Every spring, thousands of Longhorns and local community members descend on West Campus for a weekend of fraternity parties, crawfish boils, and live music. The annual event known as Roundup is now as famous for its award-winning philanthropic contributions as it is infamous for its history of discriminatory incidents, which prompted the University to withdraw its support in 1990. This year, the event is making headlines again with its rebrand as West Fest—a celebration that aims to preserve the charitable impact of Roundup with increased safety measures and a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination.
The rebrand is spearheaded by third-year youth and community studies student Zach Siegel, who serves as the Vice President of Large Programming for Texas Interfraternity Council (IFC). Although this year marks Siegel’s most transformative effort with the festival, his work to promote safety and diversity began in spring 2022 when he first inherited the responsibility of planning Roundup. Because he started at UT during the pandemic, Siegel never had the opportunity to attend Roundup socially and went into the role with a blank slate.
“The moment I found out about the controversy, I was sitting in an office in the Sorority and Fraternity Life department, and I was getting forewarned of what I was walking into about the cultural, racial, homophobic history of Roundup,” Siegel says, “I remember asking myself, ‘Who is going to be the person to not rewrite the history, but write the future?’”