SOVO Fair 2010
(published August 2010 The Commonwealth Times)
Students awaited the opening of the Student Organization and Volunteer Opportunities Fair at the Stuart C. Siegel Center this Friday with a buzz of anticipation. Before the fair officially opened it’s doors at 3:00, students eagerly crowded the entrance clutching goldenrod colored diagrams of the arena bellow, and VCU USCA reusable bags that would later be filled with brochures and giveaways.
New students like Art Foundation freshmen Natasha Kovacs were excited to get to the fair and get the scoop on what exactly there is to be involved in at VCU. “I just want to see what clubs there are. I don’t know what I want to do exactly; maybe I’ll find like a German Club or something that might make me change my major. You never know.” Kovacs is interested in trying something new, like a Ballroom Dance Club.
Keiara, another new student, waited too, hoping to find a volunteer organization that she could become involved in. “I am interested in all kinds of things. I really want to be involved because I want to do things for my community.”
As the doors opened, students poured into the floor of the arena, instantly crowding tables and grabbing the first giveaways they could get their hands on. Colorfully decorated tables were covered in fluorescent and attention grabbing brochures and posters. Students were offered many free grabs, like t-shirts and gym bags, snacks like popcorn, cookies, queso and candy, colorful bracelets and even condoms as handouts at the fair. Walking from table to table, students picked up everything they could find in the groups that interested them.
Ramifications a cappella choir member Amy Girardi eagerly encouraged approaching students to sign up for an audition. Ramifications, formerly known as the Compass Singers is a relatively new group to VCU that is serious about getting new members to audition and try something new. “So many people love to sing and love a cappella, and we’re here to help them out,” said Girardi. Lucien Kastivo, a representative from the Shafer Alliance Laboratory Theater (SALT) agreed, saying, “We haven’t been able to advertise much in the past because our organization was only open to theater majors. But now that we’ve changed our policies, we’re really hoping to get more students involved.” SALT ran more than 20 student productions last year, and had an average member base of about 50. Kastivo expressed his hopes this year for many more new members, and as his first time ever attending the SOVO fair, he was very surprised by the many other student organizations available to students. “It is so important for students [to be involved]. I wish I did this before; I never knew all of this existed.”
Alongside the special interest organizations like Quiddich Club, running clubs, fraternities, cultural clubs and even a club for scrabble players, were volunteer and service organizations. Another key component to student involvement at VCU, said Richmond Department of Justice Services Cultural Enrichment Coordinator Rosalind
Battle, is giving back to the community. “I’m here to let our students know about the volunteer and internship opportunities in our area. They want to be civically aware and civically engaged. And after all that we have received we need to give back too.” Area organizations like the Bon Secours Hospice, Virginia Supportive Housing, Cheseapeake Bay Foundation, the Children’s Museum of Richmond and many other groups had tables at the SOVO fair to give information to students about the local opportunities to volunteer. “We’re giving out a lot of info and contact information, a lot of networking, but I’m also here enjoying watching the beautiful youth, and to encourage them,” said Battle. “I’m happy to be in the same atmosphere and to find out about a lot of services and programs available to VCU students that I didn’t know about before. I can take this information back to my department and can spread their info out to city agencies and can share that with the families we’ve served, or at least point them in the right direction.”
But the SOVO fair does not just help new VCU students get involved, it has also helped returning students, like senior Daniel Phan, get involved too. “I like to go around and see what other organizations are offering. There is a lot, and I’ve signed up for a lot of newsletters, just to see if I’m interested right now.” Phan, a mechanical engineering major, believes there is a lot students can gain from joining clubs, especially as freshmen. “I didn’t join anything my freshman year and I kind of regret it. It’s important, and I feel like freshmen don’t know what we have to offer. This really gives people a better perspective.”
As the SOVO Fair of 2010 came to a close at 6:00 on Friday, students left with heavy bags and lots of possibilities.