500 student groups vie for new members

College freshmen gain an average of 4.2 pounds by the end of their first 12 weeks on campus.

All across campus, student group leaders are actively recruiting and competing with one another for new members.

With approximately 500 student organizations registered with the Student Activities Office, some groups are getting creative with their recruiting strategies.

Student Activities Office program director Aaron Asmundson said groups typically chalk sidewalks or hand out flyers to garner attention.

That was not enough for the men’s crew team.

This year, in addition to fliers, crew team members set up one of their racing boats on Northrop Mall to promote new membership and attract passersby. Team members will also visit residence halls in the evenings.

Co-Captain Matt Priess said the team hopes to recruit approximately 25 first-year students in order to maintain an overall membership of 70 men.

Steve Hinkin, a senior crew team member, said despite the many competing organizations, crew has many unique aspects for members.

“It’s a great way to train and stay involved on campus,” he said. He said the team is hoping to win the national title for a third consecutive year.

The crew team, however, is not the only group getting creative with recruiting.

Jeff Ballantyne, director of International Student Friendship Ministries – which focuses on hosting and welcoming international students – said the group will hold a free dinner Saturday to introduce the program to new members and welcome back returning members.

Recruiting at a table in Coffman Union on Wednesday afternoon, Ballantyne said traditional recruiting was also going well.

“It’s been going great,” he said. “We’ve only been here 15 or 20 minutes and we’ve already gotten a lot of people going on (the program).”

He added that the group has seen growth in recent years, and is attractive to students because it offers all students a different

experience.

“We welcome people from various backgrounds,” Ballantyne said. “It’s a great multicultural and diverse experience.”

Other groups are turning to technology to enhance membership.

Greg Oschwald, director of the

Compassionate Action for Animals group, said the Internet is an important recruiting tool for the group.

New to campus last spring, the group is looking to increase its membership from 10 people to 20 people through potlucks, Vegan Day and e-mails to more than 2,000 students.

“It’s cheaper for us and for you,” Oschwald said.

He added that the group is an important addition to campus for the vegetarian community.

“Our goals are growing as a group and promoting a vegetarian community on campus,” Oschwald said.

Other groups are focusing on more traditional methods.

Megan Wolff, campus organizer for the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, said the activities fair and painting the Washington Avenue Bridge, planned for next week, are important events for her group.

MPIRG has 20 returning members and aims to recruit 100 new members, Wolff said. Because group members have been active in environmental, social justice and consumer protection issues for the past 31 years, Wolff said the issues are more influential in getting students interested.

“We are actively involved in making changes,” Wolff said. “Our group is one of the best at getting students involved in these issues.”

Asmundson said the number of registered groups is expected to follow the same upward trend as last year, when the number jumped from 400 to 500.

Students have until Oct. 31 to register, and students can form new organizations with three members and a $15 annual fee.