(Courtesy of Michaela Foronda)

In the drizzling rain, club executives carried tri-folds across the grassy Quadrangle to set up for Oxford College’s annual Student Involvement Fairon Sept. 14. This year’s event emphasized club training and celebrated student leadership. 

The unforeseen weather presented a challenge to the outdoor event. The 87 participating organizations, ranging from athletic teams to religious groups, moved inside of Williams Gym and the Oxford Students Center (OSC). Several Oxford offices and organizations from Emory College also attended the event, offering more opportunities to students.

Even though Oxford’s clubs were split between two locations on campus, there were times when it was difficult to move through the crowded, narrow aisles. Zina Alshekhlee (23Ox, 26C), who is the Health and Development in Guatemala (HDG) president, Steminists treasurer and Arab Cultural Association events chair, said that this layout made it “hard to keep track of everything.”

“In a very crowded space, not a lot of people were able to roam around and really see every single club because there were so many people around,” Alshekhlee said.

Oxford’s Associate Director of Student Involvement, Leadership and Transitions Michaela Foronda said that moving the event indoors was a “major difference from previous years.” 

Another noticeable difference was the addition of the President’s Institute, a leadership development and training conference, which met for the first time on Sept. 10. Club presidents were required to attend this training in order to table at the involvement fair, according to Foronda. 

The Institute set the foundation for what clubs would look like this upcoming year, outlining policies and procedures that clubs would need to follow, such as registering all club events and general body meetings on The Hub and maintaining an updated club constitution. Club leaders learned to collaborate, retain and recruit club members and reflect on past practices. 

On the Hub, Emory University’s official student involvement website, the President’s Institute is described as a group that aims to “create meaningful experiences and affect change in … student organizations.” The Institute’s goals align with the mission of the involvement fair to give students  a chance to find ways to improve the campus community and create meaningful relationships along the way.

In addition to Oxford clubs, several Atlanta-based clubs tabled at the involvement fair, such as TedxEmory, Swara Emory, Emory Linguistics Circle and Matriculate Emory.  

“We’re always trying to bridge connections between the two campuses, and I think clubs are a great way for that to happen,” Foronda said. 

Each club set up their table differently. Some had fun-sized candy bars, stickers or other club-related merchandise. Others had tablecloths, elaborately decorated tri-folds and speakers playing music. Some had props, like OxFellowship’s pom poms and sunglasses for photo opportunities. 

Many of the clubs’ executive board members seemed excited to chat with prospective club members, and both the Williams Stadium and OSC were filled with lively conversations. Attendance began light, but more students began to trickle in as the evening went on. 

Alshekhlee said many people came up to her at the HDG table to discuss their interest in global health and decided to sign up. 

“People were able to align their passions with the things that they were planning to do at Emory, which was really exciting,” said Alshekhlee. 

The fair also provided a chance for students to showcase their talents. Later in the evening, the Oxford Fusion dance team performed two songs in the OSC: “Teddy Bear” by STAYC and “Hello Future” by NCT Dream. Their performance earned claps and cheers from the audience. Many students had their phones out to capture the moment on video. 

Foranda said the college plans to hold another fair next semester to accommodate Oxford students starting in the spring.

“We want to make sure we’re offering the same opportunities for them as well as our fall students,” Foronda said. 

“It was really nice scoping out different opportunities and different groups,” Hanan Tekleab (25Ox, 27C) said. 

Foronda said the involvement fair is one of her favorite events on campus. 

“There’s not a lot of events like this where you can see so many clubs in one space, and clubs play such an important role in our Oxford community,” Foronda said. 

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Lauren Purnell (27C) is from Maryland and plans to major in English and Creative Writing. Outside of the Wheel, Lauren enjoys reading, playing solitaire, and doing crossword puzzles.