Thousands of students flocked to Peabody Hall, South Lawn and the Amphitheater Monday in the August heat to find more than 500 organizations eager to recruit new members to their ranks. The activities fair hosted by Student Council lasted from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m and featured a wide spectrum of organizations ranging from the University Judiciary Committee to Challah for Hunger to the Barbell Club.
The fair is an bi-annual event organized and hosted by Student Council and often serves as an introduction to the University’s community outside the classroom for first-years, transfer students or even upperclassmen looking to get involved in something new.
After working to organize the event, Violette Cadet, vice president of organizations and fourth-year College student, said Student Council worked to make an event that showcases diversity.
“[The fair] has a role of connecting people, but also showing people and not just students, but administrators and [everyone else] all that U.Va. has to offer,” Cadet said. “We have so many clubs with so many different niches, from the SpongeBob club to a capella groups to theater to political organizations.”
Due to space limitations, Student Council enforced a first-come, first-served process for the allocation of spots. Organizations interested in partaking had until Aug. 1 to register for an assigned table location.
Gloria Akol, Mutual Aid co-director and third-year College student, said her collective, a branch of Student Council which provides no-strings-attached for students in crisis, relies upon the activities fair to support its mission. Students can apply to be members of the Mutual Aid agency through Student Council’s general member application.
“The activities fair definitely helps improve membership, because hundreds of students are able to easily get connected with us by following our social media or adding our Groupme,” Akol siad.
For first-years, the fair helps facilitate a smooth transition to college life by offering an overview of the many organizations the University has to offer. Although the fair was swarming with hundreds of students, first-year students reported finding people to connect with amidst the buzz.
First-year College student Stephanie Lim thought coming out to the fair would be a good idea to help digest the seemingly endless options of organizations that students may find online.
“It's overwhelming to look at a list of all the organizations, but being [at the activities fair] physically, and just be able to walk around — it's really nice,” Lim said.
To make the fair easier to navigate, Student Council provided maps of the table layout to help students and put up tents over sunny areas to provide some shelter from the heat.
First-year College student Akari Hernandez said he appreciated the thoughtful set up of the event and hopes the fair will help him find places to break out of his shell.
“I’m going to find my community and [the fair] is probably where I’ll find it,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez has already put the University Judiciary Committee on his list of potential involvements after hearing their chair speak at the first-year convocation.
In UJC, first-years can specifically get involved on the First-Year Judiciary Council, a subsidiary of the UJC which adjudicates cases involving first-year students. FYJC provided free pins and stickers at their booth to entice students.
First-year College student Angela Luo came out to the activities fair to see how the University could support her passions and academic career.
“It’s really nice to feel involved and connected with people at U.Va, especially as a newcomer,” Luo said.
One of the clubs that particularly stood out to Luo was the Barbell Club — a group dedicated to weightlifting and bodybuilding — which she hopes will support her passion for lifting.
The activities fair brought out a diverse group, from fourth-year student leaders who’ve been on Grounds to brand new first-years looking to get involved in the community. Cadet said that while marketing for the event has been geared towards first-year students in the past, she hoped to make the fair accessible to upperclassmen as well.
“I would hope they were reminded that they belong,” Cadet said. “One of the best ways that I found my sense of belonging at U.Va. has been joining cIubs and meeting new people and making new friends and also just making new experiences.”