BY BETH PETER AND LAURA CALDERON
Managing Editor, Entertainment Editor
The Student Community Center at the County College of Morris was transformed into a festival of food and cadre of community during the Welcome Back Bash on Tuesday, Feb. 2.
Visibly excited students mingled amongst various clubs and organizations hoping to recruit new members. Those who attended were able to partake in a chocolate fountain, fresh spun cotton candy, and a seemingly endless supply of free food and desserts.
“This is fantastic,” said James Manners, a criminal justice major. “I didn’t even know CCM offered this many clubs. I signed up for as many as I could.”
Clubs set up tables offering goodie bags, pens and of course – free food. Student leaders set up tables looking as inviting as possible in order to attract new members to their clubs. Clubs must have at least 10 members on the roster in order to maintain status, so the Welcome Back Bash is crucial for smaller clubs to gain as much exposure as they can in order to build a strong, sustainable group.
As one of the newer groups on campus, the Cyber Security Club strives to help students be aware and protect themselves from the dangers of online communication. Established in 2015, the club has grown exponentially in the past year – beginning with 10 students the club now has swelled to over 60 members.
“Our club is centered on helping people use the internet responsibly,” said Brian Seligson, a telecommunications major at CCM. “Teaching [members] the dangers of publicly giving out information and what could unfortunately happen by doing so.”
The bash was essential for clubs like the Chess Club, which has struggled in the past with lack of membership but has recently been revived due to renewed interest. Striving to promote better skills and knowledge of the classic game, the club encourages people of all ages and skill levels to join and learn how to play.
“We hope to help others learn more about the game,” said Chess Club President Brett Friedensohn. “As well as bettering ourselves through the process of practicing. You can’t get better unless you practice.”
For students who have scheduled classes during college hour – when most clubs meet or have events – some clubs offer events later on, outside of CCM.
New Social Engine provides college students opportunities to go out and socialize without the pressure of drugs or alcohol. It hosts trips off campus, from visiting the Funplex to seeing Marvel’s “Deadpool” a day early at a discounted price.
“The Welcome Back Bash is an effective method of spreading awareness of my group and gaining new members,” said Melissa Berardesco, president of New Social Engine. “It gives us a chance to meet new students and give them information about our club.”
Berardesco said the event was a success.
“Everything ran smoothly and everyone enjoyed it,” Berardesco said.
Another club that aims to better the campus community is Pretty Girls Sweat, whose overall goal is to educate students on what it means to possess a happy and healthy lifestyle. Hosting multiple Zumba dance classes and workout activities throughout the semester, the club encourages individuals to get and remain active on a daily basis. Kailee Bockhorn, an early childhood education major, said the club is not only a supportive workout system but a good place to learn about healthy living.
“The club’s main focus is to help others become and stay healthy through the process of sharing good eating habits and easy, at-home workouts,” Bockhorn said. “Obesity is a huge problem in today’s society and we work hard to help minimize the issue at hand.”
Marcelle Caruso, president of the Student Government Association, praised the Student Activities Programming Board for the environment of the entire event.
“The Welcome Back Bash was a success,” Caruso said. “The SGA got over 30 students to sign up.”
In a school with over 50 clubs, standing out can be the hardest part about getting new members.
Michael Gosden, a member of Active Minds, praised the Welcome Back Bash’s efficacy in dealing with this hurdle.
“A personal approach and face to face interaction is one of the best ways to gain new members.” Gosden said. “We hope to attract as big a crowd as possible.”
Hoping to raise awareness for issues surrounding mental health and the many health resources that are available to students on campus,members of Active Minds dedicate themselves to educating people about the struggles of others. Granting whomever signed up with a cup of hot chocolate, the club felt their table at the bash was extremely successful.
From the point of view of Associate Director of Campus Life Don Phelps, and adviser of SAPB, “The clubs came out in force.” He said that the biggest challenge was convincing students to go to the Student Community Center in the first place.
Phelps said, “SAPB promoted the Bash and offered free hot snacks, soda and a Chocolate Factory to entice the students to walk over to the SCC Lobby.”
“This definitely took my mind off of a couple things,” said Brianna Affinito, a fine arts major. “I wish this could happen every Tuesday.”