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How to get free stuff on campus

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UNC senior human development and family studies major, Kayla Dang, opens a box of free stuff that she won at a UNC event. Photo courtesy of Kayla Dang.

UNC has a variety of organizations that host events throughout the year where students can snag free things — including swag, food and health products. But knowing how and where to find these events can get a little tricky.

Here’s a new student's guide to finding free stuff on campus. 

Kayla Dang, a senior, said she stays updated about opportunities for free things on Instagram. 

“I followed every UNC Instagram you could imagine, like RHA, CUAB, CDS — literally everything,” she said. “I would constantly check to see if they had events because they had free things all the time.”

At a Student Life & Leadership symposium, Dang said she entered a raffle and won a prize bag including a JBL Bluetooth speaker.

Dang said it is also possible to find free things simply by wandering around campus. She said she recommends going to the pit around 12-2 p.m., when most people are eating lunch.

Elliana Alexander, Residence Hall Association president, said RHA is planning many events that will include free stuff. The multicultural festival in October will have food vendors from all over the Chapel Hill area who will be providing free food from various cultures. RHA also hosts Duke-UNC watch parties, which sometimes include trivia with prizes.

On Instagram, RHA hosts giveaway competitions that include prizes such as UNC coolers and jerseys.

“Last year we actually gave away a signed basketball by the entire UNC team, which is really cool,” Alexander said.

Individual community governments will also have regular programming that will include free things based on what the community members request. In the past, community governments have handed out T-shirts, stuffed animals, candy and mugs.

But clothes and merch aren’t the only free resources available to students. Alexander said RHA has partnered with Student Wellness to provide free condoms.

At UNC, the Writing and Learning Center is not only a great resource for academic help, but it also provides free stuff. During the Long Night Against Procrastination — co-hosted with the Undergraduate Library and Finals Boot Camp — the Writing and Learning Center provides a study space with free snacks and staff to help work on projects. 

At the beginning of every semester, the Center also creates a large academic calendar poster which can be found for free at the Writing and Learning Center in SASB or UNC Student Stores.

On their Instagram, the Writing and Learning Center hosts raffles with prizes such as stress balls in the shape of brains, mugs, T-shirts and laptop stickers.

Kim Abels, director of the Writing and Learning Center said the best way to stay tuned with these opportunities is by joining the Listserv.

“We send one email once a week with the rundown on all of the free events and resources,” she said.

Carolina Union Activities Board hosts regular events throughout the year that are full of free stuff. At LDOC Gingerbread Houses, students can grab a free gingerbread house kit and build them while listening to holiday music. On the Day of the Dead, they have a station for cookie decorating outside of Davis Library. They also host movie nights throughout the semester with free snacks.

Jasmine Orsini, CUAB President, said Meals on CUAB is a recurring event where students can pick up free meals from select restaurants on Franklin Street.

“That was a good way to make sure that students have access to food and that we were also supporting local businesses, because restaurants have been hit hard since we’re not on campus anymore,” she said. “They really depend on the student population.”

Individual committees inside of CUAB have their own events with free stuff depending on the event. 

Orsini said the Diversity Committee has given out books written by speakers from their events, the Arts Committee has given out painting kits, the Entertainment Committee has given out posters of a singer from their concert, and the Fun Committee hosts trivia nights where prizes can include UNC or CUAB merchandise, sweatshirts, jerseys or even AirPods.

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While CUAB has a ton of events with free stuff, they have limited seating. To snag a spot at any of their events, Orsini said she recommends following the Instagram page to get notified when registration opens.

Follow each organization's Instagram, join their Listservs and register on their HeelLife pages to stay updated on events.