The Activities Fair: A Retrospective

It comes once twice a year. The chance for every club to strut its stuff. The chance for every new freshman to find his or her new calling among the diverse, active, hilarious, serious, lighthearted, political, food-oriented, and multicultural chaos integral to all of Brown’s student groups and clubs. Fun, right?

It sucks. It really effing sucks.

I attended my third activities fair to promote the all-female comedy blog The Rib. I did not expect a full-blown battle to ensue between the freshmen and me. First of all, it was hot in the OMAC. There’s a reason I don’t ever go there (apart from the fact that the thought of physical activity makes me ill)Secondly, some of those freshmen were rude.

Now, I remember being bombarded at Activities Fair. I’m such a people-pleaser that I signed up for every single group that its members pitched to me, including some sort of dance involving a giant dragon (or lion?). I was the Activities Fair Slut. I never ended up participating in any of those activities.

But after two hours of shoving flyers in people’s faces, I was fed up with the freshmen.

The evening went something like this: I scanned the crowd for young freshman girls to write for the blog like a perverted old man. I approached the girls, waving the flyer rapidly in their face. “Are you funny?” I ventured, in my peppiest, happiest voice.

“No.”

JUST TAKE THE DAMN FLYER!!

And some of them did take the damn flyer, but always pitying look on their face. Honestly!

They are missing out.

After a long night of persuading freshmen, I offer the following tips to prepare you on how to navigate the Activities Fair by the time the less enormous (but still exciting) Spring Activities Fair comes around.

Tips for freshmen:

1. Keep your eyes down. Don’t look up. Eye contact will only entice the vultures who will attempt to lure you into ballet dancing, public service, cupstacking, etc. Do you really want to “Adopt a Grandparent” or eat all organic foods?

No. I didn’t think so. I already have two crazy grandmothers. And we all love our processed gas station food.

2.  Don’t engage. We upperclassmen may seem friendly, but we’re only attempting to improve membership in our clubs. Once you’re in, we’ll become scary and intimidating. Watch out.

3. Be incredibly rude. Go on. Speak to us in that condescending tone. We know you want to.

4. Put down a fake email address. By the time that yoga group figures out that katniss_everdeen@brown.edu is not a valid email address, you’ll be long gone.

5. Don’t go. Your other little freshmen friends will for sure fill you in on all the cool groups (BlogDailyHerald, anyone?) they just joined. 

And, conversely, for upperclassmen…

Tips to trap helpless freshmen:

1. Go after the weak ones. It’s the first rule of hunting. Go after the sick, wounded, isolated prey. Some of the freshmen at the Activities Fair looked as if they were on the verge of tears as they wandered through the OMAC.  Capitalize on that.

2. Have the biggest, flashiest poster.  It doesn’t matter if you’re the biggest group of d-bags Brown has ever seen; much like crows, freshmen are drawn to shiny objects.

3. Similarly, make the most attractive members of your club man the station. Freshmen want to think they have some chance of scoring with beautiful people. Don’t let them down.

4. Try not to kick potential club members in the head. There were a few near misses. Yeah, I’m looking at you, Taekwondo Club.

5. Sneak candy in. In previous years, there was one reason and one reason only to go the activities fair: sugar. And then that all changed. The club that managed to sneak in the contraband candy would have had the most new members.

Activities Fair is the worst. But sometimes, in the end, it’s worth it: I learned about BlogDailyHerald through the activities fair.

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