August 31, 2009

Annual ClubFest Attracts Thousands to Barton Hall

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Sign right up! From dance groups to political parties, Cornell-affiliated clubs and organizations marketted Cornell’s campus life to incoming and returning students yesterday in Barton Hall.
Cornell’s Clubfest, the final event of Welcome Weekend, was an annual showcase of student organizations on campus.
In attendance were thousands of freshmen and transfer students as well as participants of Cornell’s diverse array of organizations.
320 different club tables with their bright posters, wads of flyers, candy, stickers and energetic club members welcomed eager students who milled around from table to table, with the sounds of student performance groups drumming in the background.
“It’s awesome,” Kevin Burra ’13, easily holding over 15 club pamphlets. “Look how many I have.”
While he plans on narrowing down his list to four core clubs, he remarked, “everyone is so friendly they make you want to sign up just by how friendly they are.”
Starting last Wednesday, Welcome Weekend events included a free concert with C.U. on the Quad, lunch on Ho Plaza, movies, games and cultural activities. The purpose of ClubFest was to make students aware of all that is offered at Cornell, according to Star Li ’10, chief coordinator of Welcome Weekend.
“The clubs cater to so many different interests,” Li said.
Julia Morris ’13 found that browsing down the aisles provided a much more beneficial experience than searching through the Student Activities official website. [img_assist|nid=37695|title=Clubbing, Cornell-style|desc=Hundreds of registered student organizations attract new members at ClubFest 2009 in Barton Hall yesterday.|link=node|align=left|width=336|height=224]
“There’s a lot of clubs I didn’t know about … seeing and talking to people is better than searching online” Morris remarked.
“I think ClubFest is really useful,” said Jenn Ryan ’11. “We have a laundry list of clubs that we want to check out.”
Not only did ClubFest help students get involved on campus, but it was also one of the best ways to boost club membership.
“The goal is obviously to get as many people to sign up as we can,” said Natasha Idnani ’11, a member of Cornell Debate Association. She expects about half of the people who signed up in the club’s first meeting.
While the perks of registering a table for ClubFest were apparent — whether it be to fill the spot of graduated seniors on the Tae Kwon Doe team, spread the word that Cornell has a paintball club or kick-off the newly founded Design and Engineering for Education and Development Club — a lot of student organizations come close to missing this opportunity.
“A lot of clubs don’t realize they need to register because [former] presidents don’t pass on the information,” Li said. Looking towards next year’s ClubFest, Li plans to pass registration information to club advisors.
Although the five-minute registration process lasted from mid-April to late August, space is limited and tables are assigned on a first-come-first-serve basis. This year, 60 clubs were wait-listed. However, Li noted that all the clubs that showed up to ClubFest were able to get a table.
“A lot of people get intimidated by the wait list, so if you show up you’ll most likely get a table,” she said.
Despite the challenge of organizing the clubs into categories and being flooded by e-mails, for Li the labor was worth it.
“There’s so much out there it’s unbelievable,” she said.