As student coordinators gear up for ClubFest this spring, they will not be clamoring to Barton Hall with posters and buttons, but breaking into Zoom calls, video presentations and sprucing up their social media presences.
The event, kicking off Feb. 13, will see club leaders aiming to draw students in, communicate club values and distribute important information without the usual in-person resources and draws of free merch.
The Welcome Weekend Committee — who plans ClubFest each semester — hopes to recruit students at their pre-pandemic rate and encourage new members to get involved, according to organization leader Jade Ovadia ’21.
“We don’t want to hinder anybody from joining,” she said.
The fall ClubFest spanned two weekends, with the second receiving significantly less traffic. This contributed to the condensed, one-weekend ClubFest for the spring, according to Ovadia.
Dillon Eisman ’22, co-founder and chief executive officer of Epsilon Nu Tau, Cornell’s professional entrepreneurship fraternity, has adjustments planned for his own organization after the fraternity found it difficult to accommodate all the remote students who wished to attend their fall information sessions. This semester, the fraternity has pre-recorded their information sessions so that students in all time zones can attend.
Eisman also stressed the importance of social media and collective club promotion.
“We put a lot of effort into growing our Instagram account and collaborating with similar organizations, like Entrepreneurship at Cornell. We’ve been connecting with them so they can promote our events,” he said.
Promotion and engagement has become more crucial for organizations with in-person activities, too, including the Cornell Astronomical Society. Club president Polina Ermoshkina ’23 said that the organization has worked on adapting their advertising for online recruitment.
“We do have our lecture series, which is online and brings in some people,” she said. “Otherwise, I think it’s taken a bit more creativity and effort on all the officers to create virtual ways to be involved in the club.”
CAS took initiative to engage club recruits in different ways, including short presentations on how to use their telescopes and interactive video calls using services like GatherTown. The club also has older members present on their experience with astro research.
As club leaders grapple with recruitment, they must also work to keep current members engaged: “It’s hard with remote students because we’re such an in-person club,” Ermoshkina said “We don’t really have much to talk about during a Zoom meeting, since we just observe the night sky through telescopes.”
Later on in the fall semester, the Astronomical Society held in-person meetings once COVID-19 restrictions lifted slightly. However, many Clubfest recruits did not stick around long enough to join them. Ermoshkina hopes that new members, especially freshmen, persist in joining clubs that fit their interests.