Student organizations kick off the year with the Involvement Fair

Ian Kenaston (Senior) and Calder Stokes (Sophomore) at the Bike Share table during the involvement fair at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022. Alexia Lara/The Occidental

Occidental hosted the Involvement Fair Sept. 8th, an event for the college’s clubs and departments to share information and promote themselves to students on campus. According to Sabrina Willison, Occidental’s associate director of Student Leadership, Involvement, and Community Engagement (SLICE), around 120 organizations and clubs participated in the event this semester. Students also had the opportunity to view performances from some of the school’s dance teams and performing arts clubs.

“It’s a really great opportunity,” Willison said. “Involvement Fair is phenomenal for new students, returning students, and transfer students to see their interests come to life on this campus, and see how it may play out in balancing work and fun.”

According to Willison, the Involvement Fair also displays the college’s unique strengths. Because of Occidental’s size, and the diverse range of students and interests on campus, the community often sees its smaller organizations flourish.

“The really cool thing about clubs and organizations is that they are student-led, which is what a lot of Occidental is, so Oxy is really special in the sense that it only takes two students to start a club,” Willison said. “You and your friend can think of this really cool idea or be like ‘Hey, I miss this from home,’ or ‘I want to explore this thing,’ and boom, it’s here.”

Jacki Jackman (Junior) at the Dance Production table during the involvement fair at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022. Alexia Lara/The Occidental

Occidental students were excited to take advantage of the event’s offerings. Simone Origel (first year) said she has multifaceted interests she wanted to see represented at the fair, from the Latinx Student Union to the orchestra. She said she hoped campus organizations would help her make new connections and diversify her artistic palette.

Coming off years of low involvement due to the pandemic, club leaders have said they are optimistic about what their organizations can achieve. Sofía Guerrero (sophomore) is co-president of Azúcar, Occidental’s Latin dance group, and she said she is hopeful about the future of the club.

“We are really trying to put ourselves out there,” Guerrero said. “I feel like we have been a little on the low the past year, so we are definitely trying to put ourselves out there during events in the quad, to dance, and just build community and help our team gain confidence.”

Club leaders also said their organizations can help prepare students for the next stage after college. Sophie Kaviar (senior), a member of the Psychology Club, explained how her organization helps both in and out of the college environment.

“It’s interesting to hear about and to learn about how our brains work,” Kaviar said. “And it’s interesting within Oxy to learn about how to get into research, how to do directed research under a professor, to learn about the different careers in psychology.”

Cleo Welch, (Sophomore) Emily Wills, (Sophomore) and Kaiah Callahan (Junior) share big smiles as they recruit people for the Womxn’s Rugby team at the involvement fair at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022. Alexia Lara/The Occidental

Willison said her involvement in college clubs actually prepared her for her career in higher education.

“I think they are really great career-building tools because I was a club leader, I was an RA and I did all this stuff, and now obviously I have this career in higher education,” Willison said. “There are so many transferable skills in getting involved in a club, but you don’t know that until you get involved.”

Guerrero said she believes that her club and others like it are essential to the culture at Occidental.

“I think it builds community that you can rely on, especially with people who have similar interests with you,” Guerrero said. “Even if it is just something you are trying out, it really helps with confidence and with putting yourself out there.”