Free stuff, email lists: How to conquer Quad Day

One year ago, it wasn’t just any Quad Day — it was my very first one. As an overzealous freshman, I came prepared.

It was the week before move-in day and little freshman Melanie was doing her homework. I pulled up the official website for registered student organizations and started scrolling through over 800 club descriptions, a daunting task.

Determined to be the boss of Quad Day, I compiled an eclectic list of groups I wanted to check out: Capture the Flag Enthusiasts, Dance Dance Revolution Club, Fighting Illini Triathlon, Knitting Illini. Fish Lovers Union, Grillini … The list went on and on.

This girl was ready, leading to a smooth and informative Quad Day experience. This brings me to my first piece of advice for any QD virgins out there, followed by the rest of my brilliant tips:

1. Do some research. Unbeknownst to most, there’s information online for every single club. If you pick out a few RSOs to check out, your day will be 12 times easier.

2. Eat a big breakfast. You’re going to need to do a little carbo-loading if you want endurance for the day. Between squirming your way to the front of a table and schlepping up and down the Quad, you’ll be burning more calories than my main man, Ryan Lochte.

3. Split up. Arrive with your new friends, fine, but don’t roam the lawn in a big pack of people. I learned this the hard way after waiting around at the Bellydance UIUC booth for upwards of 12 minutes. Sometimes, you’ve just got to put your interests ahead of your friends — the friends with flat abs and hips that never lie.

4. Take everything. Quad Day is often compared to a completely free shopping spree: pens, T-shirts, cozies, cups, whistles and more. Don’t think about whether you need that Board Game Club magnet. You do. You always do.

5. Give out your email sparingly. Contrary to No. 4, you should always think before scribbling your Illinois account address on a sign-up sheet. Unless, of course, you truly love receiving 30 emails in one day. Your choice.

6. Enjoy yourself. QD is like Christmas — you get stuff, and it only comes once a year. So soak it up. This is your first step to getting involved on campus. I believe Ben Franklin sums it up best on his famous political cartoon circa 1754: “Join, or Die.” Putting yourself out there and meeting new people through clubs is one of the best ways to grow as a person during your college years. Satisfaction guaranteed. Free pencils also guaranteed.

Melanie is a sophomore in Media.