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Spring Involvement Fair Cut

Assoc. News Editor

Published: Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 20:01

Spring Fair 1/26/12

Kevin Hou / Heights Senior Staff

The Student Programs Office (SPO) will not host a Student Involvement Fair during the spring semester for the first time in years. The event, which is traditionally hosted in the Rat, was canceled due to low participation by both students and organizations over the past few years.

"We're adjusting our approach to the Student Involvement Fair," said Karl Bell, assistant director of SPO. "We saw decreased participation on the part of both students and organizations at the spring Involvement Fair in the last three years. There is not a large infusion of new students in the spring, and as a result, I found it difficult as the manager of the day to justify the cost."

The cost to which Bell is referring is not monetary, but something possibly more important: students' time.

"It often happened that there were more organizations present than there were students looking to be involved with organizations," Bell said. "Student leaders were spending two hours, three hours at the fair, and they're talking basically to themselves. I experienced it as a thumb-twirling exercise."

Despite the declining level of participation exhibited in recent years, the spring Involvement Fair was a way for many students to get involved. Students seeking information about organizations on campus this semester must now resort to their laptops.

"There's an opportunity for students to learn more about organizations at Boston College," Bell said. "It's been around since two years ago. MyBC is a way for any student who has any questions about involvement at BC or organizations at BC to get answers."

Students can use MyBC to view basic club information, contact club officers, and set up a calendar filled with the events of whatever organization they choose, among other features. This year will be a test to see if anything is lost by removing personal interaction between interested students and student organizations.

"I'm old school. I believe there's an absolute benefit to face-to-face discussion. But more and more students are engaging in an online format if you look at the popularity of things like Facebook and Twitter. We don't lose a lot by not having an involvement fair given the access that students have to our office and our leaders," Bell said.

Telling students to visit a website or stop by an office may be a less visible means of communicating information than hosting a fair. Bell is not worried that this lack of visibility will lead to a decrease in overall student participation, however.

"Our students are built, if you will, to be involved," he said. "Each year there are over 30,000 students vying for just over 2,000 slots, so we absolutely get the best of the best that the country has to offer. As a result, we know these students come from a very highly involved experience, and we want them to continue that here at BC."

SPO's belief that the technology of MyBC can sufficiently replace a student involvement fair does not mean that BC students will never see a Spring Involvement Fair again.

"I am sensitive to meeting the needs of our student population," Bell said. "If we hear from organizations and from students that they prefer to have a spring Involvement Fair, then we'll absolutely consider it, but at this point it's not cost effective from a student perspective," Bell said.

The time that the SPO would have used to plan the spring Involvement Fair is now going toward the planning of a much larger event in the fall. However, almost all of the details about this event are still under wraps.

"Next year is the Sesquicentennial Celebration. There will be a huge unveiling at the Fall Involvement Fair. Huge. That's all I can say," Bell said.

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