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On-campus organizations at Brown transition to virtual recruitment for fall 2020

Club representatives discuss new membership success, postponement amidst in-person restrictions

The University’s extracurricular organizations have approached recruitment in different ways this fall in light of COVID-19. Instead of piling onto the Main Green, handing out fliers and yelling at first-year students to grab their attention at the activities fair, clubs are approaching recruitment differently this semester.

Difficulties engaging with new members

Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere has had to find new ways for their returning members and 70 new recruits to contribute to the club. Since the bulk of their work is typically hands-on, in-person advocacy, Annelise Ernst ’21, one of HOPE’s co-directors, noted that if they continue operating in a remote space, the organization could see a decrease in membership in the spring. 

“Nevertheless, we in HOPE are not too concerned about that and will continue to do what we think is meaningful,” Ernst said. 

The Korean American Students Association has seen a decrease in first-year students joining this semester, which is to be expected, said Yee Won Kim ’21, KASA’s communications director. She noted that around 25 first-year students expressed interest in the organization at the virtual activities fair, which is about a third of what they would normally expect. In order to work against this decrease in participation, the organization has decided to hold off some events until the spring semester. 

“We’re definitely going to reserve the freshmen-oriented events we usually hold in the beginning of the fall semester to next semester, because although there are some freshmen coming to events, we want everyone to get to know each other and for everyone to have that experience,” Kim said. 

Some a cappella groups such as the Higher Keys and Chattertocks have decided not to hold any auditions during the fall 2020 semester. 

“Within the Keys, we personally felt that judging auditions based off of virtual submissions was inequitable,” said Maxime Hendrikse Liu ’23, business manager for the Higher Keys. 

“The nature of the audition process is extensive and is over the course of three days. It seemed kind of tedious over Zoom, especially since the best part is just getting to know the first-years,” said India Thieriot ’21, musical director of the Chattertocks. 

Other groups such as ARRR!!! have continued to hold auditions over Zoom, providing various time slots for interested students to sign up. 

Alternative ways forward through virtual initiatives

Despite the absence of in-person performances, Attitude Dance Company has instead decided to hold virtual auditions in anticipation of the following semester. Their virtual auditions attracted mostly first-years, who wanted to get involved despite not being fully enrolled this fall.

“A month ago we released a Facebook event that described what to expect for auditions and around 30 people responded to that, which is what we would usually expect,” said Gabriela Asuncion ’21, one of Attitude’s co-directors. 

For Ivy Film Festival and Fashion@Brown, the approach to recruitment was simple: Start early. Over the summer, each department for both groups filmed short informational videos that were posted on recruitment pages of both organizations' websites, according to Sasha Pinto ’21, president of F@B and one of the four directors of IFF. 

Each F@B department found “creative ways to infuse fun in their recording,” Pinto wrote in an email to The Herald. For example, she filmed her short video with the skyline of New York City as a backdrop, while F@B’s editorial team reenacted a scene from “The Devil Wears Prada.” 

Both the Brown Political Review and Brown Consulting Club filled all the spots needed for this semester. Emma Blake ’22, chief of staff of BPR, said that the publication even saw an increase in membership. She attributes this success to social media and word of mouth. 

“Our editorial board hired four freshmen out of six hires, which is actually disproportionately quite large compared to past years. I’m really happy that that happened,” Blake said. 

Some groups have been able to promote their club through new, virtual initiatives. 

BCC decided to focus on equity and inclusion within this application cycle, offering interested students from underrepresented backgrounds mentors for the consulting recruitment process. 

“Since we thought there might be less interaction this semester, for those who were interested and from underrepresented backgrounds, we were able to assign interested students mentors ... to guide them through the (consulting) recruitment process if they had any questions,” said Harold Truong ’21, one of the club’s vice presidents. 

“Reaching first-years is hugely important because on a personal level, I joined both Fashion@Brown and Ivy Film Festival as an enthusiastic freshman,” Pinto wrote. Both organizations “have provided me with extraordinary opportunities to grow and learn outside the classroom.”


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