Columns / Discourse / September 26, 2018

Student Organization Fair was disorganized, unfair

It’s the beginning of another wonderful year at Knox College and with a new year comes the usual welcoming traditions of our college. Pumphandle, a favorite of mine, went amazingly as I continue to expand my arsenal of different greetings. Convocation was also incredible this year, as Elizabeth Eckford blessed the campus with her presence, sharing her lived story of courage and inspiration to those who face all forms of adversity. Finally we have the Carnival of Clubs, an event that gives the 100+ student organizations on this campus a chance to be seen and meet both old and new students in the hopes that maybe a few will join their organization.

This year, however, that chance was not given to every organization. For years this event has always been held outdoors on Old Main’s doorstep, something any student walking by would have a hard time missing. For whatever reason though, this event was moved indoors into a corner of Alumni Hall. This location change not only made an already crowded outdoor event even more crowded, but also made it so not every club could participate. In fact, some clubs that showed up to claim their table were turned away because of the lack of space.

On top of this, students were asked to report to Alumni no later than 3:45 p.m. to claim their table or they would not be allowed to participate. Student leaders who had a sixth period class  needed to choose between leaving class early or hoping another member of the club was lucky enough to make it in time.

These changes turned an event that celebrates the many different groups and identities on our campus into an exclusive event for those who just happened to be at the right place at the right time. Campus Life should publicly acknowledge the fact that they had to turn away clubs from this event that only happens once a year. For some clubs, this is an important day for recruitment and ensures that they continue to have a presence on this campus. For others this is the one event of the year where they stand amongst other student organizations and can be seen as at least on some sort of equal level as the other more “popular” and active clubs on campus.

I emailed Campus Life hoping for an answer and the explanation I received was that with the event indoors “set up is easier and most cost efficient.” They further explained that every year, there are 10 or more student organizations that are put on a waiting list, as there simply aren’t enough tables to accommodate them. The fact that people have had to be turned away from this event in the past should not be an excuse for the problem to persist. If this is the only obstacle standing in the way of more student clubs being represented then money should be put aside or fundraised. This is a problem with a solution, whether through Student Senate budget proposals or a student-run fundraiser event. If set-up is too much work, why not ask for student volunteers? Student labor is already used through campus jobs and volunteer opportunities to help set up for Knox events, why not allow students to offer their services for an event that actually attempts to represent the students and their organizations? These questions all have answers, and the campus is waiting to hear them.

This is not the first time Carnival of Clubs has been messed with, as this event used to be a part of Orientation Week but now falls on the first Friday of classes. Whether these changes are for the better or not, they are never communicated with the very groups that it affects until the change has already been made. Here’s to hoping that Campus Life works at addressing the divide between themselves and the student body that they are supposed to be working with.

 

Joey Peterson

Tags:  carnival of clubs student organizations

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