BY EMMA RUBIN ’20
Over 100 of Mount Holyoke’s student organizations and academic departments joined in this year’s Involvement Fair, which took place on Sunday, Sept. 10 on Skinner Green. Every year the Involvement Fair serves as an introduction for first-year students to the extracurricular opportunities the College has to offer.
Though the fair is traditionally new students’ first exposure to on-campus activities, the Involvement Fair is not limited to first-years. All class years are invited to attend and sign up for the email lists of as many organizations as they please. Returning students, whether they were working booths or simply attending, recognized a major change.
The Office of Student Programs announced at the beginning of the year that the previously-dubbed “Org Fair” would now be called the Involvement Fair. According to Alicia Erwin, director of Student Programs, the purpose of the name change is to be more encompassing of the many different ways students can get involved at the College.
The Office of Student Programs had received feedback from students hoping to see the many other opportunities outside of student organizations. “We got questions about the various academic centers from students about how to get involved with the Center’s programs,” said Erwin.
“We want to continue emphasizing to our students that a leader is not necessarily a person who holds a formal position of leadership or who is perceived to be a leader by others,” an email from the office to student organization representatives confirmed. “Everyone is a potential leader. Leadership involves collaborative relationships that produce collective actions grounded in shared values of people who work together to effect positive change.”
Haley Rivers ’19, President of Bellatrix — the anime, fantasy and sci-fi club — thought it was great that departments will now have the opportunity to be involved, but disagreed with the name change.
“I think it’s always going to be known as the org fair,” said Rivers, who also noticed that the event’s layout was different from the previous year’s. “Last year it was very clumped together,” she said. “And the org fair in and of itself is always a lot, especially for a firstie.”
The 2016 Org Fair was housed outdoors under one large tent and in previous years, the Org Fair took place in Chapin Auditorium. This year, tables of enthusiastic representatives filled a large semicircle across Skinner Green, allowing ample space for walking within the bounds of the event.
Despite the change in layout, the sheer amount of groups represented can still prove overwhelming.
“There is a lot going on,” said Kari Fossum ’21. Sara Hearn ’21 agreed, but added that despite feeling overwhelmed, there were many clubs that looked fun to her.
While student organizations can be an extension of academic focus, Hearn also recognized the social aspect of joining an org. Hearn said it allows students “to build your social network and meet people and helps you be more comfortable in general.”
Rivers emphasized the social importance of organizations and how she tries to “create a sense of community” within Bellatrix. She thinks of her organization as a way to relax from classes and do something that members are passionate about. She thought of all the alums who have helped build and develop the club she is a part of.
“That is kind of why we exist, with the passion of everyone before us,” said Rivers.