Editorial Notebook

Editor values involvement

If you’re reading this, there’s a decent chance you’ve read the plea I wrote for The Poly. I guess you could say this is somewhat related to it.

Earlier this week, a (fraternal) brother of mine jokingly asked me, “What’s it like being involved in things?” I told him that it’s tiring. And it is. It’s often exhausting to participate in clubs and organizations, especially if you decide to take up a leadership position. Obviously, my experience comes from being a senior member of The Poly, but I’ve heard similar things from my friends in other organizations including, but definitely not limited to, APO, Engineers for a Sustainable World, Engineers Without Borders, and Terra Café.

And, I often ask myself why I continue to do these things. I wonder what life would be like if I decided to not participate in other things. What if I just went to class, hung out with friends, played games, and watched videos/movies all day? What if I could get a healthy amount of sleep on a regular basis? There’s a part of me that believes that I’d enjoy life to a greater extent. I wouldn’t have to worry about making sure I’ve done all of the things that are needed to keep an organization running. I’d actually be able to relax for once in my life at RPI.

I’ve talked about this issue with another (fraternal) brother of mine. He’s also very involved in clubs and student groups around campus. And, we both came to the conclusion that it’s probably worth it in the long run to do what we do. Sure, we’re exhausted on a daily basis. And, yeah, the stress involved might not be all that great for us. But, we’ll have all of these experiences to look back on. And, that’s the one thing I’ve ever been able to come up with when I ponder “the meaning of life”: creating stories that can be passed on to others.

If I’d never been part of The Poly, for example, I’d never have been able to improve my communication skills. I’ve never been a bad writer (or, at least, none of my English teachers have ever been disappointed with my work), but I feel like my ability to put words on paper has improved exponentially since my first day at RPI. I still probably wouldn’t be able to comfortably contact members of RPI’s faculty and staff and discuss the things they’ve been a part of. I’d also never have experienced the true camaraderie you feel when you’re all dragging yourselves through to the end of a newspaper closing at 5 am.

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that even though it’s probably far easier not to participate in activities, you’re kind of missing out on a lot of potential experiences. And, I suppose that could also extend to the rest of college. It’s a lot of work, but in the end, it’s worth it.