Tag Archives: student organizations

Human Rights Symposium

This week the White Rose Society is putting on their fourth annual Human Rights Symposium. The White Rose Society is a student organization focused on Holocaust remembrance and genocide awareness. All week they’re holding awareness events during the days and hosting insightful speakers in the evenings.

Photo by Mwamba Family Foundation

Tonight’s speaker is Sean Corasso, a UT alum and experienced activist. Sean will discuss the current state of child soldiers in Africa and how we, as students, can help end this atrocity. You can hear him speak in Welch1.120 at 7 p.m. tonight.

Sean is the founder of Falling Whistles, a non-profit that raises awareness about child soldiers in the Congo.

While traveling with Invisible Children, an organization that works end the war in Uganda and rebuild the war-torn country, and Toms Shoes, a group that donates a pair of shoes to a child in Ethiopia for every pair of shoes purchased, Sean stumbled into The Democratic Republic of Congo and heard something that shocked him.

He happened to meet a few recently-rescued child soldiers who shared with him their stories of being kidnapped and then forced to fight in a violent and bloody war. But then, they told him something even more disturbing and shocking. They told him the story of the whistle blowers, children too small to hold guns who are sent to the front lines of battle armed only with a whistle.

Whistle for purchase

As Sean explains in the diary he kept during the trip, which became the manifesto of Falling Whistles, “Their sole duty is to make enough noise to scare the enemy and then to receive with their bodies the first round of bullets.”

After returning home, Sean came up with a plan to raise awareness about the cause as well as money to help fight for it. He built an organization that sells whistles for people to wear around their necks in order to get people talking about the tragic situation.

Check out what he has to say tonight in Welch and if you want to do more, buy a whistle or check out their summer internship program.


Forty Acres Fest

Due to the barrage of emails and event invitations on Facebook that I have been getting recently regarding Forty Acres Fest, I feel that it is a pretty good time to talk about the event.

While the annual festival is still almost three weeks away, with a busy second half of the spring semester about to be in full swing, April 10 will be here sooner than you think.

And you do not want to miss it.

If you are searching for your place at The University of Texas, feeling the urge to get a little bit more involved with one of many organizations on campus, or just looking for something free to do on a Saturday afternoon, then Forty Acres Fest is just for you.

Forty Acres Fest is an event for the entire Austin community, but is especially dependent on student participation.

Photo by Liz Wong via Creative Commons

Through booths and activities set up by various groups and organizations, the university encourages interaction among the members of UT and promotes the diversity of interests and depth that are present on the Forty Acres.

Over the years, the festival has become a university tradition, featuring food, fun, games, and of course, live music.

In fact, all of the buzz this year seems to be surrounding Girl Talk, who returns to Austin after putting on a crowd favorite show at the Austin City Limits Music Festival this past fall.

“I’ve seen all the concerts at Forty Acres Fest, and this is by far the one that I am most excited about,” said senior Andrew Trang. “He absolutely killed it at ACL.”

To say students are excited for this year’s concert is an understatement. However, the festival has seen plenty of big names perform, including The Roots, Ludacris, Common and Little Richard.

The concert will be taking place directly in front of the Tower on the Main Mall, while other activities and booths will be scattered throughout the South and West Malls as well.

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.

Getting Involved

Getting involved is something so integral to your college experience that we could dedicate an entire separate blog to

It's easy to get swallowed in the sea of burnt orage. Photo:Ernest Bludger

doing it. At one of the largest universities in the country, it’s easy to simply be a number and  fade into the crowd. It’s important to get involved in smaller groups to thrive AND survive in college.

But where the heck do you find out about all of these different groups and figure out which one suits you? The simplest, most basic way to do this is  to check out the organizational database provided by the office of the Dean of Students. You can enter the specific name of an organization, or just such something that interests you.

If the random search isn’t something you’re interested in, there are certain times when the organizations come to you. At the beginning of each semester there are numerous organizations tabling out in West Mall or in Jester and events such as Party on the Plaza.

There are also campus wide showcases such as 40 Acres Fest or Explore UT, the latter of which will be taking place on Saturday, March 6th. It is an event in which hundreds of student organizations showcase what their organization is about.

Again there are over 1,000 student groups to join and many times there are freshman specific groups including Freshman Business Association or Freshman Leadership Organization to help you get integrated for 4 years.