Ohio Wesleyan Event Strives to Help with Students with ‘Intentional Involvement’
A hallmark of Ohio Wesleyan University is the number of unique ways students can become more involved on campus. On Sept. 2, students participated in the annual Student Involvement Fair, previously known as Club Fair.
Nancy Bihl Rutkowski, assistant director of student involvement/leadership, revamped this year’s event to highlight meaningful involvement.
“We want students to engage in healthy, thoughtful, and intentional involvement,” she explained, rather than risking over-committing themselves by signing-up for dozens of clubs.
“The culture of Ohio Wesleyan encourages active, engaged, and involved students,” Rutkowski said, noting that college students sometimes push their levels of commitment to the limit. “It’s not just an OWU trait; it’s the entire millennial generation,” she said. “As parents, we have over-programmed you since you were born and constantly had you on-the-go.”
To promote mindful engagement, Rutkowski’s office equipped each first-year student with an involvement planner to help with organization and time management.
Another change with the newly renamed Student Involvement Fair was how the clubs advertised themselves. “It used to be a free-for-all,” Rutkowski said, “but now each club has to register and receives a welcome packet.” The packet has literature on ways to engage new members and create welcoming environments.
This year, the Student Involvement Office also has been more intentional in pairing faculty advisors with student clubs to support and further empower students. “Faculty advising helps build community on campus,” Rutkowski said. “It helps faculty know life outside the classroom and helps students adjust to the OWU culture better.”
For the event, each club was given a table on the JAYwalk, and students learned of the many ways to get involved on campus.
“There’s definitely something for everyone,” said Jonathon Oberschlake ’17, a triple-major in history, politics and government, and pre-law. He is involved in the Outdoor Ministry Team and intermural soccer.
Daud Baz ’17, accounting major, agreed, adding: “Involvement is a good way to make friends and help the community. I want to give back to OWU all that the school has given me.” Baz is involved with Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI) fraternity, Colleges Against Cancer, Horizons International (promoting on-campus internationally themed events), and Sangam (OWU’s South Asian student organization).
Abby Helbling ’16, music education major, said, “Without involvement, I wouldn’t be as open-minded, and I wouldn’t get to meet as many people.” She is a Panhellenic sorority member, president of the OWU chapter of the National Association of Music Education, a member of Mu Phi Epsilon music honor fraternity, and involved in theatre.
Scott Harmanis ’18, economics and Spanish major, concluded: “I’m passionate about everything I do. If you want to get involved, there is something for you.” Harmanis plays soccer and participates in the YoungLife Christian organization, the Jaywalkers male a capella group, FIJI, and the House of Spiritual Athletes small living unit.
Rutkowski said healthy involvement has many benefits. “Finding your niche helps you feel more at home,” she said, “and it develops abilities like leadership, team-building, and interpersonal skills.”
Her advice to all college students is this: “If you find something you like, go deeper with it! Don’t spread yourself thin. Commit to doing what you are passionate about.”