SMC quad goes clubbing with Club Row

Last Thursday, Santa Monica College's main quad was home to the 2014 fall semester Club Row. This event takes place every spring and fall semester, and is one of the best opportunities for SMC clubs to promote themselves and advertise to potential members. This semester's theme was "Halloween," and clubs strove to make their booth or table stand out from the crowd in the hopes of attracting students to their organization.

Some sold food and others advertised in elaborate costumes. There were also some unconventional draws, like Generation of the Future's dunk tank and International Student Forum's human whack-a-mole, and Future Alumni Club's fortune telling booth. Unsurprisingly, the more effort a club put into their presentations, the more students were drawn to them.

Club Grow, SMC's gardening club, gathered the most people with their "Little Garden of Horrors" display. One member, Mark Biedlingmaier said of his table, "We spent a few days coming up with it. We have enough support so we were all able to come together in a short amount of time. I'm glad it came through."

Apart from it being a bonding experience for the members of a club, Club Row is one of the main recruiting and fundraising techniques that these groups use. Biedlingmaier says that although not everybody who shows interest in the table ultimately joins, it is a good way to raise awareness. "We do find a significant amount that come back for at least one meeting. I know sometimes life gets in the way, but we definitely get a boost in our turnouts for the club meetings. Club Row is definitely a good opportunity to recruit people and enlighten them to the opportunities that are around campus."

Alison Dahlstrom, President of the Santa Monica College Republican Club, had a similar success story. She said, "We've gotten a lot of great sign-ups today. I think [Club Row] is a time where people know to come out and check what clubs are happening. It's a good day to do tabling because people are aware that it's actually happening."

While clubs had the opportunity to recruit new members and relay the message about their club's purpose, they also had the opportunity to win cash prizes for best table and costume contests. The contest winners will be announced at the weekly Thursday ICC meeting.

At the weekly Associated Students meeting on Monday, the board's directors applauded the successes of Club Row and congratulated Inter-Club Council vice president Courtney King for all of her efforts over the month.

While Club Row undoubtedly helped clubs promote themselves, getting approval for a booth was a tricky process for some. "It's a month-long process," said Peter Guerrero, president of the honor society Phi Theta Kappa (PTK). He went over what had to be done before PTK's booth became the festive "Disney Horror Nights". Guerrero explained the most difficult part was filling out all the paperwork, deciding what food they would give out and report back to the ICC on time. The fun part of decorating followed: "The decorating part, that's something that we do on our own. After getting approval for the food, it's basically designing what we're going to do. We let the members choose the theme that they want, that's a good way for them to get involved," said Guerrero.

Some clubs truly suffered from the necessities of paperwork, like the GAX Club (gaming, animation, and special effects) which struggled to put together an impromptu display after originally not being able to get a table due to incomplete paperwork. "We did make it before the deadline, but the problem was that they lost our paperwork after we submitted it," said Tristan Saint Oyant, who manages public relations for GAX Club. Despite this mishap, they managed to get a last minute table and as well as a little publicity for their club.

Saint Oyant was glad they were able to promote, even if it wasn't what they had planned. "We just wanted to get something done. I've never been to club row before, and I didn't know it was this much of a celebration," he said.

Besides the displays that the clubs set up themselves, this semester's attractions also featured food from The Boba Truck which sold bubble teas (milk tea with added tapioca), and a live band playing outside the book store.

So whether or not students decide to join a club during their time at SMC, Club Row provided a way for clubs to make their presence known around campus, and hopefully helped match students to others with similar interests.