Heather Schaefer spun the wheel not once, not twice, not three, but four times.
Every time she tried, she landed on the pesky “try again” spot. She and her friend laughed in disbelief every time the wheel told her to try again, until it landed on the “#SWAG” spot. Schaefer could then choose from a box of different items provided by the Department of Student Involvement, which hosted the Spring Get Involved Fair.
For a chance to spin the wheel, located just outside the Clearwater-Whitewater Room of the University of Idaho Commons Wednesday afternoon, Schaefer had to log into her VandalSync account with the guidance of Student Engagement Coordinator, Lynsie Clott.
“(VandalSync) is basically a centralized platform that the university is using to centralize all the different on-campus activities, different service opportunities and student organizations,” she said.
Though the university has used VandalSync for several years and every student automatically has an account, Clott said she is constantly introducing students to its benefits.
“Anyone who is sitting around saying, ‘There’s nothing to do on campus, I don’t know what to do’ — that hurts our ears when we hear things like that,” Clott said. “There is a lot to do, they just might not know that this is a really helpful phone application and platform that we use.”
Aside from the opportunity to promote VandalSync, Clott said the Spring Get Involved Fair is meant to get students and clubs “mingling” in a face-to-face setting. That mingling took place in the Clearwater-Whitewater Room where tables covered in swag and poster boards lined the room, accompanied by talkative club representatives.
Though Schaefer heard about the Spring Get Involved Fair because she came to table for the Black Widow women’s rugby club, she still took time to walk around and look at every organization that attended. The sophomore said she found several clubs she hadn’t known existed on campus.
“It was good to go around and see what everyone has going on, and new things we can join now that everyone is kind of figuring out your schedule and everything,” she said. “In the beginning (of the semester) I feel like people are like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m going to do all this stuff,’ but then they’re like, ‘I’m so stressed out, I can’t.’ And now you know how your classes are and know what you have time for.”
One new club Schaefer discovered and signed up for was Pink Gloves Boxing at UI, which is an international organization dedicated to female empowerment — although club president Becky Walters said all genders and orientations are welcome to join.
Walters, who transferred from Washington State University, said the club is new at UI, but she’s been a part of Pink Gloves for almost five years. She said Pink Gloves is a no-contact boxing club, meaning the emphasis is on learning combos to then practice on heavy bags and circuit training.
“The thing I love about Pink Gloves is that it’s a real solid community,” Walters said. “We’re focused on revealing the champion from within each other.”
Walters said she came to the Spring Get Involved Fair to build that community at UI. New clubs like Pink Gloves attended Wednesday’s fair, and so did fair frequenters, like the Center for Volunteerism and Social Action.
Alternative Service Break Coordinator Cailin Bary attended the fair to promote several of the organization’s initiatives, including the Vandal Food Pantry and upcoming spring ASB trips.
“We’re always trying to table, trying to get the word out about things that we do, so we love all the opportunities we have through (the Department of Student Involvement),” she said.
Bary said she’s been to a handful of these fairs, including variation events like Palousafest and UIdaho Bound, as both a club representative and regular attendee. She said students shouldn’t hesitate to attend these events and initiate conversations.
“Stop on by, wander by, talk to people. From the perspective of the person who tables, I love the person who stops by and asks, ‘Hey, what do you do?’” she said. “Just come talk, I’ll let you know what we’re up to, and then you can move on with your day and you’ve learned a little more about things there are to do on campus. You never know what you’re going to find.”
Lyndsie Kiebert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @lyndsie_kiebert