Many Southern Utah State College students are planning to return early from Christmas vacation to take part in the University Gala, a New Year's Eve bash that will mark the college's transition to university status.

According to Monica Moe, assistant director of student activities, student leaders are also setting up activities for Jan. 1 and 2."For some students, the issue isn't coming back for the New Year's Eve gala, but what to do on the two days after, before classes start," Moe said.

To fill the gap on those two days, a "Winter Olympics" is being planned at Brian Head. Student leaders are currently working with the Brian Head Royale Hotel and Brian Head Enterprises in planning the event, which will include a dance at the hotel on Jan. 1.

The "Winter Olympics" are not really planned to be a true sporting event, but more lighthearted in nature with such "competitions" as an obstacle course race in the snow using swim fins. The activities will begin at 1 p.m., with a dinner at the hotel at 6 p.m., awards ceremony at 7 p.m. and a dance afterward.

On Jan. 2, the Thunderbirds meet Stephen F. Austin State University in the Centrum at 7:30 p.m. for their first basketball game as a university team.

All funds raised from the activities will go toward scholarships, Moe said.