BlastOff brings organizations and departments to students with new extended hours

Freshman Kennedy Matty enjoys a game of bubble soccer with friends on Manchester Field on August 22, 2018. 

McKenna Corson

Kent State’s BlastOff ceremonies gave students of all grade levels the opportunity to learn about student organizations and university departments for an extra hour and a half more than in previous years.

Following BlastOff and during the Glow Dance, Undergraduate Student Government announced Jesse McCartney to be the fall concert performer with a Sept. 27 concert date.

This year’s BlastOff featured about 315 tables representing various organizations and departments, said Rebecca Blaha, the event’s head.

“(The longer hours) give students more time to interact with the tables and get to know them,” said Blaha, who is the assistant director of the Center for Student Involvement. “We hope it gives students the opportunity to see what the campus has to offer. We hope for each student to get involved with at least one organization.”

Free food samples and entertainment dotted the Student Green as well as the outside of the Student Center. Tables filled with groups stretched down to Manchester Field, providing students with an assortment of refreshments and fun.

The 315 tables appealed to varying interests, ranging from groups with religious and political affiliations to sports clubs and Greek life.

Among the organizations was Kent State graduate Kaitlin Bennett standing at the Liberty Hangout table. 

Bennett went viral for her controversial graduation photos in May 2018, in which she posed with a high-powered semi-automatic rifle. 

Bennett, who had a hosltered gun and was accompanied by two police officers during the event, took pictures and interacted with students.  

The event, combined with the Glow Dance, served as the finale to KSU Kickoff, a four-day event-packed series to introduce freshmen to Kent State.

“It’s so much easier to have people talk to you in person than having to read all about these organizations in a pamphlet,” said Shayla Davis, a freshman public health major.

Davis saw the importance of having BlastOff the day before classes start as means to make new friends.

“Students can meet one another before classes start here and then join a club with these new friends or discover some of them to be in their classes the next day,” Davis said.

While some students see BlastOff as an opportunity to immediately get involved, others see it as a method to observe.  

“I came to check out the interesting clubs and events BlastOff has to offer,” said Joey Rini, a freshman computer science major. “I saw a lot of opportunities, but I’m not going to join any yet. I want to establish a routine and work on my grades before I see if I have time for any extracurricular activities.”

Rini did however see another importance BlastOff held beside an opportunity to window shop.

“This event definitely appeals to freshmen,” Rini said. “This is our first year, and there are so many different interests covered right here. These organizations can provide us with so many opportunities.”

The ability to meet and introduce their clubs was not lost to organization and department members, including junior visual communication design major Laura Fox, who serves as the secretary to the Kent State Environmental Society and helped run her organization’s table.

“During my freshman year, BlastOff got rained out, so I didn’t join any new clubs that year,” Fox said. “BlastOff helps you find people who have similar interests and get more members to join whatever it is you’re representing.”

Fox stressed that while BlastOff helps the Environmental Society gain more members, it holds a larger goal pertaining to the organization’s purpose.

“We are here at BlastOff to not only keep the group alive but to educate people on how to improve the environment,” Fox said. 

Following BlastOff was the Glow Dance where students could listen and dance to a live DJ. Amongst glow sticks and loud music, students celebrated their last official day of summer.

McKenna Corson is the general assignment editor. Contact her at [email protected]