It was a happy accident that Aidon Spies walked into the Millennium Student Center rotunda last Tuesday afternoon with the Spring Involvement Jamboree underway at the University of Missouri–St. Louis.
Lining both sides of the walkways on the second and third floor were tables occupied by representatives of campus organizations, all eager to talk about their work and recruit new members.
Spies is in his first semester at UMSL after transferring from St. Louis Community College–Florissant Valley with plans to study psychology, and he’s still learning all the ways he might get involved on campus.
“I honestly wasn’t even expecting this whole setup to be here,” Spies said shortly after stopping off at a table and talking with a representative from Campus Recreation. “When I first came in earlier in the morning, I saw the bubble tea get set up, but it’s really nice to be able to see all the opportunities that we have going here.”
He was particularly glad to find the open door to the Office of Student Outreach and Support, just off the rotunda on the second floor.
“They have a place where you can go to get tutoring help, or that’s really quiet if you’re feeling stressed out,” Spies said. “That’s a really cool feature that I wouldn’t have known about otherwise.”
Whether they were new to campus like Spies or have been at UMSL for years, students had a chance to explore new and different ways to engage with fellow students and learn how they might make the most of all the resources available to them.
“I think it’s really valuable for students,” said Michaela Wells, the coordinator for student organizations and fraternity and sorority life, who took the lead in organizing the jamboree for the Office of Student Involvement.
She hoped it gave them a chance to try to see themselves and how they fit into different groups across campus, and she was glad so many took advantage of that opportunity.
“I’m really impressed with attendees,” Wells said. “We actually for the first time since COVID got all of our tables for the jamboree filled. So we have 47 tables here today, and we had a waitlist of four or five other groups as well. So that’s really impressive and exciting. As you can see, there’s just a ton of people around and kind of working their way, so I don’t think our attendance figures will be able to capture everyone because it’s so chaotic, which is exciting.”
She helped organize virtual involvement events during the pandemic but believes there’s nothing that can fully replicate the chance to walk around and meet face-to-face with the people actively involved in different organizations.
With donuts, cookies and other sweets, plus games and giveaways on display at different tables, there was a lot to entice students to stop by and have a conversation and find out more about a group’s activities.
Jay King, a senior majoring in biochemistry and biotechnology, was representing the University Program Board at a table near the bottom of the escalator on the second floor, and she was glad to give away UPB tote bags, cups, hats and pencils to people who stopped by to spin the wheel and learn more about UPB’s role. She’d guessed she’d spoken to about 80 students who stopped by over the previous hour and half.
“My pitch is basically that we’re University Program Board, and we do events here on campus for the students where we always give away free stuff,” said King, who along with other members of the board is starting to gear up for Mirthweek later this semester.
Prakash Dadi, a graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in information systems and technology, tried his hand at a game of darts while stopping by the Muslim Student Association table on the third floor. Dadi is already actively involved with the Indian Student Association but he was glad for the chance to learn about other student groups.
“As a student, you get to know what exactly is happening in your college, and you’ll find more opportunities,” he said.
Sheridan Williams, a senior majoring in liberal studies, welcomed the chance to share her interest in K-pop with other students while staffing the table for KHAOS!, UMSL’s K-pop dance group, which practices weekly and holds a showcase in the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center near the end of each semester.
“We’re a very welcoming community,” Williams said. “If you’re into K-pop or if you like dancing, you don’t need to have any sort of background in dance. We have people who have danced and people who haven’t. Everybody’s welcoming, and it just gives people a place to feel welcome and showcase their talents.”
Freshman Mason Klotz, who plans to study marketing and minor in anthropology, is hoping to increase membership and student participation in UMSL’s Environmental Adventure Organization, and the jamboree provided some more exposure. The group has been involved in some gardening projects around campus, but he’s hoping to broaden its list of activities to include more outdoor adventures such as hiking, camping and climbing.
Some organizations tend to be more career-oriented such as the Accounting Club, though it isn’t restricted to accounting majors.
“If you’re looking for internships, accounting club is such a networking club,” said Angela Truesdale, who serves as the club’s treasurer. “We really want to connect students with firms outside the Big Four, who recruit for more than just accounting. A lot of them are developing their own software now, so they’re really looking for those information systems and computer science people. Really what we want to do is provide students with the ability to market themselves in the professional environment.”
Students can learn more about different events and student organizations by visiting Triton Connect.