On Feb. 20, students once again flocked to Barton Hall to participate in this semester’s ClubFest, an opportunity to mingle and explore Cornell’s student clubs and organizations.
The event, now in its 18th year, featured around 400 clubs that advertised to students in person, collecting contact information, handing out quarter-cards, chatting at booths and for some organizations, giving ten-minute performances to showcase their groups to prospective members.
This spring’s ClubFest was the second in-person event since it moved online in fall 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the first in its traditional location, Barton Hall. Last semester’s in-person ClubFest took place on the Arts Quad to allow for greater capacity and a more open environment.
“As the Student Union Board, we believe it’s our responsibility to make extracurricular cultural and social opportunities accessible to everyone,” said Ansel Asch ’23, who serves as the one of the board’s co-presidents.
When ClubFest was held online, club leaders had two weeks to showcase their organizations and to document recruitment digitally. However, they missed out on opportunities to share stickers and souvenirs, show off performances or otherwise speak to students face-to-face as they would have wandered organically around booths.
This semester, ClubFest was held over two time slots due to table limitations related to COVID protocols.
One club in attendance was Cornell Grub Ventures, a venture capital club focusing on activism-minded investments in food and agriculture.
“It was refreshing meeting students face to face, sharing about our organization and getting a sense of who’s interested about the club – the genuine enthusiasm some students had for our specific intersection of business, food and social impact felt energizing,” said the club’s chief executive officer, Deschelly Teo ’23.
This semester’s ClubFest also included a variety of performances, which served as entertainment for participants and as an opportunity for dance and performance clubs to reach out to possible recruits. Maya Hardi ’23, Vice President of K-pop dance troupe E.Motion, performed with her organization this weekend.
Hardi, who discovered E.Motion at ClubFest during her first year at Cornell, expressed appreciation for the platform the event gives to help her troupe attract new members.
“I feel like once they see us performing dance on stage and are like, ‘Whoa, other people who are like me, regular students at Cornell, they’re doing all this dance stuff. Maybe I could do that too,’” Hardi said.
When scheduling performances, setting up booths, and managing hundreds of clubs, any event at the scale of ClubFest is bound to pose a number of logistical challenges such as performance cancellations, no-show clubs and the ever-changing restrictions necessitated by the pandemic.
Aryaa Pai ’22, also co-president of the Student Union Board, is responsible for booking performances and handling other organizational logistics around ClubFest. For Pai, planning such a large-scale event does not come without stress.
“We definitely do get nervous because it’s such a huge event,” Pai said. “It’s so important for the clubs as well as the students because it’s what sort of brings them together. There is no other event on campus which allows students to see what clubs there are.”
Despite this, Asch always finds a successful ClubFest to be a rewarding experience.
“Just seeing all of those people promote their organizations, seeing people joining those organizations and knowing that you are part of the game is my favorite part,” Asch said.