When I first came to UBCO back in 2021, I had expected it to be like something out of the movies. You might know what I mean: big cheer rallies, frats having water balloon fights on the quad, big spirit days, and sports events where the whole campus comes together to cheer for our team.

And at first, that was mostly what I found. My first couple of weeks at UBCO were filled with events, meetups, and interesting opportunities to connect with people across campus and beyond. There were clubs, student unions, class chats; basically, any kind of interconnectivity you could ask for. It was the campus culture I’d been dreaming of.

And then it dried up.

By the time the second semester rolled around, I found there was a notable decrease in the number of events and community interactions I was involved with. I couldn’t tell you why. Maybe the stress of the term was getting to people, maybe the winter weather was keeping them indoors — honestly, anything I could say would be speculation. The result was the same, less activity, less interaction, less culture all around. 

And as far as my own experience goes, it hasn’t really recovered since.

I’ve had this perception of UBCO as lacking a real campus culture in the subsequent years, and until now, I’d thought it was pretty well substantiated.  There’s a burst of activity near the start of the year, mostly for the sake of the first-years, then after that it sort of pitters away as winter comes and studies intensify.

That was the pattern I’d seen, and the one I was sure would be maintained. 

At least, I thought that until I decided to write an article about it, and got around to investigating what life on campus was really like. And what I discovered shocked me.

Protest signs and banners hung over bannisters. Corkboards were overflowing with flyers for events, resources, organizations, and much more. B.A.R.K. dogs in the halls, lines waiting for the food trucks out on University Way, booths and tables in the halls spreading the word for all kinds of things. It was the exact sort of environment I’d thought had been lost over my years studying here, but somehow, it was right back before my eyes.

To tell you the truth, I was mystified. Was it a coincidence that the first week, when I started trying to prove that there’s no such thing as a UBCO campus culture, there were suddenly signs of it everywhere I went? It couldn’t be, right?

It wasn’t.

It hit me as I was passing by a group of protestors carrying signs to get RBC off campus. It wasn’t that we didn’t have a campus culture; I just wasn’t looking to see it all around me. Sure, the cold winter weather of the second semester might have driven it indoors for a while, and it wasn’t like in the movies where the whole campus turned into an idyll of scholastic enthusiasm for any one particular event, but it was here. And more importantly than that, it was each of ours.

Because here’s the thing: these events had been here the whole time. UBCO has always had a campus culture, and students had always participated it. The kicker is, you can only really see it if you look for it and participate in it. Life isn’t a movie, you’re not going to see things you’re not looking for. We have a tendency in life to blur out the things we don’t think about, and campus culture is no different.

For students who don’t care for corkboards and protests, for those who tune out the flyers and invitations, it’s no surprise that UBCO doesn’t have much of a culture to them. They’re not participating in it, after all. 

But for those who find themselves jonesing for campus spirit, for things to do, for a university life that lives in the heart of the school and its people, well.

All you have to do is look around.