Students fill Norris University Center for Fall Organization Fair


Erica Schmitt/The Daily Northwestern

Students walk through the Fall Organization Fair in Norris University Center.

About 3,200 curious students filled the hallways of Norris University Center for each day of the Fall Organization Fair on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

The event was hosted by Student Organizations and Activities. SOA Associate Director Joe Lattal said the office made some changes to the format from last year’s setup, which was held outdoors on the Norris East Lawn for just one day. This year, more than 300 organizations lined tables throughout the rooms of Norris’s second floor, as well as the East Lawn.

Lattal also divided the clubs to appear across a two-day period due to the volume of organizations.

“It just isn’t possible, with the space that we have, to support all the groups for dissipation,” Lattal said.

Another change Lattal’s team made was to promote “barrier-free” organizations, or those with open access for anyone to join.

The fair directory listed unique symbols to indicate where students could find barrier-free organizations. Lattal said it was a step toward increasing accessibility to organizations for all students.

“Giving people leadership opportunities in an org should be based on who shows up and who delivers,” Lattal said. “It shouldn’t be based on who can put together a resume on their first day of classes.”

SOA requires all new clubs to be barrier-free when established, Lattal said. One such new organization is the Vibrant Colors Collective, NU’s multicultural theatre board.

Communication sophomore and VC2 Marketing Director Journey Cole said while the club formed in spring 2022, it focused on increasing membership and community outreach at this quarter’s fair. 

“It’s a really important thing to have because there’s been so many starts to multicultural theatre boards that have faded out of existence due to lack of people,” Cole said. 

Having a physical presence at fairs like these will help make sure VC2 doesn’t have the same fate, Cole said. 

Weinberg senior and Model U.N. Chief of Staff Spencer Paige said he worried the fair’s two-day split would hinder his organization’s outreach.

“I would really hate for someone who’s interested in either Model U.N. or any other org on campus to miss that opportunity because they didn’t check the directory,” Paige said.

Despite those concerns, Paige said attendance “skyrocketed” compared to last year. He attributed the rise to fewer pandemic-related concerns and more people wanting to get involved socially.

Medill freshman Karrah Toatley said as a new student, it was an overwhelming number of tables, but she enjoyed the visual boards.

“I think it’s better to have it split up in two days because then you get more of an opportunity to see all the things that are offered,” Toatley said. 

Lattal said SOA hosts an organization fair every quarter so groups can invite new members throughout the year.

He also encouraged group leaders to continue promoting their clubs.

“There’s a whole community of students that aren’t looking for anything until winter because they want to get their foot in Evanston first,” Lattal said.

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