The Center for Leadership and Student Involvement (CLSI) held its fall semester Student Involvement Fair virtually Aug. 23 through Sept. 7, a significant shift from its usual format that draws hundreds of students to the academic quad. To accommodate the University’s mandatory quarantine, 155 of Colgate’s student organizations adapted to the digital shift by promoting their clubs solely online.
Consisting of two parts, the involvement fair began its first portion Aug. 23, during which organizations self-promoted using a short clip posted on the video discussion application Flipgrid for prospective members to browse and interact with. Part Two, which took place from Aug. 30 through Sept. 7, included student-to-student interactions as organizations held Zoom informational sessions, allowing prospective members to meet and engage with current club members.
The switch to entirely virtual promotion provided unique challenges for student organizations and their leadership. co-programming chair of the Colgate Jewish Union (CJU) Jordana Kaller said that the COVID-19 pandemic is changing the ways in which her organization carries out a number of their typical events.
“Normally, we have in-person Shabbat services every Friday at the Michael Saperstein Center (the Sap), followed by a meal cooked by the members of the board,” Kaller said. “Due to COVID-19 protocols, we will be moving our services to the Chapel. In the Chapel, Shabbat attendees will have to sit 6 feet apart.”
Kaller also talked about the challenge of getting new members after the Involvement Fair’s shift to a virtual platform.
“It is definitely harder to get to know new members over zoom than in person. I found it difficult to express the strong community that the CJU has because the new members couldn’t experience it first hand,” Kaller stated.
Despite difficulties of virtual recruitment, Kaller expressed excitement about the upcoming semester, with her and her co-chairs hoping to host a series of new, socially-distanced outdoor events once the campus enters ‘Gates 2 and 3.
Performing arts groups were also impacted by the change in logistics of the Involvement Fair. Fuse Dance Company member junior Abby Douglas said her group has also changed their operations this semester.
“[The involvement fair] was very difficult because each organization had a different zoom link and had to manually enter our zoom chat,” Douglas said. “Normally it is very easy for someone to just walk by our table at the club fair and sign up.”
Furthermore, many in-person performing arts events—including Colgate’s annual Dancefest—will not be occurring this semester. Thus, performing arts groups such as Fuse have to find new ways to reach out to potential new members.
“We have definitely increased our social media presence to try and allow people to get to know us through our Instagram since they cannot in person,” Douglas said.
Many other groups, despite the uncertainty of the upcoming semester, are still looking forward to all that their organizations can accomplish during the school year. Junior and Vice President of the Black Student Union (BSU) Sophia Beresford shared her excitement about the future of her organization during the 2020/2021 academic year.
“Black Student Union is an organization made for Black Colgate students. We’re a space where Black students (and sometimes our allies) come together to discuss everything from political issues to celebrity drama,” Beresford said.
Though many of the Black Student Union’s in-person events, such as collaborations with Brothers and CSA, will not be able to occur this fall, Beresford does not expect much to change in terms of the close-knit nature of her group.
“Honestly I don’t think much will change except for the fact that we’ll be on Zoom,” Beresford said. “Hopefully we’ll still be able to have the same interesting and lively conversations.”