Students browsed Cornell’s offering of student organizations and explored their future possibilities last Sunday at ClubFest in Barton Hall.
Now in its 19th year, ClubFest featured over 400 student clubs, Cornell-affiliated programs and pre-professional organizations. Clubs handed out quarter-cards and other advertising materials, chatted with prospective new members and distributed candy to passersby.
The event repeated last year’s scheduling, breaking the expo into two sessions. Pre-professional clubs and fraternities, media and publication organizations, sustainability clubs and University-sponsored programs such as Cornell in Washington, headlined the first session. The second half included entities such as performing arts groups, club sports, food organizations, identity-based affinity groups and community services.
Students found the experience fruitful and valuable through finding new communities, while faculty and staff stressed the importance of finding community.
“Cornell is a big school, and it’s hard to find people even within your own major, and sometimes [finding people in your major] doesn’t even matter in terms of interests outside academics,” said Michelle Sánchez-Patino ’25. “I feel like ClubFest is a good way to see what’s out here at Cornell because sometimes the school can be so big that you don’t even know what’s happening.”
Not only did ClubFest give students ways to find, rekindle or continue pursuing their passions, but it also provided a way for them to find groups where they can make memories. Ricky Boche, assistant director of campus activities, stressed ClubFest’s importance for finding communities where students can fit in.
“It’s really vital to students’ college careers to get involved on campus, because that’s how you make your memories and have the most fun,” Boche said. “You’ll remember classes, you’ll remember some professors, but you’ll remember the time you got on the bounce house, the time you joined the karate club — things like that.”
This year’s two recruitment cycles are inflection points for many clubs. With memories from life prior to the COVID-19 pandemic now largely in the rearview mirror, organizations used this recruiting opportunity to reinvent themselves as well with new visions, new ideas and new members.
“This semester is especially important for us because we’re revamping the entire recruitment process to make it more transparent for everyone on campus,” said Ash Pagedemarry ’25, co-president of the Student Activities Funding Commission. “We’re trying to expand our group so that it’s more equitable and so that a lot of people have more say in how different groups on campus operate.”
Club officers believed that ClubFest was beneficial for recruiting as it enabled them to reach out to students in ways that other recruiting methods could not. Olivia Ochoa ’24, chair of public relations for the Translator-Interpreter Program, said that ClubFest was a great way to reach out to the broader Cornell community.
“We really try to get students from every corner of the University with all different kinds of experiences,” Ochoa said. “This is a really great place for that because we’re running into people who we normally wouldn’t run into in our own networks.”
Gabriella Pacitto ’24 contributed reporting.