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Socials committees plan for new memories without publics

Bryan Mendoza / Thresher

By Amy Li     11/14/23 10:52pm

Since Dean of Undergraduates Bridget Gorman’s recent decision to cancel public parties through spring break, colleges no longer hosting publics have been left with a large sum of leftover money.

Though Gorman’s Nov. 2 decision was relatively recent, some colleges have already been making plans to use the money previously set aside for publics. Will Rice College President Gazi Fuad is currently pushing for a Will Rice-only version of Risky Business later in the spring semester, so the $4,000 originally allocated for Risky Business are being kept as part of the Socials Committee budget.

“I’m hoping to spearhead some initiatives that work towards alcohol safety at Will Rice, so that we can be able to show that we’re capable to host a Will Rice-only party, even if it’s not a public party open to the whole college,” Fuad, a senior, said. “Some of these initiatives include increasing the number of trained caregivers, increasing the caregiving budget for privates that happen at Will Rice and other initiatives that are being discussed with our [Chief Justices].”

Sean McGarry, a socials head and sophomore at Jones College, described current plans to use the $4,000 set aside for Inferno to improve other Jones events.

“We’re planning on just using that pre-allocated amount to make our other Jones events, like FITQs and maybe a private in the spring, better and more memorable because, obviously, we can’t have the public now,” McGarry said. “We’re going to try and replicate the culture aspect that’s going to be missed by amplifying everything else.”

Yuv Sachdeva, a junior at Jones who co-advised at Will Rice during Orientation Week 2023, said he’s seen a contrast between the amount of events Will Rice hosted compared to Jones, agreeing that the money Jones now has would be well-spent hosting more college-specific events.

“I think I’ve noticed Jones doesn’t really have a lot of opportunities where students can have subsidized access to different things around Houston, for example, going to Cidercade or going to a movie or going to Chinatown,” Sachdeva said. “We can use this money to take risks on trying new events … I think this is a really good opportunity to get more students involved.”

Maaz Zuberi, who was the socials head at Jones College last year, pointed out that running the public had itself been a way to get more students involved.

“It’s hard to replace publics as an event. I think they’re very unique to Rice,” Zuberi, a junior, said. “It’s kind of like a project for the entire college. It’s something that everyone is able to help with, like doing all the decorations and the crafts and getting people to help. I feel like having something else in the budget that can really bring together the people at your college … would be a good use of the budget.”

Opal Lung, a freshman at Will Rice, agreed that the money should be used for promoting college community, but had different ideas about how to do so.

“They should buy another communal TV maybe, for the New Dorm lounges or Weiner Hole [a communal space in Old Will Rice],” Lung said.

Grant Thompson, a sophomore at Duncan College, said the money would be well-spent on improving Duncan’s communal spaces.

“Duncan doesn’t have the alumni base of a lot of other colleges, so we don’t have a lot of funding for nice amenities and workspaces, or just places where Duncan students can hang out,” Thompson said. “A good way to spend it would be to bolster up some of the study rooms or the music rooms.”

Other colleges’ socials heads have ideas about using the money to promote inter-college culture in the same way public parties do. Katherine Jeng, a socials head at Hanszen College, said many socials committees have recently expressed interest in planning smaller and more frequent cross-college events.

“Sid and Hanszen did a casino night a couple of weeks ago, and it was pretty successful … something along the lines of fostering cross-college bonding, even without publics,” Jeng, a junior, said.

However, with Gorman’s decision being so recent, these plans are far from being set in stone. McGarry said that Jones was particularly affected by the cancellation since Inferno was the next public scheduled to occur prior to the announcement.

“We spent a lot of time planning beforehand, and it was sort of demoralizing when they just told us all our work was obsolete, so we’ve sort of been on a break for the last couple of weeks,” McGarry said. “But we’re going to start to get stuff going again soon.”

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