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Students Set Up Alternative Freshers’ Fair

Image: Oxford Open Freshers’ Fair logo, ‘Open Freshers Fair’ on a yellow background like a car numberplate with ‘Oxford’ in a pink to blue gradient box above it at an angle.

Members of the University have established a virtual Oxford Open Freshers’ Fair to supplement the official Student Union fair.

According to the Facebook page, the virtual event is an opportunity for Oxford University students to discover over a hundred student societies across music, sport, careers and more.

This comes after the number of stalls available at the official Oxford Freshers’ Fair, organised virtually by the Student Union in replacement of their traditional in-person event, was limited, with some societies unable to receive a place. The number of stalls available was previously limited to 220 virtual stalls, with a majority reserved for clubs and societies and some reserved for commercial stalls.

Speaking to the Flete, the Oxford SU Communications Coordinator said:

“We have chosen to allocate stalls by ballot from the clubs and societies that applied through our website. As Freshers Fair is an SU event, we have also reserved stalls for all our campaigns, as well as for groups who seek to provide community or equal representation for students who are marginalised or underrepresented on the basis of their identity.”

The representative also added that the number of student stalls may increase, based on their commercial income between sign-ups and the event. She further added that “our sole aim is to welcome new students, support the student body to build community, and to allow as many students to engage with us safely and effectively.”

Speaking to The Flete, Peter Wallich, one of the organisers of the Open Freshers’ Fair, stated:

“The Oxford SU virtual freshers’ fair has to break even, and the service that the SU chose apparently charges per virtual stall. As a result, many societies haven’t been able to get virtual stalls, including mine (InsideUni Oxford). I thought it would be great if students could access all these societies too, so have been working with friends and with a growing group of interested societies to create a simple, low-cost, scalable ‘Open Freshers’ Fair’. The current plan is for student societies to be featured on a website that will include images, video intros, FAQs, and live video call options.”

The event aims to supplement the official Freshers’ Fair, providing a platform for societies that may otherwise not have had one. Wallich added:

“This is an experiment, but I’m excited. If we can give freshers more opportunities to interact with student societies in these challenging times, then I think that can only be a good thing.”

The online event will take place between the 4th and the 10th of October, with two Live Video Chat Sessions. The Facebook Event can be found here.

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