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Saturday, September 24, 2022

Virtual student organization fair will broaden access despite undergraduate restrictions

Despite the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, students will still connect with the Madison community, and each other, at this year's virtual Student Organization Fair on Wednesday and Thursday.

This event follows Chancellor Rebecca Blank’s announcement limiting all undergraduate gatherings to only “essential activities.”

The fair, organized at the beginning of each new semester, will be hosted on the Wisconsin Involvement Network (WIN). However, going online does not mean there will be more restrictions; in fact, it means quite the opposite, according to the university. 

“This is a great opportunity for students at any point in their educational career, even graduate and professional students, to connect with great out of classroom learning and engagement opportunities,” Assistant Director of Organization Advising & Technology TJ Sargent said. “Specifically, this is a wonderful opportunity to build community and find other students who have similar interests.”

Students will have the opportunity to interact with more organizations than ever before. Not only will there be more organizations, as there are no physical limits on the internet, but this platform also allows for more flexibility and accessibility. 

“The virtual environment allows as many registered student organizations (RSOs) as are interested to participate,” said Sargent. “In the Kohl Center, we are limited to about 400.” 

Attendees will be able to choose from 14 different categories of RSOs, including Arts/Music, Activism/Advocacy and Service/Volunteer. 

“Unlimited space and opportunities to move through interactions and connections in a self-paced environment will be helpful for students visiting the fair,” said Sargent. “This is a great way to be able to connect with someone in real time in a one-on-one type scenario.”

To meet with representatives from an organization, students will be directed to join a virtual meeting based on the format the organization uses, such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. After the student meets with the organization’s representatives, they are able to return to the fair to meet with other organizations.

“The choice of platform and opportunity to share personal spaces and items will allow these groups to still show what makes them interesting and exciting,” said Sargent. 

Students can tune in from 5–8p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday through the linked pages. The event, no matter the location or format, will draw numerous diverse students and organizations together. 

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