Students swarm activities fair

By Michael Macagnone

More than 2,000 students gathered in and around Posvar Hall from 2 to 5 p.m. yesterday for… More than 2,000 students gathered in and around Posvar Hall from 2 to 5 p.m. yesterday for Pitt’s Student Activities Fair — one of the first chances for student organizations to contact a new class of Pitt freshmen. Several hundred student organizations showed up to table and recruit in and around the building’s main concourse.

Students had packed themselves into Posvar Hall by 2 p.m. and stood shoulder to shoulder in the cramped space. People’s hips and legs brushed up against the tables that student groups had laid out to line the main area of the hall. Many students in the crowd couldn’t move for as long as five minutes at a time.

People spilled out onto the patio areas of Posvar, and hundreds more students moved between the tables in the baking, 90-degree heat.

Pitt freshman Brian Dulick said that the crowd was manageable, once he had learned how to navigate the masses.

“The Activities Fair was crazy. It’s like a bottleneck, you could not really move,” he said. “But it was fine once you learned to push.”

The crowd didn’t take the shine off his first Activities Fair experience though.

“I love it,” he said. “You get to see everything that Pitt has to offer,”

At times, the crowd prevented people from getting to the certain tables.

At one point, volunteers at the Pitt Arts table started throwing yellow T-shirts over the crowd to reach waiting hands.

At another table that gave out free T-shirts, the Pitt Program Council signed up more than 2,800 students by 4 p.m., said Robyn Szablewski, the group’s spokeswoman.

PPC gave out 1,500 T-shirts and about 1,600 whiteboards before the fair ended.

“It’s been constant all day long,” Szablewski said at about 4 p.m. “It only settled down about 20 minutes ago. People were lining up by about a quarter to 2.”

Outside, the crowd was less dense, but it didn’t appear to be much smaller.

Senior Todd Minner, the president of the Panther Paintball Club, said his group received about 100 sign-ups over the course of the afternoon, compared with 40 from last year.

For the first few hours, it was difficult for people to get around in front of the tables, he said. But the press of the crowd wasn’t the only force that made recruiting more difficult.

“The noise was the hard part,” he said, while a much-reduced crowd walked past the club’s table outside of Posvar Hall. “You could not really get your point across.”

Gina Scozzaro, the business manager for the Student Organization Resource Center, helped organize the fair, which changed noticeably since last year.

Scozzaro said that the organizers rearranged some of the tables from previous years. They took the tables out of the skywalk above Forbes Avenue and put more outside of Posvar.

“The skywalk wasn’t a good area, especially in the summer heat,” she said.

Another 20 student groups signed up for tables this year, she said, adding to the crowd.

“[The fair] grows considerably every year,” Scozzaro said, “and one of the largest freshmen classes ever makes it even bigger.”

She said that organizers made sure that they had enough orange-shirted staff members manning the event to handle anything that came up.

At one point the second floor of Posvar Hall grew so crowded that several people ran up the down escalator to escape the push of so many bodies. A pair of orange-clad staffers directed the crowd.

Most students left before 5 p.m., leaving Posvar Hall largely empty except for the bare folding tables and hundreds of discarded fliers, cards and papers.