Sarah Cook, Contributing Photographer

After a rainy morning, Old Campus came to life with tap dancing, jazz music and frisbee tossing on Sunday, as students crowded around 194 tables stocked with posters, enthusiastic greetings, stickers and plentiful snacks. 

The extracurricular bazaar lasted from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 5. Representatives from various student organizations were there to answer questions and offer overviews of their groups. Attendees, primarily first-year students, could sign up for groups using stationed laptops, paper sign up sheets or QR codes. Masks were required at the event, and most groups had flyers, food and props at their tables.  

“There were a lot more options and more participation from the groups than I thought there would be,” Nicole Pierce ’25 said. “It’s nice to have seen many unique groups, even ones I didn’t expect to sign up for.”

The extracurricular bazaar was last held in person in the Payne Whitney gym in the fall of 2019. Last fall, due to COVID-19, students used the Yale Connect platform to go into individual Zoom meetings for each student organization. 

Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Scientific Magazine Isabella Li ’22 told the News that last year’s remote bazaar did not impact the membership of YSM because of the group’s ability to run virtually, but that she still missed meeting potential members in person.

“The extracurricular bazaar felt super disconnected last year, so we’re definitely excited to be in person,” Li said. 

This year, the outdoor event not only allowed the face-to-face discussions missing from last year’s online version, but its location on Old Campus also provided space to spread out for smaller and more individualized discussions while maximizing public health safety.

On Old Campus, the organizations were mapped out in informal categories. Most of the club sports tables were located directly in front of Phelps Gate, including cycling, jump rope, rugby and wrestling. Nearby, multiple affinity groups held their tables. Political groups and student publications occupied the right side of Phelps Gate, while musical groups sat in a line through the middle of Old Campus. Community service oriented groups, mostly under the umbrella of Dwight Hall, hosted their tables near the High Street gate.  

“I thought this particular format, especially being outside, was very conducive to more one-on-one conversations in a way that a zoom room or a really crowded in-person version inside would [not] have been,” Katie Taylor ’24, communications director of the Yale College Democrats said. 

Some groups also gave performances throughout the bazaar. For example, the Yale Ballroom Dance Team had impromptu dances accompanied by video clips of their performances. Meanwhile, the comedy group the Odd Ducks filled their station with rubber ducks. Various styles of music came from the Yale Handbell Ensemble, Yale Undergraduate Jazz Collective and the Yale Russian Chorus, among others.

Because of the nature of the remote Bulldog Days in the spring and accessibility of Zoom meetings, many new students had already connected with groups prior to the bazaar, so the event also acted as time for people to meet people face-to-face after meeting online.

In addition, the bazaar served as an opportunity for sophomores to meet club leaders in person for the first time after a year of remote meetings. 

“To be able to have those personal interactions rather than speaking to a panel of screens on Zoom will increase retention,” Taylor said. “I also think that everyone is just so excited because we are in person that excitement is coming off in our pitch to prospective members and I hope that is making them excited too.” 

Many student groups plan to host informational meetings, hold auditions or send out applications this week.