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PAUL closes in Western Market
By Ella Mitchell, Staff Writer • April 22, 2024

Student organization fair switches to ‘open house’ setup in Marvin Center

The Marvin Center will host an open-house style student organization fair from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Updated: Jan. 24, 2019 at 2:19 p.m.

Instead of walking past rows of tables, students will tour offices on the fourth floor of the Marvin Center during an open-house style student organization fair Saturday.

The fair, which will be held from 1 to 3 p.m., is the first time student organizations will open their spaces to prospective members, and organizations without an office will set up tables in a conference room. While some student leaders with offices said they are excited about the opportunity to showcase their workspace, others without offices said they could be disadvantaged in recruiting new members because students may not be able to visualize where their organization operates.

Student organizations have historically held one fair each semester in a large space, like District House, the Smith Center or the Marvin Center.

Anne Graham, the assistant director of student involvement and Greek life, said the previous student organization fair setup in the Marvin Center’s third-floor ballrooms created large crowds. She said “more evenly sized rooms and flow” on the fourth floor will mitigate the traffic and “foster an intimate, community feel.”

She said the fourth floor will accommodate 234 student organizations, 54 of which have an office space. Student organizations without an office can sign up to table in conference rooms, Graham said.

“We are excited to try something new, to bring our community together and to capitalize on the student organization space on the fourth floor,” she said in an email.

She said student organizations will still hold a large fair in the Smith Center this fall. Officials will solicit feedback from student leaders and members to “determine the success of the new arrangement,” she said.

Student Association President Ashley Le said the open house setup is a more personalized way to recruit prospective members because students can see where organizations are headquartered.

“Student orgs can decorate or showcase what they have been doing, whereas when an org fair is hosted outside on H Street or in the Continental Ballroom, everyone has a table and that’s it,” Le said.

Andreas Farge, the president of Speakers of the House: The GW Spoken Word Collective, which has an office in Room 410, said the move is an improvement from past student organization fairs where students were packed into one large room.

“I went to District for 10 minutes last year, and I was horrified,” Farge said. “It was overcrowded. It was dirty. It was a mess.”

GW Balance President Mia Dortenzio, whose organization also has an office in Room 432, said the new setup could make the process of finding a student organization less overwhelming for students trying to find a specific group because there is a directory of where each office is located.

But she added that her organization will not be able to walk around and ask students to come talk to members as they have in years past.

“We have very enthusiastic people in the org, so we’ll kind of just run around at the org fair and ask, ‘Do you like to dance? Do you like to dance? Come over to our table,’” Dortenzio said. “I feel like it’s not going to be as much of an environment where people are running around trying to recruit people.”

Skye Blanks, the vice president of membership for the community service group Circle K, said his organization could struggle to attract students because it does not have an office space.

“We see the orgs that are more established, and us, we were established but we don’t have that value that people see right away,” Blanks said. “They don’t see that we are very productive and doing a lot more than other orgs that actually have office spaces.”

Blanks said using Marvin Center spaces to recruit students could also be misleading because general members typically do not use offices that are often reserved for leaders of the group to convene and hold office hours.

“It’s kind of false advertising because people who are just coming in are going to be general members,” Blanks said. “It’s kind of a cool thing, but people might come in with a sense that they’re gonna be there all the time, which might not be the case in all situations.”

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that the student organization fair will accommodate 180 groups, 54 of which do not have an office. The fair will feature 234 groups, 54 of which have an office. We regret this error.

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