The Daily Illini

Student Consulting and Event Promotion to host weekend event in hopes to #desegregatesociety

By Julia Marbach

After observing patrons at the coffee shop, classmates in lecture halls and passersby on the sidewalk, Saagar Gupta, junior in Business, said he thought he saw most of the people of many different races and ethnicities at the University, but didn’t see them coming together as much as they should. From this one thought evolved a movement — the movement to #DesegregateSociety.

Last year, Gupta founded Student Consulting and Event Promotion as a means to do just that — desegregate society and bring people of different cultures together. Through event planning for the student and Champaign-Urbana community, Gupta and his team act as middlemen for various RSOs and other organizations, working closely with their leaders to plan integrated events for University students.

“When you come to campus for the first time, you try to see where you fit in, and people fit in that one area or in that one club and they end up having all of their friends from that one club,” Gupta said. “What I want to do is just create an open environment so that people can branch out.”

Since founding the group in the spring of 2013, Gupta has worked with other promoters and leaders of student groups to organize various campus events, acting as a liaison between them.

“A lot of others do all the work, and I support them with my experience, resources and ideas,” Gupta said.

So far this year, Gupta has helped to organize multiple events on campus, including a “Welcome Back Barndance,” which had more than 200 attendees, “I’m Shmacked,” “Heartland DJ’s Unofficial Finale” and “Mom’s Day Musical.”

“(The) Unofficial concert at (The) Canopy Club … brought out hundreds,” Gupta said. “It was a completely sold out event, and it pretty much incorporated every different culture on campus.”

More recently, Gupta helped to organize the Hotel D’Morte Halloween party, which was a collaboration between CU Entertainment, Kabanna Krew Productions, the social fraternity Lambda Theta Phi and Dance 2XS UIUC.

“I believe that if everyone is together, it creates more of a friendly environment where everyone can collaborate, communicate and in the end people are more successful,” Gupta said.

The event was managed by Louis Perez, founder of Kabanna Kew Productions and University alumnus, and Christian Espinoza, founder of CU Entertainment and graduate student in Engineering. Espinoza said the event was a huge success, as it attracted more than 750 attendees, making it the largest event they have held.

“Having the world perspective of being from Peru and growing up in California, that made me realize that … in order to make things better for our community we need to make things so that everyone can participate and everyone is a community,” Espinoza said.

One way event organizers tried to get a mix of people at the Hotel D’Morte was through the use of DJs, Espinoza said. For example, Pawel “Polish Don” Geneja represented the Polish community, and DJ Rami represented Heartland, an Asian entertainment group.

“We wanted to integrate all of these communities,” Espinoza said. “All of us are students, and all of us are doing great things for the University.”

The next project that Gupta, Espinoza and others are working to organize is the #LifeInChampaign weekend, which will take place Nov. 7 through Nov. 10, and will be a weekend dedicated to getting friends from other universities or from home to visit campus, Gupta said. As of Wednesday night, the Facebook event had 2,929 attendees, and 2,653 other invited guests. This weekend will be the first time the event is put on, said Eryk Puczek, concert promoter and junior in LAS.

It will feature different activities including happy hours, bar crawls, DJ battles and concerts, as well as some activities still to be determined, Puczek said.

Alex Rymarz, a progressive house artist known as Disflow, will also perform.

“Your friends from Chicago want to come visit you, but why not come on a weekend when there’s tons of people coming?” said Puczek, junior in LAS. “There’s lots of activities, there’s constantly something to do, (and) you’re not bored.”

Puczek said his team hopes to have more #LifeInChampaign events in the following weeks, particularly before fall break.

“If you come into it with an open mind, you’re guaranteed to just have a good time,” he said. “Wear whatever you want. Be whoever you are. Do what you want to do. Come when you want to come. Leave when you want to leave, and just come and enjoy the music and the culture, the lights, the people.”

For information on upcoming events coordinated by Gupta and other leaders of student organizations, visit facebook.com/UniversityOfIllinoisEvents.

Julia can be reached at [email protected]

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