2016 Club Fair
The chaos in the Caf on Jan. 26 was not a rush for The Grill but instead a rush for belonging. No more than 15 minutes after its start, the 2016 Spring Club and Orgs Fair was already full of curious students looking for an on-campus community they could fit into. They moved from table to table, exchanging email addresses for flyers and information and sometimes even snacks. The Student Ambassadors table certainly seemed to have an idea of what attracts college students. While last year they were armed with little more than a notebook for people to sign up, this year they were a bit more creative. “We always seem to generate a lot of interest because we put a lot of interesting things on our table,” says junior Devyn Williams, gesturing to the giant stuffed mammoth head and pikachu piggy bank surrounded by candy that adorns the table.
All of the clubs and organizations are student-run, often by upperclassmen who have experience within the club, but many of the club representatives here are relatively new students who know the value of finding a group full of similar souls. The sense of belonging found in a club is one of the most valuable things to be discovered by underclassmen and transfer students who are new to SFUAD. Who better to relate to them than those who were just in the same spot?
“I’m a freshman,” said Colors member Jonah Rydin, “…so I came here and I saw the booth and I thought, ‘Awesome, I would love to be part of another LGBTQ community on campus.’” Jonah is one of several new students at the Colors table, which is known for attracting recent arrivals because for many members it is a brand new opportunity to express their identity freely and safely.
The biannual fair is also a great place for new organizations to get their information out to the public. Sophomore Contemporary Music Program majors Hope Miller and Sara Cunningham have recently started a new Campus Radio for SFUAD students to give their music an audience. “Campus Radio is all about trying to get more music around campus and create some type of unity for us,” said Miller, the co-founder and president of Campus Radio, which can be accessed at sfuadradio.tumblr.com. Other groups also took advantage of the exposure the fair offers by letting potential new members know about changes and new activities the group offers.
The Anime Club, for example, has Director of Student Affairs and Operations Melissa Rudd as its new faculty advisor. “She’s helping us think of more ways to talk about the culture,” sophomore Chantelle Mitchell said. “Not just the pop culture, but like the culture and history of east Asian countries.” Flyers plastered around campus and messages via social media are the most common way to disseminate information about upcoming events, but the fair offers the rare opportunity to speak face to face with potential members.
While the fair was going on, new Campus Life Coordinator Jerusalem Benavides was introducing himself to club presidents and getting to know all the different clubs the campus offers. “What I plan to do with it is to do training with the student leaders,” Benavides said, “In terms of how to build an organization, how to recruit and retain members, how to program. And working with them all in this council to help them realize and help them do the things that they want to do and accomplish those goals.” While earning his Master’s in Higher Education Administration, Benavides did research on student involvement in their schools. “There’s a lot of research out there that demonstrates that students who live on-campus and students who are involved in clubs and organizations actually tend to do better in their classes and graduate sooner than students who aren’t involved,” said Benavides.
Student organizations and clubs are a vital part of any school, but especially in small schools like SFUAD that tend to divide by majors and years. These clubs offer the chance to make friends with similar interests, identities and goals, while giving opportunities to further connections on and off campus.