A special University club just for hammocking? At Plymouth State it’s a reality, along with dozens of other options for staying fit, making new friends, and expanding the horizons of what a campus community can be. After a year in which some activities had to be curtailed, Plymouth State students were welcomed back this fall by staff just as eager as they were to dive into great Student Life offerings.
“We want to give students something to get involved in,” says Drew Guay, director of Campus Recreation and Student Life. “The big thing we talk about is really making sure we have something for all students, and be the place where students can really find their fit.”
The centrally-located Fitness Room features recreation staff who provide orientations for every ability level. Programs such as a recent Ladies Power Hour, which gave special attention to women, are tailored to meet the needs of the PSU’s diverse community.
Students of all interests find healthy options through intramurals (more than 20 teams are now competing for fun in basketball, futsal—an indoor sport that combines football and soccer—and volleyball) and in pick-up games. Students can also gain career-boosting experience, and several Plymouth State student leaders recently won National Association of Campus Activities awards.
Campus Recreation is always on the look-out for ways to engage and recently held its first Group Exercise Showcase Night. “It allowed us to showcase our yoga and spin classes and bring them into the residence halls to create more awareness around our programs,” says Guay. “It has also encouraged more students who are interested in teaching classes in the spring semester to get in touch.”
Aidan Sinclair ’23 a Campus Recreation intern majoring in criminology with a minor in psychology, really enjoys interacting with his fellow staff and patrons. He recommends two things for students looking to get involved. “First, attend campus events. It’s a great way to meet new people and have fun. Second, get a job on campus. There’s no better way to get involved than to support your community.”
The Office of Community Impact promotes community engagement, including service-learning projects, off-campus federal work-study opportunities, service trips, and professional development tools and workshops for students. “One of the new things we have been doing are the community dinners, where we have students twice a month prepare and share meals at the Bridge House, a homeless shelter and veterans support center,” says Casey Krafton, assistant director of community impact. “This has been an immensely impactful program that doesn’t required a lot of commitment and is open to anybody at Plymouth State.”
The dinners take their place among clothing and food drives, the staffing of on-campus food pantries, and clean-up projects that have been facilitated by hundreds of student placements. Krafton’s office has also been a leader in the “Choose Love” initiative, which recognizes Plymouth State’s outstanding environment that promotes collective wellbeing.
The Student Engagement Team works closely with the Student Government Association to be as inclusive as possible, and students are encouraged to join together with peers in forming all types of groups that are of common interest outside of the classroom. New groups this semester include She’s the First (an international nonprofit that supports girls’ education worldwide), Anime Club, Backcountry Skiing, LatinX Student Union, Jewish Student Coalitions, and Ethical Hacking Club. There are nearly 100 clubs and organizations in total, and the University is also proud to host a growing and revitalized Greek life community. Upcoming club events can be viewed at this link.
“We’ve been expanding the definition of what the clubs truly are,” says Guay. “For example, there is a hammocking club, which is so cool. Students bring hammocks and we meet up back of the Langdon Woods area of campus to hang out. Students really enjoy it and we didn’t know how much of a community there would be for this until we tried it.”
“Always ask questions about the club, sport, or sport club you want to get involved with on campus” says Ryanne Duffy ’22. She combines her coursework in criminal justice, pre-law, and child and family welfare studies with a full slate of extracurricular activities, including serving as captain of the PSU Dance Team, an Admission tour guide, and a desk attendant in Pemigewasset Hall. “My advice to new students who want to get involved is, not to be afraid to try to new things!”
The Student Government Association is also highly responsive to new avenues that enhance the student experience. For example, the Multicultural Student Affairs Committee was launched this semester to empower, support, and see students. The committee is working out of the Social Justice Corner in the HUB and plans to be a consistent presence on campus and within the community.
“I really enjoy branching out and working directly with people in any way I can” says Devonte Gilmore ’24, who is double majoring in communication and media studies and in political science. He also holds three key Student Government Association posts: treasurer, vice chair of the Finance Committee, and chair of the Multicultural Student Affairs Committee. Gilmore encourages others to get similarly involved. “You can truly find a place for yourself on this campus,” he says.
Student Life offerings help students succeed in college and provide tangible benefits that are enduring. “All of the statistics show that the more involved you are in and around the school, the higher the GPA you’ll have, and the happier you will be overall,” says Guay. “Students who are considering Plymouth State should know that there’s a lot more to us than just being a place to get a degree. PSU is a place to make friends and family for a lifetime.”