Round Up returns after 3 years with increased safety, acknowledgement of racist past

Joelle DiPaolo, News Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the April 1, 2022 flipbook.

Last weekend, the Interfraternity Council hosted Round Up, a music festival put on by IFC chapter members, for the first time in three years. 

Zachary Siegel, the executive producer of Round Up, said since this was the first time most students could attend the event since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the IFC had the chance to try to change perceptions of the event by acknowledging its racist history and increasing safety measures. During the past century, Round Up events used to feature blackface, among other insensitive actions, according to previous reporting by the Texan. The event is also associated with high rates of sexual assault.

“(It) gave me a really unique opportunity to create the event that everybody’s wanted, and not have any sort of preconceived thoughts or notions,” said Siegel, a special education and youth and community studies sophomore. 

Siegel said Round Up consisted of 19 fraternity-hosted events, with all proceeds from ticket sales going to philanthropic organizations. About 7,500 students attended Round Up events this year, according to a press release after the event.

The IFC and University Panhellenic Council released a joint statement on March 24 apologizing for and recognizing the racist history of Round Up. The statement outlined measures the IFC and UPC enacted, such as mandatory educational modules for chapter members. 

Siegel said he hopes the statement holds the IFC accountable.

“I have failed in my position to make this event as safe as possible if even one person feels like they are not welcomed,” Siegel said. 

Katie Pratt, vice president of diversity and inclusion for the UPC, said she did not attend Round Up parties, in part because of the research she did on the history of the event while creating the educational modules. She said she would feel more comfortable if Round Up festivities were more welcoming to all UT students.

”I don’t fault anyone for attending as long as they’re aware of the history and they aren’t perpetrating (it),” Pratt said. “I don’t see a problem with (Round Up) happening as long as it’s safe and remains positive.”

The IFC plans to divide the profits from this year’s Round Up between other Greek councils, such as the National Pan-Hellenic Council, for them to donate to a nonprofit of their choosing. 

The IFC pledged to donate at least $5,000 of Round Up profits to local nonprofits that are fighting racism in June 2020 following the Black Lives Matter protests across the country. Siegel said he wants the money to go to nonprofits in Austin, but is waiting to see the total amount of money raised before deciding on a charity. The IFC raised nearly $210,000 through ticket sales and donations but they have not finalized the cost of security and events yet, Siegel said. 

The IFC also increased safety measures by ensuring paramedics were present at every event, along with a medical treatment facility, two transportation teams and security. Siegel said for the first time in the event’s history, there were no ambulance assists needed at any official Round Up event. 

Max Edelheit, the president of Alpha Epsilon Pi, said he thought the increased safety measures were a good precaution. 

“You have so many people in one place, you have to make sure you have all your ducks in a row,” biology junior Edelheit said.