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(Mzy 2, 2002, Gazette)

What does it mean to be a student?

Jeffrey PardyI mean, I've basically been asking this question, more or less, since I started writing this column in October. So, why not have a whole article dedicated to it? What do we, as students, like and dislike about MUN? What do we do in our spare time? Why are we even here? Once again, I roamed the MUN campus to interview complete strangers. This time, I asked them what it means to be a student.

Based on their answers, I'm pretty sure clubs and societies are an important part of the university experience for many students. Clubs and societies give students the opportunity to form life-long friendships with people they would not have met otherwise. They also offer an escape from the pressures of student life and studies. Kanda Hakuli, a double major in geography and anthropology, is a member of MESS (Memorial English Students Society). She says, “I try to half-and-half my time between partying and studying ... you have to have a happy medium.” However, it seems that not all societies are user- friendly, as Hakuli suggests “I've heard that some of the groups and services are a bit cliquey and hard to get into."

Melissa Winter, third-year primary and elementary education, believes there should be a balance between physical activity, study and relaxation. She swims as much as possible and tries to make the most of her recreat
ion fee. But, like Hakuli, she also has a few problems with some of the clubs and societies on campus, as “some of the societies don't try to make contact with the average student ... they put up posters and that's it.”

Andrew Martin, fifth-year geography, is part of the MUGS (geography society) executive and spends a lot of time planning activities for the society, such as mixers. He tries to get students involved in student life and away from the pressures of studies. Martin sees his peers, and the friendships he made during his time at MUN, as one of the most important parts of student life. As Martin says, “I found I really didn't learn anything without having someone to talk to about it. By talking about the material with someone on an equal basis, you can really get a better grasp on the material.”

So what about parties and drinking? Isn't the Breezeway an important part of student life? Well, while most students engage in drinking from time to time, I would say that drinking is just a device, a tool we students use as a lubricant for conversation. It's not like getting plastered is number one on the agenda. Studying is still the most important part of our life. Although, judging from the number of mixers and parties on the last day of classes, and from the turnout at the two Breezeways on the last day of classes, I'd say drinking is important for stress relief. Parties allow students to recharge and relax, and give us something to look forward to on the weekends. But, while they are a part of student life, they aren't always necessary and sometimes make life more exhausting.

Studies are definitely the most important part of student life. “If I don't have the grades I can't be where I want to be in the future,” commented Cory Martin, a second-year geography student. Why else would thousands of students go to Memorial if it wasn't for the quality and level of education that MUN offers? However, being a student at MUN can often be an exhausting experience, especially during April. As Nicole Lynch, first-year engineering, finds, “I spend so much time studying I don't have time to do much of anything else. During the beginning of the term I went to the Field House regularly, now I don't even have time to do that.”

So what does it mean to be a student? What defines a student at Memorial? Studies? Drinking? Politics? Student interest groups? There's no real answer for this question. The answer varies depending on what student you ask. Studies are important, but, life at MUN would be incredibly dull if all we did was study. There's more to being here than just books. If we're learning about life, don't we have to experience it first to appreciate it?