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Campus Life Advisors offer support for students

Campus Life Program aimed at helping students balance life and studies

by Ty Stapleton

The first few weeks can be tough for new students, whether you’re coming to UPEI after high school, or after a gap year or two.

The Campus Life Program helps students adjust to life and studies at UPEI. Current students lead the program, which hosts movie and board game nights, karaoke, and other themed activities to help students meet new people, learn to balance school work with social activities, and feel more comfortable on campus. Campus Life Advisors also attend training sessions with other UPEI student support staff, so they can answer questions and suggest other services like personal and academic counselling, tutoring, and course help centres.

“People often come in saying ‘I need help’,” says Danny Wartman, a third-year Engineering and Mechatronics student and Campus Life Advisor.

“They don’t really know what kind of help they need, so we’re here to ask ‘okay, what’s the problem?’ and try to provide some options. Maybe they just need to find a group of people taking the same classes, or they feel they’re not meeting people, or they want to meet new friends, or they may feel like they don’t belong.”

Megan Votour graduated in 2016, but before starting her first year, she planned to skip Orientation Week activities.

“One night, there was a Facebook post for a Robin Williams movie night [in the Campus Life Lounge], and I stopped by,” she remembers.

Submitted photo

“For the rest of the week, I went every night instead of the Welcome Week evening activities because it felt like a quieter activity while still being fun," says Megan. "The year I graduated, I actually became a Campus Life Advisor because I believed in the impact that the program could have on students because I saw it with my own school experience.”

Some students, like current third-year Music and Psychology student Jordan MacLean, may feel isolated, alone, and overwhelmed with assignments during their first few months.

“I was having a rough go at it. I was behind on work and often sad. I felt like I didn't really have many people to talk to,” he says, thinking back to his first year. “A friend of mine was a Campus Life Advisor, and invited me to go. I became a regular up there. Having those few hours to look forward to almost every day gave me the fuel I needed—I was happier, had more people to talk to, and started to catch up on my work.”

Lead Campus Life Advisor Paige MacLean agrees the program can offer a bit of balance between school work and socialising. “Allowing yourself a break can actually help you be more productive. We try to make students as comfortable as possible, and let them work into their own study-life balance.”

The fourth-year Psychology major remembers the first time she visited the second-floor Campus Life Lounge, as a first-year UPEI student.

“As someone who’s very introverted, I found it very difficult to integrate myself into campus life,” she says. “Taking on this role has been very helpful and given me the perspective of how difficult it can be for somebody else to come up those stairs.”

UPEI’s Campus Life Lounge is open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings from 6:00 to 10:00 pm, on the second floor of the W.A. Murphy Student Centre. 

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