Story by Alex Freeman ’23
“Getting involved is the best thing you can do in college!”
Whether it’s coming from parents, teachers, or alumni, we’ve all heard that advice dozens of times. And yeah, it’s good advice—but honestly, when I was an incoming first-year, I didn’t have a clear idea of what it meant or how to do it. Get involved with what? With whom? To what end?
I mean, seriously, can you get any more vague?
But with a couple years of schooling under my belt, I’m finally getting the hang of this whole “get involved” thing. And if you’re looking to join the club—literally—here’s where you should start your search:
1. Your residence hall is the first stop
Going to residence hall activities is how I met 75% of my friends during my first year, so it kind of had to top this list. Community Advisors (CAs) put in so much effort to create opportunities for you to bond with your neighbors, and a lot of the time, it works. Game nights, trips to the Appleton Farmers Market, tote bag decorating sessions—I did it all, and it’s one of the best decisions I made, so be on the lookout from invites from your CA throughout the year.
2. Fun student orgs are everywhere
When I say there’s a student org for everyone, I’m not exaggerating. With dozens and dozens of student organizations to choose from, each dedicated to a specific interest and activity, you’re sure to find a group of people who just get you. From sea shanties to swing dance, from recess club to social justice organizations, you can explore Lawrence’s student organizations with the directory, or meet potential new friends face-to-face at the annual Involvement Fair, set for 7 p.m. Sept. 17 in Warch.
3. Also, tap into professional student orgs
In addition to the many student organizations geared toward student engagement, Lawrence is also home to several professional student orgs, which help students prepare for their post-graduation careers and bond with others on a similar path. Aspiring doctors, lawyers, writers, bakers—and the list goes on—can get involved (plus get a pretty major head start) through membership in one of these organizations.
4. Share your gifts: Volunteer
Volunteering offers you the chance to connect with classmates, get to know the local community, and give back all at the same time. With six distinct service areas, each with a variety of programs, you’re sure to find your perfect volunteering niche. Use Lawrence’s GivePulse page to sign up.
5. Be active with intramurals
Sports: the OG team-building exercise. Whether it’s as an official Lawrence athlete, representing the Vikings in competition, or as part of a more laid-back, recreational team, playing a sport builds bonds across campus, regardless of academic area or professional interest. Explore intramural sports here.
6. Make a difference in student government
If you want to contribute to real change on campus, the Lawrence University Community Council is definitely the way to go. Through the combined work of elected class representatives and appointed committee members, LUCC touches virtually all aspects of the university, from finance to student welfare, as it takes its place as a vital part of Lawrence’s shared governance.
7. Make money and friends with student jobs
Everyone who has worked part-time knows that there is no bond quite like the bond between coworkers. Student employment is no exception, which makes it a key outlet for getting involved with the campus community. There’s no shortage of jobs to choose from, but some of the most popular include food service in the Commons, the circulation desk in the Seeley G. Mudd library, or writing for the Office of Communications! (OK, maybe I’m a little biased toward that last one.) You can use HandShake to find a campus job that is right for you.
8. Trips and togetherness
There’s nothing like a change of scenery to get to know your fellow Lawrentians in a new light. Day trips to High Cliff State Park, weekend excursions to beautiful Bjorklunden, even international travel to gain field experience for an academic course—all these trips (and more!) can help you get involved with your studies and classmates in a more hands-on, distinctive setting.
9. The Lawrentian/WLFM path
If you want to get your voice out there, try your hand at cross-campus communications with The Lawrentian or WLFM Radio. As the official student newspaper of Lawrence University, The Lawrentian is a hub for student news, opinions, photography, and more, while also providing a space for you to hone—or learn—journalistic skills. Likewise, WLFM is broadcast-central for all things Lawrence, with student hosts leading talk shows, music broadcasts, and, annually, the Great Midwest Trivia Contest.
10. Cultural resources and beyond
Although we all share the “Lawrentian” label, our backgrounds and identities are key to shaping who we are as people and deserve to be nurtured in the university setting. Through resources in the Diversity and Intercultural Center, International House, and the recently established Gender and Sexuality Diversity Center, students can connect with classmates and staff who understand their experiences and can offer additional support. Likewise, the Office of Spiritual and Religious Life connects interested students with options for exploring faith and spirituality.
11. Matching interests with housing
Have a specific interest or passion? Immerse yourself in it while connecting with other students who feel the same way by living in one of Lawrence’s group houses. Passion for art? Art house is a staple on the quad. Want to get off the meal plan and make your own healthy food? SLUG house emphasizes sustainable living and eating. Looking to share a safe space for students of marginalized identities? Sankofa house might be the perfect fit. Live to game? Gaming House could be the place for you. These are just a few of the current options, and even if none of those are for you, keep an eye out for new affinity housing options as they shift, or propose your own.
12. Is Greek life for you?
Participation in Greek life isn’t as common at Lawrence as it is at some other schools, but Greek organizations and members still play a very active role on campus. If you’re looking for a more traditional, social group with a philanthropic orientation, Lawrence has you covered with three fraternities and three sororities to choose from. But if that’s not for you, professional fraternities offer performance, volunteer, and social opportunities for Lawrence musicians, and Beta Psi Nu is a social sorority aimed at empowering women of color. Formal recruitment generally takes place at the beginning of Winter Term, with informal admission occurring at various points throughout the year.
13. Get fit, have fun
It’s easy to associate wellness services with treadmills and counseling—and the Wellness Center does offer plenty of exercise equipment, mental health services, and health care professionals—but participation in wellness activities can also be a great way to get involved! In addition to periodic programs and initiatives geared toward a particular aspect of health and wellness, Wellness Services hosts weekly activities that can be done with a group, including yoga, meditation, and volleyball.
14. Student Life is all about involvement
I know, I know, this one’s a bit obvious, but it’s true! Student Life events are literally designed for the sole purpose of getting students involved, and the Student Life staff knows what they’re doing. I’ve made tie blankets and listened to comedians at the various weekly S.O.U.P. (Student Organization for University Programming) events, and that doesn’t even mention the many beloved Lawrence events that are held annually, like Blue and White Weekend, President’s Ball, and LUaroo.
15. Explore downtown Appleton
Even though we love our little campus bubble, we can’t forget that Lawrence students are an essential part of the wider Appleton community. With a vibrant art, music, and food scene, Appleton regularly presents a vast array of events that allow students to get involved with the rest of the community. For information on the city and upcoming events, check out Appleton Downtown Inc.’s website or Instagram.
Alex Freeman ’23 is a student writer in the Office of Communications.