For new and returning students alike, the first week of fall begins the search for an on-campus job, off-campus work experience, or student groups. For students looking for any combination of the three, today might be difficult to manage. The Columbia Activities Fair, the Barnard Job and Internship Career Fair, and the Barnard Student Employment Fair all overlap between noon and 2 p.m. this afternoon. Due to a lack of coordination between different offices on both sides of Broadway, many students must split their priorities as they will be hard-pressed to attend all three events.
By scheduling three overlapping fairs on Friday, Barnard and Columbia are forcing students to choose between opportunities. This lack of coordination will not only make it physically impossible for many students to attend all three fairs, but will also add unnecessary stress to an already overwhelming process. First-years should not have to run between College Walk and LeFrak Gymnasium to meet potential employers or explore extracurricular opportunities. Upperclassmen should not have to choose between networking for future career prospects and recruiting new members to their clubs. Full time and attention should be given to each respective fair.
In addition, holding the Columbia and Barnard activities fairs on different dates creates a needless division between the student clubs on campus and reinforces the unfortunate misconception that Columbia and Barnard students do not live, study, and work on the same campus. The justification for the division between the groups on College Walk and those in the Diana Event Oval is that the former is only open to groups overseen by SGB and ABC—Columbia’s umbrella councils for all non-Barnard student groups—and the latter is only open to groups under SGA, Barnard’s student government.
From the perspective of a potential club participant, though, the distinction is meaningless. To divide our student group community along such arbitrary lines sends a message that those clubs are somehow unequal or different from one another when most student groups have members from all four undergraduate schools and host events on both sides of Broadway. A single activities fair would give all organizations a fair and equal chance to recruit new members.
We recognize that space and time are hard to find at the beginning of the year. However, we hope that, in the future, the organizers responsible for these fairs can look to events like NSOP. The orientation program smoothly organizes large-scale events for all four undergraduate schools at the beginning of every year. There is no reason to see properly coordinated event planning end before the first full weekend of fall. The Barnard and Columbia activities boards and career centers should look to the NSOP planning committee for guidance on how to smoothly schedule multiple events in a short time frame and incorporate all four schools equally. Given that any scheduling change can be mimicked in subsequent years, a practical solution could effectively eliminate such administrative oversight for years to come.