The warm mid-morning air above Erickson Field pulsed with energy. Students rushed between tables, hoisting up tri-fold boards and arranging displays. Noon approaches. A flood of students leaving their morning classes is visible just beyond the Commons. Months of meticulous planning are about to be put into action. Involvement Fest begins.
Involvement Fest is born from intensive planning by a team of student staff, Commons staff and the Vice President of Student Organizations. Planning begins early. The organization of Fall Involvement Fest begins with registration during May of the prior spring semester.
After organizations register, the team draws up a map and assigns tables to organizations. Including flexibility in this design is key.
According to the Coordinator of Student Life for Student Organizations and Involvement Romy Hübler, “It is very important that we have an overflow section [for] student organizations that have been created after the map is drawn up.”
The Student Life staff also actively creates resources for student organizations. Staff keeps in frequent contact to assist organizations in creating a successful booth.
Another major part of Involvement Fest planning involves contracting outside organizations. Hübler works to rent tables and chairs from a company and bring a food truck. Coordinating outside contracts was particularly complicated this year since Involvement Fest was moved due to inclement weather.
Creating contingency plans is complicated by the sheer size of Involvement Fest. Hübler explains, “We can’t reserve a rain location [on campus] because [Involvement Fest] is large and there are too many other things going on within the university.”
Students leaders from all organizations prepare extensively for Involvement Fest. History Student Council was not maintained for two years and subsequently had to apply as a new club. For those reasons, their members were particularly looking forward to Involvement Fest.
HSC President and sophomore history major Jeanette Richardson recognizes the importance of retaining students.
“Sending out emails and maintaining a social media presence will be important,” she said. “We will also send out a survey to find out when students can meet and what they are interested in. We want to cater to interested students.”
Justin Chan, senior information systems major, finds that his club easily retains students: “Smash Bros creates a friendly atmosphere. Many people have a childhood connection from the game, so they come to relax after class,” he said.
Many organizations, however, find it difficult to keep students coming back. Hübler identifies retention as a major difficulty. However, Student Life staff are trying to address [this difficulty] through programs like Leading Orgs, which is a retreat in September for leaders of student organizations.
Involvement Fest may ended at 3 p.m., but the hard work is far from over.