37th annual Black Squirrel Festival engages students, community

Students talk during the Black Squirrel Festival in Kent, Ohio on Friday, September 7, 2018.

Robyn Berardi

Kent State students and community members took over the Student Green and Risman Plaza to celebrate Black Squirrel Festival on Sept. 7.

Student organizations set up tables to engage students and provide information about their organizations.

This included a variety of student organizations such as the Kent Student Education Association, Muslim Students’ Association and Construction Management Student Organization.

For many student organizations, Black Squirrel Festival helps increase membership.

“Black Squirrel Festival is an opportunity for either new students or any student that wants to get involved in our organization to get a chance to know that we exist and if they walk up to our table they get to know a little bit more about us,”  said James Satrape, the president of Students Against Sexual Assault.

This annual event builds off the momentum of BlastOff started on Aug. 22.

“We actually got over 200 sign-ups from BlastOff,” Satrape said. “I would like to get more emails on our email sheet today.”

Black Squirrel Festival offers a different way for student organizations to interact with students.

“You do get to talk to a lot of people and reaching out via social media and sharing posts that way isn’t the same as talking to people in person and answering their questions,” Elise Carney, a Kent Student Ambassador said.

The festival appeals to new students who may have missed the opportunity to get involved at BlastOff.

“I came because it looked like a fun activity to participate in my new home community,” said Emma Prince, a freshman undecided major.

Local businesses and organizations including Canes, Plato’s Closet and the Planned Parenthood Kent Health Center were also in attendance.

Organizations like the League of Women Voters of Kent attended to help students get involved beyond campus.

“We’re passionate about everybody being involved in the political process,” said Jane Preston Rose, a League of Women Voters of Kent board member. “We’re nonpartisan, so we want to make sure first, people are registered, then they have information about voting.”

Many tables gave away free items such as posters, T-shirts and water bottles.

“My favorite part is probably all of the free things that I’m getting,” Prince said. “I’ve gotten shirts, a beach ball, cups, writing utensils and stick-on nails.”

The first 1,000 students to visit 10 tables received a free Black Squirrel Festival T-shirt.

The Dining Services table asked students to fill out a survey regarding their dining experiences and to make suggestions in order to win a free stress ball.

The festival also featured the Fork in the Road food truck and a photo booth.

Black Squirrel Festival benefits student organizations and new students alike by connecting them through their mutual interests.

“I think it’s a time where new students and organizations can further their relationship with each other and interact on another level,” Prince said.

Robyn Berardi is a diversity reporter. Contact her at [email protected].