The University of Utah is considered a “commuter campus,” as most of its students live off-campus, but that doesn’t stop the U from offering clubs, organizations and activities to bring students together. PlazaFest is the first big effort of the year made by the U where different student and community groups can advertise their clubs, attract new members and meet up with old friends among a student population of around 33,000.
PlazaFest is a yearly event that takes place on the first Wednesday of every school every year. Many of the over 550 student organizations show up and table on the back lawn of the A. Ray Olpin Union, hoping to convince passing students to join their club. Whether they try to rope students in with friendly faces or a plethora of free food, the entire goal is to build a community. There is a wide range of clubs and organizations that table at PlazaFest, from the Men’s Soccer Club to Antioch College Ministry to the Super Smash Bros Club.
Students walked around the many different tables with various organizations hoping to find friends that share a common interest. A fifth-year mechanical engineering student, Hayden Brady, said that the main thing he was looking for our of campus organizations at PlazaFest was “friendship and community.” Brady added, “College is the time when you are around the most amount of people but you’re also in the loneliest period of your life when you left home and don’t have a family to be around anymore.”
PlazaFest wasn’t just for clubs with a specialized interest like quidditch or snow sports but for also well-known organizations like ASUU and the office of Greek life. Senior kinesiology major Lisa Gray was tabling for Greek life and said that it was a “great way to get involved on campus and meet friends.”
Ryan Rhodes, the Student Organizations Coordinator with the Office of Student Leadership and Involvement, said that the entire reason for organizing plaza fest was “to give new students and returning students face-to-face time with the organizations and find involvement opportunities”. Rhodes said that it is equally as important for seniors as it is to freshmen to get involved with an organization on campus — not only to build friendships, but because employers are looking at what prospective employees were involved with in college.
For those who were unable to attend PlazaFest, Rhodes says not to fret. Anyone interested in getting involved on campus can go to getinvolved.utah.edu to browse the 550 student clubs and organizations on campus. If any student can’t find an organization that interests them, that student can start their club by going to leadership.utah.edu and following the steps under the “Start an Org” tab.