By Jesse Berlin
Pulsating beats from a DJ, a buzzing crowd and the occasional dancing student reinvigorated an annual event two years since its last edition.
Fall Fest, held Sept. 9, was half resource fair, half talent showcase. Hosted and organized by the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center (GOBCC), the Legion of Black Collegians (LBC) and the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), the event offered Mizzou students the opportunity to meet student organizations, learn about university resources and find out how to get involved on and off campus.
“It felt good to be able to put together Fall Fest at the full scale,” said NPHC President Isaiah Massey. “It honestly was just great to be able to put on a good experience for students on campus again and give them back those Black Mizzou traditions.”
Students strolled through the MizzouRec basketball courts where Fall Fest was held, learning about different campus departments, student organizations and local businesses. Some stopped to catch up with friends. Then the bleachers filled with people eager to watch student groups’ live performances, including a step show.
Attendees were able to enjoy performances by Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. as well as Freestyle Your Expression, the LBC Gospel Choir and ZOU Shake.
Senior Javier Kelly-Cuenca, who was at a table promoting MARC/IMSD, which provides students with research opportunities. “I love to see the diversity,” he said.
By coming to events like Fall Fest, he said, students can see all these organizations and discover new opportunities.
“You realize that Mizzou is a welcoming place, a place where students can thrive, where students can go to maximize their potential,” he added. “You realize, ‘Whoa, I’m not alone.’”
Senior Marjai Neal was at a table for LBC, the Black student government at Mizzou. She said she loved Fall Fest and considered it the highlight of the fall semester.
“You get to see all these beautiful Black faces,” Neal said. “When everyone starts stepping and coming together and having fun, the energy’s going to be electrifying.”
“I hope [students] get more involved,” she added. “I hope they see all the things that Black Mizzou has to offer, and they find a home on this campus and a community that they can belong to.”
Senior Jas Simmons, who works at GOBCC and helped plan this year’s Fall Fest, was happy to see it return after two years’ hiatus.
“I hope students know that there are resources out there for them,” said Simmons. “I hope they find a resource that they connect to. I hope that they also make connections because that’s what it’s all about.”
Senior Corinne Baum, who was a table for Mizzou Hillel, one of Mizzou’s Jewish student organizations, liked the atmosphere and catching up with people she hadn’t seen since her freshman year.
“I’m hoping students get more educated on what we have to offer at Mizzou and how diverse Mizzou truly is,” said Baum. “It’s a really vibrant community, if you know where to look.”