A veterans ball hosted on April 14 at the University of Connecticut continued military traditions while bringing a new social event to students and veterans alike.
All were welcome to attend the event, which was funded by the Undergraduate Student Government (USG)u. Undergraduate tickets were free, while others paid $40 for the entry and dinner price.
Ben Nobles, eighth-semester business management student and president of the Veterans Student Organization, spearheaded the event, said Alyssa Kelleher, Veterans Affairs and Military Programs director.
“I am really impressed with his work,” Kelleher said. “I am glad it really came to fruition.”
Kelleher said that many of the veteran attendants had never been able to attend a ball while they served, or they had not been to one in a while. Kelleher said everyone seemed very excited to have a night to dress up and be social.
She said that attendants included student veterans, older retirees, spouses, girlfriends and boyfriends, veterans from other campuses, VSO and VAMP members and more.
Nobles said about 20 non-veterans registered for tickets, with about 10 attending. Nobles said over 60 people registered.
Nobles said in an effort to welcome all members from the UConn community, he and other members posted in the Buy or Sell UConn Tickets Facebook group, tabled, put up fliers and posted in the Daily Digest.
“I didn’t expect that so many undergraduate students would be going home to their family this weekend,” Nobles said. “I underestimated the Easter significance.”
During the event, several military traditions were honored and embellished. For example, a table set for one was displayed, which represented the prisoners of war and missing in action soldiers.
Additionally, a cake was cut with a sword by the oldest and youngest member in attendance, two veterans born in 1946 and 1997.
Kelleher said that Nobles wanted to continue with those traditions, but also wanted to put a new spin on it. For example, it is usual to have an outside speaker present during the event. Nobles hired a comedian to entertain the crowd.
The comedian, Brian Bargainer, definitely riled up the crowd. Amid dirty jokes, drinks from the Nathan Hale True Blue Tavern, military trivia and catching up with friends, the atmosphere in the pavilion was informal and rambunctious.
Shelby Phipps, a fourth-semester Neag School of Edcuation student and Army National Guard veteran, said this was one of the first VSO events she was able to attend.
“I wanted to have a connection to something on campus,” Phipps said. “Being a recent transfer, I don’t have many roots here yet.”
Brittany Davis, who was an executive board member last semester, said the ball was a lot of fun.
“It was more informal than a regular ball, and it made it more fun,” Davis said. “It was planned quickly and came out great.”
Claire Galvin is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.