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Congratulations to the Class of 2024!

Annual ‘Block Party’ draws more than 200 students to check out student clubs

Christalyn Barker
Quadball captains, Brady Charles and Maverick Wolf explain quadball to interested students during SOC Block Party event, on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024.

The Student Organization Council held its annual Block Party, formerly known as the Student Involvement Fair, on Wednesday, Feb. 21 at the Student Center.

According to SOC coordinator Allen Lucas, the event gave a chance for clubs and organizations to showcase what they do. About 200 students came to check out the 34 clubs represented. Each club got a table, a few representatives and flyers for the prospective members in the 5th floor event space. 

Stefanie Valle-Aguilera, sophomore fine arts major and vice president of Latino Student Alliance, said she wanted students to know about a community on campus they can turn to in the way that she did upon arriving to Columbia College from Mexico. 

“I was just looking to find people I feel represented and safe with,” she said. “Since my first language is Spanish, I just wanted to have a community that will understand and won’t judge me because of my accent. So, I went to the first meeting and I just fell in love with everything. People were so welcoming, and it felt like a family.” 

Norma Espinoza, senior fashion design major and member of the Latino Alliance, relates to the younger members who have similar experiences to her as a way to bond with others in the club and strengthen their community.

After moving to Chicago from Utah to attend Columbia, she found herself in a similar position of loneliness that she sees in first year students.

“I knew how it was to be very isolated,” she said. “So seeing the freshmen that come in experiencing that, I let them know that it’s not forever, you’ll be alright and you’re a part of the community here. It’s so important to have an outreach with people that share the same cultural background; it changes your perspective on everything.”

LSA is only one of several clubs at Columbia targeted towards celebrating culture. Mari Taleff, fine arts major and member of Asian Student Organization, represented the club on Wednesday night to invite others to celebrate the inclusive and “pan-Asian,” group that makes up ASO, as described by Taleff.

“Our organization is open to both Asian students and allies,” she said. “We just think it’s really fun to create a community where people can just chill, hangout with each other, create friends and celebrate Asian culture while doing that. ASO is a great way to do that, so we wanted to share it with everyone.”  

Like culture, the array of topics covered by clubs at Columbia create communities through their specific interests, as noticed by Alex Castiglia, freshman music business major and DJ club member.

Castiglia saw the importance of being at Block Party, not only to represent their own club, but for students to connect with those who share unique interests. Castiglia is driven by his passion for music production to share his love for DJing with other students with any level of experience. 

“It’s a way for any type of music to be shared and performed,” he said. “The sharing of music that comes with DJing and leading a crowd, in terms of music, is something very special.” Castiglia said.  

More music-based clubs also had tables Wednesday night, one of which being Rock and Roll Productions, co-founded by Claire Hanam, junior contemporary jazz performance major and co-president. Hanam said the club wanted to put the name of their newly-founded club out there for students to share their love of rock music through live performance. 

According to Hanam, its mission is to collaborate with other students to “bring more rock-n-roll to the music department,” Hanam said, as well as helping students network to help pursue their musical interests professionally.

Tyler Harding, senior film and television major and president of Student Government Association, represented the association to “improve transparency and elevate voices around campus,” Harding said.

“We’re here to get people involved in SGA, but we also want people to know SGA is a resource for students,” Harding said. “If they have ideas of how to make Columbia a better place, we are where you can turn to. All of our meetings are open to the public, and filled with a room full of people that are really passionate about Columbia and change.”

After all of the hard work put in by the clubs both throughout the year and at the Block Party event, Lucas sees the payoff when attending the event after coordinating it.

 “It’s always nice to see so many students gather, that are enjoying [the event] and that get to sign up for different groups,” Lucas said. “I really am super proud of the team for everything that they’ve put together.”  


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About the Contributors
Sofía Oyarzún, Bilingual Reporter
soyarzun@columbichronicle.com   Sofia Oyarzún is a first-year photojournalism and journalism double major. Oyarzún joined the Chronicle in January 2024.   Hometown: Glenview, Illinois
Christalyn Barker, Photojournalist
cbarker@columbiachronicle.com   Christalyn Barker is a senior photojournalism major, minoring in music business. Barker has covered campus events such as Convocation, Acoustic Kitchen performances, and metro events. She joined the Chronicle in August 2023.   Hometown: Dearborn, Michigan