UCI’s Office of Campus Organizations held its Mid-Quarter Involvement Fair virtually for a period of two days from Nov. 12 to 13.
Over 100 clubs and organizations participated in the event and held virtual booths for students to participate through Zoom. Previously, the fair was held in Aldrich Park with various clubs sectioned off by student interests.
The event, which was held by Campus Groups, allowed students to read a brief description of each club before indicating their interest in the club or organization of their choice. Students were given the opportunity to visit virtual booths and were notified of the event through email.
A total of 368 visitors attended the Mid-Quarter Involvement Fair and visited the booths 1135 times. However, there was a significant decrease in student/club interactions when comparing the attendees of the Mid-Quarter Involvement Fair as opposed to the 6086 visitors that attended the Anteater Involvement Fair and interacted with the booths 49,221 times.
Clubs that participated in the fair include the 3D Printing Club, Anteater Aviation, Cognitive Science Association, HOSA Future Health Professionals, Model United Nations, TEDxUCIrvine, and the Society of Women Engineers.
“I did take a look around today, but I didn’t find any other clubs I wanted to join. I think that signing up for clubs and getting your name known to organizations is harder online because there are a lot of students to keep track of, and not being in person makes it very easy to get lost in the list,” Shivam Tiwari, a first-year materials science and engineering major, said.
Recruitment levels varied based on each club or organization. Those searching for a larger number of new members benefited from exposure through the Anteater Involvement Fair and the Mid-Quarter Involvement Fair.
“As fraternities go, Triangle Fraternity is a bit on the smaller side, but we actually got quite a few more potential members in the fall than we were expecting, mainly because of the fairs. It really gave us some new momentum and hope for [the club despite the] pandemic,” Adam Zorko, a third-year mechanical engineering major and member of the Triangle Fraternity, said.
With the campus-wide COVID-19 restrictions, clubs and organizations have had to meet virtually through video and social media platforms.
“Everything has basically been online. No social gatherings [are allowed] and so everything from club meetings to socials are done online, which kinda sucks to be honest,” Alex Chang, a first-year criminology major and member of the Swim Club and Taiwanese American Organization, said.
Clubs and organization members spoke on their experience transitioning to an online format.
“It’s actually a lot more complicated keeping people engaged because we can’t see our prospective members’ faces and communication is a lot more difficult,” Gourav Bhattacharya, President of the Business Careers in Entertainment Club, said. “There have been some pros and cons. The board members are all scattered around the world and haven’t even all met each other. But, we could communicate with [prospective] members that wanted to know about the club 24/7 and let them know of the club.”
Many clubs and organizations faced difficulties in management during the virtual quarter.
“Our board did a lot of publicity work hoping to attract members and since all our events switched to being online, we are trying our best to overcome this barrier by hosting virtual socials, including chill chats and fun games. We had to also figure out how to plan events that are normally in-person,” Dana Le, the External Vice President for Pre-Pharmacy Society at UCI, said.
Other clubs, such as Liberty in North Korea (LINK) Rescue Team, faced difficulty finding an effective digital platform to use.
“We use Zoom for all of our meetings, but our Executive Board has shifted from Messenger to Slack. We’re also testing out Discord, so we really just have to try out these different platforms to find what best fits our needs as a campus organization,” Jin Hee Park, the President for the Rescue Team, said.
The next involvement fair is planned to be held during the winter quarter on Jan. 9, 2021. More information will be posted on the Campus Group website.
Jennifer Cheong is a Campus News Intern for the Fall 2020-2021 Quarter. She can be reached at email@example.com