Hundreds of students from RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf spent Friday afternoon dancing, making new friends and learning about the variety of clubs, services and activities available for RIT students.
The annual Apple Festival, put on by NTID’s Student Life Team since 1998 in the D. Robert Frisina Quad, is a way to introduce first-year students to the organizations available on campus as well as to welcome back returning students, said NTID Student Life Director Daniel Millikin.
Although targeting NTID students, the event was open to everyone on campus. About 500 people typically attend the event, where apple slices, apple crisp, apple cider and other autumn snacks were handed out.
Eric Tong, a first-year student from Cincinnati, said he was enjoying his first Apple Festival. “I learned about all the multicultural events that happen on campus and when they happen and how I can get involved,” he said.
Free water bottles, rainbow bracelets, program guides and candy were available at many of the tables. Other tables had sign-up sheets for students to get more information about the organization, such as one manned by Kris Kurz and Gary Behm, NTID faculty members and coaches of the NTID College Bowl who were recruiting members.
Joel Poquette, of Alberg, Vt., is recruitment director of RIT’s Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, 52-strong, with about 10 deaf and hard-of-hearing brothers.
“Fraternities get a bad rap sometimes,” he said. “We’re trying to change that.” He says members of Pi Kappa Phi have the highest GPAs of any other fraternity on campus and volunteer for many community service projects.
There were tables by outside organizations as well, such as the Center for Independent Living and Advocacy Services for Abused Deaf Victims, which has monthly meetings on campus.
Loud music from a disc jockey filled the quad for most of the event, and students jumped in to dance to the rhythms. Members of Dangerous Signs performance group also performed.
Several tables also represented cultural student organizations from around the world, and RIT’s Campus Life handed out booklets detailing various clubs and activities students were encouraged to join.
NTID’s counseling center, employment center staff and cochlear implant services were also represented.
Audiologist Catherine Clark showed visitors the latest technology available with cochlear implants and the services her department offers students. Last year, more than 350 RIT/NTID students had cochlear implants.
NTID staff member Alex Jones, chair of the NTID Diversity Group, said he wanted students, faculty and staff at NTID who are African American, Latino American or Native American to know that his group is “committed to promoting the best possible learning, living and working experience” for them and the RIT/NTID community.