SU Hosts In-Person Clubs & Pubs Fair

The SU hosted its annual Clubs & Pubs Fair in-person.

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By Sabrina Chen

The Student Union (SU) held its annual Clubs & Pubs Fair in-person with social distancing guidelines on September 20, 22, and 23. The event has traditionally served as an opportunity for underclassmen to search and join the variety of Stuyvesant clubs and ultimately fostered socialization among all grade levels.

There were approximately 120 clubs and 500 attendees each day. This was a significant increase in attendance, as the SU Events Department, which was in charge of organizing the event, originally released only 150 tickets per day.

The Clubs & Pubs Fair aims to introduce attendees to the large selection of clubs to help students easily find clubs they’re interested in. “One of the great things about Stuy is that we have so many diverse clubs that can often feel overwhelming to an incoming student who has so many interests, and they don’t necessarily know which club to go to first,” senior and SU President Shivali Korgaonkar said.

Compared to previous years, this year’s fair planning focused on upholding safety protocols, such as social distancing. “This is our first year transitioning back in-person, so we wanted to make sure that it was an in-person event but at the same time [ensure] that we were following COVID guidelines as much as we could given the circumstances,” junior and Clubs & Pubs Fair co-director Larissa Yue said. As an extra layer of precaution, the SU extended the length of the fair from two days to three to prevent overcrowding.

The fair’s planning started in the early summer when clubs were asked to recharter on StuyActivities and confirm they wanted to present at the fair. From there, the SU created a directory that listed and organized the participating clubs by category, and a map that detailed each club’s location. The SU also collaborated with Big Sibs and ARISTA volunteers to help control traffic, help set up the tables for club booths, guide attendees, and prevent overcrowding.

Mapping out locations of the club booths was one of the difficulties the Events Department encountered. “The logistics were kind of hard for the floor planning because our plan was to put all the clubs that were very similar in one specific area so that one popular club in that genre attracts other people to smaller clubs that are similar to it,” senior and Clubs & Pubs co-director Jennifer Ji said.

Additionally, the SU faced a few organizational issues. For instance, the fourth floor, which was assigned to the musical and cultural clubs, displayed large attendee interest, but a few clubs struggled as clubs were all performing simultaneously. “The fourth floor was the loudest because it was the music ones, but that also wasn’t great because everyone was trying to do some sort of music and it kind of all clashed,” sophomore and Vice President of Vocalasia Erica Chen said. The Clubs & Pubs Fair department changed the protocol and allowed clubs to choose where they wanted to set up their booth on the second and third day of the fair.

Additionally, the SU initially planned to organize all attendees for each day’s fair into three groups: Group A, Group B, and Group C. Every 30 minutes, the groups would switch floors to reduce traffic. This plan was only implemented on Monday. “We found that it didn’t work and it wasn’t natural,” Korgaonkar said. “Sometimes you want to see a club only on the fifth floor, or only on the third floor, and you don't want to wait 30 mins to go in between.” This plan was not implemented for the remaining fair days.

Some leaders felt that there were still areas of confusion that could have been addressed. “We weren’t sure if people would go into the [club] room, or whether we should set up outside, [be]cause some clubs had tables but we didn’t, so that was one of the confusions we had on the first day, and it was a little bit harder to get people to come into the room to sign up,” junior and President of the Asian Youth Act Stuyvesant Cynthia Chang said.

While not a requirement, many clubs added QR codes onto their flyers to direct attendees to their interest forms instead of using paper signups to avoid sharing writing utensils. However, many had connectivity issues and were unable to sign up during the fair. “Because of the internet, a lot of people weren’t able to [scan the] QR code and it wouldn’t load on their phone,” junior and Co-President of Bridging Seas Jina Koh said.

Furthermore, some expressed their concern about the length of the fair to the SU. “We heard the concern that being in the fair for two hours over three days was a lengthy period, so we could have probably shortened it in timing,” Korgaonkar said.

In contrast, some club leaders thought the fair was too short. “It was a little disheartening to see people pack up really early because the Clubs & Pubs event was from four to six, but clubs started moving out at like five, and most clubs were out by 5:30. So there was a point at which everyone on our floor—we’re on the third floor—was just gone,” senior and President of StuyFlow Aaron Hsu said.

Though the return to an in-person fair was the objective, last year’s virtual fair brought its own unique advantages, such as the ability to record presentations for attendees to refer back to. “We had a recording for people who couldn’t attend. The other positive about having that virtual recording is that many of the clubs that participated virtually are still around today. For example, if people wanted to hear about Red Cross, Key Club, Spectator, the clubs that exist year-to-year, they have that virtual recording which they can always go back to,” Korgaonkar said.

In contrast, some attendees felt that the in-person environment allowed for organic conversations and interaction between attendees and club leaders that was missing in last year’s online format. “It was so much better because you can actually talk to people, and afterward, you were allowed to go to each club individually or [to] their interest meeting, but during the virtual [fair], there were only one or two people and everyone would have their cameras off,” sophomore Iris Lin said.

After a year of remote learning, many embraced the in-person Clubs & Pubs Fair. “I just liked seeing everyone, seeing the energy of the school, and a bunch of freshmen, sophomores, and some juniors just roaming the halls, looking for clubs to join. And then you get the super eager freshmen that come in like, ‘Yeah, I wanna do every single club,’ and they have a whole list of clubs they’re planning to join. It was just nice to see that again because we didn’t really have that for a year,” Hsu said.