Both Gone to Texas and Horns Up Night were canceled Monday due to the impact of Hurricane Harvey on the UT campus and out of respect for the students from affected counties.
J.B. Bird, UT director of media relations, said roughly one-third of all UT students and almost 40 percent of freshman students are from counties affected by the hurricane, which wreaked havoc in Texas gulf cities this weekend. Hurricane Harvey has caused 30 deaths, displaced thousands and set a record for the most rainfall in the continental U.S.
“(UT president Gregory Fenves) consulted with student leadership, and the feeling was that this is a very serious national disaster having a main impact on our student body and community,” Bird said.
Gone to Texas and Horns Up Night are part of the annual Longhorn Welcome, a two-week series of events familiarizing freshmen and transfer students to campus life. The night before classes begin, freshmen students meet with their individual colleges and unite for a welcome celebration, complete with a presentation by Fenves and performances by campus groups. Horns Up Night was set to start off the Longhorn football season on the first day of class with a rally followed by the official freshman class photo on the field. The class photo will be rescheduled for a later date.
Biology freshman Frida Silva said she is disappointed about the cancellations because she will miss an essential UT experience.
“It feels like I’ve been missing out on something that’s part of a legacy,” Silva said. “I understand why they canceled it … but at the same time I feel like it’s such a big thing that maybe it should have gone on anyway.”
While the main Gone to Texas event in front of the Tower was canceled, several smaller college events were unaffected. Aside from the events for the Colleges of Liberal Arts and Social Work, the welcome celebrations for the individual colleges continued as planned or were rescheduled for a later date.
Astronomy and physics junior Aimee Schechter said she understands the reason for calling off Gone to Texas, but she wishes there could still be an alternative, smaller event for the incoming freshmen students.
Schechter, president of Undergraduate Women in Physics, said the event introduced her to opportunities when she was a freshman.
“I found out about Women in Physics at the (College of Natural Sciences) event that was part of Gone to Texas, so I don’t want anyone to miss out on finding a student organization they could be a part of,” Schechter said.
Despite cancellations, the UT Tower was lit up Tuesday night to display the number “21” and commemorate the start of the year for the Class of 2021. The University announced the Tower will also be lit up in this manner next Tuesday, Sept. 5.