Student Union Hosts Spring Clubs & Pubs Fair Virtually

The Student Union hosted their second virtual Clubs & Pubs fair over Zoom and Flipgrid from February 22 to 24.

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By Angel Liu

The Student Union (SU) hosted its second Virtual Clubs & Pubs Fair from February 22 to 24. With a turnout of over 100 students, the fair offered an opportunity for students to learn about more than 150 clubs and find potential ones to join in the spring semester. To accommodate a virtual format for the Spring Fair this year, the SU used Flipgrid and Zoom.

Clubs could sign up to participate in one of the two days, both, or neither. “We created a form for Club and Pub sign-ups which was sent to all club leaders,” sophomore and director of Clubs & Pubs Larissa Yue said in an e-mail interview. “Not all clubs wanted to participate in both portions or some clubs chose not to participate, but I think we were still able to successfully cover a wide range and variety of clubs that showcase what Stuyvesant has to offer.”

The Spring Fair was organized into two portions. The first half involved pre-recorded Flipgrid videos, where over 40 clubs recorded and posted short videos that described their club. Students could then browse the videos and discover clubs that they are interested in. “We know the presentations [in the Fall fair] got a little long and it was a lot to have nearly five days of the fair,” senior and Director of Event Plannings Aki Yamaguchi said in an e-mail interview. “This was a much [more] condensed version where we took advantage of [Flipgrid] to replace the presentations.”

While each club used its own Zoom link in the Fall Fair, the second half of the Spring Fair consisted of one live Zoom meeting where each club had its own breakout room. “We decided against doing the Zoom format we had done in the fall because it wasn’t an efficient usage of time,” junior and Director of Clubs & Pubs Jennifer Ji said in an e-mail interview.

During this portion, the SU tried to recreate the in-person experience by allowing students to move between the breakout rooms and ask individual questions to the leaders of a club. “This was our best attempt at recreating the in-person format online. I guess you could think of each breakout room as a table for the club,” Ji said.

However, the SU felt that deciding a format and organizing the Spring Fair were the largest challenges. “The hardest part was deciding a format for this Club and Pub fair. We decided against doing the Zoom format we had done in the fall because it wasn’t an efficient usage of time,” Ji said. “[Another] challenge was organizing Zoom rooms. In order for the fair to work, every user had to have the new updated version of Zoom. This resulted in some technological difficulties.”

Yue added, “Scheduling was definitely a problem at first due to our uncertainty on how to split clubs between the two days,” she said. “The organization of breakout rooms also took some time. There are so many clubs at Stuyvesant with a lot of variety, so that made the organizing portion a little more difficult.”

Junior Yaqin Rahman, who attended both the fairs in the fall and spring as a club leader, felt that the Spring Fair was an improvement from the Fall Fair. “The event was pretty successful. A lot of people came eager to join clubs and it went pretty smoothly for the most part,” Rahman said in an e-mail interview. “In my opinion, it was a lot more straightforward than in September, so I think it was an improvement.”

However, some attendees found that a few club leaders were not in their breakout rooms. “[There] were quite a few rooms on Zoom where I went in to hear about the club, but there was no one there. Or in one case, someone was there but didn't say anything after a full minute,” sophomore Zareen Islam said in an e-mail interview.

The Clubs & Pubs Fair also faced an inefficiency issue. “Due to the fact that there were no set times for rotation and everyone was just popping in and out of rooms, it was rather inefficient,” Islam said. “The hosts had to keep starting over or the students that just came would have to wait for them to be done.”

Rahman, who attended the in-person Clubs & Pubs Fairs in 2019, felt that the largest disadvantage of this fair was its virtual format. “I probably liked the Clubs & Pubs fair in person a lot better. You get to go around the school, walk through different floors and explore different clubs while talking to the leaders there in person, which is always a great experience.”

Despite the challenges, many felt that the virtual format allowed them to make new friends and share their interests with others. “In addition to advertising our club, it was also a nice time to bond with others who share the same interests and just take a break from the stressful [Stuyvesant] environment,” freshman Erica Chen said in an e-mail interview. “Other club leaders came into our breakout room and we also [visited other rooms] (toward the end of the fair and when there was no one in our breakout room) to see how others were doing.”

As for the SU, they felt satisfied with their fair, regardless of the new virtual format. “This was the first time both Jennifer and I took part in the planning of the Club and Pub Fairs,” Yue said. “While we, unfortunately, could not have an in-person event, I was still proud of the event and the solutions we had to put in place to overcome remote challenges.”

Despite the virtual setting, the Club & Pubs Fair helped maintain a sense of camaraderie. “[It’s a goal] to help the school socialize over a virtual environment and encourage participation,” Yamaguchi said. “Something truly unique about our school is the numerous clubs we offer and the unique opportunities they all bring.”