Howard University’s Student Organization fair, hosted by Howard’s Campus Life, was held at the Undergraduate Library Rooftop on Sept. 8 for students to learn more about campus clubs and sign up for them. By noon, about 100 students could be seen in a line that stretched all the way past Founder’s Library, waiting to get in before the fair started.
An estimated 50 student organizations were set up at tables embellished with colorful club posters and symbols, and they displayed printed out barcodes for students to sign up with and the organization’s details for students to read. Some also had bowls of lollipops, Starbursts, Airheads and bags of chips for students to snack on while surveying their options.
Organization leaders such as HU Special Olympics College Club treasurer Jayden Mccoy and HU Expand President Madison White hoped that the fair would help give their club a new start.
“We’re just a brand new college group that just wants to bridge the gap between those with special needs and those without special needs. And, we’re doing this by hosting numerous Athletic activities, Howard athletics and bringing awareness to the special olympics community,” Mccoy, a civil engineering major, said. He represents Howard University’s newly founded Special Olympics College Club.
“HU expand is basically a bucket-list type of organization to experience anything that’s on your bucket list,” Madison White, president of HU Expand and a junior TV and film major, said. “If you wanna go out and try different foods, if you wanna learn a new dance you know, if you wanna expand your horizons, we’re here to help with that.”
One organization called 360 wants to be a safe space for artists to come and express themselves in the new artistic movement.
“360 is a creative and cultural movement that believes that creativity saves lives,” June, a senior marketing major who preferred to go by their pen name, said. “We use art as a catalyst to create social and positive change and we build a community through creativity with artists to support each other and grow professionally as well as personally.”
Many organizations such as VOCAL, Voices Of Creativity, Acceptance, and Love, wants to make a space for victims of sexual violence by promoting healing through self-expression.
“We are in a nut-shell a sexual violence support group and basically we promote healing though art, that could be visual art, it could be perfoming, that could be writing that speaks to you as a means to express yourself” Chandler Pope, a sophomore Tv/Fil Production major and Vice Presiednt of VOCAL, said.
“We just wanna provide ways for our members to express themselves as freely as possible,” Bryanna Degas said. Degas, a sophomore psychology major, is the founder of VOCAL.
“In our community of survivors, we’re sort of like a silent community and we don’t know we’re here for each other,” she said, “and so our organization is really, like, bringing to light what we already know exists, but making it more visible and inherently we’re being VOCAL in our presence.”
Students who had the opportunity to attend commented on the variety of organizations available and responded positively to how they were greeted in their time with them.
Anaiya Jones, a sophomore political science major described her experience as “welcoming” with organizations such as Speech and Debate, The Center for Women and Gender Studies, Model UN and the Writer’s Guild being a few in which she’s shown interest. She was given “a lot of information as well as contact, so we can ask questions about the organization.”
“I think they’ve been pretty informative, definitely putting themselves out there trying to make us feel more comfortable talking to them, so I like that about it,” Delia Lebion, a legal communications major, said.
Many organizations also expressed their desire to have more students come into their organization, especially in cultural organizations such as Howard’s Etheriean and Ethiopian Student and Genesis Models.
“People will see us and think that it’s only exclusive to Etherians and Ethopians, but that’s not true at all. We’re definitely open to other people,” Elroi Yonatan, a sophomore strategic legal management communications major said.
Elsie Fuakye, a creative director for Genesis Models and a junior biology major, also shared the same sentiments. “A lot of people asking ‘What is Genesis? What is that? Can we join?’ Like, we also get the question ‘is it only for Africans?’ and it’s not , it’s really not.”
While there have been many positives, some organizations expressed concerns and challenges with getting membership and resources they need to sufficiently maintain their club. Clarissa Smith, an event planner for the Chinese Culture Club and a sophomore environmental studies major, not only talked about how membership and interest in the organization decreased over time, but also mentioned the club’s issues with funding events to keep people engaged.
“So we don’t have monthly dues or anything like that, just because we want it to be accessible to everyone at any point in time and so fundraising is somewhat difficult because we don’t have the…we don’t charge anybody. Like we wanna host really great events but we really don’t have funding for that,” Smith said.
“Biggest challenge is getting the lab up and running. We got sponsored by Version actually to build the lab but then Howard was playing games so we didn’t get it built in time. So our goal is this semester to get the lab built,” Deante Taylor, Founder of Howard’s Esports team and senior computer science major from Trinidad and Tobago said.
Copy edited by Chanice McClover-Lee