Exploring club commitment issues

Over-enthusiasm can leave students feeling overwhelmed down the road, HCDS director says

Frosh say the variety of clubs to choose from at Queen’s can lead to indecision, but that extracurricular involvement is ultimately fulfilling.
Frosh say the variety of clubs to choose from at Queen’s can lead to indecision, but that extracurricular involvement is ultimately fulfilling.

Between the annual Sidewalk Sale, Queen’s in the Park and Clubs Night, first-year students are given no shortage of opportunities to explore all that Queen’s extra-curricular activities have to offer.

With approximately 270 clubs to choose from, Queen’s is home to the largest university club community in Canada. For some students, this abundance of options can be almost overwhelming.

“I had way too many things I wanted to join and I just didn’t end up joining any of them really,” Isaac Burger, ArtSci ’13, said of his experience during first year. Michael Baker, ArtSci ’16, said he was torn about the variety of activities to choose from at Queen’s.

“There were so many options,” he said. “There were a lot of things you liked, so it made it easy and tough at the same time.”

Fellow first-year, Brittany Moore, ArtSci ’16, Brittany Moore, said her eagerness to get involved with clubs on campus led her to sign up on the mailing list for five different clubs during Frosh Week.

“I’m probably going to get tons of emails,” she said. “[But] I want to get as involved as possible.”

Sometimes the pressure to overextend one’s extra-curricular involvement can lead to legitimate anxiety. Mike Condra, director of Health, Counselling and Disability Services (HCDS), said students who are unable to cope with their extra responsibilities often turn to HCDS.

“We see a lot of students with these issues,” he said. “On the upside, Queen’s offers a lot of different activities for students to get involved, but on the downside there are a lot of activities for students to get involved.”

First-year students are easily drawn to a variety of clubs and may feel like they can’t cope with their commitments down the road, Condra said, adding that students should find a balance between what they can do and what they want to do.

“A lot of students feel like they want to fit in with this idea of the Queen’s experience and they end up signing up for more than they can deal with,” he said. “Most students are afraid to say ‘no’ to these responsibilities and we help them deal with that.”

Both the Sidewalk Sale and Queen’s in the Park take place during Frosh Week, while Clubs Nights occur on Sept. 17 and 18.

AMS Clubs Manager Jeffrey McCarthy said these events encourage first-year students to get involved with their community, adding that extra-curricular involvement is integral to a “well-rounded Queen’s education.”

“It’s a way to build a social network, professional development and it’s really a well-rounded Queen’s experience,” McCarthy, ConEd ’12, said.

Sidewalk Sale and Queen’s in the Park target first-year students, he said, but added that he doesn’t think students feel pressured to engage in a level they’re uncomfortable with.

“They’ll sign up for more they intend to,” he said, “but that’s just something that happens and clubs don’t expect a 100 per cent retention rate.”

McCarthy said what’s important is quality over quantity, and first-year students’ tendency to over commit to different campus clubs is just an expression of enthusiasm.

“The Queen’s experience is all about meaningful commitment,” he said. “Every student should have the opportunity to make one lasting connection through clubs while they’re here.”

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