receive a student government credit such as the one-credit student newspaper practicum? Why can’t students who do mission trips receive a one-credit volunteerism credit? What about Leadership Summit facilitators?
If giving credits to co-curriculars is too much, why not really reward students in the classroom? Some professors offer extra credit to students for going to select events on campus; why not offer extra credit to students who are involved?
Why not build a syllabus with assignments that are built off the co-curricular model at Springfield College?
Co-curricular involvement was a big part of this college’s history. During my interview last week with the 2011-2012 Distinguished Humanics Professor Naomi Graves, we talked a lot about the history of the college and its co-curriculars.
“In our early history, the co-curricular piece was huge,” Graves said. “The play area was as much a laboratory for education as the chemistry lab, the physics lab, the exercise science lab.”
It is 100 percent true that being involved is a hands-on lab. You learn, you study, you implement, you fail, you work hard and you dedicate yourself.
Graves said Springfield College used to reserve the 4 to 6 p.m. time slot for extra-curricular activities. Whether it was athletics, clubs, volunteerism, etc., this time frame was reserved for them.
Slowly over time, academic pressures and cultural changes in society eroded this time frame away from co-curriculars.
The closest thing SC has to that now is the noon time slot on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
However, co-curricular involvement in some clubs goes way beyond just two hours.
Some student leaders will put in double-digit hours into their clubs and organizations.
Unfortunately though, not every student is this involved. The problem that arises with giving academic credit to students who are involved is not every student is equally involved. And quite frankly, some students just do not want to be involved.
Ideally, students who are involved should have the option of receiving credit, whether it’s academic or extra credit from a class.
Professors should value their students who take what is taught in the classroom and flourish with those lessons in a practical setting. Other professors should find a way for students who are involved in clubs to bring what they learned inside the classroom.
There is value on both ends.
It would not be wise to force co-curricular involvement upon students. But maybe offering credit, academic or extra, would encourage students to get involved, stay involved and be involved.
Justin Felisko may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org