Online activities carnival receives mixed reviews from students

Students fill the K-State Union Grand Ballroom for the 2015 Union Expo and Activity Carnival on Aug. 27, 2015. This year, the event was held entirely online. (Archived photo by George Walker | Collegian Media Group)

Though the K-Sate Student Union opened at the beginning of the semester, its capacity didn’t allow for the Center for Student Involvement to hold its activities carnival in-person as in the past.

On Wednesday, the second activities carnival of this semester was held via Zoom to help students connect with clubs and organizations at Kansas State. Normally, there is only one during the first week of classes.

Ashley Douglass, program coordinator for CSI, said her office saw the need for two activities carnivals in order to “give students as many opportunities to get involved with student groups and around campus.”

The carnival was a one-hour event in which students could join Zoom calls with representatives from organizations listed on the CSI website.

Hunter Parker, senior in theatre, said holding the event online was a great way to expand membership in student organizations.

“[It] lets us reach out to those who are back in their hometowns because they can still Zoom in and see us,” Parker said.

Fully online events also have their challenges, Zach Newman, senior in architectural engineering, said.

“It’s hard to have an interactive group conversation when only one person can really talk over Zoom,” he said.

This social disconnect, Newman said, made this year’s carnival a bit underwhelming for him.

Newman is part of K-State’s Engineers Without Borders and said prior to COVID-19, his organization set up tables at the Union and Kramer Dining Center to recruit. He said the lack of opportunities for in-person engagement has impacted the organization’s membership.

The online activities carnival replaced walking between tables and starting casual conversations with scrolling through a list to find the exact club students might be interested in. While some students preferred the in-person event, many saw the advantages to the COVID-19-conscious version.

“We know it is a tough time for students to try to figure out how to get active and involved on campus,” Douglass said.

Douglass said she encourages students to get involved and reach out to herself or Sara Heiman, assistant director for the CSI, with any questions or for help finding a “niche” at K-State.