On Friday, Sept. 8, Lewis & Clark hosted the 18th annual Student Engagement Extravaganza (SEE), formerly known as the Pio Fair, where 118 of the school’s 130+ student organizations tabled in the Academic Quad. Club leaders adorned their tables with banners, candy, stickers and themed paraphernalia to draw in the students who flooded into the area by the hundreds. These groups included academic interest organizations, affinity groups, club sports, social justice and service organizations, special interest organizations, spiritual life and student media.
New Student Orientation was packed with events from service days to drag, improv to fire arts shows, letters to future selves to the silent disco, but the festivities did not end there. Welcome Week kicked off the year in earnest. Sports games, a poster sale and a student market provided fun outlets as classes ramped up, but the SEE fair was the true pinnacle of community engagement.
Hunter Collins ’27 was one of the new students who attended the fair.
“I think it was well put together and organized in a way that made sense,” Collins said. “It was pretty easy to find everything and everybody that I talked to was friendly.”
Collins points out the intentional design of the fair was to create a dynamic flow. Starting from more academically focused organizations and moving to the athletic focused ones to social advocacy and so on as one ambles through the paths.
One might think activity fairs like this are only for new students to learn more about campus, but students of all years can get something out of this tradition. JR Saling ’24 attended the SEE fair and was happy to learn more about organizations they hadn’t yet interacted with.
“I made a lot of great connections with people on campus who were super kind and open about the opportunities we have here,” Saling said.
They were surprised to learn about the variety of clubs available. Many students do not realize just how many groups exist at LC until they are all set up in the same place.
“It was crazy to find out that we have two separate climbing clubs, as well as various gaming clubs,” Saling said.
Director of Student Engagement and Special Events Tamara Ko played a critical role in organizing the SEE fair. She sees it as a gateway to welcome students into pockets of LC they might not even have known existed.
“The student experience is very important; it plays a great role in retention,” Ko said. “It brings students onto campus but it also matters in keeping students on campus. If you come to campus and there aren’t events that are inclusive, there aren’t events in which you can see yourself there, then I think it doesn’t build a connection to the campus.”
Ko also does key work connecting Student Engagement staff with students in leadership positions to build a strong network of opportunities for all students.
“I think the role that student engagement plays is really important especially in working with our student organizations, who are instrumental in creating those inclusive events for all of our students,” Ko said. “That means making sure that student leaders are equipped with resources, that they know where they can go to ask questions and plan things.”
The change from Pio Fair to SEE follows a larger trend of LC organizations renaming themselves to eliminate the presence of the school’s name and mascot, which some see as upholding a colonialist legacy. Examples of such changes include
Associated Students of Lewis & Clark changing to Associated Student Body and The Pioneer Log changing to The Mossy Log. Ko elaborated on why Student Engagement chose to rename the fair.
“I was looking for a way to increase marketing for student engagement so that students would actually know who planned the fair,” Ko said. “I think a lot of folks who went to Pio fair didn’t actually know who was in charge of the fair. It was still a great event but we’re trying to build more of a brand for student engagement.”
Although LC is home to many student organizations already, gaps between what students want and need may not continue to fit what these clubs provide. This year’s freshman class is the most diverse in LC history, and they may bring new perspectives to what the college is lacking.
“The needs and interests shift as the student body shifts,” Ko said. “There are some (clubs) that need to be present all the time, like our affinity groups, and then I think as our student body changes we have to learn how to adapt to those needs. Since we just started with a new class I haven’t gotten to know them well enough to know what they are wanting or needing.”
New students are always encouraged to share their ideas about what they want to see in our school. They are the student leaders of tomorrow, and what they lead shouldn’t just be handed down to them, but grow and expand in the process.
If you missed the SEE fair, this isn’t your only opportunity to learn about campus activities. There is a smaller activities fair that happens in the spring in Stamm Dining Hall. Composed of about 20-30 tables, this fair prioritizes newer organizations which formed after the SEE fair occurred.