Fall 2020 provided an interesting introduction to the St. Olaf campus. When trying to find your footing in a completely new environment, it’s a good strategy to avoid simply sitting in your room — that is, unless there is a deadly pandemic raging outside your door. Instead of the traditional first year experience filled with events, socializing, and the general guidance throughout Welcome Week, the class of 2024 sat through several hours of Zoom meetings before being thrown out into the wilderness that was a campus full of strangers.
The co-curricular fair came in a disappointing online format as well, as the pandemic once again hindered a valuable opportunity to meet people. If students could muster enough energy to attend the event after a week on Zoom, they could spend an hour or two browsing a fair filled with digital “floors” that housed different organizations’ tables. While this may have made it easier to avoid awkward interactions with club leaders trying to recruit you to groups you have no interest in, online interactions proved just as uncomfortable. Having to work up the nerve to enter a video chat and a one minute pitch provided uncomfortable situations aplenty. If that wasn’t bad enough, traveling to a different floor would stick a user into a random room, creating mixups and hurried exits from video calls. All in all, it was not the ideal way to find organizations to take part in.
Thankfully the 2021 fair marked a return to in-person glory that the sophomore class no doubt appreciated. Instead of Zoom rooms, robed performers drummed stoically outside of Boe Chapel, tap dancers tapped, frisbees flew, and stickers abounded. While perusing the long lines of tables, I could find groups I had no idea existed, sign up for a 5k, and give my email out to whomever I chose. Besides offering a chance to get involved on campus, the fair showed that campus life is back and students are ready to engage, though it remains to be seen if orgs’ pitches of “low commitment” will draw any commitment at all.
The co-curricular fair might not make or break your college experience, but it certainly adds flavor to it. If the co-curricular fair in “Pitch Perfect” had the power to launch a three-movie franchise about a cappella singing, imagine what a real one could do for your college experience. We’re all investing in an education and degree and some of us are only living for Friday and Saturday nights, but the value of finding a group of active individuals to form a community with cannot be understated. Having the event in-person made it all the more easy and fun to see what co-curriculars we have and where they can lead. You could even sign up for a campus newspaper email alias and find yourself writing an article for them a week later. I’d recommend the experience.
Sean Rogers is from
His major is undeclared.