History of All Campus Party
The All-Campus Party (ACP), as we know it today, took shape when John W. Jung took charge of one of the Wisconsin Alumni Student Board’s (WASB) subcommittees in the spring of 2000. With his characteristic dynamism, John assembled the team that would develop and implement one of the largest student-run initiatives in the history of the University of Wisconsin.
The idea for All-Campus Party began with Chad Brown’s campaign for the WASB Presidency in the spring of 2000. Chad proposed that WASB organize on the UW campus an annual weekend of intramural sporting competitions akin to the Badger State Games. In March of 2000, Chad was elected along with an executive team that included Vice President Matt Kopac, Secretary Allison Adams and Business Manager Eric Zawid.
The executive team’s first responsibility was to interview and select directors for each of WASB’s then six committees. After John’s interview in March of 2000, it was clear that not only was he director material, but that he was also the best person to lead what would become the All-Campus Party (ACP). Although it was unusual for someone with only one semester on WASB to be selected as a committee director, John was given the directorship of the WAA Relations Committee and control over ACP.
John was a fountain of ideas and energy, and the idea for ACP began to evolve even before the end of the 2000 spring semester. John liked the idea that sports competitions could bring people together, but pushed for something bolder—a campus-wide festival to bring together all facets and faces of the University. It would celebrate everything the university had to offer.
In meetings on the Lake Mendota terrace over the summer of 2000, John, Chad and Matt dreamt large about the possibilities for the event. Because ACP was a new program that had the potential to rival anything that a WASB committee had ever tackled before, Chad proposed a special leadership structure. John and Matt would serve as co-chairs of the effort, with Chad completing the triumvirate behind the scenes. This partnership continued throughout the development of ACP. The three ACP leaders hatched their strategy over many late nights tossing a football inside the Wisconsin Alumni Association’s Below Alumni Center. And John became the driving force.
ACP Team Comes Together
ACP really began to take shape once John’s WAA Relations committee was set and the creativity and grit of ten exceptional WASB members was added to the planning process. It was this assemblage under John’s leadership that grew ACP from an idea to a reality. The original ACP team was comprised of Katy Berner, Kurt Jensen, Molly Houlihan, Sarah Mathis, Laura Mayer, Tom O’Day, Katie Sertich, Katelyn Silver, Jim Strode and Gina Vosseller.
Before too long, the effort outgrew even the WAA Relations team, and John began to recruit other WASB members to the cause. The other WASB members brought into the fold included McKenzie Bishop, Jessica Bloodgood, Mike Valitchka, Mike Whitcomb, and dozens of others whose time and talent were integral in helping the dream become a reality.
ACP Evolves into a Week-Long Event
The organization was innovative and dynamic. John encouraged and inspired those involved. Team members began to step up with new ideas and offer to put them together. John’s answer to them was “Make it Happen”. He empowered his team members to take responsibility for their ideas, while he provided the broader vision for ACP. He ensured that project managers had the support and resources they needed. One of the new ideas that was developed was Jessica Bloodgood and Mike Valitchka’s free film festival.
Initially, for what was to be a movie night, Bloodgood and Valitchka were going to organize showings of What Lies Beneath on the exterior wall of Cole Hall. What started as a small idea grew, until the campus movie theatre University Square offered to show four movies for free at 8 p.m. on one of the nights of the All Campus Party. Movies such as Blow, Freddy Got Fingered and Along Came a Spider were shown in packed theaters that night. In addition, the Orpheum offered to do a free midnight screening of Bridget Jones' Diary. At first, it was simply going to provide WASB with the small theater, but so many people showed up that Orpheum management gave the group the giant theater. WASB needed it. Sure enough, the theater filled to maximum capacity!
The ACP team also decided that:
- Service to the community was a critical element
- WASB should bring the other leader student organizations to the table and leverage their talents and programs
- ACP should bring together all of the university’s diverse communities
- ACP should close with a large capstone concert
- The mission and message of ACP should center on the importance of drug and alcohol-free social alternatives.
It was also during the planning stages that John decided the event should be called the All-Campus Party.
Once the vision for ACP was clear, John, Chad and Matt realized they would need additional funding to make it a reality. They learned that the Associated Student of Madison (ASM), UW’s student government which oversees and distributes UW’s segregated fees, had a line-item for events reaching out to the entire UW-Madison campus. In previous years, that funding had been allocated in full to another event. John, Chad and Matt went into the ASM funding meeting in the fall of 2000 convinced they had an idea of merit that was worthy of support, but unsure of the type of reception they would get. Led by Chad, the trio convinced ASM to allocate two-thirds of the line-item funding to ACP. ASM representatives attributed the result to a well-practiced presentation, a vision that aligned exceptionally well with ASM’s objectives for the funding and WASB’s reputation for putting on quality programs.
WASB also received funding from the Wisconsin Alumni Association and the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation. During WASB’s presentation or pitch to engage the RWJ Foundation, a staff person of Chancellor John Wiley named Peyton Smith overheard the idea for the event. He thought the Wisconsin Alumni Student Board was onto something. Not only did he support RWJ’s involvement in helping get the event off the ground, he returned to his boss, Chancellor John Wiley and proposed that his Office help sponsor the All Campus Party. John Wiley agreed and the Chancellor’s Office became a vital and vibrant supporter of the event for years to come.
ACP Comes Together
All-Campus Party 2001 eventually spanned four days in the spring of 2001. It kicked off on Tuesday, April 24 with a jazz performance and swing dance lessons at Luther’s Blues. On Wednesday, April 25, there was a campus-wide blood drive and flag football tournament at Camp Randall. On Thursday, April 26, there was a campus clean-up and a free film festival at the Orpheum on State Street. Then on Friday, April 27, students were treated to not one but seven events, including:
- Free pizza lunch events at Library Mall and Union South
- International Conversations and Coffee event at Union South
- “Find Bucky” scavenger hunt
- Culture and Music Festival, complete with climbing wall
- Campus Appreciation Reception, attended by Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, Chancellor John Wiley and including Babcock ice cream, on Library Mall
- Art reception at Wisconsin Union Directorate
- Run DMC concert at the Kohl Center
ACP still flourishes today as one of the most popular events on campus and recently entered its second decade in 2011. Subsequent groups of WASB members have made ACP bigger and better, but they always draw on the inspiration and example of that WASB class of 2000-2001 as well as ACP’s leadership, especially John W. Jung.