Student organizations attempted to persuade students to join them at the student involvement fair in the Thad Cochran Center on Monday, Feb. 11.
There were many different organizations there, including support groups, volunteer organizations, Greek life and others. Each organization had a tabletop presentation with a few representatives to give the students walking through the fair a good look into what each group is all about.
Sophomore computer science and media production major representing the Gay-Straight Alliance Hazel Tepec said he felt as if the fair gave student organizations the opportunity to grow both in numbers and visibility.
“We’ve been steadily growing,” Tepec said. “A couple of years ago we got the Prism Center, which was a huge step forward for the LGBTQ+ community here at Southern Miss, so with us getting that resource center and with us being a present organization on campus, I believe that we’re growing…the fair helps with that a lot because it helps us get in touch with people that we wouldn’t normally see.”
Tepec said events like this one help expose the student body to a more diverse field of view when it comes to groups like the LGBTQ+ community.
“Primarily people who go to Southern Miss or are from the South are raised in the South, so they aren’t exposed to a lot of things,” Tepec said. “But when they come here, they get to see so much that they aren’t accustomed to. With the GSA being here at the involvement fair, we get to explain who we are and what we do, and it helps people realize that there are people like us out there.”
Representatives from Volunteer USM, an organization that helps set up volunteer opportunities for its members both on and off campus, also participated in the fair.
Junior forensics and criminal justice major and one of the representatives for Volunteer USM said the involvement fair and events like it provide incoming freshman with the opportunity to find their place on campus.
“When you’re a freshman, you kind of don’t know where your place is on campus, and you don’t really know anybody,” Rogers said. “This helps you get your face out there and helps get you active in Southern Miss. You can come to these events and see that you’re not the only one who’s trying to get involved. It really helps you build that friendship base, and eventually, you venture out and start discovering what it is that you like.”
She also said she would like to see a similar involvement fair for exclusively volunteer organizations.
“I would want to see more events with the groups that we work with so that we could all explain what we do with each other because people will join Volunteer USM but not know that we’re connected with [the Center for Community Engagement] and all that,” Rogers said. If you’re in a group, but you don’t know whom you’re working with, it kind of defeats the purpose.”
A few new organizations were also present at the fair, one of them being the Southern Miss chapter of the International Justice Mission, an organization centered around raising funds towards fighting slavery, which just got approved this January.
Junior social work major and one of the representatives from the International Justice Mission Caroline Korson said events like the student involvement fair are vital to grow organizations.
“It’s essential because we have to get our name out there somehow, and social media can only go so far because we only know so many people to follow,” Korson said. “We also want a wide variety of people to be in our organization, not just people that we know or that we have connections within other organizations so that we can really represent the campus. These involvement fairs really help with that.”