Pantherpalooza 2018: RSOs utilize event for recruitment; offer tips for new, shy students


Kristen Ed

Rachel Winslow, a sophomore elementary education major, signs her name to indicate interest in participating in Up ’Til Dawn, a fundraiser for St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital, at Pantherpalooza on Wednesday.

Hannah Shillo, Staff Reporter

Pantherpalooza filled the Grand Ballroom of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union Wednesday afternoon with inquiring students and knowledgeable representatives from the many different Registered Student Organizations on campus.

Pantherpalooza is meant to help organizations be visible, said Haley Pierce, a senior special education major and member of the Equestrian Team at Eastern.

“Many people don’t know that we exist, so Pantherpalooza helps us gain our members,” Pierce said.

Carson Gordon is a sophomore political science major serving in the student government as the Vice President of Academic Affairs, and like Pierce, Gordon said Pantherpalooza is great for getting students involved in organizations.

“I think (Pantherpalooza) definitely helps because you can put up marketing and posters and people will kind of glance at them,” she said.

“I think a lot of times you’re rushing on your way to class, so you don’t take the time to actually read what all the posters are saying about all the RSOs and all the activities that are going on.”

Gordon said the event is also helpful because it gives the organizations the chance to meet with students and tell them exactly what their specific organization is about.

“A lot of times, people hear ‘student government,’ and they’re like, ‘OK, so what do you guys actually do?’ so this gives us an opportunity to talk with people, get a feel for if we think people would be a good fit for student government, but also so they can see if we are a good fit for them,” she said. “It’s a great recruitment tool, not only for us but for any RSO.”

Emmaline Cler, a junior biology major and a Herpetology Club member, said she hoped Pantherpalooza would bring in more members and help people realize that snakes are not as scary as they may seem.

Margaret Thomas is a second-year graduate student at Eastern and founder of the Herpetology Club.

“We’re pretty new. I founded the club last year to spread interest and knowledge about reptiles and amphibians,” she said. “We’re kind of like little Steve Irwins.”

Megan Lomas, a graduate student in the one-year program and fellow Herpetology Club member, also sat with Cler and Thomas at the event.

“I think (Pantherpalooza) is a good idea because we can introduce people to the idea that reptiles and amphibians are actually really interesting,” she said. “They’re not the creepy, crawly things that people usually think they are.”

Hannah Bennett is a senior dietetics major and member of the Student Dietetic Association, and she said she has been at the past three Pantherpaloozas.

“It’s gone really well,” she said. “We’ve been able to get a lot of students (from Pantherpalooza), and this year we’re trying to branch out to students who aren’t fully dietetic students but are interested in the health field.”

Bennett said it is important to get involved in student organizations because being a part of a group can help with certain skills.

“I am the president (of the Student Dietetics Association) this year,” she said. “So it has helped me with (my) leadership, public speaking, organization and responsibility skills.”

In addition to helping with personable skills, Bennett said joining student organizations can help students make lifelong friendships.

“Being in a club, you can learn different skills,” she said. “You also make friendships with people that you never thought you would be friends with.”

Pierce said how getting involved in student organizations helps students make friends.

“You gain so many good friends through (getting involved),” she said. “I’ve gained some of my best friends through the Equestrian Team.”  

Gordon said while it is important to join clubs, sometimes new students may need a little time to adjust.

“Sometimes students need to take that first semester (for themselves) to not be in anything, and that’s okay,” she said. “Sometimes they’ll get to know people in their classes and find out that they’re in RSOs, so they can come to the spring Pantherpalooza and join something then.”

She also advised students to make sure they are ready when they join organizations.

“There isn’t really a rush, although I do think it’s a great opportunity for students to get involved as early as possible,” Gordon said. “They have to wait until they are comfortable, though, because that is when they’re really going to succeed in their positions.”

For students who may feel too nervous to attend an event like Pantherpalooza, Bennett said to talk to advisers about possible organizations to join.

“I was the exact same way my freshman year,” she said. “I was super shy and not wanting to get involved because I was scared, so I went to my adviser and my adviser told me about (the Student Dietetic Association).”

Bennett also said it is important for students to get out of their comfort zone.

“It’s about taking chances,” she said. “Taking that chance to join has led me to a path in my life that I never thought was possible.”

Hannah Shillo can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].