CSUN isn’t necessarily known for its school spirit, but the ‘Presidents Picnic’ last Thursday showed Melody Mahtban that CSUN is more than just a commuter school. ‘I like how everyone is sitting down together like a little family,’ said Mahtban, a senior psychology major. ‘I feel like I’m at home.’ The 16th annual event to promote school spirit and welcome back new and old students, offered students not only the opportunity to meet each other, but also the opportunity to interact with staff, faculty and administrators away from the classroom and office. ‘This is one of the many opportunities for students to meet all the faculty, staff and welcome everyone,’ said Christopher Aston, activities coordinator for student development. ‘It definitely gets students energized to know that we’re all here for them.’ ‘School spirit is something we all need to work.’ Aston admitted, as students waited in line for their hot dogs, watermelon and water containers. Every year Aston sees more and more students taking part in events like these and attributes it to the schools growing sense of community. Organizers expected to serve about 8,000 people at the event. To prepare they ordered 4,400 hot dogs, 2,000 veggie hot dogs, 5,400 watermelons and 6,200 cans of vegetarian beans. Even so, participation was so high or students were so hungry that organizers ran out of food at the event, which took place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Most can agree that free food will attract college students, as was the case with Daniel Aguiar, a junior mechanical engineer major. ‘I figured I might as well come. There’s free food,’ he said. ‘It’s a good way to start off the fall semester.’ Employee relation’s assistant and communication graduate student, Monique Villegas, volunteered at the event after work. During her undergraduate studies at CSUN she admitted that there wasn’t a lot of school spirit and wished she had taken part in more events. Now it’s her turn to promote school spirit to students. ‘I’m here so that students know that administrators care about their future and education,’ Villegas said. CSUN President Jolene Koester also walked throughout the event and spoke to students. ‘This is an incredible amount of school spirit. We had such a huge crowd today,’ CSUN President Jolene Koester said. ‘It creates a sense of community, a sense of family.’ Students sat on the grass talking to new and old friends, looking at the crowd or talking on their cell phone as they devoured food. The first event had music playing from speakers, while in the afternoon a lone guitarist took the stage. Matty the Matador also made a cameo and approached the many students lounging around with a wave. ?’I love it, I was actually looking forward to it,’ said Debbie Flores, a senior music industry major. ‘I’m glad I came because it’s free food and it’s not crappy food.’ For Jill Smith, senior manager of human resources, volunteering and seeing the students gives her job a higher purpose.