Community? Really?

Mike Davies, Editor-in-Chief  Ω

I don’t remember the last time I talked to a science student that wasn’t a friend of mine before they became a science student.

Or a trades student that I met here on campus.

Or one of the new law-school students.

I think we’re growing apart, TRU, and I don’t think it’s because we’re focusing on the improvement of our own programs or faculties, or because we simply don’t have anything in common with these folks from other disciplines.

I think it’s partly because it’s just difficult to do this — this mingling of people from other areas of campus — partly (but only partly) because of just that. We’re in different areas of the campus.

The Trades Building is up on the hill behind the Campus Activity Centre, and lets face it, there is simply no reason to go there if you don’t have a class in that building.

The Science Building is out of the way for most arts students, too, as all their classes are in Old Main or Arts and Education — and the occasional one in the International Building.

And from what I can tell, the law students are all holed up in the Brown Family House of Learning, so you’re only going to run into them if you’re at Timmies, and even then, you’re probably in a hurry to get back to class because you’ve been in line for 15 minutes for a double-double and a cruller.

And soon there will be a coffee shop of some kind in every building (the Science Building just got one, right?), so you won’t even need to go to Timmies anymore if you’re not already in that facility.

Even within the buildings themselves there’s a noticeable separation.

The fine arts department has a little offshoot by the art gallery on Student Street in Old Main — which people not in the fine arts program likely walk right by without even noticing — and the journalism students have a little section down by the print shop in the opposite direction.

I know there must be some reasoning behind the concept of similar studies being grouped together geographically, but I don’t think it’s conducive to building a community atmosphere like the one we claim to have here at TRU.

It’s also part of the reason that we as a TRU community don’t necessarily feel connected to the Kamloops community either.

We’re up on this hill — kind of in the middle of the city, but off to the side in an industrial/commercial area — and we’re definitely a destination point for people rather than an integrated part of the surrounding community.

Just ask Heroes Pub how much business they get from people “just popping in as they were on their way by.”

Make sure you go ask them before 6 p.m. though — otherwise they might be closed.

The Omega’s news editor, Brendan Kergin, pointed out to me after he’d been in town about two weeks — he hails from Victoria — that he’d never been on a university campus that was in the middle of the commercial area of a city and he thought that to be part of the reason there was little-to-no community feel between the school and the city of Kamloops.

I hadn’t thought of this before he pointed it out to me — and I’ve been around this campus on-and-off for a dozen years or so — but it makes total sense.

Why else would there not be a polling station for the upcoming Kamloops civic elections on campus? TRU makes up approximately one-tenth of the population of the city!

Because we don’t feel connected in a way that makes us want there to be.

I’m speaking generally here. I know there are those of you that care deeply about the Kamloops region (as I do, by the way) but even those folks can’t deny the disconnect.

Or maybe they can.

They’ll tell me if they disagree.

They’ll fill my inbox with protests about how we are all a part of the community here and that they care deeply about the issue of a polling station on campus and whether or not there will be a massive parking garage built in Riverside Park and how involved they are with the Ajax Mine issue.

I won’t refresh my inbox every few minutes this week so that I can be on top of my own defence of this issue of community — just like the school won’t start scheduling painting classes in the Science Building.

Because we seem more and more to enjoy this separation.

Every time I turn around there’s another “Nurses Ball” or “Biology Social” or “Social Work Dinner.”

Not that I begrudge the individual faculties and disciplines the opportunity to engage on a different level amongst themselves instead of being cooped up in a classroom on the time. Quite the opposite, actually.

I spoke at an “English Majors’ Social” just the other week about how proud I am to be a part of that department and the skills that it has taught me and the opportunities that have come my way because of my involvement in that faculty of study.

But I’m also proud of those that acquire a BSc or their plumbing credentials here.

So go say “Hi!” to a scientist this week if you’ve never been in that building.

Just walk in the doors and look at the closest person to you that doesn’t seem like they’re in a hurry to get somewhere and say, “Hi, scientist!”

Maybe that’s how it has to start.

I don’t know.

What I do know is that the willing segregation of ourselves has to stop.