Spring Jam to face family-oriented future

by Emily Babcock

The traditionally greek, alcohol-driven and off-campus Spring Jam celebration made the transition to an on-campus, dry and community-oriented event this year.
The reviews are now in, and they vary.
The fourth annual Spring Jam event had a budget of more than $15,000 and a committee of 19 organizers. The week-long event, which went from May 11 to May 16, changed from its original Dinkytown location to a campus parking complex. A carnival was added and nongreeks were allowed to compete in the contests for the first time.
“The purpose of the event is to make it a wider event not just for greeks, and to celebrate the diversity on our campus,” College of Liberal Arts freshman Naarah Nelson said.
Four of the positions on the Spring Jam Executive Committee were reserved for people who worked to involve both the residence halls and campus and community.
For future events, the Spring Jam committee has decided to turn the week-long event into even more of a family-oriented occasion. For example, nongreeks were invited to participate in all competitions for the first time this year.
To accomplish this, the beer gardens of the past will stay in the past. The event now includes a carnival, food and game booths.
Fowl Play owned a beer garden at last year’s festivities, but because the event was on campus, beer vendors were not allowed. Robynn Erdman, manager at Fowl Play, said not having Spring Jam in Dinkytown hurt business for the weekend of the event.
“It made a huge difference,” Erdman said. “This year we were pretty much dead.”
The new venue changed the atmosphere of the event from a party atmosphere to a community event, Austin said.
The greeks must accept the new plans, said Ryan Roesler, committee member and sophomore in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences.
Jen Wiesner, liaison between her sorority Pi Beta Phi and the Spring Jam committee, said she received a lot of complaints from her own house about the event. She said that despite the community orientation of the event, the majority of the participants were still greek. The different location just makes it a longer walk for them.
“It worked better in Dinkytown,” Wiesner said. “The rides were a waste of money.”
The actual attendance from the general public was not as high as some expected, Nelson said. But she added the coordinators were pleased with the involvement from the community.
“For the first year, it was a really good turnout,” Nelson said.
Wiesner said it is a good idea to involve the campus, but changing the event drastically to include community and alumni takes away from the University emphasis of the event.
“Why would they want to hang out with a bunch of students?” Wiesner said.
Several members from student cultural centers competed in sporting and dance contests for the first time this year. Five residence hall teams participated in selected events.
Next year, Resident Hall Coordinator Bittoo Kanwar said he would like to see each hall form teams to compete in events.
Saturday festivities were held in the Buckeye parking lot, part of the Huron Boulevard Parking Complex.
Rachel Leatham, the program adviser, said she felt safer hosting events in a parking lot rather than the original location of the streets of Dinkytown.
There was more parking and less worry about accidents in the street, Leatham said.
For some, the larger area took away from an intimate and street fair-like atmosphere, said Matt Austin, a CLA junior and member Phi Gamma Delta fraternity.
The size of this year’s venue provided space for the school-organized events as well as the family events, said Dan Campion, president of the Interfraternity Council.
While the headlining concert attracted about 5,000 spectators coordinators said other activities lacked comparable numbers.
If the volunteers increase communication, more student organizations students in residence halls will participate, Nelson said.