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Sophomore Nodine Her explores a virtual deep ocean with a virtual reality headset during ‘A Winter’s Night’ at Campus Pointe on Jan. 25, 2018. (Ram Reyes/The Collegian)

Students treated to winter fun to kick off new semester

“A Winter’s Night at Campus Pointe” drew crowds of students last week with Fresno State ID cards in hand who were eager to take advantage of the numerous free activities being offered. It was a welcome-back gift from University Student Union Productions.

The winter-themed event had advertised free roller skating, virtual reality (VR) games, horse-drawn carriage rides, music and food specials.

The vacant space between Collect Coffee Bar and TOFAS Mediterranean Grill was transformed into a roller-skating rink, with music from DJ Kay Rich and DJ Jeuce Box.

In addition to providing upbeat roller-skating jams, the two DJs added to the fun with roller-skating games like Red Light, Green Light and Four Corners.

A large walk-in trailer stationed across the street drew long lines for VR games. Students rotated in and out playing Wii games like “Super Smash Brothers” while they waited for a chance to experience a VR deep-sea dive.

The simulated dive, which began with bright, colorful fish and beautiful underwater scenes, ended with an exciting and terrifying “shark attack.” It left students like Megan Amon, a third-semester nursing student, wanting more.  

“If I got to stay longer, it would have been really cool to have the shark come out and attack,” Amon, a regular at USU Productions events said.

Recreation administration senior Wendy Xiong enjoyed the horse-drawn carriage ride, which included blankets to keep warm as the horses trotted along a short route through Campus Pointe.

“The horse ride was too short. But it was good,” Xiong said. But she is grateful for the USU Productions’ mission to provide fun events for students throughout the year.

“It’s nice to have events like this once in a while,” Xiong said. “Especially because it’s at the beginning of the school year. It’s a nice welcome back.”

Lizet Garcia added that these events are a great way to let loose and have fun.

“I think it’s a good way to destress from the beginning of the school semester,” said Garcia, a liberal studies junior. She had been anxious to roller skate.

Student event-coordinator Anyssa Garza said that in addition to giving students a way to destress, the event was also planned as a way to showcase the features of the Campus Pointe area just outside the Fresno State campus.

“It’s a place where they can go when they have downtime. This is a place where you can spend time with friends and family,” Garza said.

A craft table set up near the roller-skating rink offered winter-themed crafts for all ages, including an activity for students to create their very own stress ball in the shape of a snowman, popsicle stick snowflakes and coloring pages with winter scenes.

While the activities of the night seemed to prove fun for nearly everyone, not all students were satisfied with the planning.

Free pizza had been on the mind of a few students. But they soon found that Pieology was offering a free cheesy bread instead, and only after downloading its app. Most students settled for the $6.99 discounted meal deal Pieology offered by presenting a Fresno State student ID.

Elizabeth Whitney, a recreation administration major studying special event planning, offered her opinion on how the event may have been organized better.

“It was a little bit underwhelming for me,” Whitney said. “I was told in an email that there would be free pizza. There wasn’t free pizza.”

Que Pasa Mexican Food handed out free horchata and chips and salsa around in front of the restaurant, a welcome addition to the sparse food offerings.

Whitney said the required apps for the free items were an unnecessary inconvenience.

“When you are planning an event, you should make it as convenient as possible,” she said.

There were other technical inconveniences that Whitney wished weren’t so. After taking pictures in the photo booth with various props, including a giant unicorn head and snowflakes, Whitney said she shared the photo to Facebook with the hashtag listed on a sign posted nearby.

She requested a print out of the photo but event staff asked her to share on Instagram instead. The sign was updated with more clear instructions after numerous people expressed confusion.

Then there were other complaints.

“There was a snow machine that was completely broken,” Whitney added, “They advertised it to be something, but it was just kind of underwhelming. It focused too much on giving marketing for USU Productions and not enough on the experience of the people there.”

Despite the hiccups identified by Whitney, USU Productions mostly succeeded in its goal to attract students to the off-campus dining plaza.

USU Productions’ next event is a free karaoke night at The Bucket on Feb. 1, from 8 to 11 p.m.