Panelists discuss on-campus activities

April 13, 2018

Students and administrators discussed campus events and programming as part of an ongoing series of open forums, exploring perceived student apathy to campus events, communication and criteria of a successful event.

The panelists included students, such as Alissa Fagin ’20, the president of the Campus Activities Board (CAB) and Aseem Kumar ’20, the chair of the Allocations Board, which oversees the 1.7 Student Activities Fund (SAF) and allocates funds to Brandeis’ more than 250 clubs. Administrators included Stephanie Grimes, an assistant dean who oversees the department of student activities and Madeline Lopez, the director of the Intercultural Center (ICC).

Panelists discussed how to “combat perceived apathy” to events in the student body. Fagin emphasized the need for better communication of events and marketing. The university is piloting new technology to improve communication, according to Tim Touchette, the assistant dean of student affairs. This includes more screen displays in high traffic areas to advertise events, like the screens in the library and Usdan. Fagin also discussed the possibility of texting notifications or an app to notify students of events.

Kumar suggested that there were too many clubs on campus, causing an under attendance of club events. Whether Brandeis has too many clubs has been a point of discussion for members of the Student Union senate as well this year.

“I actually think that there’s too many clubs on campus and I believe that leads to dilution of the social networks that you can have that connect people,” Kumar said. “It leads to people being in like small groups of five to six people organizing events for only that group of people. What we want to encourage on the A-board is collaboration.” This lead into the main focus of the panel, on what constitutes a successful event.

All panelists were involved in answering this question. Grimes narrowed the qualifications of a successful event to attendance and meeting the goal of the event, but the panelists each introduced more nuance into their answers. Student attendee Max Hoffman ’19 asked how the panelists measured student satisfaction and emphasized it as an important quality of a successful event. Lopez emphasized that attendance and satisfaction don’t always represent the success of educational events.

“At the ICC, we’re compelled sometimes to address things that are going to make people uncomfortable and unhappy but are necessary discussions to have … And that goes for a plethora of educational events where nobody will say they’re satisfied but it’s necessary to have. So that cannot be the only metric … if we think about the type of events that have to be held in an institution of higher learning,” said Lopez.

She also addressed attendance, saying “There are events that take place for our clubs that are very, very small, 10 to 15 people. For those 10 to 15 … it is invaluable. They will actually state when you go person to person that if they did not have such and such club or such and such event take place they would feel without purpose here at Brandeis.”

The panelists and students also emphasized the student desire for faculty involvement in certain events and faculty advising for clubs. The panelists discussed how to increase faculty involvement, such as creating a more centralized way to reach out to faculty, such as a website where students can request faculty involvement.

The next open forum, on sexual misconduct response, services and prevention, will happen on April 18 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Napoli Room of Gosman Sports and Convocation Center.

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