The University Programs Council began hosting its annual Welcome Week Aug. 23, spending approximately $174,000 on events to entertain and provide inclusive spaces for new and returning students. Kyle Nguyen, UPC chair and a fourth-year Commerce student, said the goal of Welcome Week is to get all students excited for the start of the new school year.
“A lot of our Welcome Week events are aimed towards first-years, but we're trying to get all undergraduate years as well as graduate students to attend our events as well because they do make up a huge portion of our community,” Nguyen said.
Nguyen also said UPC is trying to reach a more diverse audience through its events through co-sponsorships with other student organizations, which may not have the same resources as UPC to showcase their organization’s mission and culture. Other organizations may apply to co-sponsor events with UPC, which are approved or disapproved bi-weekly by UPC’s Ad-Hoc Outreach Committee.
“We're trying to try to get … a diverse lineup of events so that we can reach all students at the University,” Nguyen said. “We're student run, so it's our duty to actually put on events that students want, that they enjoy. And they can help them make their time here at U.Va. feel worthwhile and help add some happiness in their lives.”
Nguyen cited an upcoming “Welcome to Bollywood” event being held later this fall alongside the Indian Students Association as an example of successful co-sponsorship.
For Welcome Week activities, the group allocated about $130,000 of its funds for the week towards the A$AP Ferg concert, according to Nguyen. The first Welcome Week event, CarniVILLE, which took place in the McIntire Amphitheater Friday evening, was UPC’s iteration of a carnival, with food vendors and games.
UPC also held a screening of the DC Comics superhero film Shazam! on O-Hill field Sunday evening as part of Welcome Week. Other events in Welcome Week include Rotunda Sing — a night of performances from University choir and a capella groups — which will be held on the Lawn Aug. 28. UPC will also host shows by The Daily Show comedian Jaboukie Young-White Aug. 29 and hypnotist Tom Deluca Aug. 30.
Rotunda Sing will cost UPC approximately $4,000, according to Nguyen — an increase of $500 from last year’s Rotunda Sing event. Young-White and Deluca will cost approximately $19,000 and $5,500, respectively — last year, Deluca had cost $4,200. CarniVILLE cost UPC roughly $8,000, and the screening of Shazam! cost $1,500. A further $6,000 was spent by the UPC Marketing Committee, who, Nguyen clarified, does not organize events but rather promotes the group’s events and purchases branded merchandise.
According to Nguyen, UPC receives its funding through the student activities fee paid by students in their tuition and fees. The regular session student activities fee for the 2018-19 school year for both in-state and out-of-state students was $50.
The A$AP Ferg concert was followed by the Hoos Home event — a new school-year welcome back and kickoff event sponsored by UPC in conjunction with Housing and Residence Life, Intramural-Recreational Sports and U.Va. Dining.
The University administration promoted the concert and Hoos Home as alternatives to the Wertland Street apartment and house parties — also referred to as “Block Party” among University students. In a University-wide email, Dean of Students Allen Groves expressed concern about personal safety at Block Party.
“While [Block Party] is not in any way affiliated with, or sanctioned by, the University, it is a great concern for many of us, given the size of the crowd and the demonstrated potential for negative (and highly serious) incidents to occur,” Groves wrote in his email. “Sexual assault, dangerously crowded balconies, underage drinking, and other risks inherent in large crowds of individuals you do not know are all very real concerns.”