Editor’s Note: Pat Hessman is an employee of ASMSU Campus Entertainment and helped plan the Pro Expo. He is also a member of a participating club.
Community engagement. When one hears these two mythic, resume-building words, typical things that come to mind tend to be Engineers Without Borders, the Network of Environmentally Conscious Organizations (NECO) or the philanthropic activities of the MSU Greek system. There are of course many, many more examples. Extra-curricular involvement of MSU students benefits causes at home and on the other side of the planet.
Yet, what is often overlooked is that community engagement can come in the form of joining together for recreation and enjoyment, and contribute to creating a unified MSU community just as effectively. On March 23rd, ASMSU Films, with assistance from the Exit Gallery and Campus Entertainment, held the second annual Pro Expo, best described as a mini-ComicCon. The Expo featured art galleries by local artists as well as events held by campus clubs, including Japan Club, QSA, Tactical Action Gaming, Hivemind and Anime Club. It was all topped off by a showing of “Pokémon: The First Movie”.
“But Mr. Opinionated Columnist Guy,” you say, “what do ‘90s nostalgia trips and nerds dressed up like cartoon characters have to do with community engagement?”
The Expo represented students from many different circles coming together to celebrate a common interest: in this case, nerd culture. They played board and video games together, compared costumes and shared a movie dear to the hearts and childhoods of many. In addition, people outside the student body attended, even some children. There is a word for this: community. The community was not formed by common cause, but by shared interest.
Chantell Bury, Director of ASMSU Films, said of the Expo, “College is about new experiences. ASMSU states their goal is to provide ‘diverse student oriented non-academic programs and services,’ and this is a perfect way to expand on that idea. Plus, it’s fun! Who doesn’t want to dress up as their favorite characters and see a nostalgic movie?”
The clubs participating in the Expo, plus many more across campus, promote community through common interest every week. Tactical Action Gaming, for example, brings together hundreds of students each semester with the “Humans vs. Zombies” game, currently on its third year. In the guise of a Nerf militia uprising, Students are given opportunities to meet and connect in an unique way they may not have had otherwise. “Humans vs. Zombies” games now are eligible for Champ Change points, showing just how far this game has come.
What these alternative organizations and causes provide our campus culture is diversity. Our student government states inclusivity for all MSU students as a priority, and events and clubs such as those mentioned in this article further that goal. ASMSU already does an excellent job in supporting a multitude of diverse student clubs and organizations through student activity funds. And due to the recent student organization fee increase, more money will be available to support clubs. Events such as the Pro Expo further our student body government’s goal to serve students of all walks of life and thus are worthy of ASMSU and student support for years to come.