Festival fever

10 November 2016

Two of our students are planning the party of their lives, and everyone's invited. The USU's OWeek festival is returning again in 2017 and we got all the insights. 


With a guest list of 55,000 people, third year Arts and Arts/Law students Tessa Pang and Natalie Buckett have been given the opportunity of a lifetime, directing one of Australia’s biggest student events - the University of Sydney Union’s OWeek festival.

So as most student’s pack up and leave campus for the holidays, we spoke to our newly appointed OWeek Creative Directors about events past and what we can look forward to next year. (Just in case you were looking for a reason to countdown to next semester!)

What have your previous OWeek experiences been like? Do you have a favourite?

Nat: I admire the theme from 2014, Into the Wild. It kind of took OWeek in a different direction and the theme was a lot darker. The thing that stood out most was the organisation of the event. I know that sounds kind of boring, but when you read the OWeek handover document, you start to see how many things can go wrong, yet the event ran so smoothly which is something we want to emulate.

Tessa: My favourite OWeek was probably my first one (in 2014) too. Mostly because I didn’t know what to expect from an OWeek or uni life at all, and it was great to see how fun university can be compared to school. OWeek really sets the general vibe for uni and sets expectations for what’s ahead. 

I think that every time you come to OWeek, you’re reminded that there are different things on campus that you might not have tried yet.
O Week students down Eastern Avenue

What’s the best part about being involved in clubs and societies?

Tessa: Well we are both part of debating. My first and second year I was also part of SASS – Sydney Arts Students Society and PolSoc which is the politics society.

Nat: I’m a member of the Law Revue Society and the Law Society. We also have a little bit of involvement in the SRC. I guess Tessa and I became friends through debating so that kind of proves how good clubs are for making new friends. We both come from different places around Sydney and I guess it sounds a bit nerdy but it’s basically formed the backbone of my entire social life. It’s just a really good way to meet people.

Tessa: It’s a good way to consistently sustain friendships because it gives you a good reason to meet up every week. SASS and debating both have a very good social environment so there’s always something on.

What does your role as Creative Director actually entail?

Tessa: We kind of take responsibility for the creative aspect of OWeek. That can range from things like picking bands to theme selection. We’ll also be liaising with the clubs and societies to try and maximise their involvement. There are a lot of logistical aspects as well. We basically try and bring a student voice to OWeek because at the end of the day OWeek is for students like us.

If a student could only go to one OWeek event, what should it be?

Nat: Oh, that’s so hard. Everyone should go to all of them! The opening night party is definitely the most popular every year. In saying that, one of our goals is to try and make each event independently accessible, so that students don’t feel like they have to come to the entirety of OWeek or to a big drinking party – they could just attend a relaxed daytime event and get the same level of enjoyment.

Tessa: I think that people should also definitely just come along during the day without a plan – just be there and soak up the atmosphere. It’s a good reminder that university isn’t just about getting your degree, it’s about learning new things and meeting new friends.

Why should students in second, third or later years come back to OWeek next year?

Nat: We’re hoping to rejuvenate the social events a lot and spread them across campus. We also want to have more of a diversity of events and make sure OWeek isn't just seen as a festival for new people, but as a way to remind older students why they chose the University of Sydney.  

Tessa: I also think that every time you come to OWeek, you’re reminded that there are different things on campus that you might not have tried yet. I know in my second year I definitely became more involved in clubs and societies, because in first year it can be a little bit too overwhelming to enjoy all the opportunities in front of you. It’s about expanding your friendship groups but also trying out new things with the support of your existing friends.

What are you most looking forward to about OWeek and what will be the most nerve-racking part?

Nat: I’m most looking forward to getting our OWeek shirts, then everything will feel real! We both really enjoy being busy so we’re keen to just have the whole summer to work on this huge project and throw ourselves into it. The nerve-racking part will be whether we forgot anything, or if the weather is really bad.

Tessa: It will be amazing seeing our vision and all our planning come to life. I’m also just excited for the logistical side of things. I know that sounds really nerdy – booking bands, sponsors and caterers, things like that.

Can you give us a hint about what we can expect in terms of a theme?

Nat: We want this year to be a less about boxing events into a theme, instead the theme will be more of a vibe that every club and society can adapt to; we want OWeek to be more of a fun festival where you can just go and hang out.  We don’t want clubs to feel like they have to fit our theme, we want them to embrace it.

We want our message to be inclusive. If people have to go off to work at 5pm or don’t want to drink or who have to drive, the message would be that you can have fun too. You can enjoy OWeek without needing to live at college or in the Inner West with a home that's easy to run back to.