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Student Activities: Mission and Purpose

August 19, 2015

Few friendships seem as magical as that of the group known as The Inklings, particularly the relationship between C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Based on the grandeur and influence of their works, it almost seems unjust that their meetings took place in such regular, real-life whereabouts as a pub, a cottage, or on a long walk, and not in Middle Earth or Narnia. Yet there they were many Thursday nights, often arguing a topic or discussing literature with one another, but perhaps just as often, doing nothing more than spending time with one another. And this gives hope to the rest of us. As the book about their friendship, The Inklings, reveals, their favorite times were the long walks that “got through the serious arguments in the ten miles before lunch and came down to mere fooling and school-boy jokes as the shadows lengthened.”**

Student Activities draws a great deal of inspiration from this. One of the pillars of our department mission is to foster relationships among Liberty students. We want our events to be the catalyst for the forging of new friendships, for existing friendships to develop and strengthen, and even for the rekindling of old friendships. This is about shared experience – rarely does one want to enjoy something alone. The movies and music that move you, the experience of rafting or rock climbing, or screaming “Bingo!” before your friends: these are meant to be experienced together. Of course, events do not make people become friends (especially if you beat your friend to that “Bingo!”), but they do allow for people with similar interests to become familiar with one another. As we offer multiple opportunities for students to participate in these events, we hope that this will lead to the formation of lasting bonds.

The relationships made during a student’s time at Liberty are, arguably, the most valuable thing that a student takes from here. Now, does that mean students spend $80,000 to come here and make friends? Of course not. But what value do you place on a friend who stands with you at your wedding, who visits you for the birth of a child, who supports you during a life failure or tragedy, who walks with you through life? There is no number for this. This is the potential we see at Student Activities. Though it is not our sole purpose (we will discuss our cultural engagement purpose in a subsequent post), relationship formation is every bit as important to us as the type and quality of the events we provide. Lewis and Tolkien walked together and were better men for it. Through the gospel, Jesus becomes our friend who walks with us forever. At Student Activities, we want our events to become characterized by the reality that “Friendship is having someone to walk with.”

**Quotes and other information taken from Someone to Walk With: Meditations on Friendship by Ray Rhodes