The Council of International Students and Organizations (COISO) garnered a victory in this year’s Spirit Tree Ceremony with its miniature suitcase ornament.
The Spirit Tree competition is an annual event held behind the Ashe building, where student organizations create a skit and an ornament to hang on the Spirit Tree, the only orange tree on campus.
“Within it, we thought about what we would travel with the most and we thought our most prized possessions are our memories, so we put pictures of COISO through our 50 years on campus,” said Avisha Gopalakrishna, a member of COISO.
Their ornament was a suitcase, decorated with the Make Your Move Homecoming logo and covered in passport stickers from other countries ranging from Spain to Australia. The inside of the ornament was filled to the brim with pictures of COISO members from current and past years.
“We use our suitcase not only to make our move on boardgames but literally to make our move around the world!” said Gopalakrishna during their skit, in which she, along with Rick Lin as Sebastian the Ibis, rescued their ornament from the Pittsburgh Panther, played by Tatsumi Yanaba.
The Association of Commuter Students (ACS) took second place with their ornament, an RV decorated with UM mascot Sebastian the Ibis and orange and green miniature pompoms.
“We wanted an ornament that kind of exemplified the fact that ACS is our home away from home. We are a family, so we needed a place big enough for our entire family to fit,” said Daniela Perez, president of ACS.
United Black Students (UBS) came in third place with a nod to the organization’s 50th anniversary. The students made an ornament with Sebastian the Ibis and Harold Long, the first UBS president, riding in a “just married” car.
In the accompanying skit, UBS members recited “vows” to the University of Miami as UBS Homecoming Chair Gabrielle Hand sang in the background.
“As we drove off into the sunset together half a century ago, letting time age us but still never phase us …,” recited Antonio Mercurius, a junior in UBS. “UBS do you now wish to reaffirm the vows you took 50 years ago? I do!”
Director of the LGBTQ Student Center Van Bailey, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions Jordan Shapiro and Housing Marketing Specialist Mike Piacentino judged the student organizations’ skits, their interpretation of the “Make Your Move” Homecoming theme and their ability to represent their organization through their ornament.
This was also the first year university departments made their own ornaments for the Spirit Tree. The Department of Student Activities and Student Organizations and the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science both participated, among others. Alma Mater and Spirit Tree Chair Valeria Velasco said more than five university departments took part in the event.
“We were really happy with that turnout, just to see different people from all across the university participate,” Velasco said.