Party on the Plaza

Members of the Indian Students Association greet students attending Party on The Plaza, providing them with information about the organization. Party on the Plaza gave many organizations like ISA a chance to connect with students and recruit new members.

Photo Credit: Griffin Smith | Daily Texan Staff

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.” 

Junior Whitney McClain, business sophomore Eugena Hwang and undelcared sophomore Sara Stuckly sing to recruit members for their a capella group at Party on the Plaza on Wednesday. 

Photo Credit: Helen Fernandez | Daily Texan Staff

RecSports made several changes to its annual fundraising event, Party on the Plaza, to reach its $5,000 fundraising goal and better allow organizations to showcase themselves. 

The event, held Wednesday at the Gregory Gym Plaza, had a philanthropic element: All participating organizations were required to donate $20 to the Student Emergency Fund during registration. 

In the past, Party on the Plaza organizers have donated a cumulative $55,000 to the Student Emergency Fund. The Student Emergency Fund provides limited financial assistance to currently enrolled students who are unable to meet immediate expenses due to an emergency, according to the Dean of Students website.

“We’re just really excited about how willing students are to come out and support causes as good as the Student Emergency Fund,” said Taylor Pousson, co-chair for the planning committee. “[It] really helps students out.”

Additional changes to this year’s event include student organization performances and a rock climbing wall, Pousson said.

Party on the Plaza, the largest student organization event on campus, drew more than 200 student organizations this year.

Randall Ford, associate director of the Division of Recreational Sports, said the party fulfills two roles: It helps students find their niche on campus and it replenishes the Student Emergency Fund.

“I think one of the big keys for student success is you find your niche on campus, whether that’s a student org, or a job you have on campus or friends,” Ford said. “There’s something you find that ties you to a group or groups, and that, I think, contributes to your academic success at the University.”

Ford has been the leading staff adviser to the student committee since the event began in 1999. The party began as a resurrection of the Spirit of Sport All-Nighter, a back-to-school carnival hosted when the RecSports center first opened.

The event originally hosted live concerts and screened movies. When student attendance tapered off, the event was refocused to showcase student organizations and the hours were adjusted to elicit the strongest student attendance.

The event’s planning starts in the spring every year, Pousson said. Registration for organizations opens between the end of July and the beginning of August.

Biology junior Leah Rushin, who represented SURGe, an undergraduate research group, said Party on the Plaza allows organizations to interact with students and find prospective members.

“Because UT’s so huge, it’s pretty much impossible to walk into a room and find people you like,” Rushin said. “Intrastudent societies are the best ways to make friends around here.”

Juniors Juliette Seive and Larisa Manescu learn about Planet Longhorn from organization members at Party on the Plaza Wednesday morning. Party on the Plaza, hosted by RecSports, is the largest student organization fair and also functions as one of the main fundraisers for the Student Emergency Fund.

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

Thousands of UT students crowded outside Gregory Gym Wednesday for Party on the Plaza, UT’s largest student organization fair of the year.

RecSports hosted what has grown to become UT’s largest organization fair since it started 20 years ago, with more than 200 organizations and 20,000 students attending, according to the Party on the Plaza Student Committee.

Jose Nino, president of Libertarian Longhorns, said Party on the Plaza gives lesser-known organizations an opportunity to expose their causes and recruit new members.

“It gives all sorts of groups that may not be well represented on the UT campus an opportunity to table and reach out to other members that didn’t realize they existed,” Nino said. “It gives each group equal representation and equal ability to be seen.”

Randall Ford, associate director of the Division of Recreational Sports, said the Student Emergency Fund receives the majority of its funding from Party on the Plaza. The Office of the Dean of Students uses the fund to assist UT students involved in extreme financial distress or other emergencies, such as an apartment fire.

“Party on the Plaza is one of the main fundraisers for that fund,” Ford said. “That fund is very important to students who are in need, whether it be for a trip home if they have had a family illness or something like a fire in West Campus where students need assistance with their apartment, or even if they have run into hard times and they just need help with an electricity bill or rent.”

According to the Student Emergency Fund web site, enrolled students may apply for a financial award of up to $250.

Party on the Plaza raises money through donations from participating student organizations and proceeds from a mechanical bull ride and a basketball shot tournament. Each year, the event collects between $4,000 and $5,000 and has raised more than $51,000 since 1999, Ford said.

Jesse Hernandez, chair of the Party on the Plaza Student Committee, said the event helps foster altruism among students.

“I think at every level, it is about students helping students,” Hernandez said. “Student organizations pledge a certain amount to be a part of the fair — it’s a donation-based pledge — and that money goes to the Student Emergency Fund. Also, the people involved are students. This year we had a 12-member student committee with the help of RecSports, but all of this happened because of students.”

Nino said it is important for students to be informed of Party on the Plaza’s donations to the Student Emergency Fund.

“I think it is important that people know about this so that people know where their money is going, and so that they feel like they have a genuine interest in the well-being of the student body.”

Printed on Thursday, September 6th, 2012 as: High turnout for fair

The matter is tabled


I haven’t been around the Texan all that long, but I get the sense that in the past all we had to do to get a tidal wave of tryouts at the start of a semester was to make sure the door to the basement was unlocked.

After all, having a key job at the Texan figure prominently on your resume was a pretty good entrée to the wild world of journalism, where the people who owned the presses seemed to print money along with papers.

We all know how that has changed, and so has the flow of tryouts through the doors of the Texan.

So we have to try different things to attract the interest of potential employees – and readers. Among them is the ancient art of “tabling,” which Texan staffers did Wednesday at the very popular “Party on the Plaza.”

Thanks to assistant Texas Student Media director Jalah Goette and her team, the Texan has a table at this TSM-sponsored event to help spread the word about the good work that we do.

I also want to thank Sports Editor Trey Scott, Photo Editor Andrew Torrey, Associate Photo Editor Ryan Edwards, Senior Photographer Thomas Allison Design Director Alexa Hart and Web Editor Gerald Rich for taking the time and making the effort to staff the table. It matters.

Art history junior Alina Rich and history senior Kelly Lin share a laugh while manning the Undergraduate Art History Association table at “Party on the Plaza” in front of Gregory Gym on Wednesday afternoon. The event is designed to advertise the hundreds of organizations available to students on campus.

Photo Credit: Andrea Macias-Jimenez | Daily Texan Staff

Colorful posters, white tents and enthusiastic students covered the pavement outside Gregory Gym on Wednesday for UT’s 12th annual Party on the Plaza.

UT RecSports has hosted the event since 1999 as a way to kick off the new school year and encourage students to find out about organizations on campus. Proceeds from the event are put towards the UT Student Emergency Fund, a pool of money that helps students with financial troubles caused by catastrophic events. The fund can cover textbooks, medications or prescriptions, or rent and replacement of personal belongings.

Since its premiere event in 1999, Party on the Plaza has raised about $14,000 for the fund.

“We just want to provide a chance for students to have a good time, check out the over 200 student organizations, ride the bull and raise money,” said associate RecSports director Randall Ford.

RecSports estimated 19,000 to 20,000 people attended the event throughout the day, Randall said.

“You can hear it, see it from far away,” said aerospace engineering sophomore Trevor Montgomery of Longhorn Hellraisers, a spirit organization. “One stroll through here and you can find something. To know that we as an organization can recruit people here, it’s just really good.”

The schedule of events included a pizza lunch, a basketball scholarship shoot out, information about event sponsor Texas Student Media, a mini-putt golf challenge, photo booth, Cactus Yearbook lemonade, samples of Amy’s ice cream and a student organization fair.

“We’re trying to get our name out there, trying to get girls to rush,” said nutrition sophomore Julie Chen of Sigma Phi Omega while distributing flyers to students passing through. “Joining is one of the best decisions I’ve made here.”

Besides showcasing spirit groups, philanthropy opportunities and Greek organizations, Party on the Plaza also displayed the recreational sports students are encouraged to take part in while at UT.

“We’re promoting our outdoor adventure trips here,” said rhetoric and writing junior Jacob Johnson, who manages RecSports’ outdoor equipment, including the rock climbing wall in Gregory Gym. “This event’s just good in general for all the clubs, especially for the freshmen who live in Jester and don’t know about all of these things.”

Printed on September 1, 2011 as: Fund Fund Fund Fest