Hampfest is Hampshire College's student activities fair, held at the beginning of each semester.
“Lupita Nyong’o was in Crazy Pitches!” a student shouts amid the friendly chaos of Hampfest, the annual showcase of student groups that kicks off the term. But Fianna O’Brian, one of Crazy Pitches’ signers, is quick to point out that Hampshire’s a cappella group attracts broad interest beyond theater and arts students. “We have mathematicians, architects, ecologists, computer scientists,” she says, “People who might not have interacted if it wasn’t for Crazy Pitches, but who all really care about each other.”
New students know they can design their own course of study, but Hampfest is an introduction to the ways they can create extracurricular activities, too. From activist associations to sports teams, there are more than 100 student groups on campus, all organized by student “signers” and supported by the Campus Leadership and Activities office.
The start of a semester for these diverse groups means welcoming new members. Emma John, a signer for Hamp History, told students about the group’s current oral-history project, which is about the College. Wool People club members crocheted while talking about their fiber-arts events, as the Shake and Bake club’s signers affirmed that, yes, there is a club where you can talk Shakespeare and bake pies at the same time.
The Relaxation Club, meanwhile, is celebrating its 10-year anniversary providing stress relief for students trying to balance a heavy workload. “This year we hope to break the record of the most back rubs given, which was 1,119,” says Josh Salzberg. “We’re also expanding into other forms of relaxation, such as our plant-potting workshop.”
Some students were attracted to the information table for the Yurt, Hampshire’s community-run radio station.
Xavier Torres, a signer for the Pan-Latino group Raíces, notes that the group is hosting the 13th annual New England Latin@ Student Leadership Conference at Hampshire in April. The event’s theme, Solidarity through the Decolonization of Ourselves, is something he says is an essential part of Raíces’ goal: to ensure that “oppressed voices are heard.” Each incoming class, Torres says, brings it own approaches and interests.
“With new students” he says, “it always gets more exciting.”
Story and photos by Michael Medeiros