O-Fest: Large crowds, mixed results

Last Thursday marked the time of year when more than 250 student organizations toil over colorful poster boards and peddle freebies in exchange for potential members’ contact information.

Organization Fest, or “O-Fest” as it is commonly called, is held each fall and spring semester and “offers students the opportunity to explore Marquette’s student organizations,” according to the Office of Student Development website.

Despite Thursday’s heat, students still made their way to Central Mall to learn about organizations both old and new.

Those in new organizations, like Aishah Al Fadhalah, a sophomore in the College of Health Sciences and vice president of the UNICEF Initiative at Marquette, find it difficult to recruit members, and appreciate the opportunity O-Fest brings.

“(It helps) for sure, especially for recruiting freshman,” Al Fadhalah said. We tried to meet last semester and recruit people but it did not work out. We had signs and everything but it was very hard.”

UNICEF was approved last semester, so this is their first semester in operation on campus. Finding new members has been a challenge for the organization, whose goal is to advocate, educate and do community service on behalf of children suffering across the globe, according to Al Fadhalah, a sophomore in the College of Health Sciences.

“We have our first meeting next week and are expecting maybe 10 people,” Alfadhalah said. “On the sign up sheet there are more than 30 (names), but not everyone shows up.”

Lara Johann-Reichart, president of the Step Up! Marquette Chapter also believes that without O-Fest, it would be extremely difficult to attract new members.

“It definitely is a great way to help put the organization out there and tell people what we’re about,” said Johann-Reichart, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences. “And being a new organization, it’s a great opportunity for us to have that platform, otherwise we might not be able to reach other people.”

Even the organizations with veteran status and a healthy membership appreciate O-Fest, but acknowledge it is not a necessity in their recruitment plans.

Alpha Chi Omega Sorority has been at Marquette for 24 years, and although they do not formally recruit at O-Fest, member Kirsten DeGuzman said it is a nice way to meet new people.

“I think it does open a lot of students up to the fact there are sororities on campus,” DeGuzman said. Though freshmen can’t rush until second semester, they really get a chance to see what sororities are out there, and whether or not they want to try it out in the spring.”

DeGuzman, a senior in the College of Health Sciences, said even though they don’t hand out anything particularly attention-grabbing other than informational leaflets, they get a good amount of interested people.

“We definitely look forward to O-Fest,” DeGuzman said. “It gives us a chance to talk with a variety of people, show what Greek life is on campus, craft our lovely board, look at old pictures and reminisce.”