Alyssa Laube, Coordinating Editor
There’s nothing like being far from home to make you appreciate what might otherwise seem lacklustre about everyday life. Midway through a nine-hour flight to Japan, it struck me that Kwantlen Polytechnic University really and truly hates itself—a fact I’ve known since I started here two years ago—but realistically has no founded reason to.
On KPU campuses, where student apathy has become somewhat of an ugly trademark, the charm of familiarity often gets lost in disdain for academic monotony. The humdrum of working to get paid, studying to get a degree, and socializing to stay sane is essential to thriving in a university environment, but it also breaks spirits. In adopting this shattered identity, we allow ourselves to lose sight of what makes our school and lives as students incredible and unique.
Broadly speaking, the sheer act of going to university is a privilege. Many Canadians can forget this, but actively remember and you’re certain to become a happier, more productive person. Satisfaction is nearly as contagious as misery, and it’s our responsibility as members of the KPU community to breathe life into our stifling culture by showing some passion for our institution.
More times than I can recall, I’ve heard executives and councillors with our student government, the Kwantlen Student Association, brainstorm methods of improving campus culture. They’ve been scratching their heads for years, trying fervently to organize events and print posters that will inspire engagement. It has worked in many ways, but this approach does little to address the underlying lack of pride that KPU students suffer from. Tackling that problem will take time and effort that focuses much more on conceptual and subliminal encouragement to adopt a more positive frame of mind.
The best place to start repairing the sometimes-dreary atmosphere at KPU is within yourself. If you don’t feel proud wearing a KPU hoodie or chatting about your classes with friends from SFU or UBC, ask yourself why. Be critical and honest. Name the things that keep you here, and try to dig a little deeper than campus proximity and tuition costs.
There are negative aspects to attending KPU, certainly. It’s no secret that we’re a new school—we only attained university status in 2008—and with that comes an element of immaturity.
KPU is small—a double edged sword, since its size offers both intimacy in regards to learning in small groups and isolation in terms of very few people being on campus at once. It is also far from the downtown core, lacking in the quasi-municipal infrastructure that UBC boasts, and unable to list off names of now-famous and accomplished alumni like BCIT or SFU does so effortlessly. All of this causes our reputation to suffer, and understandably so.
Still, it helps to remember that we’re different from every other university in the game. Since KPU’s beginnings, it has gone from being an obscure college hosting tiny classes in lonely portables to being a rapidly growing set of commuter campuses for everyone from aspiring fashion designers to beekeepers and brewmasters. People know about KPU now, mainly for its unusual selection of courses, but also because it refuses to remain stagnant.
Right now another campus is being constructed in Surrey, and it will soon assume the form of an enormous, modern tower near Surrey Central Skytrain station, right next to SFU. It’s different than anything else KPU has ever done before, and it proves that, with every passing year, this school grows a little bit bigger and a little bit better.
Let’s get excited that we’re a part of this transformation and build a real community together. Enjoy small class sizes and five minute walks between buildings. Take a weird course about marijuana or learning black magic or putting horseshoes on horses. Go to the Grassroots Cafe and drink a beer made by other students. Try to mix and mingle.
Most of all, pay attention to what’s happening around you, whether your source is this newspaper or simply looking around and talking to others. There’s always something to see.