The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

Got a tip? Have something you need to tell us? Contact us

Loading Recent Classifieds...

Latest Matador Nights event brings in more donations

More than 1,000 people endured chilly winds at the University Student Union on Friday night to sing karaoke, munch on free food, watch masquerade balls and have their palms read as part of the fourth-ever Matador Nights event.

The event was open to CSUN students from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. with loads of entertaining activities. Besides offering students a blast, the USU event was put together with something bigger in mind. Matador Nights was a way of reaching out to students to raise money for Katrina relief.

“It is a free event, but we will be accepting monetary donations,” said Hans Weichhart, general programs coordinator for the USU. “(The) Katrina cause is a component of the event. Because it is a Mardi Gras theme, we thought this cause would be appropriate.”

Checking student ID cards and going through brief security checks on the way in, the donation boxes could immediately be seen upon entering the show’s grounds. Volunteers from the University Student Union handed out bead necklaces and glowing necklaces to everyone coming in, while simultaneously asking for donations.

“Glow necklaces are for students,” said Vanessa Garduno, assistant programs coordinator for USU. “They can decide to assist or not. We accept any type of donation – 50 cents, $1, $2 – anything they can give. We wanted to remind students that there is effort going on towards the New Orleans cause. We can still help them.

“If the students want to get involved, there are ways to get involved,” Garduno added.

Many campus organizations helped out by organizing entertainment activities for the event. Among them were HOPE Fellowship hosting musical chairs, Union Campus Ministry conducting Jamfest, and the Union Program Council hosting karaoke and an arts and crafts corner.

There was also a juggler, belly dancer, someone walking on stilts, a jazz band, a hypnotist, a face painter and a psychic reader. The most popular performer was the psychic reader. Students signed up and waited in line for their turn to get a sneak peek into their future. The average wait time for a person was about 20 minutes. This did not reduce the thrill of those who were waiting, however.

Anita Kapil, an accounting coordinator in business services for the USU, was volunteering at the psychic reader station by helping students fill out the sign in sheet. Seeing the increasing numbers of students coming in to have their palms read, she decided to put her name down on the waiting list as well and finally was able to have her future read at 10:30 p.m.

Another main highlight of the event was alligator tacos with “actual alligator meat,” Weichhart said. Volunteers at the food station said students were relishing the unconventional dish.

“Some people came back for them three or four times,” said Janet Ohnishi, a volunteer. “They say it tastes like chicken. It is very popular.”

The preparations for the event began in December of last year. But the low temperature made organizers anxious. They were anticipating a much larger crowd than what they had last year. Most of the activities, which were initially meant to be outside, were moved inside the Sol Center and other USU buildings. The college’s jazz band had to use the open-air stage for its performance and thus did not receive much attention from passersby, who may have wanted to keep out of the cold.

“It is not raining so that’s a good sign, but I hope the cold weather won’t steer people away,” Garduno said.

The fact that 1,286 people attended the event proved that they were not deterred by the weather, so the USU met its goal of attracting more attendees this year. Donations totaling $203.23 also exceeded expectations. The figure was a vast improvement over one event last year that saw less than $30 in donations.

Ingrid Washington, a CSUN sophomore, was one of many who had their warmest fleece jackets on while enjoying the event.

“The event is fun and it makes me feel like a kid again with face painting, cotton candy and all that,” Washington said. “It was worth coming (to).”

The same excitement could be seen among the volunteers at the event.

Senior Farrah Mirzae works with the USU and said she was filled with the spirit of Mardi Gras while she was giving out bead necklaces of various colors.

“I work in this very building,” Mirzae said. “I work hand-in-hand with (the) Union Program Council and we organize a lot of events for students. Whenever we do, you’ll see my face there.

“This event is a unique experience for students,” she added. “It is … the start of (the) spring semester. And this is a nice way to kick back.”

This is the fourth Matador Nights that the CSUN community has seen. The first one took place in Spring 2006. Since then, the USU has decided to have two every semester.

The next Matador Nights will take place on April 27 in the Satellite Student Union and will be based on a Hawaiian theme.

More to Discover