The food and events were all a part of the fourth annual TA Appreciation Barbecue and SpringFest.
In previous years, SpringFest was a showcase for UNC groups to perform and entertain students.
Former Student Body Vice President Lerissa Rentas said the goal of the event was to thank TAs and to remind them that their hard work doesn't go unnoticed. "There aren't very many perks to being a TA, and this is a way for undergrads to express their thanks to TAs," she said. "And it's also a great way to bridge the gap between the two communities because it fosters an atmosphere for interaction."
The event, co-sponsored by student government and the Carolina Union Activities Board, was expected to draw between 1,000 and 2,000 people throughout the afternoon, Rentas said. She said the crowd was a mix of undergraduates, graduate students, TAs and their families.
Tents and tables were scattered on the lawn, giving students a chance to play skee-ball, get their faces painted and try their vocal chords at a yelling contest with the chance to win a DVD player.
Several UNC groups performed on the steps of South Building, including the Loreleis, the Achordants, Opeyo! and Carolina Style.
CUAB Issues of Diversity Chairwoman Kristi Booker, who will be CUAB president next year, said the talent showcase and TA Appreciation Barbecue were combined into one afternoon to enhance the atmosphere of each. "We wanted to create this festival to showcase UNC talent and to unify the Carolina community," she said. "I'm just pleased that people are out having a good time and taking a break from the end-of-semester crunch."
Chancellor James Moeser also addressed the crowd Thursday afternoon to lend his support. "This is a great way to thank all of you for all the hard work you do for the University," he said.
TA and first-year chemistry graduate student Joette Russell said the thanks she receives for her work isn't restricted to this particular day. "I do feel appreciated in a lot of ways, but students' appreciation doesn't come in their words but in their growth and our realization that they've learned something," she said.
Junior economics major Sarah Milam said she feels TAs' work is often taken for granted and that it's important to recognize them once in a while. "I think they're definitely overlooked, but it's great that they have events like this to demonstrate student appreciation and to promote awareness of all their hard work."
The University Editor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.