Spring Activities Fair Shines Light on Student Organizations
As a new semester begins, representatives from more than 120 student organizations brought new goals to St. John’s University’s Spring Activities Fair on January 30th at the Taffner Field House on the Queens, NY campus.
As a steady stream of students perched the tables with posters, decorations, and freebies to keep them interested, representatives shared exciting plans for this semester and beyond. Some described challenges their organizations faced; others highlighted collaborations with other organizations for service opportunities.
One group was particularly pleased to be welcomed back into the active squad after more than four decades of inactivity. According to Junior Maya Bidiak, the newly founded Ukrainian Cultural Club was last active in the 1980s. Standing in front of a table adorned with a traditional Ukrainian tablecloth, Maya shared the reasons for the club’s resurgence and several upcoming activities aimed at boosting the students’ spirits and sense of community.
“With the outbreak of war last February, I felt it was really important to bring Ukrainians together on campus,” Maya said.
The one year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine is February 24th. The club, which is open to all students interested in Ukrainian culture, is planning a fundraiser to support those affected by the ongoing hostilities. Events include traditional Pierogi/Varenyky dinner nights as well as pysanka, an art form for decorating Easter eggs.
“We have many ideas including arts and crafts, presentations, film screenings and cooking nights,” Maya said.
Meanwhile, junior Cynthia Adebayo – from London, England but ethnically Nigerian – represented the African Students Association. She said the group is one of several student organizations looking to recognize Black History Month.
“We’re really about instilling a sense of home and belonging to the African community on campus,” she said.
Other Black History Month events include the Black and White Ball sponsored by Haraya, the pan-African student organization. The 31st edition of the formal event will take place on February 8th and will be themed “Old Black Hollywood”.
The Crafts Club, founded in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, offers Johnnies unique opportunities to relieve stress and boost mental health through arts and creativity.
“We started 2020 to provide students with a way to de-stress and unwind, especially during COVID-19,” said club representative Laiel Bravo. “We now personally continue to provide students with a way to have fun and disconnect from their academic life.”
Like Crafts Club, anime gaming club Meta uses creativity to help students connect with each other. Denise Maldonado, a junior from Texas, said the club’s spring semester plans include its annual cafe event. This year’s theme is “Pokémon.”
“We chose the theme because it still seems pretty popular and has been since the video game Pokemon Scarlet and Violet just came out,” Denise said.
The popular Chappell Players Theater Group is planning a spring performance of Drop Dead!, directed by club president Abby Ballard. Vice President John Castricone, a sophomore history student from Orange County, NY, said the group will also produce a children’s show.
“We will be inviting children from local elementary schools around Queens and showing them our theater,” John said. “Then we will put together a nice, short, thrilling show with them.”
Service and community building have been the focus of many clubs, rooted in the university’s Vincentian heritage. Carlos Baten, a 36-year-old sophomore and member of the Vincentian Community Club, said the Vincentian spirit is everywhere in St. John’s.
He added, “It’s nice to see we do different jobs, but in the end we’re all trying to do one thing — help others.”