Yay, Campus Activities

By Hannah Mason, Assistant Editor

 The eternal mantra on the hilltop seems to be the grumbled, “There’s never anything to do at West Liberty!” Probably, this West Lib-ism has been around forever, with no clear origin—though it’s logical to conclude, I think, that it came at least in part from our geography: our isolated, small-town, hilltop location as well as our relative proximity to “big city” schools like WVU and Pitt, where we assume there are “things to do.”

These days, though, there’s not quite so much grounds for that small school cynicism, as the list of campus activities and events grows longer and bigger. Organizations like Campus Activities, Housing and Student Life, SGA, and others have been taking strides the last several semesters to provide fun and unique ways to bring students together outside of the usual (albeit important) classes, sports games, and Homecoming.

Posters color the walls of the College Union, the residence halls, and buildings all over campus, proclaiming new events all the time. Most recently, advertisements for West Liberty Idol, a Pinterest Series, Paint ‘n Sits, and this week’s “Random Acts of Kindness Week” jump out at us everywhere we go. There seem to be activities to fit a wider range of interests, and to showcase and cultivate talents and hobbies in new ways. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, activities aimed at kindness and giving are cropping up to pull us out of “me”-oriented class, homework, and extracurricular schedules. I think there’s been a commendable effort by staff and students alike to get more students involved in more good things on campus, and I have to admit: I’m pretty impressed.

Personally, I’ve been not only boggled by the numbers of posters going up everywhere, but by the events themselves and participation in them. The first night of this year’s West Liberty Idol, which kicked off on Tuesday, Feb. 3, drew such a crowd that I (who should’ve known better than to arrive right when it was starting) had to drag one of the tall stools clear across the Union to be able to have a seat, and many people were standing. I’ve walked by the Alumni Room during Paint ‘n Sits and realized there were so many people in there that they had to close the doors because they didn’t have any more room.

Yeah, the “big stuff”—Greek life, sports games, Homecoming, Hilltop Players performances, Nutting Gallery exhibitions, etc.—always draw big crowds and involvement, but it’s great to see an influx of well-attended new events and activities, too, that anyone can become involved in. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. According to Kate Billings, Campus Activities Coordinator, involvement and participation have gone up in campus activities since this time last year, and she has hopes that that trend will continue.

One way Billings hopes to keep up the student involvement and to make sure Campus Activities is providing events that students want to go to is through the revival of the Student Activities Board (SAB). Billings said that recruitment for the SAB is going on now, with another informational meeting coming up toward the end of this month. She hopes that the SAB will be able to aid in planning and idea creation for both small and big campus events. “They are the audience,” Billings said, “so what other way to make sure students are engaged than having them—and their friends—help plan it?”

Many of the events I’ve been to lately seem well-attended, but Billings confirmed that the most popular campus event right now is the Paint ‘n Sit, which occurs in the Alumni Room at least once a month. Billings said that the Paint ‘n Sit gets close to fifty students each time.

Her guesses for why it’s so popular? “I think for the students there are a few reasons they keep participating in it,” Billings said. “1. It is relaxing and social to do with their friends/ suitemates/ teammates. 2. Timing: it’s maybe an hour long, so they can take a study break and come down and not think, ‘Oh, man, I need to decide between studying and participating!’ 3. It’s student instructed: our Art Education majors have been amazing to work with and they lead the session … (they) pick fun pictures that any level of artistic ability can do!” And what can we expect to see in the Hilltopper Headlines and on posters coming soon?

Billings revealed that some new ideas for this semester include Team Trivia by the end of this month, “for either 6-8 weeks on a Wednesday or Thursday night at 8pm,” she said, saying that trivia nights at Generations were the inspiration for this event. Another idea in the works is a “50 Days to Graduation” event for seniors that Campus Activities and SGA are partnering for in the hopes of creating a new West Lib tradition.

West Liberty is a smallish school in a smallish area without so many built-in “things to do” and “sights to see” as in, say, Pittsburgh or Morgantown. But the combined efforts of Kate Billings and many others have created a campus community with more things for students to come together for than we sometimes think.

So, thanks, WLU, for debunking the “There’s nothing to do at West Liberty!” mantra and for giving us more reasons to hang out on the hilltop. Be sure to check out our social media pages, including our Instagram account.