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Atrium tabling fosters sense of community

By Brian Stieglitz Columnist

You see it every day when you walk into the Student Center: tables upon tables of screaming students, cheering and begging to get your attention. Some people try their hardest to avoid the scene, looking down or walking faster as they pass the atrium tables, while others seem to enjoy surveying the different options and offers presented. Nevertheless, tabling in the atrium has a beneficial affect on students and on the clubs to which they belong.

When I walk past the tables each day, I try to give a decent amount of my time to the clubs that seek my attention. This usually depends on whether I’m in a rush or trying to get to class. In such cases, I’ll avoid eye contact, keep walking and hold my head down, mostly because I feel so guilty about deliberately turning down somebody trying to talk to me.

But when I’m not in a rush, I see no reason not to give the clubs what they want. I find it enjoyable to talk to the excitable students about their causes. I know that when I table for the clubs that I’m a part of, I like having customers, whether or not they actually buy what I’m selling.

It makes me happy knowing that I’m making tabling students happy by stopping to listen to what they have to say. They aren’t always selling something, which is good for poor college students. Sometimes they just want you to know who they are and what they do. There’s a sense of community that goes with stopping at the atrium tables to hear fellow students talk about why they do what they do.

Yet, most students say they hardly ever stop at the tables, and some say they only stop if friends are there. But even if people are only going to see a friend and wind up buying to please them, it still serves its purpose.

“Any way to get your name out is worth it in my opinion,” said Dave Heitnan, a 19-year-old student from New Jersey. “If someone asks me, I’ll usually stop and listen to what they have to say,” he said, following a principle of being courteous and paying attention to fellow students.

Nevertheless, the tabling students can get a bit overwhelming, especially when you’re in a hurry. Anna Pendleton, a 20-year-old student from Minnesota, said that her initial reaction is, “Please don’t yell at me. Leave me alone,” or “Are there cupcakes today?” She suggested that the clubs should alter their methods in appealing to students, claiming that the main strategies are always “yelling or food.”

In the end, whichever tactics achieve the most attention for the clubs should be the focus of tabling, whether students go out of courtesy, to please a friend, or to buy some food.

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