After a year of mostly virtual club activities at Cornell, many of the University’s clubs set up tables around the Arts Quad this weekend to attract potential new members during ClubFest.
During the two-day event, students were able to talk to club members in person, view more than 900 student organizations and weigh what clubs they might want to join. After last year’s online ClubFest, in-person tabling took on a new form again this year, as the event normally packs students into Barton Hall to peruse what Cornell has to offer.
First-years and upperclassmen alike swarmed the Arts Quad, eager to make up on lost time during the online school year and find their communities on campus. Club leadership distributed brightly colored quarter cards, hoping to fill the holes left by graduated students and those exhausted by a year of Zoom meetings and virtual coffee chats.
Addy Capel ’25 described experiencing ClubFest for the first time as a first-year student: “It’s been really interesting to see all the different groups that are here,” Capel said.
Many club leaders said they saw the in-person festivities as a golden opportunity to broadcast their club to potential members, particularly after a year of Zoom recruitment and meetings.
“We are having a great time meeting people … to potentially join our club,” said Chris Rampaul-Pino ’24, a member of the Cornell Investment Banking Club.
Other clubs took different approaches when it came to recruiting new members. Cornell ROTC set up a fitness test complete with a pull-up bar and other physically demanding activities to attract attention for the organization.
Many new clubs made their debut at this year’s ClubFest, including A Seat at The Table, a business ethics and human resources group that promotes social responsibility and inclusion.
Member Matt Sovik ’24 describes A Seat at The Table as a club focused on “HR business ethics to [create] a safe space to have discussions on different topics, like decisions involving gender, race, sexuality and just how to confront internal biases.”
According to Sovik, an in-person setting brought students together in a way that just wasn’t possible on Zoom.
“I would’ve never had this much community if it was online. I went to the [virtual ClubFest] last year and this feels so much more homey, so much more personable,” Sovik said.
While many students had fun perusing Cornell’s many clubs in person, others expressed concern about the swarms of people present amid the University’s current yellow alert level status. The University is reporting 113 cases during the week of Sept. 3.
“There’s a lot more people than I thought and a lot closer together,” said Ellie Connolly ’24, who also expressed concern about the large number of students present without masks on.
Other students took more interest in the accompanying performances. Linda Piccolo ’24 joined the Cornell Society for Women in Business at ClubFest, but still described the performances as “the best thing so far,” which featured groups ranging from Cornell Anjali to Pole Posse and Big Red Raas.
On top of clubs and organizations, some project teams also had an opportunity to recruit potential new members and create excitement about their projects at ClubFest.
Ehi Esemuze ’23 was part of a table for the Cornell Designing Tech Initiative — an engineering product project team that develops software, including both mobile and web apps.
“It’s really, really awesome to see people and then get to talk to people and interact in person,” Ehezume said Saturday, who viewed the Arts Quad arrangement as a positive alternative to Zoom breakout rooms or stuffy indoor crowds in Barton Hall.