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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Campus

Virtual Involvement Fair connects students with organizations, clubs


The Virtual Involvement Fair, formerly known as Cat’s Back, has been held over Microsoft Teams for three days since the start of the fall semester. | Juana Garcia/The Cougar

Cat’s Back, the Weeks of Welcome student organization fair, has transitioned to an online format and aptly been renamed the Virtual Involvement Fair. 

Like other Weeks of Welcome events, the Virtual Involvement Fair will be entirely digital. The fair is open to interested students on Aug. 31, Sept. 1 and Sept. 3 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. 

Intended to welcome students back to campus at the beginning of the academic year, the Virtual Involvement Fair connects students to organizations on campus that fit their interests. 

“We are hosting a Virtual Involvement Fair so students can still have an opportunity to connect with organizations and find a place on campus,” assistant director for Registered Student Organizations Ja’Nelle King said.

“Students can chat via chat boxes or join virtual meeting rooms to chat face to face with student leaders … It’s the equivalent of ‘walking around’ the Rec.”

The event’s transition to Microsoft Teams has not only impacted how prospective members join organizations, but also how clubs appeal to potential recruits. 

“There isn’t really an incentive for students to come to the Virtual Involvement Fair, while at Cat’s Back there’s a free shirt rewarded,” Alpha Epsilon Delta president Jessica Tran said. 

Alpha Epsilon Delta is the largest pre-medical honor society at UH. 

“(The Virtual Involvement Fair is) much more quiet and there is less excitement,” Tran said. 

The virtual delivery method created certain barriers to socialization and communication between students and organization leaders. 

“Most of the time, students would show up in the organization’s channel with no camera or they were muted, so as officers, it’s a very abnormal way of socializing,” Tran said.

The absence of face-to-face discussion with prospective members was unprecedented for the event, but some students would be interested in similar events held in the future. 

“I think having the ability to attend a virtual Cat’s Back without being on campus is very convenient for people that live off campus,” biochemistry sophomore Aryaman Ravi said.

“When things go back to normal, I think it would be nice to have a Cat’s Back and a Virtual Involvement Fair.” 

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