Activities Fair brings about waves of activism

Ellyde Roko

Freshmen flocked to the Associated Student Government Activities Fair on Thursday at Norris University Center to sign up for their favorite activities. But some students still had the events of Sept. 11 on their minds.

“So often you can ignore these things at Northwestern and live in a bubble,” said Mary Bridget Gurry, president of Northwestern’s Model United Nations. “I want to burst that bubble.”

So when new students wandered to her table, Gurry asked them to sign a statement of support for the Muslim and Arab-American communities.

“It’s something I want to acknowledge and give sympathy and empathy to,” she said.

Although freshmen packed the rooms and hallways of Norris eager to learn about the approximately 180 student groups at the fair, some saw the activities fair as an opportunity to react to the terrorist attacks.

“I don’t agree with a lot of what the government is doing right now and I’d like to see us go about combatting terrorism in another way,” said Weinberg freshman Katy Schumaker after talking with members of NU’s activist groups.

“It’s such a complex issue, we could probably play a pretty educational role,” said Speech junior Lizzy Gore, who is involved with Progressive Alliance, the umbrella group for campus activist groups. “We’re hoping to get a lot of freshmen this year because we will need to train and educate people because so many of our group members are juniors and seniors.”

But nothing overshadowed the main purposes of the activities fair: to inform and recruit.

“It’s a good way to get the word out to freshmen,” said Meriden D’Arcy, a Speech sophomore and member of the women’s Ultimate Frisbee team. “I was a freshman last year and I was recruited at the Activities Fair. I had never played Ultimate Frisbee before, but I saw it at the Activities Fair, signed up and went to practices.

“Here we have 50 people signed up and if we can keep 10 of them, that almost doubles the team.”

And freshmen appreciated the chance to be informed about NU student groups.

“I thought it would be a good opportunity to find out what activities NU has to offer since I’m coming here not involved in any activities,” said Jerome Pandell, a Weinberg freshman. “It’s definitely helpful to students who maybe don’t know about the activities or aren’t necessarily initially motivated to seek out the activities themselves.”

Some groups went to great lengths to make sure freshmen know about their organizations, giving away candy, CDs, condoms and keychains.

“I thought more people would be doing the whole sandwich board thing, but it seems like I’m the only one,” said Graham Walker, an Education senior and a walking advertisement for Alternative Spring Break. “It’s important in terms of getting name recognition. (Freshmen) usually make up a big portion of our participants each year.”

And after the Activities Fair, freshmen can feel like part of the NU community, as Pamela Roley, a Weinberg freshman, discovered.

The groups, she said, “are all kind of in your face, but it’s good to actually be recruited to join something and feel wanted.”