I worked the involvement fair table for The Quad this past week. As a result, I now have a sunburn inconveniently shaped like the outline of my aviators, a handful of practicum students who have begrudgingly promised to write articles and a new appreciation for ice-cold bottled water. But over the course of the day, I noticed something sort of bothersome. This publication is an organization that continues to function on a budget that doesn’t allow much wiggle room. We spend our money wisely, and make a little more from advertisements you see in print every week.
We do not, as a result, spend pointless amounts of money on swag for your possessive pleasures. Our table was located across from ROTC, next to the radio station and around the corner from various sororities and frats. I watched student after student walk past our table, arms full of tee-shirts and coffee mugs and key chains with sneers of disgust at our scantily outfitted display. Issues of the current paper and complimentary jolly ranchers don’t get you as far as they used to, it would seem.
When did getting excited about finding something on campus to be passionate about turn into an all out free for all of free stuff? Several students actually came right up to the table and asked not what our organization was, but what free stuff we had to give away. I’m all for being thrifty to get through college; it’s a subject very near and dear to me, actually. I just don’t appreciate how the new obligatory need for merchandise cheapens the whole recruiting process.
To be honest, the best people I met at the fair this week were not dripping with the fruits of a quick walk around the quad. They sought us out, intentionally, with an interest in writing and publishing and serving the public. And once or twice, people actually said thank you for our offerings of candy. It never hurts to be polite.
Lisa DellaPorta is a student at West Chester University majoring in English and secondary education. She can be reached at LD631585@wcupa.edu.