Wayne State’s FestiFall annually marks the fall return to campus by bringing together students in Gullen Mall, giving them the opportunity to explore student organizations, university departments and learning communities. 

Following WSU’s policies regarding in-person events, FestiFall has moved online. 

The event will take place on Sept. 1 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Get Involved. Student Organizations who want to participate must register for the event by Aug. 28. 

Online FestiFall is not ideal, but during the COVID-19 pandemic it’s all about keeping those involved safe, Dean of Students David Strauss said. 

“We’ve got to look out for each other. Warrior safe is Warrior strong and we’ve got to keep our campus safe,” he said. 

Organizers said they hope the virtual experience can mirror the in-person event, with the help of everyone’s involvement. 

“My biggest concern is, I just hope that we have so many student organizations and departments registered for the virtual event so that our students that are hopping on during the event actually get the same vibe and experience as a regular (in-person) FestiFall,” Coordinator of Student Engagement Brandon Shamoun said. 

Student organizations are concerned the change of format will hinder their ability to connect with new members. 

“When they're (students) at FestiFall, they can walk around from booth, to booth, to booth and get a feel for things and see what draws them,” said Cassidy Woods, WSU chapter president of Best Buddies International. “So, I think that's definitely going to be more difficult because if it's online, or like on a website or something, they can just scroll right past it.”

Best Buddies International is a nonprofit made up of volunteers that create friendship opportunities and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, according to their Get Involved page. 

A lack of participation and enthusiasm from students is also one of Shamoun’s concerns, he said. 

“We're hoping that we advertise this just as much and we get as many students to participate as if we were in person,” he said. 

While the pandemic has limited much of what makes campus life interesting, WSU is trying their best to engage students —especially incoming students, Strauss said.

“Is it the optimal welcome for a new student to the university? No. Are we going to make lemonade out of lemons to the best that we're able? Yes. And are we going to hopefully make up for it when we're able to come out of this pandemic? Yes,” he said. 

For more information, visit FestiFall 2020’s Get Involved page.

 Alanna Williams is a correspondent for The South End. She can be reached at featuresreportertse@gmail.com

Photo courtesy of WSU Dean of Students Office.