BYU-Idaho Activities Program takes student participation to new levels.
The new Student Activities Program at Brigham Young University-Idaho is taking shape by adding innovative programs and expanding an existing infrastructure.
President Gordon B. Hinckley first introduced the concept for the new program when the transition of Ricks College to BYU-Idaho was announced. The school would shift its emphasis from intercollegiate athletics "to a year-round activity program designed to involve and meet the needs of a diverse student body."
The Activities Program intends to augment classroom teachings and help prepare students for life. "The program is intended to build leaders," Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Commissioner of the Church Educational System said in BYU Magazine. "This activity program...is leadership training of the broadest and most exciting kind."
The premise that students are free to "act and not be acted upon" is the foundation of the Activities Program. Students determine their own specific level of commitment--from leisure to competitive. In the new program, students will be participants and not just spectators in a numerous list of activities. "This program is driven by students' interests and needs," Devin Shaum, director of the Activities Program, said. "These activities will connect back to their academic experience."
BASED ON A SIMPLE STRUCTURE
All activities are structured within four divisions: Arts, Enrichment, Physical, and Social. Thus far, much of the emphasis has been placed upon Physical Activities as Ricks College intercollegiate athletics come to a close. But the other areas will also be expanded, adjusted and refined as necessary to meet the objectives of the Activities Program.
Much of the infrastructure of the four divisions was already in place prior to the announcement. The Social segment, which includes talent, entertainment, dances, and clubs, will not require major changes, only the rethinking of how it will be connected with the other areas.
Students have an expanded array of activities to choose from--each with varying levels of commitment. In the Arts area, which includes art, dance, music, and theater, students will have options within each of the sub-areas depending on their interests. For example, a student could participate in a one-day dance workshop, social dance class, or belong to the Ballroom Dance Company.
The Physical Activities portion of the program has been the most active thus far and is subdivided into Fitness, Outdoor, and Sports. In the fall 2002, the Activities Program plans to roll out competitive athletics within the university, broadening access to a level formerly characteristic of only varsity athletics.
The outdoor portion has purchased equipment such as canoes and mountain bikes and will expand its offerings as it continues to rollout. The university unveiled an outdoor ice skating rink in January with tremendous success. Three hundred pairs of ice skates were purchased for rentals.
Also, the university purchased 120 acres to create the Henry's Fork Outdoor Learning Center. The center will allow students an outdoor experience while saving time and travel expenses. It will provide hiking, canoeing, camping, biking, and horse paths.
"This is a unique opportunity for academics and the Activities Program to work together in developing the programs and uses of the property," Shaum said.
IT'S ALL ABOUT STUDENTS
Shaum foresees students teaching other students and being proactive outside of academic responsibilities. Currently, students teach fitness and kayaking (noncredit classes), which, incidentally, have similar enrollments as those taken for credit.
He anticipates that student leaders across the campus, each from different areas, will collaborate on major events. This kind of leadership experience, Shaum hopes, will remain with students long after they have dispersed into the world. "We want students to be prepared to do things to bless their families, wards, branches, and stakes," he said
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