Interim President Jay Hartzell led incoming freshmen in a virtual Gone to Texas on Tuesday night to celebrate their arrival before the first day of class.
Gone to Texas, which used to allow freshmen to gather in Main Mall, transitioned into a remote format this year to minimize health risks. Previously, freshmen had the opportunity to attend multiple events during Longhorn Welcome, such as the Gone to Texas ceremony and taking a class photo in the football stadium. This year, a large majority of those events were moved online to comply with health regulations. Nevertheless, hundreds of freshmen also gathered on the South Mall to watch Gone to Texas in person.
Incoming freshmen were greeted by the Spirit Squad, Bevo, various guest speakers and Hartzell. University Events also coordinated the traditional lighting of the Tower with the class’ year — in this case, 24.
We want you to bring it all to this first year and beyond at UT,” Hartzell said. “This is your new home, and we’re thrilled to welcome you to our family.
Although it wasn’t held in the traditional format, some students said they were still excited to participate in their Longhorn Welcome and have some sense of normalcy as they navigate an unusual start to their college lives.
“It was nice to know the University cares about our experience and is working extra hard to give us these opportunities,” political communication freshman Alisa Pitchkolan said.
Biochemistry freshman Emily Arthurs said she is disappointed that she is missing out on the opportunity to meet other incoming freshmen and develop a sense of community. Arthurs said since orientation and Longhorn Welcome were not in person, she is struggling to meet her peers.
“I was really looking forward to making friends in person and meeting people, and these events are a great way to do so, but I completely understand why they are virtual,” Arthurs said.
Psychology freshman Ahitza Roque said that while she was disappointed Gone to Texas had to be virtual, she is still grateful for the effort put in by the University. After previous events were canceled, Roque said she is happy to participate in any way she can.
“The event was really neat, and it showed me places of UT I truly had never seen before,” Roque said. “In times like these, something is better than nothing.”