The fall activities fair was a huge and festive celebration, with hundreds of organizations lining Locust Walk, flyers everywhere and dazzled freshmen signing up to audition for clubs they’d never heard of. But where was the spring activities fair?
Right in Houston Hall. Not as huge or wild, but quieter, cozier and of smaller scale — much like spring club recruitment.
In the fall, nearly all student organizations recruit members, trying their best to spread word about applications, auditions and interviews. In the spring, the process is much quieter because fewer applicants and organizations tend to be involved, though a fair number of clubs still look to bring in new members. While some of them recruit just a few members to supplement the number recruited in the fall, other clubs do not discriminate between fall and spring recruitment.
The fall activities fair is a hallmark event that takes place soon after New Student Orientation in which freshmen wander from table to table as they marvel at the 400 groups in attendance, but the spring activities fair — both in advertising and execution — is much more subdued, especially because fewer students tend to apply to new clubs in the spring.
“The fall activities fair is sort of controlled chaos; the freshmen can be delightfully overwhelmed by the sheer number of student organizations available at Penn,” Student Activities Council chair and College junior Jeremy Cohen said. “The spring activities fair, because of the cold but also because there’s less interest, is inside Houston Hall, and there's about 175 groups.”
Spring semester may be quieter for recruitment because, as Cohen added, there are differences between the strategies SAC uses to advertise the fall activities fair and those it uses to advertise the spring activities fair. In the fall semester, clubs seem to mainly target freshmen for recruitment, and “the main tool we have at our disposal in terms of advertising is the NSO office saying, ‘This is the thing to do in your first couple weeks of Penn.’”
In the spring, clubs' options for publicizing the event are more limited to spreading word via Facebook or their listservs. Not to mention that spring club recruitment tends to conflict with sorority or fraternity rush, which can contribute to a smaller pool of applicants.
The Student Committee on Undergraduate Education was one of the clubs that recruited members this spring. SCUE external chair and College junior Jane Xiao said SCUE “[tends] to take more people in the fall just because that’s when the most interest is,” and that in the spring, “we get fewer [applications], but we also have fewer spots to fill.”
Still, she said, SCUE holds spring recruitment every year because it recognizes that “people sometimes just need a semester or a year to get warmed up into things before they want to join clubs.”
Though there is less focus on club recruitment and fewer people tend to apply in the spring than in the fall, some clubs still put forth an equal effort to find new members.
College junior Sophie Beren, president of a relatively new club that started in spring 2015 named TableTalk, emphasized how necessary spring recruitment is for the club.
“Because we just formed exactly a year ago, we didn’t have enough people to accomplish all of our goals, so we were lucky to get an incredible applicant pool this fall. We want to continue to grow so we can have more hands on deck,” Beren said.
TableTalk developed existing marketing strategies to take advantage of recruitment this semester and spread word to more potential applicants. Beren said that TableTalk has “been trying new things [in marketing our club] every semester,” like “[putting] flyers under every door in the Quad,” a new strategy they tried this spring and found to be successful.
The Technology Entrepreneurship Club also eagerly recruits students in the spring of every year. “We don’t discriminate between fall and spring recruitment and accept roughly the same number,” TEC President and College and Engineering junior Riad Hamadeh said. He added that “freshmen who weren’t involved in first semester because they were still trying to figure out how Penn works” and are now ready to join clubs tend to be the majority of spring applicants.
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