All photos by Kim Butler, Office of Public Affairs.
The changes made to the layout of Hamilton “Ham” Center on Thursday, Aug. 25 may have been temporary, not to mention purely cosmetic, but for the two hours encompassing New College’s annual club fair, the transformation was all too shockingly apparent. As enthusiastic club members clambered onto chairs and tables, loudly proclaiming the merits of their organizations as if hawking wares at a bustling bazaar, hordes of passers-by browsed the clusters of eye-catching posters and paraphernalia, painstakingly navigating past hula-hoopers and an impromptu center-stage performance by the Capoeira Club. From Acapellago to astronomy, parkour to poker, the fair’s participants strove to appeal to hobbies, causes and niche interests of all sorts. The New College population was quite happy to answer the call, flocking to Ham Center in droves to create one of the most crowded – and in turn, according to Campus Life Coordinator (CLC) Larry Locke, successful – club fairs in recent memory.
“I think it went really, really well,” Locke told the Catalyst. “The whole two hours, Ham was pretty packed.” Based on sign-in sheets and reports from students staffing the club tables, compared to previous years, clubs on average – even the clubs stationed on the edges of the room away from the main flow of traffic and those that hadn’t been registered in advance – saw a remarkably high rate of success in attracting new potential members.
While the sizable statistics may well be largely due to the unprecedented size of this year’s first-year class, Locke also attributes the fair’s success to the shared effort of the many individuals, staff members and students alike, responsible for helping with the preparations. Due to the various administrative changes in the Office of Student Affairs this year, responsibilities such as managing the club fair and further club affairs have been redistributed to Locke and the other five CLCs, allowing them to focus on specific areas of interest more efficiently.
“It’s like we took a little Konnie and sprinkled it on the RDs,” Locke joked, referring to the role of the new CLCs and the sharing of responsibilities formerly held solely by former Student Activities director Konnie Kruzcek (now a CLC herself).
This is Locke’s first year as a CLC and he feels excited to be playing an active role in the club community on campus, anticipating what the future may bring to the New College club scene with great interest. “When I was an undergrad, I loved club fair,” he said. He sees the large turnout this year as a positive sign for the outlook of NCF clubs and hopes to see student interest in student-run organizations remain strong throughout the remainder of the year and beyond.
If the roster sheet for this year’s event is any indication, students certainly seemed to share Locke’s enthusiasm for the club fair experience as well. Fifty-five clubs were registered for the event and represented at the fair, ten of which were reported to be brand-new (or in the case of a certain few, “official,” for the first time) this year. The figure becomes more impressive when considering the presence of several unregistered clubs as well, set up in makeshift stations wherever they could find the valuable free space.
As successful as this year’s fair was, Locke has several ideas for creating an even better experience for attendees at future fairs. In particular, he’d like to see a stage set up in the center of the space for performances, “sales pitches” and the like – this would be a particular boon to performance-based groups such as Dance Tutorial, according to Locke. He also suggested various more general improvements, such as better raffle prizes and the use of a larger or more efficient space to cut down on crowdedness and hapless dinner-goer confusion. Perhaps most importantly, Locke invited any interested students to share any ideas they might have with him and the community at large, recalling the community involvement that helped this fair to succeed as well as it did.
As for students interested in club activities in general, whether it involves joining an existing group or starting a new one, Locke extended a similar invitation to all potential comers – students are welcome to visit him in person at any time to discuss reserving space, appealing the Student Allocations Committee (SAC) for funding, recruitment, and the like, and are encouraged to visit the New College student organization web page (www.ncf.edu/clubs) for further info.