On Tuesday, Oct. 3, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Associated Students Program and Board (ASPB) held their annual Tartan Soul Kick Off, aimed to celebrate the new academic year and focused on promoting a campus of respect at UCR. The Kick Off was hosted around the Bell Tower conveniently placed for first-year and transfer students to enjoy and learn about the resources available to them through UCR. 

The event was organized by Directors Misha Khan and Rachael Arroyos of the Contemporary Culture Division (CCD) of ASPB. Some of the attractions included a fortune teller, airbrush tattoo artists, inflatable soccer and basketball and a Polaroid booth stand. ASPB’s food stand near the Bell Tower offered 800 El Pollo Loco burritos and 800 Ding Tea drinks for students that attended the event. Immediately, students quickly formed a long line for the food and drinks, so long that the line reached the University Theatre and the food inevitably sold out.

Students enjoyed the fortune reader, seeing as her line hardly went down, as well as the airbrush tattoo artists. After waiting in line for about 30 minutes, I had my fortune read. The fortune reader mentioned that whenever I’m thinking too much, I should simply ground myself and relax. In the middle of the event, Scotty the Bear started greeting and taking pictures with students as he walked around during the event. Other students enjoyed throwing the basketball around, some of them scoring every time, while others missed the hoop completely. Many students were taking pictures of their “tattoos” or their drinks and others were simply looking around the area. 

Rachael Arroyos, a fourth-year English and media and cultural studies major, was one of the directors of the event. “A campus of respect is our goal for this event. Here at UCR we have four Tartan values: accountability, excellence, integrity and respect. And I definitely feel like here at UCR we show respect to our community, people are very friendly and always willing to help each other,” Arroyos mentioned. This was Arroyos’ first event as director of the CCD and the division focuses more on the niche and cultural events but also on underrepresented groups. Over 1,000 students attended, although it was difficult to estimate exactly how many attended, since “students can simply drop by and look around, without needing to sign in,” elaborated Arroyos.

Other students, both new and continuing, shared the same feeling as Arroyos. Leah Duque, a third-year media and cultural studies major and event volunteer said, “We (ASPB) put these events on because we want to give students a good time and students come because they know we put time and effort into these events.”

There was a tent in another section of the event where students could write some of their best memories or what they enjoyed most about UCR. Many students wrote down that they met good friends and roommates, while others said they enjoyed this year’s Block Party.

Many organizations were tabling during the event, including an LGBTQ+ group, UCR Residential Life and others aimed to get students more engaged within the community. One of the groups tabling was Chicano Student Programs (CSP), located at Costo Hall 145. There was a painted tree with handprints for leaves with words written on them on CSP’s table. According to Arlene Matute, the assistant director of CSP, “It (the tree) symbolizes how we are all part of the same tree and play a part in making it. Students can write what respect means to them.”

Overall, the Tartan Soul Kick Off was a fun and educational event where students could have leisurely passed by and enjoyed an attraction or two or stayed for the duration of the event. The sense of community and respect for one another was reflected by the enthusiasm of the students and ASPB members.