On Friday afternoon, hundreds of prospective freshman flocked to the annual Admit Weekend Activities Fair in White Plaza. Dozens of student groups had booths set up, all trying to attract prospective freshmen (ProFros) to their tables.
“I’m really excited to join…different things than what I was doing in high school,” said Carly Cohen, a ProFro, adding that she attended the Activities Fair “hoping to see a bunch of different things that I haven’t necessarily seen before.”
One student group in attendance was the International Socialist Organization (ISO), whose goal at the fair was to connect with ProFros and let them know that a space exists for their political views, said John West ’17.
“I remember when I was at Admit Weekend last year, the ISO had signed up for a table, but there wasn’t a presence here,” said Malachi Drey ’18, another member of ISO. West also recounted a similar experience.
“I…was looking at this Activities Fair for something like this and it just didn’t exist, and that felt kind of lonely,” West said. “We…wanted to put up a beacon for incoming freshmen who hold those politics, so that they know when they come here that there’ll be people who they can relate to in that way.”
Another student group at the fair was Los Hermanos, an all-male community service organization focused on Chicano and Latino issues. Thomas Churchill ’18, a member of Los Hermanos who was working at the group’s table, said that getting ProFros interested could be difficult.
“Los Hermanos isn’t one of the most well-known groups on campus, so people really only come up to us if they’ve heard of us or they’re really looking for something that’s Chicano/Latino affiliated,” Churchill said. “I think the most important thing is to talk about how inclusive our group is and to try to welcome people in…with food and with music and shouting at ProFros when they come by.”
Churchill added that trying to appeal to ProFros is especially hard because many of the Activities Fair’s attendees haven’t yet committed to Stanford.
“They’re giving us their Gmail accounts and aren’t really even sure if they’ll be here next year,” Churchill said. But many of the student groups were not discouraged by low interest.
“We haven’t gotten a ton of people,” said Onkur Sen, a first-year master’s student who was representing the a capella group Raagapella at the fair. But Sen saw this is a potential advantage.
“Sometimes you have a ton of people who are mildly interested,” Sen said. “But we’ve gotten a few people who are really interested, so that was good.”
Other student organizations don’t necessarily try to sign ProFros up for their groups during Admit Weekend.
“We’re just trying to spread…awareness and get incoming freshman to know about our team because I guess a lot of people haven’t really heard about Dragonboat,” said Christine Lee ’16, a member of Stanford Dragonboat. “I feel like we’re just talking with them [the ProFros]; we’re not really taking down emails or anything.”
Christina Vaculik ’15 of Autism Speaks said that she wasn’t just trying to get students interested in her organization, but also trying to talk to ProFros more generally about life at Stanford.
“[I’m] talking about what we do and the opportunities that are available at Stanford, not just with this group but also academically and…anything else with the dorms,” Vaculik said.
Some of the booths tried to attract potential members by offering activities and demonstrations.
“I got to make my own crème brulee,” said Federica Roth, a ProFro who went to the Activities Fair. “And I saw…a lot of people dancing, so I went on all the dance booths, and that was fun. People were very energetic and wanted me to come join everything, which was cool.”
Cohen said she was surprised by the sheer number of student groups available.
“I think that just…the quantity of [the clubs] was surprising,” Cohen said. “There’s a ton to choose from, which I was expecting but not necessarily visualizing.”
Cohen added that she was able to find a group for everything she was interested in, whether it was a more conventional activity like dance or something more unusual.
“It’s been a life-long dream of mine to learn the steel drums, so I found that group, which is kind of random,” Cohen said.
Contact Sarah Wishingrad at swishing ‘at’ stanford.edu.