Stampede of Culture celebrates campus diversity

Between course workloads, part-time jobs and attempts to maintain a social life, students may have little time to explore the cultural nooks and crannies of USF.

The Humanities and Cultural Studies Organization (HCSO) and the Humanities Institute brings a healthy dose of culture to the University with the third annual Stampede of Culture on Thursday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Marshall Student Center Amphitheater. The event showcases various campus organizations and offers music and refreshments.

Barbara Helfrick, a senior majoring in secondary education and president of HCSO, said the event’s location should help reel in students who are otherwise unaware of the event.

“It’s such a central location for everyone on campus,” she said.

A wide array of cultural realms, including performing arts, literature and religion, are prominently featured at Stampede of Culture. This year, expected participating organizations include the University Film and Video Association, thread Literary Inquiry, Sisters United Muslim Association, Christians in Action, the Student Theatre Production Board, Chinese Culture and Language Club and USF Nourish International. Eric Eisenberg, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, will also attend to speak at the event.

Helfrick said that Stampede of Culture was conceived by HCSO to showcase some of USF’s diverse student organizations that tend to go unnoticed. Campus organizations from across the board will set up at designated tables in the amphitheater, providing students with information and interactive activities. In the past, clubs have offered henna tattoos and allowed students to make their own pinch-pot ceramics. While delving into the cultural diversity of USF, students will be treated to live music from the USF Jazz Ensemble.

For students who have not had the opportunity to travel abroad, Stampede of Culture is an introduction to the culture that enriches the campus. Helfrick said this is important because it transforms the way students view the world outside of Tampa.

Elizabeth Kicak, program assistant for the USF Humanities Institute, said the goals of the Humanities Institute are embodied in the production of Stampede of Culture.

“In a campus as large as USF, it’s sometimes difficult to fully understand the number of opportunities available to students,” Kicak said. “USF is a renowned research university. But, it’s so much more than just labs and classrooms. It’s a gathering of incredibly diverse, talented and enthusiastic people and their cultural histories.”

She said stampede focuses on elements that are universally appreciated.

“Culture – music, art, literature, theater – these are the things that add beauty to our lives, and we naturally gravitate toward them,” Kicak said.

Elizabeth Bird, director of the Humanities Institute and an anthology professor, said student interest is a high priority while planning Stampede of Culture and other upcoming events.

“One of my goals as the new director of the Institute is to offer events that appeal to students,” she said.

Helfrick said last year, nearly 500 people stopped by the event. Because the HCSO is student-run, its operation is largely dependent on the 200 undergrads in the organization.

Tyler Cox, a senior double majoring in history and humanities, joined HCSO two years ago after being encouraged by friends in the organization. Cox said that increasing awareness about culture and the humanities on campus benefits students.

“I originally wanted to get involved with the organization because I felt, and still do, that the humanities are an important aspect of our lives,” he said. “When we study humanities, we study the human condition. By analyzing and reflecting on such things as art and literature, we try to understand ourselves and our place in the world.”

Traveling also influenced Cox to join multicultural groups and appreciate the wide array of cultural activities at USF.

“I have been fortunate enough to have traveled to 25 countries through my experience in the military and various study abroad programs,” he said. “This has profoundly affected my outlook here at USF, realizing that it is essential to be open and receptive to others’ points of view, ideas and lifestyles.”