Collyn Robinson, Staff Photographer

Students navigated the frenzy of tri-fold posters, QR codes and free candy at the Schwarzman Center — the site of this year’s annual Extracurricular Bazaar on Sunday. 

The event featured a total of 331 organizations inside Commons and across the Beinecke Plaza, featuring a wide variety of organizations, from pre-professional clubs and cultural affinity groups to service clubs. Candy strewn about tables, well-rehearsed acapella performances and one-liners filled the air as both club leaders and students attempted to navigate the exciting, yet inevitably overwhelming, environment of the Bazaar. 

Marcella Villagomez ’24, who is the co-president of Code Haven, told the News that students often want to join many organizations, but they get overwhelmed by the number of options, making the amount of options both “a blessing and a curse.”

“You have to pull them in and convince them to apply to yours,” Villagomez said. “But it is definitely cool to have them all in one setting so students don’t feel like they’re missing out.”

In past years, the event has taken place in different locations including Old Campus and the Payne Whitney Gymnasium. While the event was also hosted at the Schwarzman Center last year, the club tables did not extend into the Underground of the Schwarzman Center during this year’s bazaar. 

“I really liked that there was nothing downstairs,” Yale Entrepreneurial Society president Grace Gerwe ’25 said. “Last year we had a table downstairs so a ton of people didn’t even see us, and this year I think they laid it out really well.”

In addition to the various strategies clubs use to recruit students during the Bazaar, several groups had started promoting themselves to students prior to the event, providing students a more relaxed environment in which they were able to learn about various student organizations. On Saturday, Sept. 2, Yale Votes threw a Democracy and Dessert social in Commons, featuring voter registration and opportunities for students to get involved with Yale Votes. Woolsey Jam, a showcase of different acapella groups on campus, occurred the same evening, offering students a taste of the performing arts at Yale.

Some students found the event particularly helpful as opposed to online outreach because it allowed for students to see different groups and interact with club leaders more meaningfully in a physical space. 

Samantha Saenz ’27 said that the large number of emails and different avenues for communication with clubs was hard to follow, but it was helpful to see the clubs laid out in-person. 

Beyond navigating the Bazaar itself, students face larger concerns about applying for clubs. In conversations with the News, multiple first-year students said they had limited experience applying to extracurricular activities in school prior to coming to Yale. 

“It’s definitely intimidating because we all already got into Yale and now there’s so much competition to get into certain clubs and extracurriculars,” Saenz said. “It’s so stressful because even if you want to pursue something there’s not a certainty that you can definitely pursue it.”

Club leaders, including Gerwe and Villagomez, told the News that the application process should not be a significant source of stress, but rather an opportunity for students to see the communities they are the best fit for and determine where they could meaningfully engage with other students. 

While many first-years, like Saenz, said the process of joining clubs can be stressful, Miles Kirkpatrick ’27 told the News it is “ultimately understandable” why clubs might have lengthy applications. 

Co-editor in Chief of the Yale Undergraduate Law Journal Matthew Jennings ’25 said that one of the biggest challenges as a club leader is settling on the application process. 

“We wanted to strike a balance between respecting people’s time and understanding that people don’t want to do successive rounds of interviews, but also making sure we have a good idea about the people who want to join our club because we don’t have unlimited space and resources,” Jennings said. 

To ease the stress of application, clubs that students claim have been historically exclusive — in particular, Yale’s pre-professional societies — are hosting events and information sessions for students from different backgrounds to become engaged with their work. Groups such as the Yale Student Investment Group and Yale Undergraduate Diversified Investments offer opportunities for underrepresented communities to get more information about applying or offer peer mentorship opportunities. 

While the whirlwind of applications and introductory meetings can be chaotic for students, Jennings encouraged students to pace themselves when getting involved in clubs. 

“It’s not super important to rush into everything,” Jennings said.“You don’t have to join all the clubs now. there are so many opportunities down the line to get involved.”

Club leaders and students alike said they are optimistic about joining various organizations at Yale and engaging more deeply in their college communities. 

Dwight Hall’s extracurricular fair, which features service-oriented student groups, will take place from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sept. 9.