Instead of thousands of students and hundreds of organizations gathering at Hooker Fields and South Road for FallFest, UNC has opted for an online approach to help students get involved on campus this semester.
This week the Carolina Union is hosting SmallFest 2.0, UNC’s virtual adaptation of the Student Organizations Spring Involvement Fair, which is traditionally held in the Great Hall. During the week-long virtual event, students can join participating organizations’ unique Zoom links to hear members introduce their organizations, talk about their experiences and answer questions.
Last August, the Union hosted its first SmallFest in which 597 students attended.
There are over 800 different registered groups to join at UNC, according to Heel Life’s list of student organizations, which can be intimidating to students new to campus. SmallFest 2.0 gives students a chance to feel connected on campus during UNC’s time as a primarily online university. At the event, students can attend as many calls as they would like.
“SmallFest 2.0 is held during the last week in January to create an avenue for students to interact with student organizations at the beginning of the semester to determine what the best fit may be for finding a smaller community related to their hobbies or future career goals,” said Lee Roberts, Carolina Union student organizations program coordinator. “It is crucial that all students and student organizations take advantage of this opportunity as the success of the program is dependent upon how much students engage with each other.”
On day one academic and honor societies, health and wellness, and faith and religion groups were highlighted.
Seniors Hailey Wall and Thea Boone hosted a SmallFest Zoom for UNC Delight Ministries. Although only two people joined the call during the one-hour session, it was still worth it to Wall to foster new connections.
“SmallFest – totally appreciate the efforts of Heel Life – but it’s just not the same,” Wall said. “It’s easier to pursue people who are interested during FallFest, whereas in SmallFest you’re relying on their interest in you alone and their willingness to seek you out.”
The second day featured service, environmental and student government groups.
Carolina Closet, an organization that gives students access to professional business attire, participated in SmallFest to find new volunteers and recruit new executive team members, President Morgan Thomas said. Without the one-on-one contact the organization would typically get with interested students during FallFest, it is harder for the group to demonstrate what they do, she said.
“Overall I hope our organization will gain exposure, and maybe even some people who are willing to donate their business attire to the organization,” Thomas said.
Here's what the rest of the week will look like:
- Wednesday: graduate and professional, media and gender and sexuality groups will be featured.
- Thursday: special interest groups, ideology and politics groups and sports clubs will present.
- Friday: students will hear from creative and performing arts groups, cultural and international groups, and fraternities and sororities.
Each night, SmallFest 2.0 is hosted online via Zoom from 5 to 6 p.m. RSVP for the event on the Heel Life website.
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