Campus Events + Entertainment

Photo Credit: Ashley Ephraim | Daily Texan Staff

Snuggling up to Samantha, a nine-year-old therapy dog, government junior Alexandra Thomas could feel her finals stress slip away.

“Dogs are never worried about anything, they just live in the moment and love you no matter who you are,” Thomas said. “It reminds me that life is short and just to enjoy it while you have it.”

Samantha and her canine cohorts were the main attraction on Wednesday afternoon at Chillfest, an Events + Entertainment event that offers arts and crafts, free food, massage chairs and other stress-relieving activities to help students relax as the end of semester approaches.

More than 1,000 students swarmed the event, standing in long lines for hot chocolate and five-minute massages. Recreation chair Rachita Murthy said E+E has hosted Chillfest for seven years now and continually attracts crowds of more than 900.

Murthy said the therapy dogs and the massage chairs are staples, but different arts and crafts fluctuate. This year’s lineup included gingerbread decorating stations and games of giant Jenga.

“The activities are designed to let students take their mind off exams and concentrate their energy on something else for a while before they go back to studying,” biology junior Murthy said. “We’re all so busy, so to do something fun with your friends is always great.”

In addition to the crafts and games, members of UT Counseling and Mental Health Center and HealthyHorns were present to offer words of encouragement and remind students to practice self-care and get adequate sleep.

Mckenna Gessner, CHMC peer educator, said social interaction is vital during this time of year.

“Instead of binge-watching Netflix shows, you can be with a community doing gratitude exercises or getting a massage,” said Gessner, a Plan II and women’s and gender studies junior. “I think visits to the CMHC spike during finals, and things like this help prevent that.”

Thomas said her encounter with Samantha and the other therapy dogs at Chillfest helped break her out of the mental fog she’d found herself in as final assignments consumed her.

“It just made my whole day,” Thomas said. “It’s kind of everything at once, and I guess I start kind of spiraling. I think ‘If I don’t do good on this I won’t get in law school and then I won’t get a good job or have a future.’ But this kind of helps you get away from it all.”

Photo Credit: Brooke Crim | Daily Texan Staff

Sequins, bows and garlands lined the tables of the Union Presidential Lobby as dozens of students created do-it-yourself ugly sweaters for the holiday season.

The Make It, Take It: Ugly Sweater event was hosted by Campus Events + Entertainment on Wednesday. The event began at 12 p.m. and was supposed to last until 3 p.m., but they ran out of sweaters to decorate within the first 15 minutes.

“(It’s important) for social interaction so students can get together and have a good time with their friends as well as celebrate the holidays,” said Rachita Murthy, chair of recreation for Campus Events + Entertainment.

Murthy, a biology sophomore, said the event involved lots of brainstorming, and they looked at what students would be interested in doing during this time of year.

Chioma Ujari, who is a member of Campus Events + Entertainment, said people were waiting for the event before it even started.

“There’s a lot of people,” said Ujari, a public health senior. “I feel like people are really enjoying themselves.”

The event was created with finals in mind, as a way for students to relax and craft something with their hands, Murthy said.

“I think academic life is so stressful,” Murthy said. “Just to give students a chance to relax and take a break from their heavy academic schedule is really important, and it’s good for self-care.”

Government junior Hannah Reinhard said events like Ugly Sweaters help students feel more included in the University community.

Reinhard came to the University as a transfer student and said Campus Events + Entertainment helped her branch out and meet other students.

“I can say when I first came here I found it quite daunting to find my own little niche of people,” Reinhard said. “This is the third event that I’ve shown up to that (Campus Events + Entertainment) has thrown. It’s a really great opportunity to get to know people.”

As the holiday season draws closer, Reinhard said this event is a great opportunity for people to make sweaters to wear to holiday parties this year.

“I think everyone always has a Christmas sweater party,” Reinhard said. “You always have a holiday party to go to at your work or school organizations. The fact that you get to make something that you’re going to be able to wear proudly is super nice.”