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From Young Nudy to Mike Pence: A look into the biggest campus events of 2023

university-campus-engagement-year-in-review-2023

Photos courtesy of Gage Austin, Claire Brennan and Olivia Paul.

From the annual Sunset Serenade in Polk Place to the Pro-Choice Pit Party, students came together in 2023 to celebrate lasting traditions and rally behind new causes. 

In August, the Student Alumni Association  hosted the Sunset Serenade, drawing hundreds of students to watch campus a cappella groups perform at Polk Place. While students of all grades take part in the tradition, SAA co-chair David Kelly said the event is a great opportunity to welcome new students to UNC.

“It allows the new students to get a sense of some of the different clubs or experiences campus has to offer,” Kelly said.  “They can meet people, and they can listen to different a cappella groups.”

In addition to the Sunset Serenade, SAA also hosted its annual Holiday Concert in the Student Union Great Hall on Nov. 28. This tradition garnered around 300 attendees to watch five of UNC’s a cappella groups perform holiday tunes.

SAA’s Homecoming Committee held free events in the Pit during this year’s Homecoming Week in November. According to Homecoming Committee President Madison Buschek, during one event, the group gave out approximately 250 burgers from Al’s Burger Shack to students in the Pit. 

“There was a line wrapped around, almost to the [Undergraduate Library], around the Pit,” Buschek said. She said she thinks approximately 500 people came to the event throughout the day.

The committee also partnered with Carolina For The Kids to bring a dunk tank to the Pit for Homecoming Week. According to Buschek, attendees paid $1 per throw to dunk members of the UNC men's handball team. All proceeds went to UNC Children’s Hospital.

Buschek said a big part of her role on the committee is to plan events that generate a large turnout so that attendance grows year after year.

In March, Carolina For The Kids celebrated its 25th annual Dance Marathon. CFTK executive director Meredith Braddy said in an email that 383 students registered to dance and fundraise at this year’s event, with the event raising a total of $290,519.61 to support the patients and families at UNC Children’s Hospital.

Some campus events also extended their reach this year. According to a statement from UNC Media Relations, UNC’s annual FallFest expanded its footprint this year to allow more space for attendees to enjoy the festival. 

Others drew online attention, like the Carolina Union Activities Board’s annual Jubilee concert.

This year, the headliner was Atlanta rapper Young Nudy, who performed for hundreds of students and community members at Hooker Fields in April. According to Media Relations, the concert sold over 1,300 tickets.

In April, former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence spoke in the Great Hall at an event titled “Saving America from the Woke Left.” 

Before the start of his speech, UNC Young Democrats held an opposition rally in the Pit called “Saving America With the ‘Woke Left.’” The event was supported by over 15 campus and community organizations, such as Chapel Heelz and UNC March For Our Lives. 

UNC Young Democrats also held a Pro-Choice Pit Party in opposition to anti-abortion activist Kristan Hawkin’s “I’m Coming For Your Abortion Access” event in the Great Hall in October.

UNC Young Democrats President Sloan Duvall said both events had hundreds in attendance. She said the thought process behind the rally and party centered around meeting speech with “more speech."

"They're exercising their First Amendment rights, and we can do the same,” Duvall said.

For next year's campus events, students can visit UNC's Heel Life page and the University Calendar

@nataliebradin

@dailytarheel | university@dailytarheel.com

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