The first day of classes for the 2014-15 academic year was capped with a Club Fair and Community Expo on the University Center lawn, which drew hundreds of students eager to learn about opportunities for engagement.
The club fair and expo provides a "perfect opportunity for all Lehigh students, faculty and staff to get to know their surrounding community and what it has to offer,” said Aarsenio Perry, assistant director of Student Activities and one of the organizers. Other sponsors are the Office of First-Year Experience and Office of Community and Regional Affairs.
The 17th annual event had more than 270 tables, featuring more than 230 clubs and organizations, local merchants and other services. Many offered an array of tempting edibles like frozen yogurt, pizza, French fries, ice cream sandwiches, brownies, blondies, cookies and candy. Others tossed pens, pencils, highlighters, key chains and more to the throngs of students who floated by their tables.
Among the most popular tables was the one manned by Lehigh wrestlers, who routinely give out more than 1,000 t-shirts each year, according to junior wrestler Eric Hess from Benton, Pa.
“I can’t go into a classroom without seeing Lehigh students wearing one of the t-shirts, and as an athlete, I know how much we appreciate that,” he said. “Students are very supportive of us and this is our way of saying thanks.”
Nearby was the Community Service table, where volunteers encouraged fellow students to learn more. Among the volunteers was Katherine Fletcher ’16, an engineering major from Fenwood, N.J., who donates about five hours each week to community service, in addition to serving as a Gryphon (residence hall adviser) in McClintic-Marshall House, playing on the club volleyball team, working on the yearbook and being an active member of a sorority.
“I just tell them to sign up for everything that they might be interested in, and then find your passion,” Fletcher said. “If something doesn’t work for you, don’t worry about it. There are plenty of other ways to get involved. But being involved in the local community is particularly fulfilling for me, and this is one of the only clubs that offers that opportunity.”
Just a few paces away from the ROTC table, where cadets were challenging students to a push-up contest, the Lehigh University Police Department was encouraging students to sign up for self-defense classes and the new EmergenSee personal security app. Interest was high, according to LUPD Assistant Chief Stu Bedics, who said a total of more than 800 have already signed up for the free app since it was made available in mid-August.
A half hour into the Club Fair, the music, dancing and Frisbee tossing paused long enough for Interim President Kevin Clayton to welcome the students and encourage them to get involved.
“This fair represents what Lehigh is all about: involvement and passion,” said Clayton, who also encouraged first-years to use this opportunity to form the “collaborative connections” that are core to the bLUeprint program.
“Trust me, getting involved in one of more than 230 clubs and organizations will not only make you a better person, but will give you a richer experience while you’re here,” Clayton said.
Clayton also encouraged students to acknowledge all the individuals who make their extraordinary Lehigh experience possible, including the staff, and gave a special “shout-out” to the Council for Equity and Community, which serves as a driving force in helping to create a diverse and inclusive campus culture.