By midnight every night of Zero Week and first week, students with blankets and sleeping bags in hand converge on campus to spend the night on the tables and benches that line Bruin Walk.
The members of various student organizations take turns camping out each night to secure a table for another day of handing fliers to the students that take Bruin Walk to and from classes.
Student leaders pitching tents and unrolling sleeping bags said their groups organize overnight shifts every year, and Bruin Walk is especially crowded during fall quarter.
Jessie Singh, a third-year architectural studies student and member of Beta Chi Theta, said his fraternity has been camping overnight during Zero Week and first week for a table on Bruin Walk to attract new members since the foundation of the fraternity in 1999.
Student leaders said it is impossible to find an empty table in the morning because so many student groups compete for a position on Bruin Walk.
“Typically by midnight all the tables are taken,” said Albert Chiang, a second-year mathematics and economics student and webmaster of Delta Sigma Phi.
Nate Imai, a third-year architectural studies student and secretary of Nikkei Student Union, said he came as early as 10 p.m. to select the table of his choice.
Other students choose to avoid camping overnight and instead set up collapsible tables of their own in the morning on Bruin Walk.
“We bring our own table and we found that to be very effective because we don’t have to camp out,” said Stephanie Lee, an alumna of 2007 and a member of In Christ Alone.
At the start of each quarter, Bruin Walk is covered with fliers and students representing the various clubs and organizations on campus.
A stroll along Bruin Walk gives passersby a glimpse of the hundreds of volunteer opportunities, fraternities, literary publications and religious organizations available to students.
Imai said tabling on Bruin Walk allows student groups to target new students with the various extracurricular opportunities available at UCLA.
“Tabling on Bruin Walk is a great way to reach out to incoming freshmen and transfers,” Imai said.
But some student groups do without tables altogether to avoid the overnight shift, instead handing out fliers on foot.
“We’re not camping out for a place on Bruin Walk to table because there’s a lot of other people who want to table … and we figured all we needed to do was hand out fliers anyway,” said Vanessa Cabe, a third-year microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics student and treasurer of Hui O ‘Imiloa, the Hawaiian club at UCLA.
Many student groups described fliering on Bruin Walk as one of the most efficient ways to inform students about clubs and organizations on campus.
“Foot traffic is quite busy during peak hours so you can hit a lot of people in a short amount of time,” Chiang said.
But Greg Ching, a second-year pre-business and economics student and Alpha Kappa Psi member, said in his experience, fliering was not as effective a method of gaining students as other strategies, such as classroom announcements.
“(Classrooms are) where we get our interested members ““ that’s more effective,” Ching said.
In addition to tabling on Bruin Walk, some student organizations said they encouraged students to join campus groups via Facebook and social events.
Rohan Patel, a third-year psychological biology student and treasurer of the Indian Student Union, said he believes Facebook may soon overtake tabling in popularity.
“With Facebook you can reach out to a lot more people,” Patel said.
But Ching expressed doubt that student groups would stop fliering on Bruin Walk in the upcoming years.
“I think it would look weird if we were not on Bruin Walk,” Ching said.
While they also employ other tactics to gain new members, student leaders said tabling on Bruin Walk gives students the opportunity to greet and interact with and ask questions of club members in person.
“(Tabling) exposes them to you and we’re always here to answer questions,” Patel said.