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Campus activities key to Penn State connection, educational enhancement

10/30/2006 —

DuBois – Clubs, activities, mixers, special event speakers, games – they're all part of an educational experience at Penn State DuBois, and provide some good, old-fashioned fun for students.

According to Rebecca Pennington, Associate Director for Student Life, a sense of belonging to a campus community and the out-of-class experience is just as important as an education. That's why students can find a fun game of twister, have their palms read, play glow-in-the-dark volleyball under a black light, or stop in and listen to a comedian periodically throughout the school year.

"As educators, we want it to be constant learning, but students' educational experience goes beyond what is learned in the classroom. That sense of belonging is so big," Pennington said. "The true mission is building friendships and relationships, providing an avenue for stress relief, and the opportunity to feel connected to the University. This sense of belonging is very much tied to a successful college experience."

And with a new crop of freshmen on campus, Pennington and her student counterparts start out the semester with focused, plan-based outreach opportunities. Categorically, the events are themed as welcoming, relationship building, academic, involvement, health and wellness, and diversity.

Student input is critical to what programs are chosen, Pennington said. In fact, the student Campus Activities Board (CAB) survey the students and then travel to conferences such as that held by the Association for Promotion of Campus Activities. There, students get to hear live bands and comedy routines, as well as experience some of the hands-on programs being booked by universities throughout the country.

Junior Sean Rockmore of Clearfield is this year's CAB chairman, whose goal is to increase the student involvement and attendance in campus clubs and at campus activities. Rockmore said the hands-on activities, such as the Build-A-Bear program and a caricature artist were very popular last year, as were the comedians on campus. His goal, he said, was to identify more hands-on opportunities for student interaction.

The CABs throughout the Penn State system work together in choosing activities based upon student interest surveys, Pennington said. Then Penn State University, through funding from the Office of Vice President of Student Affairs will "block book" numerous acts, who then perform for each campus. The block booking allows a small campus like Penn State DuBois to bring bigger-named or national acts to the community, she added, such as the Kelly Bell Band, who performed Sept. 20. Other activities exclusive to the Penn State DuBois community are paid for through student activity fees; that fee is $49 per semester per student.

With diversity and educational programming, a focused lecture or performer can visit campus to enhance classroom learning. An example of this, Pennington said, is a Latino performer or speaker scheduled during Latin American Week.

"College, in my opinion, is also about opening your mind to different ways of life, and diversity programming is a way to do that," Pennington said.

Clubs and intramural sports also provide avenues for students to explore education, community service and special interests, all the while building new friendships and relationships. Penn State DuBois has 18 organized clubs with two more in the planning stages. A clubs and activities fair was hosted Wednesday (Sept. 27) to introduce new students to these more focused opportunities.

Senior Marly Greely of DuBois has been heavily involved on campus over the past few years, and she can often be seen at the many student activities throughout the academic year.

"I have had the opportunity to build some lifelong friendships and gain priceless experience," Greely said. "My favorite programs are the Cultural and Performing Arts Series. They add a fun, educational component for the students and community. All of these programs have been an important part of learning for me and great break from class."

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