August 28, 2006

ClubFest Attracts Big Red Freshmen

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Welcome Weekend closed yesterday with ClubFest, an extracurricular extravaganza in Barton Hall. From the Nunnian Society to Bhangra to the Poker Club, 300 of Cornell’s 800 total registered clubs were represented.
“ClubFest is the one-stop shop for first year students looking for resources at Cornell,” said Jamie Sorrentino, assistant dean of students and volunteer at ClubFest.
1,000 to 1,500 students attended the Fest. The Fest is, according to ClubFest coordinator Katie McLaughlin ’06, a good way for new students to incorporate themselves into Cornell culture.
But, ClubFest isn’t exclusive to freshmen. McLaughlin said the Fest allows upperclassmen to add to their college resume, and make new friends.
Performances added to the buzz at the Fest. Nine student groups performed, including BASE productions, Sitara and the Swing Dance Club.
As busy and crowded as Barton was, this year’s ClubFest was more organized than last year’s, McLaughlin said, as activities and clubs were organized around particular interests.
“This year’s map made ClubFest more user-friendly,” McLaughlin said.
Table-side tiffs also require careful planning by ClubFest organizers. According to McLaughlin, last year two clubs with competing interests placed together at first had to be separated.
Freshmen used the ClubFest to find out about new activities.
“We’ve signed up for almost every club here. Later, when we get the e-mails, we’ll figure out which we really want,” said Gaurvika Lal ’10.
Christopher Zappi ’10, echoed Lal’s sentiment. “I signed up for about 6 or 7 clubs,” he said. “But I’m not sure of how much time I’ll have, so I’ll decide which I want to be active in later.”
Even if ClubFest doesn’t have the highest returns, it is a good venue for PR. According to Megan Tracz ’07 quarter cards don’t cut it for recruiting new members. “No one cares about quarter cards. They get thrown away right after you give them out,” she said.
“ClubFest is more effective for getting new members,” she added.
At the Fest, clubs and activities had more than just quarter cards: chocolate kisses, M and Ms and lollipops were enticements for some students; paper cranes, roses and hearts decorated the Origami club’s table.
“Origami is very visual and touchable — examples of what we actually do are a lot more helpful than a poster,” said Natachai Naviroj ’09 of the Origami Club.
Quality face time with actual club members is one benefit of an event like ClubFest.
“ClubFest is more personable than just looking at a club’s webpage,” McLaughlin said. “When you’re talking to someone, you can really see if you like them and if you’d fit in with the club.”
Planning for ClubFest begins in April and continues through the summer. The Fest’s organizers stay in contact over the summer.