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Amidst shouts, impromptu dances, and thousands of small flyers, Harvard’s hundreds of clubs spent three hours racing to collect as many new members as they could for the new school year.
“It’s really cool to see all this energy and how much people are in love with what they do,” said Florence Y. Chen ’15, who represented the Institute of Politics.
Walking down an aisle of tables, passersby were bombarded by pamphlets, candy, juice boxes and other handouts pronouncing the benefits of membership in various clubs.
“Freshmen are surprised,” said J. Arturo Villanueva ’13, who was representing the Texas Club. “This is the first time they get to see everything that goes on here.”
Many freshmen stayed for the duration of the event to take in the scope of activities at Harvard. “This is a great opportunity to do so many things that I didn’t have at home,” said Benjy S. Levin ’16.
The tables were grouped by theme—sports, public service, music, et cetera. Meanwhile, Harvard University Dining Services offered an outdoor buffet celebrating Boston’s diverse food offerings.
The onslaught of excited club promoters was overwhelming for many new freshmen. With so many activities, students said they had trouble deciding what to sign up for. “There are a lot of people and a lot of booths and they make it seem like it’s your one chance to get involved in something,” said Issac L. Alter ’16. “But it’s not. I hope it’s not.”
Even when freshmen knew they were not interested, they sometimes could not avoid having brochures pushed into their hands.
“I don’t like being forced to take flyers,” said Allyson L. Covello ’16, “but I feel bad turning them down.”
Other freshmen simply took what they were offered. Looking over her collection of freebies as the fair wound down, Stephanie G. Franklin ’16 realized she had received a Christian Bible. “I’m Jewish,” she said. “I didn’t know what they were handing me.”
Despite long lists of prospective members by the end of the fair, club leaders could not be sure all those people would ever show up at a meeting. “A ton of people just put their name down,” said Marc F. Shi ’14, who represented Health Leads. “They don’t really realize what they’re getting into.
The incoming freshmen expressed similar sentiments. “I’ve signed up for twenty or so things,” said Levin. “I’ll see what I can manage.”
But he did know that the Harvard Quidditch team was an option for him. “It sounds amazing,” said Levin. “And I hear you can tackle girls.”
—Staff writer John A. Elzinga can be reached at email@example.com.
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