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Student Participation in Annual Organization Fair Prompts Perspectives on Club Funding

Howard University’s Office of Campus Life set into motion the annual student organization fair for the student body to learn more about campus-recognized organizations.

Destiny Jennings with D.I.V.A. Inc at the org fair on The Yard on Aug. 30. (Keith Golden Jr/The Hilltop)

With Howard’s annual student organization fair reaching its culmination last Wednesday, many Howard students emphasized how important they felt clubs were to finding their place at Howard. Club representatives discussed the importance of inclusivity and funding when considering the upkeep these organizations require.

On Aug. 30, the organization fair held on the Yard introduced hundreds of students to the array of recognized student organizations available on Howard’s campus. Despite sparking inspiration among many with displays of passion, the topics of funding and a need for integration stood out among those discussed by club leaders.

New freshmen and returning students on campus were appreciative of the opportunity that the fair provided to get out and about and integrate with their different hobbies and pastimes. It helped with them being able to make well-informed decisions and meet new students, some said.

Kamyrn Gaines, a sophomore TV and film major from New York, commended the fair’s ability to give a holistic view of all possibilities. “The org fair is really good for getting to know the different clubs and organizations,” she said. Gaines said she is interested in organizations linked to art and creativity. 

“You see them all around, but getting to actually talk to the members of the clubs and other organizations and really hear what they’re about really helps out,” Gaines said.

Alexandria Jenkins, a freshman biology major from California, said “I really just wanted to get more connected with my community. I wanted to get out there and meet new people who have the same interests as me.” 

She shared how joining organizations was a very important part of her college experience, as she wanted to be a part of things that she could personally relate to, as well as connect with her ancestry. Clubs like the African-American club caught her interest.

Jada Croak, a health science major from New York, shared the same sentiment. 

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“I don’t want to be up in my dorm. I want to make new friends, especially as a freshman, I feel like it’s really nice what they are having here right now,” Croak said. “It’s really good getting to connect with your own people” she said. 

“I feel like it’s allowing sisterhood too,” She continued. “You know, coming together as one, allowing us to make new friends, become a family somehow.”

Cynthia Evers, the vice president of Student Affairs, commented on why she believes the fair is so important. “The Student Organization Fair gives students an opportunity to discover their passion, get involved, and maybe try something completely new,” she said.

“The excitement on the Yard for this year’s Fair was incredible. I am so proud of our Student leaders, participating students and the Campus Life team for the amazing job in supporting this annual event,” Evers continued. 

With over 300 recognized organizations and clubs on campus, according to Thomas Weaver, current HUSA Senate Finance Committee chairman, there were opportunities for everyone to see what is offered at Howard and find something of interest. 

Jekayla Copeland, a sophomore psychology major from PG County, Maryland, expressed her interest in joining the DMV club. “I want to connect with people who are from where I’m from, who would understand the experiences, same childhood, things like that,” she said.

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Many students expressed that other students should not hold back when it comes to their interests. “I believe that college is really all about what you make it,” Copeland said. “So I think that if you want your experience to be better, you can find clubs and be around people with the same interests and values.”

Azja Griffin, a sophomore psychology major from Brooklyn, New York, is interested in clubs that advocate for mental health. “If there’s a club you feel fits your personality, your perspective and overall will boost your self-confidence and how you feel towards your community, then you should do it,”

Whilst many enjoyed all that the org fair had to offer, some took a moment to recognize the increased need for funding. This, alongside a greater emphasis on the core values of these organizations, would allow for a much greater reach, not just on a campus-sized scale, but stretching beyond the home field, students say. 

In a prior Letter to the Editor by Myles Bostic, the 11th HUSA Senate Finance Committee chairman, the value of increasing the Student Activity Fee (SAF) was highlighted and highly regarded. The bill, however, increasing the SAF from $62.50 to $100, was not passed, according to Weaver. 

“We do recognize that there is a need for more funding,” Weaver said. “We use the student activity fees to distribute them amongst campus organizations to make sure that they have the budget to take on any initiatives they would like to.”

The Howard University Youth Justice Advocates organization emphasized the importance of their organization on Howard’s campus and why representation, as well as funding, matter so much. 

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“It does work differently than any other club here on campus,” sophomore biology major Janiah McRae said. The New Jersey native noted how easy it is for college students to lose the spirit of nurturing.

“I feel like a lot of times Howard students get stuck in a bubble of Howard, which is great, but oftentimes we become wrapped up in our privilege and our life here on campus,” she continued. “In reality, ten minutes away we have youth, a lot of them our age, that are struggling because of a circumstance that they can’t control.” 

Janiah McRae, Grace Taylor and Jadyn Burke at their Student Organization table at last Wednesday’s fair. (Esther Bamigboye/The Hilltop)

Grace Taylor, a junior sociology major from Long Island and treasurer of HU Youth Justice Advocates, addressed the need for funding as a concern. “We really don’t receive that much funding, and so we rely on fundraisers and drives,” she said. The chapel-based organization works to “offset the School-to-prison pipeline through mentorship.”

“A little bit more funding would definitely go a long way, so we could bring all that we can into facilities and make sure they have the best time possible while we’re there,” Taylor continued. The Youth Justice Advocates acknowledged a desire for Howard to become more involved from a university-wide standpoint when it comes to helping the D.C. youth.

Howard University is home to over 300 official clubs and organizations, ranging from the HU Skateboarding Club, which promotes skate culture to Black and Brown students, to clubs like Generation Action, which aims to bring more awareness to prochoice activism. The annual fair allows students to explore their interests and inspire passion.

The members of the Coalition of Activist Students Celebrating the Acceptance of Diversity and Equality, or CASCADE, shared the same sentiment regarding funding and the need for wider reach. Kaylee Bryant, a sophomore psychology major and CASCADE’s historian, noted that the “importance of Cascade is to uplift and encourage the activism and the equality for LGBTQ members of the Howard community.”

Jadyn Allen, Ama Russell, Kaylee Bryant and John Kendrick at Cascade’s table at the Student Organization Fair (Esther Bamigboye/The Hilltop)

The organization also took the time to note the need for a clear agenda and true inclusivity when it comes to the integration of the queer population on campus.

“The queer population is not just when Cascade is being recognized or when the queer population comes out to the forefront – we are integrated in every aspect, every segway on the campus, so I would like to see those segways just be more highlighted,” Jadyn Allen said. The junior health management major from Chicago who serves as Cascade’s Advocacy Leader intends to help bring inclusivity to the front for queer students.  

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The Howard University Players Organization felt they stood out in more ways than one. Serving as the only theater organization on Howard’s campus, they aim to provide a cultivating space for other theater artists and creators whilst bridging connections between those wanting to share in a collective dream. 

Samarion Montgomery, a junior theater arts administration major and member of Howard Players, attested to the organization’s artistic prowess and contributions. “Howard Players was here before we were united as a school individually.” the Mississippi native said. “What we must realize is that we are in the founding bricks of this university.” 

HU Players representatives at the Organization Fair. From left to right: Amanda Carmen Thompson, Samarion Montgomery, and Lawri Millings at their table. (Esther Bamigboye/The Hilltop)

HU Players also addressed the need for increased funding. “We’re always gonna need more money. We use our money, we just want to build our productions higher and higher and higher. I mean the budget is limitless.” Montgomery continued. The organization noted how they didn’t feel they received enough funding, particularly considering that they are hosting major productions year-round.

Several organizations will be hosting follow-up events to the annual fair, introducing themselves to new faces and letting others shine their passions.

Copy edited by Alana Matthew


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