No fooling, April is busy

No fooling, April is busy

It's April 1, spring break is over and the polar vortex is back up north where it belongs.

That means one thing on the University of Illinois campus: busy season.

April is the month of Moms Weekend and the Illinois Marathon, Ebertfest and spring football, the Edible Book Festival and Hash Wednesday.

It's also the month for causes — Latino Awareness Month, International Week (this week), Earth Week (April 21-26), Inclusive Illinois Week (April 7-11), the Community and Campus Day of Service (on Saturday) and assorted rallies on the Quad.

Not to mention the return of Alma Mater on April 9.

"It's probably the busiest time of the school year," said campus spokeswoman Robin Kaler.

For many students and faculty the spring semester is divided into "before spring break" (it's winter so we'll focus on schoolwork) and "after spring break" (it's nice outside and we'd better cram everything in before finals start).

"The end of spring break is sort of a marker," Kaler said. "The weather is getting better, people have done a substantial amount of work. They are realizing the semester's going to end soon and if they want to do something time is running out."

The April calendar for Chancellor Phyllis Wise is filling up fast with speaking engagements for faculty and staff award ceremonies, scholarship banquets and college receptions. As of Monday, she had 28 scheduled, and counting, said Chris Harris, director of strategic communications for the Office of Public Affairs.

"It's the end of the year, and people are realizing we're on a timeline now," Harris said. "It's busy season."

Student recognition ceremonies are also in full swing, said Ed Slazinik, associate vice chancellor for student affairs.

"In a university this big, you just can't imagine how many of those there are," Slazinik said. "Graduation and finals consume May, so you have to get everything done in April."

October and April are the two busiest months at the UI, Slazinik said, and "then we've added Ebertfest and the Marathon on top of that."

In fact, when organizers of the Illinois Marathon announced the date for the inaugural race on April 11, 2009, Slazinik, then director of the Illini Union, had one thought: Why not May?

"We've already got too much crammed into April," he said.

The Division of Intercollegiate Athletics actually controls the race calendar, said Mike Lindemann, co-director of the marathon.

Because the race finishes at Memorial Stadium, it has to be after the annual UI spring football game. Organizers also didn't want to conflict with Easter weekend, and didn't want to wait until May when all the student volunteers would be busy with finals or heading home for the summer, Lindemann said.

The race is now on the last weekend of April every year, he said.

Besides April's big-ticket events, student groups are hurrying to schedule fundraisers, rallies and performances before finals start.

The Union already has 40 April events scheduled at indoor venues such as the Courtyard Cafe, including an International Fair on Thursday. And that doesn't include outdoor events on the Quad.

"Forty is a lot," said Juan Carlos Acevedo, program coordinator at the Illini Union and a recent UI graduate. "It's the end of the year, students are trying to get their philanthropy and other events ready before they leave."

Some memorable campus protests have come in April of years past, including one by Latino students in 1992 that culminated in a May 5 sit-in at a campus administration building.

Why not schedule a rally on a beautiful spring day?

"It's getting warmer. People go outside a little more," Acevedo said.

Mark your calendars

Here are a few highlights for the month:

— Moms Weekend: Friday-Sunday. Includes the musical "Rent," concerts by the Women's Glee Club and Black Chorus, and a comedy show.

— Spring Football Game: April 12

— Earth Week: April 21-26

— Ebertfest: April 23-27

— Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon (and related races): April 24-26