Barbeque and they will come

Sean Campbell

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At noon, the wind picked up, and the smoke wafted. Hot dogs and hamburgers sizzled on three commercial-grade barbeques at the Mesa Student Services Fair, which took place Oct. 10 in the main quad in front of the cafeteria.

The event had been advertised on A-frame billboards for weeks, and flyers had been hung on kiosks; but the biggest commercial for the event, it seemed, was the smoke and the smell of free barbeque.

“Free food,” Tyler Steen, a Mesa football player, said. “Of course we’re coming.”

Although the food seemed to increase student participation, it was not the focus of the event-the focus was information. At the fair, more than 25 Mesa services set up tables and spoke with students. The event was a one-stop shop. A student could go there and, within an hour, learn about anything from free counseling to free tutoring to free money.

Cynthia Grunden, financial aid supervisor and one of the event’s coordinators, said the point of the fair was to expose students to the services available at Mesa. She believed the event was successful.

“Students that came to our financial aid table were totally unaware that they can still apply for financial aid,” she said. “Or, students don’t know that there is special tutoring for students with disabilities. Students don’t know that.”

The first 500 people who participated-by asking a question at a table-received a stamp. Seven stamps, and the student could get in line for free food.

At the Extended Opportunity Programs Service table, over a hundred students had been stamped off in the first hour.

Corrine Larsen, a Mesa student working the Future Teacher’s Association table, thought the free food changed the dynamic of the event.

“People are just coming up voluntarily to the table to get their thing stamped,” Larsen said. “We have a chance to talk to them, instead of having to be like-YOU WANT TO BE A TEACHER?-yelling at everyone as they come by.”

The Humanities Institute used Dove chocolate mini-bars to attract students, and saw more than 75 of them in the first half of the event. They advertised their next movie, “Declassified: The Taliban,” playing Nov. 9 & 10, at 12:30 p.m. in G-101.

Judy Drake, a Mesa accounting tutor, wished she had gone to an event like this when she had been a student.

“I never knew,” she said. “I finished two years, and now I have a part-time job here, and I realize we have a lot of services around campus.”

She showed students how to receive free tutoring at the Student Appointment Center. One tutoring service she gave information about was the Writing Center, coordinated by Assistant Professor Bob Pickford.

Pickford was manning a table by the barbeques. He said that in the spring, students might be able to get units for getting tutored. To do this, enroll in English 97, according to Pickford. But whether you get units or not, the tutoring at the writing center is individualized instruction.

“Custom built,” he said, describing how the tutoring is set up.

There were over 25 tables, and the size of the crowds at the different tables waxed and waned throughout the event.

The Office of Instructions handed out the newly-released interim schedule.

The Evaluations Office informed students it was possible to expunge bad grades through a Course Forgiveness Petition.

AmeriCorps told students they could volunteer to tutor children in elementary schools.

The financial aid office handed out FAFSA forms, financial-aid advice, and free plastic calculator rulers.

FM94.9 handed out plastic beer mugs.

Mesa student, Latoya Burley, had visited at least seven tables and was putting mustard on her hotdog at the condiment bar.

She liked the event.

“You come for the food and stay for the information,” she said, having only one suggestion for improvement: “Offer money.”

At the Student Affairs table, Gerrell Wilson-Rogers, SA representative, was giving away free money-or, at least, a way to get free money.

She picked up a poster and read it to two Mesa students-“annual scholarship awards.” She held it to their faces, “See?…Money.Free Money.”

She explained that scholarships are offered every year. The applications are available Dec. 11 and due Feb. 28. Just about every department on campus, plus private companies, give out awards, she said.

The next Student Services Fair will be held during spring semester, March 15. To find out more information about the services offered at Mesa, click the Student Services link on the Mesa website.

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