Cameron Allison

Students put on skates before entering the makeshift ice-rink outside of Gregory Gym as part of Winter Wonderland, put on by the Student Events Center, Monday afternoon.

Photo Credit: Haipei Han | Daily Texan Staff

Despite the 75 degree weather, students got a glimpse of colder climates at the Student Events Center’s Winter Wonderland.

The Winter Wonderland, hosted at the entrance of Gregory Gym Monday, offered free cookies, hot chocolate and an opportunity to ice skate as a way to welcome students back to campus.

The event cost a total of $6,000, $5,000 of which went towards the ice skating rink, said Marguerite Elliott, assistant director for student programming at University Unions. Cameron Allison, rhetoric and writing senior and president of the SEC, said approximately 400 students attended the event.

“We wanted to have an event to welcome back both returning students as well as transfer students into the semester,” Allison said.

Because an ice skating rink would not survive the hot Texas sun, the rink was made out of synthetic silicon and had a wet slippery surface, Allison said. Once the skaters began to slide on the surface, friction between the skates and surface created the feeling of a real ice skating rink, he said. Students had to sign wavers before stepping foot on the “ice.”

Allison said he hopes to continue having more events like this one to motivate students to stay connected to campus.

“People were smiling and our volunteers also all got the opportunity to skate and had a great time,” he said.

Whether students stepped on the ice or helped themselves to a warm drink, the event was a success, Allison said.

Sumaiya Syed, Asian cultures and languages and chemistry junior, said she is from the Midwest, so she knows what winter actually feels like.

“The skating rink felt like cardboard, not ice, which is smooth,” Syed said. “But it was still really enjoyable.”

Nursing sophomore Hillary Camp was one of the first people brave enough to enter the rink. “It’s a party here,” she said.

“I am glad I came. Events like this really give students a sense of community,” Camp said. “It was like the North Pole, just without the cold.”

Psychology freshman Jessica Jakobeit said the the faux ice felt safer to her than real ice while still giving a real sensation.

“I have been deprived of winter in Texas, but this event definitely helped,” Jakobeit said.

Printed on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 as: Student Events Center hosts Winter Wonderland event

4th year European Studies major Anastasia Davis sets up a prop for a potions class at Harry Potter Fest, Monday afternoon. The festival featured a number of classic Harry Potter activities, including Dark Mark tattoos, a Tri-Wizard maze, and a Yule Ball.

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

The Student Activity Center was no place for muggles as Harry Potter Fest 2011 transformed it into platform nine and three-quarters and flooded the building with wizards, witches and butterbeer.

The event, organized by the Student Events Center, was a themed nonprofit celebration on Monday created to bring UT community members of every variety together at the center, said Cameron Allison, president of the SEC.

Students took part in a day’s worth of magical events that included a “Tri-Wizard Maze,” a “Defense Against the Dark Campus Arts” class, Harry Potter trivia, temporary “Dark Mark” tattoos, a photo booth, a potions class to make “Butterbeer,” a “Horcrux” scavenger hunt, “Honeyduke’s Sweet Shop” and a costume contest and “Yule Ball” to end the night.

“We chose to do a Harry Potter-themed Halloween because we know that there is a large Harry Potter fan base here on campus, and since our programs are aimed directly at the UT student community, we figured that students would really enjoy an event like this,” Allison said.

Preparation for this event began in August as Allison, the committee chairs and vice presidents of the SEC discussed how to put the idea of a Harry Potter Fest into action and to make it an event that was worthwhile for UT students, she said.

“It was a lot of fun planning out the different events that we have for the day,” Allison said. “We wanted things to be fun but also educational, so each committee in the SEC worked together and came up with creative ways we could reach this goal.”

The “Defense Against the Dark Campus Arts” class was one that was intended to be both fun and educational, Allison said. In this event, the SEC joined forces with UTPD to put on drunk driving demonstrations and a workshop on the Rape Aggression Defense classes that are offered on campus, he said.

“I don’t know if many students actually know that they have these types of resources on campus, but I think after the demonstrations students will be able to take away something very valuable that they can use both inside and outside the classroom,” Allison said.

Many students attending the event made sure to dress in the appropriate attire of a Hogwarts student so they could have the full experience, said radio-television-film sophomore Skylar Moran.

“I always thought that the SAC looked like a high-tech Hogwarts, so I was really excited about the event being held here,” Moran said. “It’s Halloween, and I already had my Harry Potter costume, so I was really excited to be here to celebrate.”

Throughout the event, the Harry Potter films were on display, and the famous Harry Potter film score played throughout the building for students to enjoy.

“It’s a fun way to relax and celebrate Harry Potter,” said advertising senior Martin Munoz. “Now that the Harry Potter books and movies are over, it’s a great way to keep it alive.”

Printed on Tuesday, November 1, 2011 as: Harry Potter wand-erland draws crowd