From the Editor: KPU’s student life is buried under COVID-19

Check your student email and follow clubs on social media, KPU wants to get your attention

(Kristen Frier)

When I first stepped through the large glass doors of the Surrey campus’ main building, I thought university life would be like the movies. I imagined myself attending sports games, parties, and talking to random people as I made my way to class.

In my first month at the university, I found out there were no varsity sports teams, there were no parties, and the closest I ever got to talking with strangers was in the Tim Hortons line-up.

Through the end of my second year at KPU, things began to look less gloomy. I joined The Runner as a contributor, and through there I was able to get to know the student clubs and discovered the services and activities hosted by the Kwantlen Student Association.

It was a fun time because I could see firsthand what KPU had to offer in terms of student life, which is now something that many new students still haven’t witnessed due to COVID-19. Even though it wasn’t always easy to see, our university has had student life in the form of clubs, events, and activities.

Before the pandemic, I went to cover an axe-throwing event hosted by the KSA. I was shocked to see that I was the only student who showed up, the rest were KSA students who planned the event and despite the promotion, students didn’t attend.

It seemed like the only way KPU or the KSA could get students to attend their events was through free pizza.

On Facebook, I asked KPU students if they had ever attended KPU’s Sport and Recreation online fitness classes. Unfortunately, the individuals who replied weren’t aware of such events.

Most responses said they “didn’t know we had online fitness classes” or “I had no idea, are they free?”

Jonathan Webster is one of the Fitness and Wellness Coordinators at the SportRec. He says that the average attendance for the classes is 15, but that it can go as low as five people per class.

“So, we do advertise on all of the regular channels for KPU. So, we have our social media, and we send out [announcements] through emails. So, it really just depends on the individual students, and what forms of communication they use to get their information about the services offered to them,” he says.

Shalini Vanan is the SportRec manager who promotes sports, recreation, and health and also says that they try to notify students as much as possible.

“Students are being notified, I couldn’t honestly tell you why perhaps they aren’t reading their emails, or maybe they’re not quite seeing the social media accounts. But we are continuing to try, and we really want to increase their student engagement,” says Vanan.

You can follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @kpusportrec.

KPU also has channels for students to join and feel like a part of the school, even off-campus. There is a Reddit group for students to ask questions or start conversations, and even a KPU Complaints group on Facebook for students only.

The Multi-Faith Centre is still active online. The centre has mediation sessions almost every day, and students can also book an office hour with the chaplains. The centre has a General Faith chaplain, a Christianity chaplain, a Humanism chaplain, a Skihism chaplain, and an Islam (Sufi) chaplain.

KPU has clubs like the KPU Japan Club, Kwantlen Pageturners, Muslim Student Association, Kwantlen Poetry Project, and the Kwantlen Christian Fellowship, which are still active and are always looking for more members.

I don’t think it’s entirely our fault for not having a student life, especially during COVID-19. However, if no students participate in the events hosted by KPU, how are we expected to have a student life at all?

We can try a little harder and get involved in the few events that are going on right now. KPU sends out announcements through student emails, and I know it’s easy to swipe the notification away from our screens, but we can stay up to date by taking five minutes to read what they have to say.

The social isolation in response to COVID-19 has changed our student experience, but even behind a screen we can still stay connected.

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