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Getting Involved, Syracuse Style

This Wednesday, students flocked to the university’s quad, which resembled something like a carnival. Indeed it was a glorious day for the 2012 Student Involvement Fair at SU, where various clubs, organizations, and intramural teams set up shop in hopes of encouraging students—particularly freshmen and transfers—to become active outside the realm of academics. Tables laden with posters, pens, and sign up sheets, lined the quad’s sidewalks, as orange and blue balloons floated in the afternoon heat.

There was no question whether or not I would attend the Student Involvement Fair. Not only was I seeking to cover the event for HerCampus, but I was also curious, as a transfer student, to see what the university has to offer. Though a tad overwhelming at times, the Fair was nothing short of an encouraging experience for new students like myself to get out, meet others, and become involved.

The fair was organized by category. Tables pertaining to student governance, for example, sat side by side, while other categories—religious, political, advocacy—were set up similarly.

I first stopped at the First Year Players’ table, where I learned about the student-run theatre group that gives non-drama majors an opportunity to work onstage. “We put on a play the second semester of [the freshmen and transfer students’] first year and a lot goes into it,” said Will McDonald, a representative of the club. The organization does not, however, remain solely within the theatre realm. “We also put together social events and a lot of community service events, so there’s more than just the play.”

With so many others vying for the attention of first year students, many clubs created eye-catching programs and posters for their tables, and provided incentives for students to visit the table. Syracuse University/SUNY ESF Habitat for Humanity created a raffle for one student to win a free T-shirt. Students were automatically entered into the raffle after they listening to representatives. I spoke to Marvi Najam for a bit about the concept behind Habitat for Humanity. She explained to me that the number of those homeless in Syracuse is fairly high. “People don’t realize living in Syracuse, on the campus, that they’re living in this bubble.” The organization advocates decent and afford\able housing within the Syracuse area, and has done work in the community with building homes, Najam said.

Amidst all the excited talk, I couldn’t help but wonder whether joining any of these clubs, organizations, and teams is really worth it, considering the demanding academic schedule most students have. Najam assured me that this is nothing to be concerned about. “[Habitat for Humanity] is such a big organization. We have so many people [join]; it’s not like we only rely on a few…We send out e-mails all the time and you can pick what events you want to work at.”

Other students at the fair seemed equally unconcerned about the possibility of feeling overwhelmed. Said freshmen Deyara Morris, “As a high schooler, I was always involved in everything. I figure I can balance it.”
Indeed becoming involved on campus, especially as a first year, is the best way to branch out and meet others. So follow up with those contacts you made at the fair, go to those first meetings, and get involved. If you missed the fair, it’s not too late. Keep an eye out for flyers around campus, or else hop online to the Office of Student Activities website to learn more.

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