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The Carletonian

Students react: Carleton hosts annual Student Involvement Fair

Morgan Graves
The Ballroom Dance Team and Social Dance Club hosted adjacent tables at the Student Involvement Fair.

On Friday, Sep. 15, Carleton hosted its annual Student Involvement Fair. This year, the Involvement Fair included 200+ primarily student-run activities, as well as a picnic on the Bald Spot and, for the first time, live music. Last year, the picnic was canceled due to rain, but it was able to happen this year. The event was co-sponsored by the Carleton Student Association (Carleton’s student government) and the Student Activities Office, a campus office funded by the CSA. 


Minneapolis musician Sarah Morris describes herself on her website as “missing the forest for the trees, with songs that count and celebrate the glorious details of our messy, magical, everyday lives.” Morris performed on the Bald Spot from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. 


“I think Sarah Morris’ music was enjoyed by students as I saw a few students ask for a photo with her, and another suggested we bring her back again next year,” said Grace Esselman, assistant director of the Student Activities Office. “If weather allows, we would love to have live music at the Involvement Fair next year.”


Sofia Woodruff ’25, a student who attended the Involvement Fair, liked the addition of live music. “I thought it was really wonderful. It made it a more community-based experience and drew your attention. Sometimes it was hard to hear people talking… but it was a great addition to the experience,” although she also added that she thought that “the music was not super necessary because a lot of tables were playing their own music.”


Other students, however, felt less positively about the music. “I was kind of confused about what was happening,” said Zoe Marquis ’25. “It was cool, I don’t know, [but] it was also weird and not what I was expecting. It wasn’t disruptive or anything, I was just confused… I think my main reaction was like ‘What?’ but then I thought, ‘OK, cool, whatever.’ It also seemed not in the spotlight. No one was paying attention to the music, it was just kind of there…everyone was more focused on the tables.”

Brandon Moore ’24 poses with the Model United Nations poster at a pre-Involvement Fair poster decorating session. (Kaori Hirano)

“It was the busiest I’ve seen the Involvement Fair since COVID, which was really exciting,” said Elena D’Avanzo ’24. “I really loved the turnout, and how willing people were to have a chat about various clubs. I think it was much better than previous years, and so much better than my first involvement fair (which was all virtual).”


Esselman said that overall, “We had a great turn out at the Involvement Fair by students, student organizations who registered for a table, and community members who were tabling with CCCE. We had more table reservations this year than last year, which could be in part to the weather, as well as the uptick in charters (and CCCE community partners!) that we’ve seen since COVID-19.”


“I thought that the Involvement Fair was a lot of fun!” said Annie Weiner’ 26. “There were so many clubs that I didn’t know existed. It was so fun to see all of the activities that everyone is involved in.”


“It was very well organized [with the different sections for different types of activities],” said Woodruff. “A lot of the activities were very interactive which I appreciated. It was great to see the Northfield library involved in the community.” Woodruff said that while at the Involvement Fair, in addition to getting on some new email lists, she was also excited at having been able to register for a blood drive and get a Northfield Public Library card.


D’Avanzo also commented on the layout of the Involvement Fair: “I was expecting Ballroom Dance to be with all the other club sports, but they placed us next to social dance, which had its pros and cons: it allowed our leadership to offer a more relaxed option and to not have to be as concerned about having enough people at each table, but there’s a chance it put us more out of the way, which would have impacted how many people were interested in us.”


The Involvement Fair was not, however, without criticisms: “I didn’t love it,” said Tabitha Jones ’27. “I was expecting it to be a lot more exciting and different to my high school one.” When asked what she didn’t love about it, she added that “one corner got super busy and made it hard to see what was there or go anywhere else.”

Noel Wang ’25, on the other hand, liked the layout, which assigned clubs to an area with similar organizations: “I liked that clubs weren’t specifically assigned tables, and we could group as we wanted within our categories.”

Carls with Artistic Taste club members pose at their table at the Involvement Fair.

Lily Vargo ’25 described the decision to add live music as “bizarre.” “There were clubs playing music plus the musician, so it didn’t really make sense for her to be there,” she said. “Also the fair has nothing to do with a musician so no one really seemed to pay any attention to her… I don’t know why she was there in the first place.”


The timing of the Involvement Fair appears to have been an issue for some students.


Bax Meyer ’25, treasurer of the Jewish Students of Carleton, explained that it conflicted with the first night of Rosh Hashanah: “The fact that they started it at the same time [as Rosh Hashanah services] shows a lack of commitment for Jewish students to be able to connect with their religious and cultural identity in a meaningful way.”


“I would have wanted to attend the fair, but I went to services instead,” said Isaac Kofsky ’27. “I feel like the timing of the fair could have been much better, I didn’t want to have to choose between attending the fair and attending an incredibly important religious service. A lot of my friends joined a bunch of cool clubs and have told me about their club meetings but since I wasn’t at the fair I never heard about a lot of the student organizations my friends have joined.”


It also fell very early in the term: “I didn’t go because I had to unpack stuff in my dorm,” said Palmy Klangsathorn ’26. She said she didn’t feel like she missed out on anything, but might’ve gone if it had been later in the term. 


For students already involved in campus activities, the activity fair may feel less important. Some students discussed feeling as though they were already on too many email lists. Ashlee Calkins ’24 also decided not to go, although for different reasons, telling the Carletonian that she had just gotten back from work and decided that as a senior, “I didn’t need to join more student orgs,” adding that “I’m pretty sure I [already] have all of their phone numbers.”


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Becky Reinhold
Becky Reinhold, Editor in Chief
I'm a junior Philosophy major, and I can usually be found in the basement of Anderson or wandering around Northfield. I like thunderstorms and writing articles around 2am. Becky was previously Managing Editor, Viewpoint Editor, and Design Editor.

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