Spring Jam planners hope better weather will improve student turnout

Emily Ayshford

Spring Jam organizers hope the weather will cooperate when the annual event marking the close of the school year begins today.

Last year, the weekend events were poorly attended because of heavy rain and snow.

The theme this year, dubbed “’80s ‘U’phoria,” was chosen partly because many of the students at the University were born in the 1980s, said Erich Martin, Student Activities Office program adviser.

Jay Arcuri, another Student Activities Office program adviser, said a new feature this year is a series of cleanup activities that will coincide with the University’s “Beautiful U Day.”

Students, faculty and staff will team up with facilities and classroom management employees to clean up trash in classrooms and neighborhoods surrounding the University.

Martin said another new event this year is the performance expo, which will be an extension of Ballyhoo, a Spring Jam dance competition. Martin said the event will target people who do not normally participate in Ballyhoo.

“It taps into student and community groups,” he said. The expo, held Wednesday at the superblock, will include spoken word, individuals playing instruments and dances from different cultures.

Saturday’s block party will be held on Church Street again, despite last year’s low turnout. The Big Wu is the headlining band.

Martin said he thinks the turnout at the Church Street location will be better this year if the weather is nicer than last year’s snow.

“Church Street wasn’t given a fair chance,” Martin said.

Maggie Towle, Twin Cities Student Unions director, said she hopes for 1,500 people at the block party.

“I think it’s going to depend on the weather,” she said.

Arcuri said he agreed the turnout would be better than last year. He said a record 23 student organizations signed up to participate in the band competition.

“That in itself alone gives us a very optimistic view,” he said.

Because of the concert Saturday night, Martin said, organizers hired security, and he is not worried about alcohol consumption before or at the event.

“I just don’t think there is a direct correlation with drinking and the block party,” Martin said.

Towle said surrounding bars also have spring celebrations the same night of the block party and the University never had any problems at the block party before.

“I think the problems in the past have been the things that happen off campus,” she said.

Emily Ayshford welcomes comments at [email protected]