It was a tight game between LPC men’s basketball and West Valley College–stress accumulating and sweat dripping as players scrambled to tip the score in their favor. As the clock queued the end of the final quarter and the game went into overtime, concentration swelled for West Valley and they swept the acclaimed Hawks with a 94-89 win. Unfortunately, less than 50 fans were watching.
What’s worse is that this is normal. Lack of student engagement stretches across campus. Clubs. Arts. Student Government. Out of 6,826 students, according to a fall 2023 census, only six currently hold government positions. In a transfer-focused school, where extracurriculars solidify four-year transfer chances, this lack of participation is awry. Furthermore, few students attend athletic events, considered a hallmark of the college experience for four years. At Las Positas, audiences typically consist of friends and family of the players.
Las Positas sports are nothing to scoff at, either. In 2022, both men’s and women’s soccer teams advanced to the second round of Northern California playoffs and men’s water polo advanced to the Northern California playoffs for the first time in its history. Not to mention, men’s basketball had its best season the same year, going 27-4.
Basketball has the most fans in attendance at home games of all the Las Positas sports but rarely attracts more than 50 fans. Many clubs struggle to attract even the minimum number of students to have a club. When I was the club president, I spent a lot of time recruiting students by posting flyers and doing outreach at photography classes, as other clubs did. The Inter-Club Council, or ICC, Club fair last semester was almost canceled due to a lack of sign-ups, according to the former ICC Director, Michel Ebeli.
It’s not like there’s a shortage of clubs. Currently, the active club listing states there are 22 clubs ranging from those associated with a major such as Physics Club, to hobby clubs, such as Film Makers, to recreational clubs, such as the Cheer squad. Most students can find a club that would interest them.
Many students at LPC enter directly from local high schools with lots of school spirit and activities to supplement it. So what’s with the sudden change of status quo? One reason is that Las Positas is a commuter school, which fosters an environment where students do not regularly see each other.
Jean Paulson, a horticulture major and member of the Horticulture club, says, “A lot of people are strapped for time. Especially with after-school activities, it’s hard if you’re studying.” Paulson has been going to Las Positas on and off for 10 years so she could work.
Most students still desire some sense of community and support, though.
“I would’ve loved to see it at games-having more participation from students. I noticed that the women’s teams are struggling to find audiences, same with water polo,” said Ailed Barron, a first-year nursing major involved in athletics.
Victoria Vitton, a second-year nursing major, doesn’t think there’s a lot of school spirit.
“There should be. There’s so many cool people here with so many different backgrounds and ages. It’d be cool to have more events and opportunities to intermingle and get to know people better.”
Some desire more effort from faculty and administration.
“I feel like we should promote all the games of our sports teams and make a school-wide announcement to everyone, so we know that there’s games,” said Kathryn Vander Ende, a first-year education major and captain of the Las Positas cheer team. She says the cheer team promotes on social media but doesn’t reach many people.
Kevin Kramer, Dean of Public Safety, Advanced Manufacturing, Transportation, Health & Kinesiology (PATH) stated that two reasons for the small attendance at athletic events is because less students are on campus due to the emergence of online-only classes and that some sports teams are relatively young. Both women’s volleyball and women’s basketball re-emerged in 2022 with new coaches after a two-year break. These teams have also been struggling to put together victories, which impacts attendance, as people generally don’t attend games with losing teams.
Las Positas could learn from other community colleges to attract more student participation. Diablo Valley gives athletic passes to clubs, Veterans, and other students. Christine Worley, Dean and Athletic Director at Diablo Valley College, says they attract fans to sports events by encouraging all student-athletes to support each other.
At LPC, some teams support each other by attending their games. Caleb Theodore, the women’s basketball coach, takes his team to men’s basketball games and other sports when they are in season. Last fall, the men’s and women’s soccer teams attended each other’s games when possible.
When I joined a club and attended events at LPC, I began to feel like I was part of the Las Positas College Community. I have met other students, many of whom I consider friends now, and formed bonds with school administrators and faculty.
I implore you — take a shot at a school event or group. Join a club. A learning program. Stick around for the club fair. Community college is a relatively short experience, so make the most of the time you have here. When you think about Las Positas, think of the memories you made beyond cramming for exams.
Lizzy Rager and Journalism Club contributed to this article. Follow their Tik Tok @lpc_expressnews.
Alan Lewis is a staff writer for the Express.
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