On-campus community

Finding friendly space and building skills in a student group

Illustration by Gabrielle Funk

Student groups give people a space on campus where they can connect to others over common interests.

Groups range in purpose, from the Precious Stones that offer help through difficult times, to A Room of One’s Own that works to empower women through literature.

For many students who decide to get involved, their new on-campus community becomes important to them.

“People, they really want to go there, if you take that away from them, they’re going to feel like, ‘okay, what am I going to do now,’” Regine Abeysinghe says about the Prayer Room.

Abeysinghe used the room regularly before becoming the Muslim Student Association (MSA) coordinator.

The space is important to her and to many of the other students who use it, Abeysinghe says.

“It’s not limited to students who are Muslim students. It’s open for all,” she says.

They consider it to be an interfaith space and allow people from any religious background to make use of it, she says.

“You have people who already graduated, or (are) married with kids, or young and new to university,” Abeysinghe says.

While most people use the space to pray, she says it is set up like a lounge and is also a place where people can relax, eat and visit with other students.

“All of us who come to the prayer room regularly, we know each other really well,” she says. 

The space is friendly and helps facilitate great connections between people.

“We just talk and are very comfortable with each other. No one feels odd,” she says. “It is quite important to a lot of students.”

Immanuel Abiodun started the Billionaire Club for students.

Unlike the group’s title suggests, it’s not necessarily a place for students who have a lot of money. Rather, it’s a resource for students who want to learn about managing their finances.

“I just noticed there is a trend that schools, they never teach you about money and how to manage it. We go out there and have no clue about how the world works, how money works,” Abiodun says. “We have a degree, but we’re pretty much financial idiots.”

He noticed many students ending the school year with no money in their bank accounts because they had not budgeted.

The Billionaire Club helps people make budgets. Members also discuss what they learn from reading financial advice books and play games with money, such as Monopoly.

Abiodun has seen it have a difference in students’ lives.

“They are like, oh, now I can see I have money, I can afford this,” he says.

He encourages anyone who is interested to email him for more information or to just head down to a meeting to check it out and snack on free pizza.

A full list of current student groups - along with meeting times, locations and contact info – can be found at theuwsa.ca.

Published in Volume 71, Number 4 of The Uniter (September 29, 2016)

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