The Gregory Gym plaza was filled with students Wednesday attending the annual Party on the Plaza event.
The event, hosted by the Division of Recreational Sports, provides student organizations and commercial vendors a venue to connect with UT students at the beginning of each school year.
Sara Beirne, co-chair of the Party on the Plaza committee, said the purpose of the event is to raise money for the Student Emergency Fund, a reserve of money designed to help out students with short-term financial needs. The event raised money from a mandatory $20 Student Emergency Fund fee that organizations must pay in order to host a table at Party on the Plaza.
“If [students] are dealing with different types of bills they can’t keep up with, we have a fund to help with lease assistance,” said Krista Anderson, coordinator for Student Emergency Services. “We will work with students through any type of financial crisis.”
Party on the Plaza was the last part of Longhorn Welcome, two weeks of events hosted by the Division of Student Affairs intended to help new students acclimate to campus. Aerospace engineering freshman Shawn Killian said Party on the Plaza helped him become familiar with various student organizations.
“I thought [Party on the Plaza] was well put together,” Killian said. “I feel like I was exposed to a lot of things I would have never even considered.”
Undeclared freshman Bailey Saldana said the event helped her find organizations that made her feel like more than just a number.
“I think it’s been really helpful so far,” Saldana said. “It makes you feel like a part of UT and not just someone that goes here.”
Organizations such as Texas Quidditch use the event as a way to recruit students.
“We really like Party on the Plaza because it draws out a lot of the freshmen,” said Audrey Wright, physics senior and vice president of Texas Quidditch. “Not only are we getting students from Party on the Plaza looking for something to be a part of, [but] we’re also getting the people on the way to the gym.”
Braydon Jones, Party on the Plaza committee co-chair and Student Government assembly speaker, said the party is important for new students to attend.
“You can always make a large university small, and you can do that by being involved,” Jones said. “We have a lot of great events, and the dean of students’ office wanted Party on the Plaza to wrap it up and be the final event.”