Over 40 organizations came together in Lowell Dining Hall last night for the Women’s Community Fair, an event created to offer female students an opportunity to find organizations they might have missed in their first weeks on campus.
Co-sponsored by the Harvard College Women’s Center and the Seneca—an all-female student group—the fair provided a lively atmosphere with food and raffles.
“It’s a fun, casual event where people feel comfortable discussing ideas and getting to know people interested in the same things,” said Michelle M. Parilo ’10, the president of the Seneca.
Tables represented a wide range of women’s organizations, including social clubs, service groups, and pre-professional societies, such as Harvard Undergraduate Women In Business.
The event also featured single-sex groups, such as three sororities, which are not officially recognized by Harvard. Information about the resources available for women on campus were provided by representatives from Planned Parenthood, Drug and Alcohol Peer Advisers (DAPA), and mental health organizations.
Lei’La’ R. Bryant ’11, the Seneca’s Women’s Outreach Committee Chair. said that the fair was a “chance for women on campus to take another closer look at what organizations are going to be really welcoming and want to see more women involved.”
But though many women attended from participating organizations, Bryant said she wished the event had gotten higher attendance from those outside the student groups.
It was “sad that we didn’t get a huge turnout of people coming who were not directly involved in groups already,” she said, adding that, even so, the opportunity to interact with other groups was valuable in itself.
Noor Iqbal ’10, who is involved with the non-profit group Circle of Women, which aims to promote women’s education in the developing world, said that past fairs had allowed her group to make a connection with the student group Women in Business, which helped increase her group’s overall effectiveness.
Iqbal added that last night was “a great forum to see what else is out there to form central partnerships for collaboration.”
Attendee Susan J.G. Reed ’12 said she found the experience worthwhile for the glimpse it gave of the sheer number of women’s groups on campus. “It was pretty empowering to see that there are this many groups focusing on women,” she said.
The Women’s Center and the Seneca will bring together many of these organizations again in the spring as part of Women’s Week, an annual event featuring discussions, speakers, and workshops that bring light to women’s issues at Harvard and around the world.