Student life at VIU

4 ways to get involved in student life at VIU

October 31, 2019
Author: Jenn McGarrigle

Why it’s important to participate in extracurricular activities

Are you having a hard time figuring out how to get involved in student life at VIU? Vancouver Island University student Lee Vanden Ham has some advice to help you make the most of your university experience.

Four years ago, Lee started his Bachelor of Education degree at Vancouver Island University thinking that he would just sit in the classroom and learn, then go home and bury his head in the books. While he has done a lot of studying, he also ended up getting more involved at university than he expected, joining the VIU Students’ Union – he is now Director of Internal Relations – and starting a varsity swim team.

“I think my time here wouldn’t have been as interesting and enjoyable as it ended up being, had I not done those things,” he says. “You can glide through school if you want, but it’s a lot more entertaining when you start to get involved and build a community.”

Some of Lee’s best learning experiences have taken place outside of the classroom. For example, he practices teaching others through running clubs, and he’s familiar with how an office runs thanks to his work with the students’ union.


Here’s how to get started with student life at VIU.

It starts with joining clubs.

The students’ union has between 40 and 50 clubs to join every year, ranging from program-specific to activist, to passion-related clubs.

“There’s a club for anyone and everyone and if you don’t find it on campus, you can make it,” suggests Lee. “Joining a club is a good resumé builder, but it’s also a good way to de-stress and ensure you’re building in some downtime exploring your hobbies with like-minded people.”


Go see a game.

VIU boasts a strong athletics program with a dozen VIU Mariners teams and clubs, and teams regularly compete on the national level. Cheering on your team helps students discover school pride and deepens the university experience, says Lee.

“You feel as if you’re actually part of the school,” he says. “The hashtag #WeAreAllMariners feels true when you’re there and you’re cheering them on. Everyone gets really excited.”


Chill out in the student pub.

The VIU Students’ Union Pub is one of Lee’s favourite places to hang out and even study.

“It’s a nice way to relax, enjoy a beverage or two, and meet new people,” he adds.



Lee has never regretted becoming a member of the VIU Students’ Union board.

“It’s a really cool learning experience. You meet lots of people that way, and you get to advocate for student rights on a grander scale – across the province – which is super cool. We also put on fun events.”

Other ways to volunteer include signing up to help at events your program is organizing, or joining the Student Ambassador Program, where you can help with orientation and transition activities in a mentoring capacity and lead a variety of events and activities.


Lee says becoming part of student life outside of the classroom ensures you’re getting the most bang out of every education buck.

“It really helps your job prospects in the long run,” he says. “Don’t be afraid to say hi to anyone and everyone if you see something cool happening. Get involved – you never know where it’s going to lead you.”

Sign up for our blog