Go outside. Whatever it is you do, there’s a way to do it outside.
Walking across campus, even on the nicest of days, you’d have no idea that there are more than six thousand students at Elon University. You don’t see any of them. Where they are, I don’t know, but they sure aren’t taking advantage of Elon’s many inviting outdoor spaces.
What comes to mind when you think of a college campus? Students sitting under trees doing their homework? A group of friends tossing around a frisbee on the lawn? Elon is a school where trees are abundant and lawns plentiful, yet you would be hard pressed to find a lot of students under those trees and on those lawns.
Elon often grapples with the idea of community. As student organizations and Elon’s administration scratch their heads trying to find ways to bring students together, the answer could be as easy as just going outside.
If every time you walked across campus you saw people you knew hanging out on the quad, you’d get a visible reminder that the people you go to class with, the people you live with are part of the same campus and community as you. With people enjoying common spaces such as Young Commons, filling the air with conversation, music and whatever else they’d bring, there could be a new energy on campus.
Given the fact that such a large percentage of Elon’s student body lives off campus, the community is already at a bit of a disadvantage. On-campus energy and unity is pushed away from campus by so many people living in apartments ten or fifteen minutes away, but if spending free time outdoors on campus became the norm, that would be much less of an issue.
In fact, you don’t even need to go outside to be part of bringing that sense of energy and unity back toward campus. Not everyone is an outdoors person. Fortunately, Elon has plenty of great indoor common areas.
For a student center, Moseley often seems to be lacking students. You’d expect the campus’ student hub to be bustling with people hanging out or doing work, especially around lunchtime or in the evenings. But even around those peak times during the day, Moseley can feel totally dead. Between the comfortable sitting areas, ping-pong and pool tables, and proximity to food, it’s a surprise more students don’t hang out in the one space that is literally designed for hanging out.
That all comes back to setting a norm for where students spend their time. It’s not like Elon has any shortage of great common areas. The only reason you don’t see students on the quad or in Moseley is because they just don’t think of those spaces as a place where students spend their time.
We can change that.
Next time you’re sitting around with your friends looking for a way to kill a few hours, remember that you can spend quality time with those same people out around campus instead of in your apartment. Next time you’re feeling the pressure of homework and due dates, remember that you can get work done in the library with a few hundred other people who feel your pain.
Elon’s community is all around us, and all we have to do to see that is as easy as just going outside.