About 3,200 curious students filled the halls of the Norris University Center for each day of the fall organization’s fair Tuesday and Wednesday.
The event was organized by student organizations and activities. SOA associate director Joe Lattal said the office had made some changes to the format from last year’s setup, which took place outdoors on the Norris East Lawn for a single day. . This year, more than 300 organizations lined up tables in Norris’ second-floor rooms, as well as on the East Lawn.
Lattal also split clubs to appear over a two-day period due to the volume of organizations.
“It’s just not possible, with the space we have, to support all the dissipation groups,” Lattal said.
Another change made by the Lattal team was to promote “barrier-free” organizations, or those with open access to everyone.
The fair’s directory listed unique symbols to indicate where students could find barrier-free organizations. Lattal said it’s a step toward improving accessibility to organizations for all students.
“Providing people with leadership opportunities in an organization should be based on who shows up and who delivers,” Lattal said. “It shouldn’t be based on who can write a resume on the first day of class.”
The SOA requires all new clubs to be barrier-free when created, Lattal said. One of these new organizations is the Vibrant Colors Collective, NU’s multicultural theater council.
Journey Cole, a sophomore in communications and VC2’s marketing director, said when the club formed in the spring of 2022, he focused on increasing community membership and awareness during the fair this quarter.
“It’s a really important thing to have because there have been so many multicultural theater council startups that have disappeared due to understaffing,” Cole said.
Having a physical presence at fairs like these will help ensure VC2 doesn’t have the same fate, Cole said.
Spencer Paige, Weinberg’s senior and Model UN chief of staff, said he’s worried the fair’s two-day split will hamper his organization’s outreach.
“I would really hate for anyone interested in Model UN or any other organization on campus to miss this opportunity because they haven’t checked the directory,” Paige said.
Despite those concerns, Paige said attendance has “skyrocketed” from a year ago. He attributed the increase to fewer pandemic concerns and more people wanting to be socially involved.
Medill freshman Karrah Toatley said as a new student it was an overwhelming number of tables, but she enjoyed the visual boards.
“I think it’s best to split it into two days because then you’ll have more opportunities to see everything on offer,” Toatley said.
Lattal said SOA holds an organization fair every quarter so groups can invite new members throughout the year.
He also encouraged group leaders to continue promoting their clubs.
“There’s a whole community of students who aren’t looking for anything until winter because they want to set foot in Evanston first,” Lattal said.
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