ARC students should step up and take the bonding opportunities offered

Creating connections with other people through events and clubs can boost students to succeed


The UNITE Center at American River College is a place for students of different backgrounds to come together and bond. (Photo by Jaqueline Ruvalcaba & Carla Montaruli)

American River College students should step up and take the bonding opportunities offered by the college, through events and clubs. Student bonding and engagement is important for mental health and success.

According to Parrish Geary, dean of student engagement & completion at ARC, studies show a correlation between student engagement on campus and transfer rates. The more students engage with their college campus, the more likely they are to pass, transfer and succeed in their student degrees and careers.

This can also provide a chance for students to build connections and relationships, which can result in different and more positive ways to approach student-life.

“The more I’m able to talk to my students, we bridge that communication and now I’m able to deliver a better message,” Geary said. “[Students are] able to bring now to the classroom, more information of who you are and how it contributes to the classroom.” 

The question is: are the Los Rios Community College District, ARC and students putting in enough effort to get together and achieve this goal?

Looking deeper, you can see how much work the school is actually doing to create these opportunities for students.

Throughout the last several months, ARC has continued to host events, clubs and community run projects. Between the Kaneko Art Gallery, the week of WOW, (a series of social events run by the Associated Student Body), and several social meet-ups, there have been plenty of opportunities for student engagement. 

Yet, student attendance for these events remains low.

The issue may be that the event information is not being relayed to the students successfully.

Kaylianna Woods, a first year student at ARC, says that although these events have been promoted through email, flyers and social media, the message did not get to her. 

“I don’t really hear much about [events],” Woods said. “Unless it was like the club events outside. That was the only thing I’ve heard about.”

According to Corey D. Winfield, UNITE Center concierge, getting students involved in campus activities is a never-ending discussion in staff meetings.

“We’ve been trying to get folks out to participate in different events,” Winfield said. “How do we get the students to participate? How do we get the students away from Zoom fatigue?” 

There should be a common goal between students and faculty – to bond and connect with one another. We want our paths to merge together to create a common and comfortable space.

The biggest obstacle that prevents these paths from merging is time. Everyone has other responsibilities to attend to, whether that be a job, a family, etc. This likely determines how students choose to spend their time outside of the classroom.

This points us to one solution. Dedicating some class time to bonding activities, or at least sharing information about bonding events happening on campus, is a great way of exposing students to these engagement opportunities.

More importantly, students need to step up and become more involved on campus. Bonding with others is not always easy. It is a process that requires bravery and the ability to be vulnerable, since it involves sharing things about yourself that may make you feel exposed. It may be intimidating.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these fears, creating even more distance between everyone.

“I think people don’t want to do that, especially now,” Geary said in regard to student vulnerability. “It’s hard to do.”

Though it may be hard, it is not impossible. Students should take the risk of putting themselves out there and be open to creating relationships with others on campus. 

The UNITE Center, located in the Student Center, is a great place to start. It is a place dedicated to providing students of all backgrounds a place to engage.