By LAINEY LOUDON
Homecoming week is in full swing, with a variety of events lined up for students and alumni all leading up to Saturday’s big homecoming soccer game. Theme days have students dressing up all across campus; Thursday in formal attire, tomorrow as superheroes and villains, and Saturday showing Tampa pride with UT apparel.
Organizations across campus are competing all week to gain points for participation. The organization with the most amount of points at the end of the week wins a $1,000 co-sponsored event with Student Productions.
P.E.A.C.E. is partnering with Student Productions this year during homecoming week to host an event called, “Penny Wars.” Students can donate pennies to help their class raise the most money, while donating other coins and bills to other classes to “decrease” their penny count. Every 25 cents raised will equal one meal fundraised for Kids Against Hunger.
Tonight, Student Productions will host the biannual Casino Night. The Vaughn Center Lobby will be transformed into UTampa’s own Bellagio, with card tables and dealers scattered across the floor. Students can scan their SpartanCard to receive a set amount of “money” which is used to play games such as blackjack, roulette, and craps. Junior entrepreneurship major Jimmy Uteg has been playing poker since he was seven and attends Casino Night every year to play his favorite game, Texas Hold’Em.
“I love the whole atmosphere of it, from the music to all the people, it’s a great event with a lot of energy,” Uteg said. “We all get to learn how to play table games in a safe environment.”
Students get a set amount of tickets for the money they have won and can put those tickets towards winning prizes like iPad’s and TV’s. Though Uteg has not won any prizes, his friend won an Xbox One last year, so according to him “it’s possible to win.” Uteg’s only criticism of the event is it needs to be longer.
“I never feel like I have enough time to play everything for as long as I want,” Uteg said. “The short night and the ticket system make me play a lot more aggressively than I actually would at a casino.”
On Friday, Student Productions will host a concert in the Vaughn Courtyard from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., featuring The Strive, a rock band from Kansas City. Students can bring a chair or blanket and hang out with friends while listening to music and winning prizes from Student Productions.
Saturday is packed with homecoming activities all day leading up to the homecoming game at 7 p.m. There will be a homecoming parade through campus kicking off at 2 p.m., featuring different organizations and clubs sharing Spartan spirit while making their way to the tailgate.
The tailgate outside the stadium will start at 3:30 p.m. providing students with food and activities, including cornhole and music provided by WUTT.
The men’s soccer team will take on Florida Tech at 7 p.m. in Pepin Rood Stadium, where the homecoming king and queen will be crowned at halftime. Senior Jewel Higgins is one of many candidates running for queen on behalf of her sorority, Pi Beta Phi.
Other contestants for Homecoming Queen are Alexis Daniel, Emily Rosenthal, Jordan Fink and Lauren Nielsen. Homecoming King candidates include Cris Beck, De’Quan Browne-Schmidt, Matt Hartford, Rudy Sebastien and Michael Calkins.
“I decided to run for homecoming court because I wanted to make sure I participated in something memorable at UT and support my sorority at the same time,” said Higgins.
Higgins will be attending all six homecoming events to show her school spirit, and she encourages other students to join her at each event.
“If we want to increase school spirit, [we need] an increase in attendance at our sporting events,” Higgins said. “We have so many talented athletes at UT and I’m sure they would love the support.”
Higgins has high hopes that the men’s soccer team will bring home the win this weekend.
“Go out and fight boys,” said Higgins. “Kick some you-know-what and make the campus proud.”