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University clubs kick off more normal semester with in-person club fair

| Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Students toting free green bags and large color-coded maps filed into the stadium concourse Monday night for the Student Activities Fair, organized by the Student Activities Office (SAO).

Isa Sheikh | The Observer
Students filled the concourse of the stadium, investigating hundreds of clubs and organizations.

More than 350 undergraduate clubs and organizations were present to meet Notre Dame students, primarily first-years and sophomores, and recruit them to their groups.

Tables adorned with posters, QR codes and endless free swag lined up, filling half of the stadium’s concourse and providing an overwhelming number of choices for students looking to get involved.

Student organizations, academic clubs, social service clubs, performing arts clubs, cultural clubs, campus partners, community partners, special interest clubs and athletic clubs all had dedicated sections. 

The fair’s bustle struck many as chaotic.

“It’s crazy, it’s a madhouse. It’s so much fun,” said Vincenzo Torsiello, a Stanford Hall junior and co-president of The Humor Artists improv group.

At one point, Aubree Davis, a sophomore in Pasquerilla West and co-president of the Hawaii Club, stood on her chair to get potential members’ attention.

“I want to get on this chair to let everyone know that we welcome everybody, and that’s the culture we try to bring to the Notre Dame campus,” she said.

The fair represented student groups’ return to in person recruiting and activities after more than a year of operations hampered by the spread of COVID-19.

While first-years may be new to campus, sophomores missed many opportunities to explore their interests through student groups during their first year. Attendees and presenters catered to both first-years and sophomores.

As Grace Fjermedal, president of The Shirt Project, said, “It’s just so empowering and exciting to see so many excited faces of freshmen and all the Notre Dame community coming together. I’m just so thrilled to be here.” 

Matthew Doktorczyk, a sophomore living in Baumer Hall, described the experience as vastly different from his first year.

“Last year, this was all just a slideshow that they sent to us,” he said.

Far from the plain nature of an emailed slideshow, the fair was bursting with festivities.

“We’re having fun, we’re playing music,” Ify Nwebube, president of the Black Student Association said. “I’m really excited for how the year is going to go, being able to actually meet all these people in-person, rather than meeting them over Zoom.”

Student body vice president Matthew Bisner noted the significance of the night, saying, “It is crazy to think that a year ago, we were shut down for two weeks because our COVID cases were so high, and now we are one of the safest places in the nation because of high vaccinations. So tonight, I’m super excited to meet new first-years and bring them into the student government family. [We’re] very mindful of the fact that we’re so lucky and privileged to be able to go to this event.” 

 For Notre Dame’s most diverse class, the Student Activities Fair offered many opportunities for first-years to find the communities they belong to, as well as explore completely new areas.

Mariana Bombardier, a freshman in Pasquerilla East, said the fair surprised her.

“I thought I was going to come in and see just three or four tables, but no, it was long — so many options. There’s a club for everything, and it made me feel really included,” she said.

Bombardier took interest in the Texas Club, several pre-med clubs and Latino clubs, all important aspects of her identity.

“Even though it can be overwhelming to look at over 300 organizations, there’s something about being able to go out there, meet with those organizations, and learn what you can do on campus,” student body president Allan Njomo said.

Readers interested in pursuing any of the organizations present at the Student Activities Fair can visit the SAO website.

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About Isa Sheikh

Isa Sheikh is a freshman in Stanford Hall. A political science major hailing from Sacramento, he enjoys reading The Observer on the 2nd floor of the Hes, sipping Cinderblock Coffee in the morning, and re-watching 30 Rock over and over. Please feel free to shoot him an email at [email protected]!

Contact Isa