Chelsea Asplund/The AS Review
On Feb. 1, hundreds of students filled the Viking Union Multipurpose Room in between classes for the annual Campus Activities Showcase, a campus-wide event hosted by students, for students.
Similar to the annual Red Square Info Fair, which kicks off the school year every September, the Campus Activities Showcase gives clubs an opportunity to recruit new members during winter quarter, as well as share with others what they have done so far for the year.
“It’s mainly focused on clubs. We don’t get a lot of other offices around Western coming in. But that is why it’s so cool, it’s so much more student-oriented,” said Mikaela Trott, Associated Students club coordinator. “You don’t have the big corporations coming into Bellingham and overshadowing with their free pizza. This gives clubs a real chance to shine.”
Trott estimated there were between 500 and 600 people at the event throughout the day, more people than have ever attended before. Beyond the booths and free giveaways, the event also included several club performances from groups like the Glee Club, Swing Kids, Music for Change, as well as the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano/a de Aztlan, or MEChA, and the Filipino-American Student Associations. Rocket Donuts donated donuts and croissants and University Dining supplied beverages and coupons to students. Erin Baker’s Wholesome Baked Goods and PINKS Original Bakery also donated various freshly baked goods.
Kristen Rodgers of Western’s chapter of Run for Relief in Burma said it is events such as the Campus Activities Showcase that remind students it is never too late to join a club or organization, especially ones like Run for Relief, which didn’t get started until December.
“This showcase is a really good opportunity. You get a lot of people coming in, so many I would never run into normally. It’s a great way to get new people,” she said.
Run for Relief in Burma is a student-run club that coordinates an annual run to raise awareness and support for ethnic minorities under persecution in the Southeast Asian country of Burma. The five-kilometer “fun run,” which will take place in April, will be located at Lake Padden. The entry fee is $15 for Western students and $20 for community members.
Rodgers said the organization was started in Seattle by friends and relatives of relief workers who wanted to increase the awareness of issues in Burma, especially the abusive and repressive military regime.
The club raises awareness through the five-kilometer races because when villagers in Burma are forced out of their homes, and don’t have a choice but to run, according to the organization’s website.
The club focuses solely on planning the race in the spring, and currently meets monthly to organize, plan and raise money. As director of the race, Rodgers said they’re hoping to get a strong community involvement as well, and are going to work with other organizations such as the Fairhaven Runners and Walkers in order to do so.
“Bellingham is a very active community and we want to make a presence. I’m a business major so this is kind of a test for me to see if I can plan it, get it rolling, get all the details together,” she said. “This activities showcase is a huge help to us.”
Sophomore Cara Skillingstead said she wished the Campus Activities Showcase saw as much foot traffic as the Red Square Info Fair, but still appreciated the opportunity.
“I think events like these are awesome because they are such a good way for people to mingle with other clubs and be like ‘Whoa, this club is like my club. We should kick it!’” she said. “But the problem is so many people sign up for clubs and never actually go.”
Skillingstead is currently a co-coordinator of outreach programs for the Acts of Kindness Club, and said the showcase was a perfect opportunity to remind students they can still get involved.
“I think it is a reminder that more people should be involved, but I don’t think a lot of people know about it unless they’re upperclassmen,” she said. “I’ve come to find that the demographic most clubs are looking for is younger students to keep it going, but they don’t know about it.”
Skillingstead said the Acts of Kindness Club is shifting their focus this year to more community outreach and fundraising. They will be involved with environmental sustainability awareness programs for a “consumption week,” as well as volunteering and getting more involved in the greater Bellingham community, spreading happiness beyond campus.
Trott, who oversees clubs from their orientation to their constitution writing, said her favorite part of the process of planning the showcase was seeing clubs get involved that hadn’t participated in the past.
“I love seeing people get excited about [the showcase] and seeing people go out of their comfort zone trying to recruit new members was cool to see,” she said. “A huge part of the AS is the clubs, and they don’t always get the recognition they deserve. So to have something, just for them specifically, is just awesome."
For more information on current AS clubs, or to start your own, visit http://as.wwu.edu/clubs/.