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.”