Sydney Kate Watson, asst. arts & living editor
The Campus Life and Student Involvement Fair had its comeback last Fri. Aug. 27, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in Krannert Ballroom and on Krannert Lawn. This event, organized by the Involvement Coordinator for Student Activities Office, senior Sydni Byerley, gives students the opportunity to discover different clubs and organizations on campus to help them connect with the Berry community. Not only does the event benefit students, but it also provides clubs and organizations with the ability to recruit new members. Due to the COVID-19 virus, the fair did not take place last year. This left many clubs struggling to recruit new members, and sophomores are not as connected to the Berry community as previous classes.
According to Student Activities Asst. Director, Lydia Gordon, the goal of the Campus Life and Student Involvement Fair is to make sure that students understand the many different options presented to them at Berry, and how these options will help them connect and find their place in the Berry community.
“We’re hoping that we’re catching their eyes for new and unique opportunities,” Gordon said. “Studies show that if a student is engaged on campus during their time in college, they are more likely to stay, do well, be successful and just overall enjoy their experience.”
Besides supporting students, organizations, clubs and student partners also benefit from the fair. Organizations have a recruiting advantage with the event; they are able to begin the first point of contact with students. Once they obtain students’ emails, the organizations can reach out to students about meetings, events and different opportunities to engage and get involved.
However, first-year students of 2021 were not able to benefit from the opportunities that the Campus Life and Student Involvement Fair offers. This left many first-year students not involved with campus groups, and not finding their niche.
“Our first-year students especially just didn’t feel like they ever were connected or exposed to even what we have at Berry,” Gordon said.
Sophomore Camille Lueder said that not having the fair was really difficult, since this event is one of the only ways for students to learn about the clubs on campus. Another freshman in the 2020-2021 academic school year, sophomore Natalie Wilder, found it difficult to plug into a community at Berry.
“This would have been really good when we first got here our freshman year because you can like make connections early on,” Wilder said.
Not only did the students feel the impact of lost connections, but the organizations did as well.
“Organizations, unfortunately, feel the impact with membership,” Gordon said.
There was a lack of the number of students recruited for the entirety of last year. Unless the organization was a professional group associated with an academic department, they felt the noticeable impact of the lack of recruitment from not having the fair. However, to combat last year’s waning number of recruited students, the Student Activities Office is now working with organizations to recruit all year long.
The Ultimate Frisbee Club is one of the many clubs that felt the impact of the COVID-19 virus. In the past two years, their seasons have been canceled and many of their team members have graduated. Without the involvement fair, they struggled with recruiting. However, the fair this past Friday might turn things around for them.
On their Sun. Aug. 29 practice the team had nearly 30 new men attend. Senior, and president of the club Walter Ellard believes the Fair to have been a success this year. Through the fair, the frisbee club easily makes connections with students, by inviting them to toss a frisbee with the team right then and there. It is a personable attribute of the club that offers face-to-face time with first-year students. Ellard’s advice to students looking to plug into a community is to branch out.
“Don’t feel like you’re too cool to have fun,” Ellard said.
The Campus Life and Student Involvement Fair was warmly welcomed back by students and organizations this year. Of the many students who attended the fair, freshman Catherine Thayer found fun things to do on campus. According to Thayer, attending the fair gave her the ability to actually build a community.
If students need more information about any of the organizations at the event, Gordon emphasizes the importance of Berry Connect. Students can use the Berry Connect platform to find clubs, join clubs and find a community. Gordon also advises that besides clubs, attending events supports students’ discovery of their niche on campus.