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Recruiting Players

In an effort to have the College Bowl program be more responsive to the students of today, the College Bowl Program Team of the Association of College Unions International (ACUI) has developed strategies to make your College Bowl program and campus tournament more successful.

In addition to campus-wide recruitment efforts, we suggest that you focus on making your College Bowl program inclusive of students of color.

You will be able to increase participation in your campus program by reaching out to the diverse student population. Increasing student of color involvement will make your team stronger by adding students with knowledge of many cultures and groups.

The College Bowl Company writes questions which recognize the accomplishments and interests of the varied populations of today's college students, including but not limited to: women, African Americans, and Latinos.

In order to increase the success of your program, review how College Bowl is promoted on your campus and plan with your students how it can be better. Many students of color perceive barriers in traditional programs on campus, even College Bowl. Brainstorm with a diverse group of students to develop these areas: (1) know your campus, (2) identify faculty and staff allies, (3) plan your program strategies, (4) plan to market the program, (5) continually assess your program successes and challenges, and (6) strategize how to build your base of support with the community.

Have a vision. In leading a brainstorming session, encourage big ideas. How large can the campus tournament be? How many volunteers can be identified and trained? How can College Bowl interact with other campus traditions to become a year-round activity? Be realistic and open the doors to as many ideas, students and volunteers as you can! If you are not directly supported by student activities/student affairs staff, arrange to meet with them for advice. Use their skills and knowledge to make your strategy planning easier.

First, know your campus: students, faculty and staff. Identify your campus demographics through the assistance of the registrar's office. Review the listing of student organizations to better understand the student population, including diverse groups such as:

  • Latinos
  • African-Americans
  • Native Americans
  • Women
  • Asian American
  • Students with special needs
  • Greeks
  • Members of religious organizations

Second, identify faculty and staff who can be asked to serve as volunteers. Particularly identify people of color, women and other special populations. They, in turn, can help you to reach a wider range of students. Look all over campus, including staff in the student union, housing, financial aid, student affairs, counseling and administration. Explain to them personally, how their assistance with the College Bowl program could be critical, not only by volunteering, but also by acting as role models and mentors. Visit with existing faculty mentors or ask to attend a minority faculty organization meeting to seek their assistance as volunteers and in identifying and encouraging students to participate. Have your volunteer training scheduled and organized beforehand and explain exactly when and how much time the training will take. Realize that faculty have extensive demands on their time. They may be more willing to be involved if they know exactly what different levels of involvement are available to them.

Third, plan your strategy. Present College Bowl as a diverse program which can interest all populations and seek their involvement in the Campus Tournament.

  • Use existing networks of students and faculty; understand how information is shared with the students you want to target; and make the Campus Tournament an exciting and inclusive program, recognize the contributions of all participants.
  • Consider the date and time of your Campus Tournament. If possible, do not schedule against programs which will traditionally draw large minority attendance: annual receptions, traditional organization meeting nights, religious holidays such as Yom Kippur, Chinese New Year or Ramadan. Think about commuter students or students who may work at night: decide if you will attract more students if you have a part of the Campus Tournament during the day, at lunch, early in the evening or on a weekend.
  • Consider your registration process. Is it convenient to all students and does it give them enough time to respond easily? Are registration fliers distributed at minority student offices, cultural houses, housing, on the www, mailed to all student organizations (well in advance, some meet only once a month!), in the Women's Center, sororities and fraternities, religious organizations or facilities? Allow different types of registration: teams and individual. Consider placing students who are new to the game or not as experienced with experienced players who can teach and mentor them. This will not affect the opportunity to play on the varsity team if the coach identifies talented players in addition to the winning team(s). If you charge a registration fee, will it discourage students with financial concerns? If so, you may be able to identify a local business who would offer comparable support so the fees are not needed.
  • Consider the location of the Campus Tournament. Is it convenient to all students, held at a convenient site and fully accessible?


Fourth, market the College Bowl Tournament. Participation will increase if you realize that there are perceived barriers about playing. Plan to personally invite participants and market your program so that many populations are recognized. Get the message about your program out in a variety of ways in addition to using your usual methods:

  • Campus newspaper (ads in the personals and/or classified sections and articles), campus radio or television, flyers, announcements, table tents, chalking classroom chalkboards or sidewalks, sandwich and bulletin boards, letters to faculty and honors programs asking for class or meeting announcements.
  • Get the word to students of color through their tried and true methods: student clubs, Black Greek organizations, word of mouth, cultural institutes or centers, programs offices, the "hang out" place, day care centers where nontraditional students have children. If you have a student government or multicultural programming committee, seek their advice and involvement. Help them to understand why College Bowl can benefit their students and can be fun for them!
  • Go to student organization meetings, including minority organizations. Take 2-3 players, a sample of old questions (including some about minority populations), the game rules, a schedule with registration information, dates, phone numbers and email or Web addresses for further information. Explain the game and format if they are not familiar with it.
  • Make sure all information about the tournament uses terminology which encourages all students to participate, e.g. sample questions printed on the posters may be about Latino or African American issues; co-sponsorship with student government multicultural affairs cabinet (or minority student organizations).
  • Give prizes! Everyone loves to win something! Announce beforehand what prizes you'll have: cash, points toward a campus spirit award, donated household products or meals at local restaurants.
Fifth, assess your program after you have finished. Have evaluations for the participants, talk to students about their perception of the program. Identify how you can make positive changes next year and keep them in the planning file so they will not be lost! Remember, it takes years to build a tradition, so give yourself credit for accomplishments and continue working toward your goals.

Finally, develop your student, faculty and staff support base. This will build all year long if you follow appropriate steps:

  • Encourage faculty to volunteer at a practice session once or twice a year. Have faculty-student College Bowl demonstrations at lunch or before other programs.
  • Send a "College Bowl Update" letter after the Regional Championship Tournament to let them know who represented your school, who they played, how they did and who's going to the National Championship Tournament. Invite the student of color organizations to a "post regional" reception/join meeting.
Do press releases after the Campus Tournament, Regional Championship Tournament and any other academic tournaments where your school is represented, listing the names of the participating students and their hometowns. Work with your Public Relations or University Relations department to have the releases go to hometown newspapers or the preferred newspaper of the players.

The College Bowl Program Team of the Association of College Unions International is committed to coordinating a program that is an exciting, relevant activity for all students at your campus. We encourage you to assess your existing program, visualize its potential and develop strategies to make it as inclusive of all your students as it can be. Recognize the fantastic contributions they can collectively make to your Campus Program and representative team. If you have further questions about how to make your Campus Tournament a success, please contact your Regional Coordinator or any of the College Bowl Program Team members, all of whom are listed in the College Bowl Campus Guide.

Resources for this article:

Dalton, J.C. (1991). Racism on Campus: Confronting Racial Bias Through Peer Intervention. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.

Jackson, F. (1989) Multicultural education: diversity in organizations and programming. In C. Woolbright (Ed.) College Unions at Work; Valuing diversity on campus: a multicultural approach. (pp.63-70). Bloomington, IN: Association of College Unions International.

Schneider, M.K. (1993, May). Off-Campus Students: Planning and Marketing Programs for Diverse Groups. Campus Activities Programming, pp.23-26.

Stage, F.K., Manning, K. (1992) Enhancing the Multicultural Campus Environment: A Cultural Brokering Approach. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.


Page Last Updated 6/17/07
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