Hotdogs and fruit provided to students at the Ohio State Involvement Fair on Aug. 18. Credit: Cori Wade | Assistant Photo Editor

Students hoping to get involved on campus will now have more options than ever. 

Student organizations are still in the registration period, but the Office of Student Life has seen a record number of requests for new organizations this year, Dave Isaacs, university spokesperson, said. The 2019 Fall Involvement Fair had 841 registered organizations, compared with 765 in 2018.

“Because there are so many different interests, there are clubs to meet any student’s interests,” Isaacs said.

Jen Pelletier, associate director of student activities, said the increase can be tied to changing interests and recent trends. Pelletier said the increased popularity of esports, for example, has helped the Buckeye Gaming Collective kick off.

“New organizations follow the evolution of new things,” Pelletier said.

Brooke Olson, coordinator of student involvement and organizations, said the culture of involvement on campus is strong, leading to new student organizations, but retention and membership of established organizations fluctuate yearly based on leadership transitions.

If an organization has a successful and effective leadership transition from year to year, they are more likely to retain and gain members, Olson said.

If this is not the case, Pelletier said the best way to retain and recruit members is through the “three R’s: responsibility, recognition and relationships.”

She added that knowing student organizations struggle with retention makes it important to get students together to talk about the strategies that work, which Student Life incorporates into president training.

Pelletier said to achieve good retention, it is important for organizations to bring in new members and give them some kind of responsibility, recognition and connection with new friends and members of the organization.

Isaacs said the average size of a student organization at Ohio State is about 28 members, and the best way to gain or retain club members is to offer meaningful experiences students can’t get elsewhere.

“Having more members is not necessarily better,” he said. “If a student organization gets to a size that each individual member can’t have a meaningful experience then that’s not desirable.”