As many as 281 student groups and more than 2,000 first-years and upperclassmen packed into the Olney-Margolies Athletic Center Thursday night for a familiar fall ritual: the Activities Fair.
While the Brown Band opened the night with upbeat melodies at the entrance, the atmosphere inside warmed up as groups tried to attract new recruits with colorful posters and eager smiles. A capella groups showed off their repertoires and dance teams dressed up in showy costumes. The chess club's intricate moves on a makeshift board left several youngsters scratching their heads.
"It's a pretty great night. More freshmen have shown up to see the activities," said Brady Wyrtzen '11, student activities chair of the Undergraduate Council of Students.
Eight to 10 new student groups joined the fair this year, he said.
"This year we got things on a lot earlier, so it is more organized," Wyrtzen said. Groups were assigned their tables two or three days earlier and were able to set up before first years arrived, a change from past years when they got their assignments as they arrived, he said.
The equipment rental and other minor costs of this year's fair were also $800 to $900 lower this year, owing to a collaboration between UCS and the Orientation Welcoming Committee, said June Drinkwater, administrative coordinator of student activities.
"We got more done for less," Wyrtzen said.
Despite sharing a goal to expand their membership, the groups brought diverse perspectives and objectives to the bustling gymnasium. The Brown Cycling Club, for instance, focused on recruiting female riders. "We're actively building our women's team," said Chieh Chih Chiang '11.
Daniela Rodriguez DS '10 represented three groups, including the Coalition Against Relationship Abuse, Thursday night. "We want more people to know about our groups, that we exist for anyone looking for help with relationship abuse," she said.
"Freshmen this year seem very motivated and interested in investing," said Henry Liu '10 of the Brown Investment Group, which manages a portion of the University's endowment in domestic equities and seeks to educate students about investment opportunities.
"This is really fun and overwhelming. They seem really aggressive," Jonah Kagan '13 said of the groups' entreaties to members of his class.
Kagan, who was looking for sports and community service activities, said, "I try to save myself for the best clubs."
His strategy: Look at everything and then coming back to sign up for a few that he liked.
"That's a better approach," said Allison Eckert '13 who, standing next to Kagan, compared his plan of action to her own.
"I just signed up for a lot," she said. "It's hard to pick."
Updated Sept. 11 to change "Brown Marching Band" to "Brown Band."