featured-column / Student Life

Hunter Kicks Off Fall Semester with Club Fair, Carnival

Hunter College celebrated its return to in-person classes with the annual club fair and carnival on 69th Street. Despite the 90 degree heat, students lined up, wrapping around Thomas Hunter Hall anxiously waiting to see the clubs, get something to eat, and hopefully snag any free items being handed out. 

The Undergraduate Student Government gave out sticky note pads and purple totes, while the Division of Student Affairs handed out blue and pink insulated grocery bags, phone sanitizers and anti-bacterial wipes–additional reminders of the looming pandemic.

At least 1,800 students participated in the event throughout the day, according to the student affairs office. Only vaccinated students were allowed to enter and with a maximum of 500 students at a time. Students had to prove their vaccination status before entering the carnival by tapping their  IDs, as they do to enter the building. Smith oversaw the process to make sure it went smoothly. 

“We just needed to make sure that only vaccinated people could get in here, that’s the most important thing, and we were able to do it,” said Director of Student Affairs, Miesha Smith.

This level of COVID-19 safety measures helped ease some students’ nerves. “I do like that they are requiring vaccines and tests for students, it makes me feel more comfortable here,” said Julianna Najarro, a computer science and economics major.

However, the senior had some mixed feelings about being back on campus. “I am really excited to see my friends and learning is easier in person,” said Najarro. “But I am concerned that people aren’t going to take the proper precautions,” such as social distancing and consistently wearing masks. 

This was a common feeling among students. Freshman Melanie Magdaleno had some reservations about being back on campus. “I’ve been used to distancing myself a lot being online. I’m happy to be back, but it still feels a bit odd with COVID  kind of increasing a little bit,” said Magdaleno. “I’m not sure how it’s going to end up.”

Others, like sophomore Hans Chaudry, was very happy to be back on campus. “Everyone seems to be following the rules,” said Chaudry. “I just wanted to get involved and meet new people. It’s been hard to do that when we were online.” 

The fair provided opportunities for students to catch up. A few students shouted out names of friends, ran towards each other and then hugged. Fifty clubs were represented along the length of the North Building between Park and Lexington Avenue, including the Vietnamese Student Alliance, the Pre-Veterinary club, Hunter Hillel, the Palestine Solidarity Alliance of Hunter College and She’s the First.

The new semester brings hope for in-person events for club members, for the first time in 19 months.  “It was pretty difficult, not a lot of people interacted,” said Najarro, a member of the Queer Student Union, about the virtual club events.

However, being back in person had its own challenges. “I’m excited to see all the new faces, but I’m also really hot,” said Najarro, who was working at the QSU’s booth, as the temperature read 92 degrees with high humidity. 

Students were required to wear their masks, and almost all of the students complied with this policy. “Whoever I’ve been telling to put their mask up has been listening to me and everyone is working with coordinance,” said Ariana Ahmed, a junior senator for USG..

“All of this is so great,” said Ahmed. especially that we are the only CUNY hosting an event this big and this early on in the semester.”

Students rejoiced during this small return to normalcy by signing up for clubs, getting airbrushed T-shirts and reconnecting with classmates that they have not seen since March 2020. As the event winded down, it began to lightly rain and Rhianna’s “Work” was blasting down the block loudly announcing the comeback of Hunter College and its students to the Upper East Side. 

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