Student Involvement Fair connects students with campus organizations

Hundreds of first years and other Trinity students crowded into Laurie Auditorium last Monday for the fall Student Involvement Fair (SIF), where over 100 organizations were represented, including 5 outside vendors.

For many campus groups, SIF is the most important recruiting event of the year.

“I have organizations who sometimes don’t meet the deadline of registering for a table, saying, ‘This is our biggest recruiting effort for the whole year, we need to be here.’ So we make exceptions for those,” said Esther Kim, coordinator of student programs.

Kim explained that Student Involvement sometimes has to turn down organizations who want to have a table at SIF simply due to a lack of space.

Representatives from organizations explained the importance of SIF to their recruiting process.

“I think it’s very important because we get to target freshmen, typically that we might not know, so they come and they show interest and we get to get them to involve their friends and then we expand,” said Diana Chavarria, junior and president of the TU Latino Association.

Chavarria explained that beyond the Student Involvement Fair, the TU Latino Association brings in new people by members bringing their friends to the group.

Chavarria estimated that about 20-25 people have showed up regularly to meetings in past years, and that about 80 people signed up at SIF.

“I feel like there’s a lot of people that sign up, but most of the committed people are not — it’s not everyone, just a few that actually do stick throughout,” Chavarria said.

This discrepancy between the sign-up sheet and committed membership is common.

“Almost 120 people signed up just today, which is really great. On our mailing list we have currently 150 people, but this is doubling it almost,” said Andrea Acevedo, junior and president of PRIDE.

Acevedo explained that participation varies for different types of events.

“Maybe in our general meetings it’s like 20 or 25 people that come. Special events such as guest speakers or s’mores at the Murchison fire pit draw larger crowds,” Acevedo said.

While some groups seem to have a large enough following to thrive even without consistent participation from most of their sign-up sheet, other organizations have had a harder time retaining members.

“We have been struggling to get people to participate in things,” said Hamza Adisa, senior and co-president of the Muslim Student Association (MSA).

MSA currently has between five and ten active members, and about 30 non-active members. Fifteen people signed up at SIF.

In addition to SIF, MSA recruits new members through collaboration with other clubs, for example, interfaith dialogue.

Adisa explained that MSA is focusing on building a strong base so that the association can continue once the leadership graduates.

“It’s pretty important,” Adisa said of SIF. “At least to us it is. It gives us an idea of what we can expect, it gives us an idea of what to plan for.”

William Mobley, senior and president of the Catholic Student Group also expressed the significance of SIF to his organization.

“I think it’s extremely important,” said Mobley.  “It’s where we get everyone to give us their contact information so that we can get information about events that we’re doing out to them.”

SIF is the main recruiting event for the Catholic Student Group (CSG).

“This is the really big one,” said Mobley. “If people come to us first, if they know that we have mass and they come to us, then we can get them to sign up, but otherwise we can’t get the information out to them that we’re doing these things.”

Mobley estimated that about 60 people signed up for the CSG mailing list at SIF. The group currently has over 200 members, with about 80 showing up to weekly mass on a rotating basis. There are about 30 members who show up consistently to meetings and service events.

The International Club has a similar-sized group with different levels of involvement.

“At the moment, the people who help actually plan the stuff, there are about ten of us, but the events are open to everyone on campus,” said Daniela Montufar, sophomore and logistics manager of the International Club. “We send an email to everyone who signs up with us, and even to some other organizations to invite their own members, so all of our events are posted on LeeRoy every week, so everyone has access to them.”

The Contemporary, a student-run political journal sought readers, editors and writers during SIF.

“I would say the Student Involvement Fair is very important for us because we first want to start locally, and with Trinity we’ve been using it as a really great resource to understand what students want and what are important issues that we want to talk about to the community,” said Karina Mendez-Perez, sophomore and social media manager of The Contemporary.

There are also a number of new clubs on campus that were approved by Student Involvement over the summer.

“We have the new cycling club, the fencing club, the anthropology society,” Kim said. “The Homer society, which is a manuscript organization, as well as Trinity Art Collective, which was disbanded back in 2012 and then they started back up again this summer.”

Students looking to get involved on campus and organizations looking to increase their membership should contact Kim in the Student Involvement office about opportunities like SIF.