Club Fair Reveals a Snag in the Transition Back to In-Person


At 3:35 PM on October 20th, three thousand Brooklyn Tech students descended on the cafeteria for the first day of the school’s first club fair since 2019. The cafeteria’s capacity was exceeded by 200% as students crammed in, craning to get a look at the booths set up by hundreds of clubs. Many students were forced to wait for more than half an hour trying to walk up the stairs or take the elevator. On what should have been an exciting day for Tech students, especially incoming freshmen, students complained of the heat, lack of space, and generally poor circumstances.

While its chaotic debut may not have indicated this, the club fair was planned meticulously by administrators and students. Hours of work were put in to create a map of the event and coordinate with 237 clubs to sign up and set up their booths. Between Club Team Council (CTC) meetings and Student Government (SGO) meetings, the event took weeks to prepare.

Mr. Edwin Velazquez, the Coordinator of Student Activities (COSA) for the Classes of 2024 and 2026, explained, “We were trying to sort out the club’s requests with respect to what day they go, where they wanna be, what if any special needs they have, creating the chart of the cafeteria and the 8th floor gym, putting together the list, making sure that everybody is informed, and correcting mistakes and making last minute changes. So, it’s a whole process.” The day before the fair, Velazquez’s office was flooded with students frantically working on assembling the fair, but despite the chaos, there was an air of hope and excitement around the event.

Unfortunately for Velasquez and student planners, things did not go as planned. Vice President of Paw Patrol Penelope Shvarts, a senior in the Law and Society major, expressed frustration with the event. She explained, “It took me fifteen minutes to get to our table which was twenty feet away. There was also no way to get around, so it was exhausting.”

As the largest public high school in the United States, Tech events such as club fairs need to be planned on a proportionally large scale. The COSA office expressed how difficult it can be to coordinate the thousands of students and hundreds of clubs into a trouble-free event. Planning this year’s club fair was extra challenging for the SGO, as it was the first in three years and the first to be held in the cafeteria. Velazquez said, “In a lot of ways it’s been like reinventing the wheel. I think next year it’s going to be easier, because we have a template. There was no template. And we’re doing it differently this year in order to facilitate our lives.”

Velazquez was disappointed with the event’s challenges because he knows how vital clubs are within Tech. He explained, “You know, I say all the time, I was a student at Brooklyn Tech. I know what it’s like to be in this building. I know what it’s like to get lost, it’s very easy to slip between the cracks, and I think that clubs are one of the ways in which people find their people.”

After the club fair, the CTC needed a different way to promote clubs to prospective members, so they met and came up with a solution. To combat an insufficient amount of deans to monitor a multi-floor event and the cafeteria not being available for a week-long fair, they decided on an open house week. The open house week took place the week of November 28th to December 2nd, with clubs meeting at their usual times and holding interest meetings in their respective classrooms.

The club fair this year has exemplified the challenges of the return of in-person events in such a large school, but the consensus among club executives is that the pros outweigh the cons. President of Media Club Michell Gao (‘23) added, “I really enjoyed talking to the freshmen, and having that opportunity to talk to people about our club and something that I was passionate about. That was fun.”

However, Gao expressed the same concerns as Paw Patrol: the transition to in-person has brought on a multitude of issues with budgeting, scheduling, and accessing materials. Gao explained, “A lot of things are new to us. We have to do a lot of planning to make sure that our members are still enjoying our meetings in-person.”

While the Club Fair may not have gone as planned and the transition to meeting in-person presents challenges, executives, members, and advisors alike remain optimistic of the school year to come. Arnis Yerzhanova (‘23), Secretary of Paw Patrol, said, “I feel like, also just being in-person there’s more of a sense of a community. We’re actually able to interact with our members and talk with them.”