¡Viva U.I.W.!: Residence Life converts old Chips & Salsa tradition into Fiesta event

By Érico Ramírez


The university’s Office of Residence Life recently converted its longtime Chips & Salsa tradition with a new approach and different concepts on Wednesday, April 18, on Dubuis Lawn.

The outcome — ¡Viva U.I.W.! — is meant to replace the previous Chips & Salsa tradition for students.

“This is a replica of Chips & Salsa but we took it to a higher level,” said Vanessa Cerda, a graduate assistant in Residence Life. “(We are providing) educational content to the event so, not only do the students become engaged and get the Fiesta experience, but also learn the history behind Fiesta.”

In comparison to Chips & Salsa events in the past, ¡Viva U.I.W.! was host to a multitude of on-campus organizations.

Cerda says, “The student organizations are providing the Fiesta activities and those Fiesta activities have the educational content tied in,” Cerda said.

“They wanted to get more organizations involved from the campus and add on a little bit more of than just (the) dancing aspect to it so they can get more people out … and people to plan it to provide more activities,” said Arturo Zapata, a senior biology and  environmental science major.

Organizations participating in the event included the university’s police department offering alcohol awareness education, the Alumni Association offering Mexican paper crafting workshops, University Mission and Ministry, the women’s basketball team, and Sodexo. Residence Life hosted a special booth offering information regarding the history behind Chips & Salsa, non-alcoholic margaritas and face painting.

Chi Phi fraternity hosted a booth offering card-making workshops for the children of Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Matthew Suarez, a member of the fraternity, said, “Our philanthropy is always the Boys and Girls Club … so we decided to make Fiesta cards for Driscoll Children’s Hospital.”

The booth succeeded in its efforts. “In about 10 minutes, we got about 30 cards,” Suarez said. “They’re all going directly to [the children] so they can have a good Fiesta even though they might be sick.”

Sodexo’s catering service assisted in creating the pre-Fiesta ambiance with its carefully selected menu of Tex-Mex and Mexican foods. The Fiesta menu featured a variety of traditional foods from south-of-the-border items, such as churros, sopapillas, aguas frescas, gorditas, to the items a San Antonian would be more familiar with such as flour fajita tacos, chimichangas, tostadas, and nachos.

The success of the event could be seen in the faces and eyes of faculty, staff, and students learning to salsa dance under instruction by Victoria Galindo, an undergraduate student and Zumba instructor; taking photos with a Fiesta-themed background; or sipping on their non-alcoholic margaritas.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time here,” Philip Frost, a grad student in healthcare administration, said. “I’m happy to see this new twist on the previous Chips & Salsa events.”

Since the event’s humble beginnings with Liz Valerio, the creator, the event has progressed tremendously. Zapata said the first half-hour yielded more participants than he had seen in his history volunteering.

Students involved with Residence Life have expressed that, each year, Chips & Salsa has grown significantly; however, this year’s ¡Viva U.I.W.! has iced the cake.

“We’re hoping to make this a growing tradition,” Cerda said.

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