Despite prior objections, Activities Fair held on South Lawn and Amphitheater

Student Council penned a letter in May requesting the event be moved for accessibility and crowding concerns

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Activities Fair was held on the South Lawn and at the Amphitheatre on Monday afternoon.

Christina Anton | Cavalier Daily

The Fall Activities Fair was held Monday on the South Lawn and Amphitheater, despite Student Council’s efforts to move the event to the full Lawn last semester. Ty Zirkle, a fourth-year College student and the Student Council vice president for organizations, said the proposal was ultimately met with “insurmountable concerns that [the change] would pose too much of an inconvenience to students.”

To help combat crowds and overheating, Student Council opted to extend the Fair by one hour and used a large tent in the Amphitheatre.

In May, Student Council penned a letter to incoming Lawn residents calling for the new venue, citing the logistical improvements that would come with moving the fair to the entirety of the Lawn. The letter notes that the change would give the 400 student groups that attend more room to spread out and diminish overall crowding and overheating. The Lawn was also described as more accessible, with more ramps and footpaths leading towards it when compared to the Amphitheater. 

“From a logistical standpoint, we also welcomed the potential for a larger, connected event area that might partially alleviate issues of crowding that can seem overwhelming,” Zirkle said in an email to The Cavalier Daily. “We also hoped that the use of ramps would make the entirety of the event on the Lawn more easily accessible than the current accessible route between the Amphitheater and the Lawn.”

The letter included a petition, which garnered 42 signatures from the 54 incoming Lawn residents. 

Student Council noted that — in open-ended surveys soliciting feedback after the Fall Activities Fair last year — approximately half of respondents gave complaints that would be addressed by moving the event, like overheating or crowds.

“New students, for whom the first weekend of college may already prove stressful, often find the Activities Fair overwhelming and consequently too inaccessible to navigate the entire event,” the letter reads. “The three-quarters of the Lawn that remain unused during the Activities Fair afford considerably more shade and, importantly, more space to reduce crowding between tables.”

The letter also adds there may be a symbolic importance to holding the Activities Fair on the Lawn. 

“Few events could better represent the interconnectedness of our community than thousands of students spread from the statue of Homer to the steps of the Rotunda, building connections and starting their careers as public citizens,” it reads. 

While some events are hosted on the Lawn, Deputy University Spokesperson Wes Hester said University policy bars most of the residential Lawn from being used for other events.

“The Lawn is primarily a residential community for faculty and students,” Hester said in an email to The Cavalier Daily.  “The University strictly limits any events held there during the academic term (i.e., when students and faculty are in residence) to a few pan-University community events such as Lighting of the Lawn, Rotunda Sing, the Bicentennial celebration, Convocation and Final Exercises.”

Zirkle said that Student Council will continue to pursue the location change for future years. 

“Student Council will continue to pursue improvements of all kinds to the Activities Fair, including the venue,” he said. “We still believe that hosting the Activities Fair on the Lawn would be an enriching experience for the student body.”

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