Students enjoyed afternoon vacation to “Maui Waui” yesterday

By Gus Bode

“First Thursday” event highlighted Real World Hawaii cast member Ruthie Alcaide

Melissa Daniels sighed deeply as she rounded a corner in the Student Center. She was not sighing from the usual frustration that comes from navigating through the establishment in the afternoon; she had just lost a tricycle race, and, as a result, a free T-shirt.

“I can’t believe I just lost,” said Daniels, a senior in microbiological science from Gurnee, Ill. “And the television station was filming too.”

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The tricycle race Daniels was defeated in was just one of the many activities available to students, as the Student Center added to the usual afternoon rush the excitement of the free “First Thursday” event. This year’s theme, “Maui Waui,” was especially popular with students like LaDonna Powell, a junior in early childhood education from Chicago, attending the event for the second year.

“I went last year, but I definitely enjoyed this year more,” Powell said. “I liked the Hawaii theme. The music in the Roman room was relaxing and it was a real nice atmosphere.”

During the course of the event, which went on throughout the entire day in the Student Center, students were given the opportunity to make their wax hands, hula dance for prizes, make glass beads and metal picks as well as several other activities.

“First Thursday,” which has been occurring under various names for the past 20 years, not only showcased a Hawaiian theme, but also the Registered Student Organization Fair that provided students with the opportunity to learn more about campus organizations.

Cedric Malone, a member of campus ministry Chi Alpha, sees the fair as a chance to expose students to religion.

“We have a table every year,” Malone said. “A lot of people come to SIU, especially from other countries, and it’s a good opportunity for us to let them know about the gospel.”

The fair was able to present 80 organizations, more than double those that were showcased the previous year.

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In addition to RSOs and all things Hawaiian, the Student Center also accommodated a member of the Real World Hawaii cast, Ruthie Alcaide.

Although her speech did not occur until 7p.m., Alcaide was in the Roman Room to sign autographs and answer any questions admiring fans might have.

“I’m going to talk about a lot of things tonight like alcohol abuse,” Alcaide said while signing, “You’re the best,” on one of the many photos she autographed that day. “No one can tell you what to do, but the main message I want to get across to people tonight is that college should be fun, but students should also be responsible.”

Whether they were chatting with Alcaide, racing for T-shirts or making glass beads, students seem to agree that “First Thursday” is a welcome part of the Week of Welcome.

“I woke up in a dull mood this morning,” said Ron Nesbitt, a senior in administration of justice from Champaign. “But the event was real entertaining, and it made my day a little more hyper.”

Despite her loss in the tricycle race, even Melissa Daniels had to agree that the trip to “Maui Waui” was well worth it.

“I lost in front of everyone, and I didn’t win that T-shirt for my daughter,” Daniels said. “But I had fun and that’s all that counts.”

Reporter Jessica Yorama can be reached at [email protected]

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