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Students explore hundreds of clubs at Activities Night

Carolyn Huytra and Caroline Schuitema | Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hundreds of students swarmed the Joyce Center Fieldhouse on Tuesday night with pens at the ready to sign up for a number of clubs and organizations that attracted their attention.

The 2012 Activities Night was coordinated by the Student Activities Office (SAO), and co-sponsored by RecSports. Collaboration for the event involved the Club Coordination Council (CCC) as well.

“Each table is responsible for bringing their own stuff,” Ricky Bevington, an intern for SAO, said. “Such equipment includes banners, computers, sign-up sheets, and poster boards. Some clubs additionally use t-shirts, candy, and magnets in order to lure in more students.”

With 234 clubs, 34 community organizations and 27 special guest tables present, some students may seem overwhelming to some, but to others it’s a rite of initiation to campus life.

“Activity night makes me feel like I belong,” freshman Dale Lobo said. “I signed up for around 15 clubs,” he said.

“The main purpose of the night is to help students get involved,” David Mattingly, a program coordinator for the Student Activities Office, said. “We want to expose them.”

With organizations ranging from Gluten Free ND to the Irish Club and the Nordic Ski Club of Notre Dame, students had a difficult time choosing which booths at which to spend their time. 

“There’s so much stuff to do here,” freshman Mike Zaleski said. “I have already signed up for Engineers Without Borders and Polish Club.”

Elizabeth Stachnik, a freshman at Saint Mary’s, agreed with Zaleski about the large number of clubs present at Activities Night.

“There are so many. My mind is blown right now,” she said. “My friends and I are planning to talk to representatives of at least 10 different student groups.”

Freshman Matthew Williams also left his name at several tables. 

“I’ll probably sign up for some and maybe do one or two,” Williams said.  “It depends on what I have time for.”

Older students enjoyed the benefits of focus and hindsight when attending Activities Night this year. 

“I’m looking for things that would look good on a résumé, like service or leadership positions,” sophomore Laura Cronin said.  “I’m not going to sign up for 50 clubs. I’m going to try to be more selective and actually go to the meetings.”

Sophomore Diego Lopez was also looking for specific campus organizations, rather than signing up for anything that looked interesting. 

“I want to look at clubs that I’ve seen on campus, since I’ve seen what they do and I’m interested in their movement,” Lopez said.

Mike Marino, another sophomore at Notre Dame, returned to Activities Night in a different role. As president of the newly formed Hockey Club, he spoke of the work it took to create a new club at Notre Dame.

“We did a lot over the summer. We found a coach and joined the ACHA (American Collegiate Hockey Association),” Marino said.

Marino said coach Bill Murray comes to Notre Dame with extensive experience.

“Coach Murray worked with the hockey team at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne for the last six to seven years,” he said. “He came over and was working with me all summer long so we could know what to do.”

Marino said starting a club was intense but seeing the results in action will be fun.

Students in charge of other booths used creative tactics to make sure their club attracted attention.

“Last year I yelled at people,” senior Jane Park, a representative at the Unchained Melodies table, said. “I stood up on a chair and yelled. Aside from that, we have Oreos and Hershey kisses.”

Both food and noise seemed to be popular choices when it came to luring students to tables. 

Circle K distributed packs of ramen noodles at their station, while Camp Kesem members sang along to Britney Spears songs.

Climbing club member Margeaux Prinster distributed cups of granola to students to persuade them to stop at the table.

However, attracting students is only half the battle. Now their focus turns to convincing students that their group is fun, engaging and worth the time investment.

“The girl who was in charge of the listserv last year sent out climbing jokes with the emails,” Prinster said. 

But the people who are genuinely interested in a student group come regardless of funny emails. 

“It’s basically on them,” Prinster said. “We want people who want to be there.”