Student Org. Series: Planet Longhorn

With over 900 registered UT student organizations, there’s bound to be one that peaks your interest.  No one wants to wade through the dismal abyss that is the student organization database, however, so here at Burnt Orange Living, we’ve decided to feature both prominent and lesser-known organizations to help you decide which ones best fit your Longhorn lifestyle.

What is it?

Planet Longhorn is a social organization dedicated to helping international students meet both other international and local UT students.  It was founded by Doug Yacek and Paul McCloud, who were inspired by a similar organization they encountered while studying in Melbourne, Australia.  Upon returning to Austin, they realized there wasn’t  a student-run organization dedicated to socially acclimating foreign students.  They decided to fill that need, and thus, Planet Longhorn was born.

Planet Longhorn has only been in existence since January 2008, but don’t let it’s young age fool you.  They were awarded Best Social Organization of 2009 by the UT Swing-out Awards, and the organization has since been garnering increased attention.

Paul McCloud (left) and Douglas Yacek, co-founders of Planet Longhorn. Photo Credit: Anna Walter

What does it do?

Planet Longhorn mainly plan social events from larger “formal” events–from their signature Welcome B.B.Q. to their Downtown Cocktail Party to floating the river–to smaller, “informal” events–from bowling to tailgates to just hanging out at someone’s apartment.  Some members even pick up internationals from the airport, take them grocery shopping and help them find housing.  Planet Longhorn also participates in UT intramural sports, in case that’s something you’re interested in.

The Planet Longhorn 2009 Masquerade Ball. Photo Credit: Dana Yu

How is it different?

The diverse people you can meet through Planet Longhorn are what make the organization unique.

“You get to meet so many different kinds of people,” said President Dana Yu.  “It’s really cool to not only meet them, but they end up being integral parts of your life,” she added.

Dana still keeps in close contact with several foreign exchange students she has met in past semesters.

“You learn so much from them.  It really opens up your perspective,” she said.

How do you get involved?

General meetings are held every Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Jester A218A.  Members are also encouraged to sit-in on the officer meetings which occur half an hour before at 6:30 p.m.

Another way to stay updated with Planet Longhorn events is to join the Facebook page.

“[Planet Longhorn] is a discussion-based organization,” Yu said, citing this as one of Planet Longhorn’s strengths.  They “try to keep [meetings] casual,” as the organization is eager for member input, meaning “it’s really easy to get involved,” said Yu.

“Our events have been a meshing of everyone’s ideas.”

How committed do you have to be?

Planet Longhorn does not charge dues or membership fees, nor do they require a minimum amount of participation, which is good if you have a full schedule.  Participation requirements are very important to consider when joining an organization, especially if you are pressed for time in your day-to-day schedule.

Officers and Contact Info.

Dana Yu – President

Liana Depew – Vice President

Natalia Urbanowicz – Director of Social Events

James Chiang – Director of Administrative Events

Vanda Taupradist – Director of Membership and Recruiting

James Petlueng – Treasurer

Katie Casstevens – Historian

John Michael Cassetta – Webmaster

All inquiries may be addressed to members@planetlonghorn.net.

Planet Longhorn members in front of UT Tower. Photo Credit: James Chiang

Bottom Line

Planet Longhorn is a casual, fun organization that’s definitely worth checking out if you’re interested in meeting people from around the world, or if you’ve returned from studying abroad and are experiencing reverse culture shock.  The small membership means it’s easy to get involved and have your ideas heard.  Also, the lack of a required time commitment means this is a good organization for people who are extremely busy.

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