The Collegian
Tuesday, May 17, 2022

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Luaupalooza back, promoting campus unity

Members of Westhampton College Residence Life, Diversity Round Table and Student Activities sponsored the second annual Luaupalooza on the Forum as a campus community-building initiative and study-break alternative to drinking.

The luau, held Thursday, featured a DJ, inflatables, tricycles, snow cones and a mechanical bull. The drop-in event attracted about 60 people at a time, with most students gathering to watch peers ride the mechanical bull. The longest ride of the night was about five seconds, the student running the machine said.

Jeter Hall Head Resident Charlotte McPherson said the goal of Luaupalooza was to bring many campus organizations together to create a community-wide alternative to going out on Thursday nights. Last year, the event was so successful that the Residence Life and DRT staff decided to have the luau again, hoping to attract those who had enjoyed it last spring. "It helps when you continue with the same name," McPherson said.

McPherson and Robins Hall Head Resident Jade-Evette Strachan both said they had expected more than 200 people to attend. The biggest difference between this year's luau and last year's was the promotion, they said. "We had a larger target audience we wanted to extend the event to," Strachan said, as she flipped burgers on a grill. "After seeing a great turnout last year, we decided to do it again this year, but with more food and more activities, so more people could be involved at a time."

Diversity Round Table President Brittney Quinones said this year's Luaupalooza aimed to be a bigger version of last year, with more staff and more advertising. The event was co-sponsored by Student Activities this year and planned by Resident Assistants in Jeter, Robins and Freeman halls, she said. Last year's staff included RAs from Freeman only and members of DRT. She also said the Luaupalooza Facebook page had more than 1,000 invites.

Quinones said DRT had been involved in planning last year after she had talked to the Residence Life staff about wanting to host a campus-wide event. Strachan said the two organizations had been in the same planning stages at the same time and had decided to collaborate. The organizations split the duties of sponsoring so members of one organization were generally in charge of reserving inflatables, and the others were in charge of food and decorations, Strachan said.

"DRT tries to get a lot of diverse organizations together on campus to promote inclusivity," Quinones said of the organization's mission. The members have also hosted a World Cup soccer tournament, a potluck dinner for members, an off-campus event with Student Alliance for Sexual Diversity and an ice-skating event this year. DRT members also made Valentine goodie bags for Facilities staff at the university.

The free luau was held around finals time to serve as a relaxing break from studying, the women said.

"It's a good free-for-all event; there is no mandatory component, and it's a good time for a relaxer," Strachan said. The women said they expected the event to continue annually.

Although the purpose of the event was to bring people together to relax during finals, junior Amber Chen said she thought having the event earlier in the semester would have attracted a larger audience. "During exam week, everyone is in the library," she said.

Chen, who said she had forgotten to come last year with her busy end-of-term schedule, said she would attend next year if she had time.

Last year, about 150 people came to the event, Quinones said.

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Contact Rachel Bevels at rachel.bevels@richmond.edu

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