Despite the University of South Dakota Student Services’ quiet last call for ‘Yote Floats in December, the ice cream social resumed Tuesday after a number of student complaints about the cancellation of the event came pouring in last week.
Lindsay Sparks, director of transitions and student programming at Student Services, said the weekly ice cream social had been canceled indefinitely this semester because of low attendance and the lack of social interaction taking place at the event.
On average, Sparks said between 100 to 200 people usually cycle through the Tuesday event from 3-4 p.m.
“We noticed that people were coming and just leaving without interacting with anyone else,” she said. “It wasn’t the social hour it was originally created for.”
The first ‘Yote Float function of 2015 was scheduled for Jan. 20 on USD’s calendar of events, but when junior Eric Roach went to enjoy his weekly cup of ice cream and root beer, he was surprised to find the Muenster University Center’s Pit Lounge deserted.
“I was livid when they canceled it,” Roach said.
A number of other students were confused and upset about the cancellation, and the concerns were eventually heard by the Student Government Association’s Student Affairs Committee. SGA Senator Sami Zoss, a junior, sits on the committee.
“We really try to avoid making Student Affairs that committee students can come and complain about every little thing to, but we do ask at the end if there are any overarching themes that students are really upset about,” she said.
Zoss brought the concerns to SGA’s attention during its Jan. 20 regular meeting, and the proposal to reboot the ice cream social was brought forth to Sparks and Vice President of Student Services and Dean of Students Kim Grieve, both who advise SGA.
“Kim and Lindsay were like, “Yep, we’ll bring it back if (SGA) is willing to help out,’” Zoss said. “It was all taken care of so quickly.”
Sparks said she was surprised students were as vocal as they were about the discontinuance of ‘Yote Floats.
“People were mad. People came to the MUC front desk and to my office asking ‘Where is ‘Yote Floats?’” Sparks said. “I didn’t think people would get this upset, but they were. People totally noticed.”
‘Yote Floats resumed Tuesday from 3-4 p.m. in the Pit Lounge of the MUC.
“I was happy they decided to bring it back,” Roach said.
Junior Andrew Kost was also pleased to see ‘Yote Floats brought back.
“It’s something I look forward to every week,” he said.
Sparks said Student Services is aiming to change the overall perception of the weekly function — a perception she said is crucial to making the student-funded event a success.
“When you add it up over 32 weeks, that’s a couple of home-grown events, or a speaker or a comedian. It doesn’t equate to a large concert, but it’s still another event that could attract more people,” Sparks said. “We’re always trying to look how can we spend funds better and how can we be more efficient and effective with our funds.”
Introduced in 2010, ‘Yote Floats — which costs $66 a week — is paid for through the Student Services’ budget, which is primarily funded through the student General Activity Fee fund. Throughout the semester, Sparks hopes to see more social interaction between ‘Yote Float attendees and the various campus organizations who sponsor the event.
“Some groups were doing a great job (of making the event attractive), other groups were just serving and there was no interaction,” Sparks said. “Those are the things we really want to push with both people who are coming to be more interactive and the groups who are serving to be more interactive and take advantage of the Pit Lounge.”
‘Yote Floats will continue as originally planned this semester and will be assessed all semester to record traffic volumes and the amount of interaction taking place each week, Sparks said.
“We’re excited about bringing it back, and it’s a nice reoccurring event that we have, but we just want to make sure we’re using student dollars wisely,” she said. “It’s supposed to be a social, come-together community time for USD.”
(Photo: The Student Government Association sponsored the first ‘Yote Floats of the year. The event was canceled for a week because of low attendance and lack of participation last semester. Trent Opstedahl / The Volante)