Maggie Grether, Contributing Photographer

The Schwarzman Center teemed with students Sunday afternoon, as clubs filled 388 tables for the annual Student Organizations Bazaar. 

Student groups displayed posters, flyers, snacks, archery equipment, banjos, ballroom dance performances and, in one case, several watermelons to entice prospective members. The bazaar packed the Commons Dining Hall and The Underground and also spilled into the outdoor Colonnade near Beinecke Plaza. The event ran from 12-2 p.m. on Sept. 4. For many first years, the bazaar was an exciting, if at times overwhelming, introduction to the range of organizations on campus.

 “I looked a lot of groups up online beforehand but gauging the actual people who are involved was interesting,” Benjamin Jimenez ’26 said. “It was pretty hot and cramped.”

Students emphasized high levels of turnout at this year’s bazaar. Caleb Nieh ’26 described the event as “extremely packed,” and Molly Hill ’25 said that she preferred last year’s Old Campus location for the bazaar because it was more spaced out and easier to navigate.

Outside of the bazaar, student groups sought other creative ways to stand out to prospective members.

The Yale Symphony Orchestra, which has already begun preparations for its first concert of the year, relied on summer emails and a social media team to spread the word about auditions. On Sept. 3, the Singing Group Council held its annual Woolsey Jam, showcasing all campus acapella groups, and on Sept. 4, the Alliance for Dance at Yale hosted a Dance Jam to highlight different dance groups.

During the week, clubs also set up tables across campus and handed out flyers to passersby. On Sept. 3, Y Pop-UP — a group that runs bi-weekly fine dining pop-up restaurants — doled out fresh bread, tapenade and application advice to hungry students on Cross Campus.

While club leaders focus on attracting students to their clubs, interested students have a different challenge: actually getting in. While many clubs are open to any student who wants to join, some of the more prominent groups have auditions or applications that can be multi-step, time-consuming and highly competitive.

“I understand that sometimes applications may be necessary because of Yale’s large student body, but having groups feel more accessible and less exclusive would be great,” Hill said.

Hill added that, during her first year, she felt deterred from applying to certain clubs because of their time-consuming application process.

Brigid Stoll ’23, president of the Yale Student Investment Group, spoke to the News about how this intense application process can often be inequitable and inaccessible. Stoll, who attended a boarding school before matriculating at Yale, said she had experienced similar applications at her school which prepared her for the club recruitment process — but she recognizes her background is not universal. 

“I’ve felt that with certain groups at Yale, particularly ones that are challenging to get into, the [application] process really favors a certain demographic of student,” Stoll said. “Diversity and demographic change is needed across the finance industry a lot … A huge part of our responsibility as one of those college groups that feed into those companies is thinking about our application process and the people we choose to pick.”

This past year, according to Stoll, YSIG took efforts to support applicants from demographics traditionally-underrepresented in finance. 

Adriana Golden ’24, chair of The Yale Record, observed that the competitiveness of clubs can create social cliques and prevent students from trying new activities. 

“Part of coming to college is trying new things,” Golden wrote in an email to the News. “So if you have to be a semi-professional at an activity in order to join the corresponding organization, that defeats the whole purpose.” 

Still, students overwhelmingly expressed excitement about joining a wide variety of organizations and exploring their interests.

Camila Young ’26 said she was pleasantly surprised that most of the organizations she was interested in did not have an intense application process. 

“I think you can find anything you can possibly want here,” Young shared. “And if it’s not here, you can make it, which is comforting.”

Yale College extracurriculars include over 50 performance groups and 60 cultural associations, according to the Yale Office of Admissions.