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New Deering Days event welcomes Class of 2016

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New Deering Days event welcomes Class of 2016

Communication senior Chet Haze performed his song,

Communication senior Chet Haze performed his song, "White and Purple" and unveiled two songs for new students at the close of the Deering Days Welcome Barbecue on Deering Meadow.

Paulina Firozi/The Daily Northwestern

Communication senior Chet Haze performed his song, "White and Purple" and unveiled two songs for new students at the close of the Deering Days Welcome Barbecue on Deering Meadow.

Paulina Firozi/The Daily Northwestern

Paulina Firozi/The Daily Northwestern

Communication senior Chet Haze performed his song, "White and Purple" and unveiled two songs for new students at the close of the Deering Days Welcome Barbecue on Deering Meadow.

Lauren Caruba, Assistant Campus Editor

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A range of student groups, university departments and campus resources came together to organize Northwestern’s first ever Deering Days Welcome BBQ, the Wildcat Welcome finale held Wednesday on Deering Meadow.

The three-hour event featured food, performances by NU music groups, raffles and tables highlighting student organizations. Pop artist Chet Haze — also known as Communication senior Chet Hanks — performed, and the radio station B96 (96.3 FM) set up a mobile music station. Organizers gave away an estimated $10,000 of free merchandise, said Ani Ajith, speaker of the senate for ASG and a main organizer of Deering Days.

Associated Student Government drove planning of the event, which was co-sponsored by the Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic Association, Residential College Board and Residence Hall Association.

These groups funded the event, contributing money from their already existing budgets. Ajith estimated the cost to total somewhere between $5,000 and $6,000.

Deering Days wrapped up Wildcat Welcome for members of the Class of 2016 and transfers, who all attended the barbecue with their peer adviser groups.

The idea for Deering Days came from the Northwestern Community Building Initiative, a class offered in the School of Communication every fall in which students brainstorm solutions to campus issues. SafeRide and the college awareness program Kits ‘n’ Cats@NU were both projects originally developed in the class, Ajith said.

“The point of it was to provide the Class of 2016 with this unique event that quite honestly hasn’t been done before,” Ajith, a Weinberg junior and former Daily columnist, said. “We wanted to welcome them in a really, really refreshing way.”

Deering Days was “one of the largest collaborations ever at Northwestern University,” Ajith said. Sodexo, NU’s food service, provided food for students with WildCARDs, and Mayfest helped organize the music and stage production. Facilities Management helped coordinate setup on Deering Meadow and waste disposal.

Patrick Leonard, a producer for Mayfest, said he was impressed with the smooth collaboration between ASG and Mayfest.

“It’s not something that we usually do and it’s not something we’ve ever done before, but I thought it was great,” the McCormick junior said. “I’d love to see something like this happen again.”

In addition to campus-wide collaboration, the groups organizing Deering Days focused heavily on reducing both waste and cost, said Mark Silberg, associate vice president for the new ASG sustainability committee. The event generated an estimated 500 pounds of compost and only about three or four pounds of total waste, he said.

Foregoing bottles and disposable silverware, the event incorporated refillable beverage pitchers and compostable cutlery. Volunteers also directed students how to properly dispose of their waste at the composting stations.

Silberg said the event’s sustainable approach resonated with many students.

“What I’m really encouraged by is the number of students who would come up, compost something, look at me and say, ‘This is really wonderful. Why aren’t we doing this at all of our events?’” the Weinberg junior said.

Deering Days will hopefully serve as a template for planning future sustainable events at NU, organizers said.

Sophie Friedman, vice president for membership and recruitment for PHA, said the event helped familiarize freshmen even more with NU.

“It was a nice closing event for Wildcat Welcome, to be able to integrate current students into the mix,” the Medill senior said. “It gave freshman students a really good idea of all the sorts of things that Northwestern has to offer.”

The event’s organizers said they want Deering Days to become an annual tradition at NU.

“It was really successful. We’re hoping it’s something that the university wants to continue for the years to come,” said ASG Vice President Brad Stewart.

Clarification: A previous version of this story said Sodexo offered free food to students with WildCARDs. The students’ WildCARDs were charged meal points.

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