Underclassmen flock to outdoor, in-person student organization fair


Joanne Haner/The Daily Northwestern

Communication sophomore Ryan Nguyen waves a sign in hopes of recruiting new members for Arts Alliance, a student theatre board on campus.

Isabel Funk, Assistant Campus Editor

Large crowds of students traversed the muddy, windy Norris East Lawn Wednesday to visit club tables at the Fall Organization Fair, densely filling half the field.

“I’m super excited that it’s in person,” McCormick sophomore Katrina Kuntz said. “Before it started, I had no idea what a club fair was actually supposed to look like, except for in movies.”

Kuntz, president of the Multiracial Identity Xperience Education and Dialogue Student Association said she’s excited for in-person events, adding that the organization is already seeing much more engagement than last year.

As more events run face-to-face, beloved traditions are reanimating. March Through the Arch and the large annual performing arts showcase saw energetic turnouts last week. Joe Lattal, assistant director of Student Organizations and Activities, said he hoped the outdoor location and NU’s high vaccination rate would help the event feel safe.

“This was an immense effort,” Lattal said. “We’re really thankful for student groups who came out to help us get all the tables out, we’re thankful to Norris Events for helping us plan and try to keep all the tables out of the mud.”

SOA also hosted a virtual fair Tuesday for students who were unable to attend in-person or felt more comfortable in a virtual setting. Lattal said SOA made the decision to incorporate a remote option because they received feedback in previous years — prior to the pandemic — that some students felt overwhelmed by the in-person fair’s crowds. He added that the site analytics for the virtual fair showed an average of a few hundred people logged on to the event.

In previous years, the fair was held over two days, primarily on the second floor of Norris. SOA chose to hold the event entirely outside on only one day for pandemic safety, Lattal said.

The fair was originally scheduled for Tuesday but moved to Wednesday because of rain in the forecast. Weather conditions were still an obstacle at the fair — strong winds blew over poster signs and bags, and the ground was muddy — but Medill sophomore Allison Rauch showed up in a thick sweater ready to go.

“It’s not the greatest weather, but I feel like that’s par for the course with Chicago and the lake,” Rauch said. “If that’s what we have to put up with to get to have a normal experience, it’s worth it.” 

Lattal said SOA announced the change through as many channels as possible and relied on student organizations to get the message out.

However, Weinberg freshman Emily Yang said she felt the time change could have been communicated more effectively. She only heard about the decision from her roommate.

“It was shocking to see how many people are here after not having heard about it,” Yang said. “There were a lot of organizations that I definitely did not see in high school… It seems a lot more vibrant.” 

Rauch, who was presenting at the WNUR News and Northwestern Flipside tables, said both attracted a crowd.

She added she felt overwhelmed being immersed in large in-person crowds again, but was happy to see other students face-to-face.

“It’s a good sign for a good year to come, (organization) wise,” Rauch said. “It seems like people are really trying to get out there and get involved.”

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Twitter: @isabeldfunk

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