Embrace the Quad Day masterpiece: Random items picked up could be handy

Like the Academy Awards, most people kind of take Quad Day for granted. They enjoy the show, and they come for the free stuff, but they don’t know what kind of secrets and under-the-table covert operations go behind the scenes. So last year, I decided to volunteer undercover for Quad Day to give you, devoted Daily Illini readers, the real low-down on the happenings about the Sunday before school starts.

Just kidding. I volunteered because I was an Illini Union Board chair at the time. And think less “secrets” and “under-the-table covert operations” and more “just a ton of hard work.”

The first step in a successful Quad Day actually starts long before Sunday, when clubs must register for a spot on the Quad around … oh, February or March (That’s right. The Illini Union doesn’t mess around when it comes to Quad Day).

Then, members of each activity must start ordering prizes that are engaging enough to give away to wandering students. This is the most important part. Quad Day is unofficially and primarily about the swag. Yes, everyone wants to walk away 20 pounds heavier, so they’ll take almost anything. And you always have this secret desire to be the most memorable booth.

(The Illini Union Board usually give out recyclable pens and cool notebooks, which is like an “8” on the prize scale. The mini-plants the Horticulture club always give out are a “10” because, well, come on. “Mini-plant” says it all.)

During the actual Quad Day, students walk around and see their peers confined to one booth in the hot, hot sun. But don’t call work-labor laws on us yet. We work in shifts, giving us ample time to go to other booths and grab as many pens and plants and fire hats as we’re allowed. Hey, just because we work Quad Day doesn’t mean we too don’t want to fill our living space with stuff.

Another thing people assume is that we’re in deep competition with other booths. That’s not true. Yes, we do want people to join our particular club. But when it comes to giving away prizes, we don’t sweat. Again, everyone wants to get as many prizes as they can.

Have you ever received a free coffee mug and turned down a pen? No. Not unless you’re out of hands, in which case, use your free drawstring bag, rookie.

Besides, it doesn’t hurt that the Illini Union Board booth is as big as Kanye’s ego and is smack dab in the middle. But before you get to hating, just know: The set up for that thing is straining.

At the end of the day, the take-down is … actually, I don’t know how one takes down for Quad Day; I’ve never stayed past 3 p.m. I’m assuming the Union can transform into one big dustpan and sweeps away debris and takes down booths in two seconds. Or those poor kids with the last shift take down, clean up and move out. I’m not quite sure. Either is plausible.

Hopefully this “behind-the-scenes” guide will help you remember that even if you’re near a club that you wouldn’t join in a million years, you’ll think of all the work members put in for that day, smile and just take the darn solar-powered ice-cream scooper.

Somehow, someday it’ll come in handy.

_Tolu is a junior in Media._