Marshall Kistner

Students watch as fireworks are set off in honor of the Class of 2015 in front of the Main Building on Sunday evening.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

After University administration canceled the 132nd University-wide commencement Saturday because of weather and safety concerns, graduates took to social media and planned their own celebration.

Radio-television-film graduate Marshall Kistner said he started the Facebook event for the student-run commencement after he and many others were disappointed with the University's cancellation. Kistner said he posted on the Class of 2015 Facebook page Saturday night to see whether anyone wanted to go watch the fireworks before they were canceled, and that eventually sparked the unofficial commencement event.  

“Of course, that [the planned fireworks display Saturday] was canceled as well, so someone on my Facebook post said to start a Facebook event,” Kistner said.  “Within 2 hours of posting, there were almost 1,000 people invited, and many said they were attending."

Fireworks still lit the sky 10 p.m. Sunday, as the University planned.

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Kistner said Student Government President Xavier Rotnofsky jumped on board with the event as it was being put together because of their three years together at the Texas Travesty, UT's student-run humor publication.

Communication studies graduate Ignacio Cruz said, since he is the first person in his family to graduate from college, he wanted commencement the way it was suppose to be.  However, Cruz said he was still excited about the unofficial commencement.

“I am so excited to be attending the unofficial commencement tonight,” Cruz said.  “It goes to show our unity as a campus.  Tonight it will be special — it’s a moment I’ve been waiting years for.”

Outgoing SG President Kori Rady gave a shorter version of his speech from the night before, and President William Powers Jr. came on short notice to give his final speech as president at commencement.

“I called President Powers’s spokesperson and told him needed Powers right away,” Rady said.  “To his credit, even though he was at a wedding, Powers came when we needed his help.” 

As Powers spoke, he said this event shows what UT students are all about. 

“I can’t believe the crowd we have tonight and the organization … this is what students at the University of Texas are all about,” Powers said.  “This tenure with you all has been the blessing of my life.  You all are the very best students in America.”

Students also listened to the jazz band, Interrobang, which was called up in the spur of the moment because of a band member’s friend. 

“Early on, a friend of [a band member] in communications asked him if we could perform for the School of Communications,” said Sung June Lee, who plays the trombone in the band.  “It was not until we got here that we realized we would be performing in front of the Tower.”

All the members in the band said this was the largest crowd they performed in front of, and the experience was surreal. 

Kistner said Saturday was heartbreaking for a lot of people, but the Class of 2015 did not need to end their college career like that.

“We managed to turn a negative into a massive positive,” Kistner said.  “The spirit of the Class of 2015 is unmatched, and I’m so proud to be a part of such an incredible group of new alums.”  

Photo Credit: Lex Rojas | Daily Texan Staff

During the Texas Travesty’s screening of the cult classic movie "The Room," audience members will chunk plastic spoons at the screen, participate in a costume contest and openly crack jokes.

The satirical news organization will host its second annual screening of the so-bad-it’s-good masterpiece “The Room” on Tuesday. The film follows a romantic triangle between a man named Johnny, his fiancée, Lisa, and his best friend, Mark. Subplots involving many of Johnny's friends unfold, but several are disappear or go nowhere.

In one scene, Lisa’s mother reveals she has breast cancer, and the detail is never brought up again. The film is notorious for its terrible acting, inconsistent storyline and cringe-worthy dialogue. Entertainment Weekly labeled it “the ‘Citizen Kane’ of bad movies.”

Radio-television-film senior Marshall Kistner, who organized the screening, said he’s excited to give fans of the bizarre drama an opportunity to get together for a night of hilarity.

 “My hope whenever someone goes to a wide screening of this movie is that they have the same experience I had,” Kistner said. “If you go in with an open mind and see the true absurdity and passion that’s put into it, it’s almost weirdly inspiring.”

Shortly after the film’s 2003 release, it developed a cult following. The horrible script and director Tommy Wiseau’s bizarre acting made the movie a comedy gem. More than a decade later, fans still attend several nationwide midnight screenings where they dress up as the characters, reenact scenes and openly mock the film.

Communication sciences and disorders sophomore Taylor Boswell first saw “The Room” during her freshman year. She said she is excited to attend the screening and relive the insanity.

“You don’t think a movie can be done that badly but still be good at the same time,” Boswell said. “It’s just interesting that [Wiseau] created this horrible movie that he, to this day, thinks is a piece of cinematic gold.”

A majority of the interest surrounding the film centers on Wiseau and his flamboyant personality. He is famous for his broken English — although he claims he grew up in Louisiana — and his odd mannerisms, such as his affinity for always wearing sunglasses, even at night.

When Kistner contacted the film’s official email asking for permission to screen the film in Austin, he never expected the director himself to respond.

“He gave us [the film rights for the screening] for free for Christmas,” Kistner said. “He kept calling me ‘Marhal.’ He also sent us a package of his official underwear line and wanted us to show them off at the first screening.”

Despite its status as cult hit, a large, growing fan-base will surely immortalize the film as a memorable look at how filmmaking can go wrong. Boswell said the film will continue to get recognition for years to come, similar to cult hit “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” today.

“I think it can still be viewed by generations to come,” said Boswell. “I think everyone should see ‘The Room’ at least once in a lifetime.”


When: 8 p.m.

Where: Texas Union Theater

What: Screening of “The Room”

Admission: Free (ID not required)