“It’s probably the biggest thing I’ve ever seen,” said Ewelina Turlik, a senior double majoring in psychology and sociology. “There are a lot of clubs. Some of them I’ve never seen before, and I’m a senior.”
Anthony LaViscount, interim director of student activities, estimated that there would be between 2,000 and 3,000 people at the fair. However, Peter Nazaroff, a biomedical engineering major, said that “everyone showed up, whether they liked it or not.”
The Involvement Fair has been a signature program for Student Activities for at least 25 years, LaViscount said.
In past years, the university could only offer 150 tables for the fair, but due to the increase in the number of clubs and organizations on campus and an increased demand, 198 tables were offered last year. And this year, SBU provided 250 tables for the fair.
With humidity at 49 percent and the temperature hovering around 80° F, the weather was pleasant and accommodating to the large crowd.
Although the fair was slated to begin at 1 p.m., students became curious as early as 12:30 p.m., while clubs were still setting up. By 1 p.m., their stations were replete with tablecloths and attractive props.
The College Democrats offered students the opportunity to “take a picture with the president”—referring to a scale cardboard likeness of President Barack Obama—and the Taiko Tides Club arranged taiko drums like large vases on and around its booth. Other clubs had more elaborate components.
The archery club—whose members grinned with enthusiasm and perhaps a bit of anarchy—hoisted sufficiently dangerous-looking hunting bows above the crowd while the various dance clubs took advantage of a sound system (courtesy of Student Activities) and gave choreographed performances. Among them were the belly dancers and the ballroom dance team.
Janine Mariani, a junior majoring in linguistics and member of the ballroom dance team, led an inspired interpretation of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.”
“People are always intrigued [after they have seen the dancing],” Mariani said. “They think: ‘I should come and learn this for some reason!’”
The burgeoning scope of the fair reflects a campus concerned not only with occupying its growing student body, but with finding expression for the increasingly fine facets of its ethnic, intellectual and recreational life.
Chinese Christian Fellowship President Michelle Hung, a senior biomedical engineering major, expects growth. “We are 30 or 40 people and growing,” she said.
Senior bioengineering major Denis Nguyen, president of the Vietnamese Student Association, estimated his attendance rates similarly.
“Last year we had 35 to 40 people on average,” he said. “This year we are shooting for fifty.” Both clubs want to bring people together.
For many, the event has served as an entry point on the road to realizing a full and developed student body through immersion in campus life. For others, the spectacle suffices.
“It’s unbelievable; great event. Everyone is out, having fun,” said John Leddy, director of athletic bands. “We’re all Seawolves.”