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(Oct. 31, 2002, Gazette)

Plenty to celebrate

Katie Norman
Memorial University has had a rich and vibrant history. Since its official opening 77 years ago on Sept. 15, 1925, as Memorial University College, it has come along way. Memorial received the name Memorial University of Newfoundland on Aug. 13, 1949, when the House of Assembly enacted legislation which granted Memorial university status. A year later the first five students graduated with their degrees. During this year’s annual fall convocation about 600 students were eligible for their degrees. The university has come a long way with regards to population and academic subjects covered. The scope of change and the history of Atlantic Canada's largest university is the idea behind Celebrate Memorial, which has now become somewhat of a tradition on campus.

While scholarships winners, the Field House, volunteers, alumni and many other aspects of MUN are being officially celebrated, I set out to find out what students think should be celebrated about our university.

While it's not exactly 1965, when Premier Smallwood offered free tuition to all first year students from the province, Greg Harris, a first-year student, says he likes Memorial "because the tuition is low." Compared with other universities MUN is very economically appealing. There are many times you'll here a student who hails from Nova Scotia or Ontario say that it's cheaper for them to come to Newfoundland than to stay at home and attend their local university.

Ross Connolly, another first-year student, said it was the big student population which attracted him to Memorial. In fact, last year there were over 16,000 students enrolled at MUN. Another student, who asks to remain anonymous, focused on the supportiveness and diversity of the population at MUN. "The university is very welcoming to ethnic diversity and diversity in general really. It has a very supportive lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgendered (LBGT) population, as well and does some great work in making LBGT people feel welcome."

Of course there were students who saw the time we spend away from university as a thing to be celebrated. Lesley Herridge, a third-year Education student, said "I think at MUN we should celebrate our fall mid-term break because most other schools in Canada only get a winter midterm break. They tried to take it away from us last year but we fought to keep it."

Virginia Radford, a fourth-year political science major, agreed with Lesley. "I really look forward to mid-term break. Come mid-October, the end of October, I feel a little burnt out from over-studying and overwhelmed with work. It's the extra couple of days that help because we can recuperate, relax and then finish off the semester successfully."

There are lots of things to celebrate about Memorial. The quantity and quality of student services available is one example. With the Writing Centre, Centre for Student Life and academic help centres student are given plenty of opportunities to learn how to adjust to university, they just have to know where to go to ask for help.

Another great aspect about MUN is the broad range of athletic teams and programs offers something for everyone, that is if you can fit exercising in between MUCEP jobs and chemistry labs. Apart from the conventional soccer, basketball and volleyball, students can take part in salsa workouts, Pilates, yoga, squash, and swimming. It is important to offer a variety of programs to fit various fitness levels and interests.

Perhaps the best part of MUN is the host of clubs and societies available to all students. From departmental societies, which allow you to meet people with similar academic programs so that you can help each other, to interest groups like the Dead Parrot Society (Monty Python worship), MUN Society of Creative Anachronism (recreating Medieval life) and C'MUN Outdoors, there are ways to engage your mind in non-academic topics. The basis behind most clubs and societies is that it's an opportunity for like-minded people to meet and have a good time in each others company.

Celebrate Memorial should be about more than just two weeks in November. It should be about students and faculty celebrating education and the opportunities that a university education provides. After all why are we all here if not to ground ourselves for the future?