Demystifying the overinvolved Gustie

Gabrielle LavanOpinions Columnist

We’ve all heard of it, the myth of the “Over-Involved Gustie”. We’ve heard it from professors, from peers, and from faculty. Maybe some of us have even heard it from our therapists in the Counseling Center. No matter where you’ve first heard the term, the mystical Over-Involved Gustie is not something made of myth. Meaning, you won’t merely be hearing tales of these students who have near telepathic connections to their Google Calendars. 

Hunched shoulders with coffee in-hand, staring at their laptop screens for hours in the Courtyard Cafe. Their email signatures are at least 5 lines long and display their many well-deserved commitments and leadership roles on campus. They aren’t hard to spot, mainly because they are everywhere. The championing of the Over-Involved Gustie archetype from all areas of campus has left many of our student leaders overworked and burnt out. It leaves me wondering, can Gusties have it all?

When thinking about the Over-Involved Gustavus student we must look at the causes. I argue that there are four main causes to the worsening crisis of the Over-Involvement of Gusties. 1) Gustavus’ culture of busy-ness normalizes schedules packed full of activities. 2) While Gustavus may be a small campus it is full of opportunities to engage with 100+ student organizations. More student organizations means more leadership opportunities to be filled. 3) As a liberal arts institution, Gustavus’ student recruitment is based around the idea that Gusties can and do have it all when it comes to arts, athletics, and academics. 4) The Covid-19 pandemic has greatly impacted student’s willingness to take on hardworking leadership roles. 

Being over-involved isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There is nothing wrong with having multiple passions and wanting to pursue every one of them. However, I challenge all Gusties to consider the level at which they are involved versus the level at which they are expected to be involved. When students are spread thin by academics and curricular activities, they experience burnout. When students are burnt out, we cannot produce the quality of work and skill learning that is integral to the college experience. 

You may be left with the question of, what can be done? To that, I say make sure to find time to step back and reevaluate your commitments and ensure that your work is being appreciated and valued. Work for the sake of doing work is not work well done, Gusties.