Freebies entice PNW student interest during Welcome Week

When university organizations set up tables to welcome students, they are typically thinking about recruiting new members.

But some students view the events as opportunities to grab as much free stuff as they can.

“I made it a competitive event between me and my friends,” said Kadin Wilbur, a senior studying Engineering. He recalls the university’s fall Welcome Rallies during Welcome Week last fall.

“The one that gathers the most t-shirts wins,” he said. 

It is not always shirts on the tables. Sometimes the freebies are infographics, business cards or items of practical or aesthetic value.

“[We offer] computer camera covers, sunglasses, microphone keychains,” said Nerissa C. Fezler, a graduate assistant who oversaw freebies for the Communication and Creative Arts Department. “We try to get stuff that we think students are buying.”

Sometimes, the stuff at the tables is not that desirable.

“I sometimes go for the free stuff but if you have erasers on your table I am not going,” said Rob Veley, a Health Sciences major. “I don’t give a s— about erasers.”

The “stuff” at tables is more than “stuff” to those who staff the tables. It is a way to initiate conversations with students.

“I don’t think students are taking advantage … in the right way,” said Fezler. “They see stuff … [but to] me the stuff is just conversation builders.

“The free stuff is … a segue to having conversations,” she said.“I think it does work and whether they [sign up for anything] or not I just do it for conversations.” 

The stuff at the table does not even have to be free to be effective, it turns out.

“We have backpacks, sweatshirts, shirts, hats and even pants, but we didn’t even have those offered at the table, unless you were signed up to be a member of the varsity team,” said Assistant Coach of eSports, Shadow Chanthadouangsy. “All we had at the table was a Nintendo Switch set up for students to play to see if they would be interested in the eSports league.”

Chanthadouangsy believes that students take advantage of such promotions.  He said the eSports table at the Welcome Rally drew a good crowd.

“There were a lot of people there. At least 50 people signed up for varsity and 100 for the club,” said Chanthadouangsy. “We recruited a whole [Super Smash Bros. Ultimate] team there.”

Some students like the opportunity to meet others. 

“I knew about the … free stuff,” said Tyler Huitsing, a senior studying Engineering. “But the conversations that I ended up having were better than the fliers and crap that would eventually just end up sitting in my car and collecting dust.”