Saint Mary’s Spring 2021 Involvement Fair premiered with virtual platform Discord that features new ways of connecting students with each other.
By Evan Rodrigues
This past Wednesday, Feb 10, SIL (Student Involvement and leadership) and AS (Associated Students) hosted the Spring 2021 Involvement Fair. The event was held over Discord, a platform designed for virtual group communication. While video calling is within Discord’s capabilities, the Involvement Fair made use of text and voice channels. Each organization had its own channel, or chatroom, where students could stop by and ask questions. Club executives were also able to send links to upcoming events or interest surveys, among other things. In the voice channels, students were able to get even more of a feel for what interacting with a club might be like.
Two of the individuals responsible for putting the event together shared what it was like interacting with a platform that, for most, is less familiar that Zoom. Accounting for the possible lack of comfort someone might experience when using Discord for the first time, they held a Discord tutorial the day prior. Julia Hammer from SIL, having experience using Discord in the past, helped deliver a great introduction to the platform. “I’m just hoping,” Hammer said, “that both the tutorial and Involvement Fair were helpful to everyone who participated. At SIL we’re really trying to make getting involved as easy as possible since events haven’t been in person as much and it can be a challenge to know where to reach people.”
Hammer shared some insight into the decision to try Discord, saying “While Discord probably wasn’t as familiar to everyone as Zoom, it does offer a lot more options.” For example, event guests and organization execs could both jump from various voice channels as well as participate in multiple text channels simultaneously.
Kameryn Gubera, Vice President of Student Organizations, was also involved in the planning of the Discord tutorial and the involvement fair. VP Gubera shared her perspective on the events, saying “We had a really great showing, as far as using a new platform. A lot of people were able to log on and participate.” It seems that, despite the stressful nature of using unfamiliar software, the event was a success. Both Hammer and VP Gubera expressed that they are hopeful student organizations will make more use of Discord for future meetings and events.
The student organizations also worked well with the platform, using text channels to share links, photos, and more. The server was set up in a way that grouped club channels depending on the type of club. The groupings included Student Life, Diversity Orgs, Culture and Community Based, Academic Orgs, Media and Tech, Outdoors and Recreation, and Philanthropy. On the text channels separated by the aforementioned groupings, execs were able to gather and share contact information with ease. Some organizations had larger text paragraphs welcoming guests to their text channels, while others shared that they were ready and willing to answer questions.
Maddi from the IC wrote, “The Intercultural Center is looking forward to an amazing lineup of programs and events this semester! All folks from the SMC community are welcome to join our events and programs, and we are available to chat and answer any questions during our weekly virtual office hours called IC Cafe.”
Maya from Native American and Indigenous Student Association (NAISA) shared, “our general body meeting is on the 19th at 6pm and Mexica New year is our upcoming event on March 12th 6-8pm . . . it’s a collab with La Hermandad. We're having guest speaker Jose Islas from Mexico teach us about the meaning of this new year and how the Anahuacan count functions and lead us in a prayer for the new year.”
This is just a fraction of the information shared during the event, and does not fully represent the diversity of student organizations at Saint Mary’s College. If you missed the event and are curious about getting involved with an organization, check out the Saint Mary’s College of California website SIL page, or go to https://stmarys-ca.campuslabs.com/engage/organizations.
Ryan Ford '23,