Story by Alyssa Williams | Contributing Writer
Middle Tennessee State University held its annual Student Organization Fair on Tuesday, kicking off the year by encouraging student involvement on campus. A number of student clubs came out of the woodwork to attract students in the Student Union ballroom.
In the wake of MTSU’s efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 with indoor social distancing restrictions, many clubs have struggled to find active club members, and some of them even have to start from scratch. Between online classes and social distancing, people have not been seeking active communities to be a part of on campus. Tuesday’s fair was the first Student Organization Fair since the university rolled back COVID-19 restrictions, so the clubs were recruiting in full swing.
The Student Organization Fair is organized by Jackie Victory, Director for Student Organizations and Service. Victory and her staff help with all sorts of tasks with the clubs, not just the fair. The Student Organizations and Service office helps clubs get re-registered for the year, plan programs, and helps fund them to attend conferences and events.
“I’m hoping the students find their home,” Victory said. “I’m hoping that they find a place where they can connect with people. We just hope that they make connections so that they can make MTSU feel a lot more like home.”
Walking into the ballroom, students were greeted by tables lining up and down the room. Each one represented a different club, and they were pulling out all the stops to attract students: free food, stickers and buttons, all to guide people over to their tables to learn about what all they had to offer. A diverse group of organizations — religious organizations, LGBTQ safe places, booths for hobbies and tables for academics — all came together to create a place to connect with others.
The Experimental Vehicles Program went all-out for the fair. This club designs, fabricates and competes with experimental vehicles. The club brought a rover with them that they built themselves, except for a few parts like the seating and the brakes. It’s a club that requires a lot of participation, and they’re hoping to draw in experienced members.
MTSU senior Logan McVey leads the Tabletop Club that meets on Fridays. They play a variety of games from cards to roleplay games, and they have recently expanded their community due to tabletop games like Dungeons and Dragons being featured in popular shows like Netflix’s “Stranger Things.” His table gained a bit more traction this time than in years past.
“It’s just a great social space, you know,” he said when asked why people should join his club. “Something like board games and card games is a very easy way just to chat with someone. You can just relax, lay back, and play while you learn about someone else. I really enjoy the social part of our club the most.”
Students walking through the fair seemed to agree.
Alisia Hampton, a junior, personally found the table about self-care and the Photo Society table interesting.
“I’m really just hoping to meet new people, experience new things, and step out of my comfort zone,” she said. “I came here during the pandemic, so this gives me a good opportunity to meet new people.”
Incoming freshmen like Eily Jacobs also enjoyed the atmosphere the fair created. “I’d like to at least join a club or two,” he said. “I want to get involved and meet other people, and I’d really want to join a club related to my hobbies. I’d like somewhere that I can go and do things like that with people that share my interests.”
The Student Organization fair allowed for students and clubs to connect with one each other, making the world healing from the pandemic a little less lonely.
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