SOUP to host annual Zoo Days

The Student Organization for University Programming (SOUP) will host Zoo Days on Saturday, May 21 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Main Hall Green. This annual involvement fair is a Lawrence tradition. This year, around 40 student organizations will assemble to promote themselves, recruit new members, and fundraise for future events. 

Although each organization is responsible for its own tabling, SOUP volunteers are in charge of the planning and organizing for this event.

SOUP’s co-president, junior Taeen Jidaan, explained that preparation for the event began during spring break, when SOUP began contacting student organizations to participate. 

“It’s a celebration of what they have done, the progress they’ve made to be recognized and for making all these special events,” said Jidaan. 

This year, the outdoor event will include several large-scale amusements, including Giant Jenga, a dunk tank, a water slide, a mechanical bull, and an obstacle course – all provided by SOUP and various student organizations. Other organizations will set up tables with club-themed activities. 

The LUCC Sustainability Committee, for example, will host a clamshell collection contest. Around 400 of the committee’s reusable clamshell containers are missing from Andrew Commons, according to LUCC Sustainability Committee’s co-chair, sophomore Anders Hanhan.  

Students can drop off their old clamshells at the LUCC Sustainability table so they can be returned to the commons. The five people who return the most clamshells will receive a free sustainability kit, including a Nalgene water bottle. 

Appleton Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Lawrence’s multi-issue progressive organization, will use Zoo Days to increase campus activism. According to first-year Audari Tamayo, the organization’s Head of Delegation, the table will provide materials for designing protest signs. Members will later carry these signs to Houdini Plaza for a rally at 1 p.m. demanding justice for Jimmie Sanders, a Black man who was fatally shot by Appleton police in 2017. 

The Vietnamese Culture Organization (VCO) will host a coffee shop selling one of Vietnam’s specialty coffees, Sa Pa coffee. Named after the cold mountainous region of Sa Pa, this variant of coffee is a twist on the original ice coffee recipe. Junior Hung Nguyen, the president of VCO, said that VCO will use Zoo Days as an opportunity to share Vietnamese culture with as many Lawrentians as possible. 

“The best way to get people interested in Vietnamese culture is to introduce them to Vietnamese food,” said Nguyen. 

Zoo Days also provides an opportunity for newly recognized student organizations to promote themselves. For example, LEDS (Lawrentians Enhancing Diversity in Science) plans to increase visibility in their Zoo Days debut with baked goods, fun facts about diversity, and a prize raffle. 

Although SOUP aims to consistently improve its events, it still aims to maintain its longstanding traditions. Snack booths are a longtime staple of the event. SOUP will provide popcorn, nachos and slushies. 

While Zoo Days provides a platform for fundraising and promotion, Jidaan stated that the main goal of the event is to have fun.