Brandeis Student Events is, according to their website, “a volunteer student organization that supports the mission of Brandeis University by providing cultural, educational, recreational and social programs designed for the entire Brandeis community.”
Student Events recently hosted Stressbusters, Springfest and Bronstein Weekend, during which fun events are held and students are encouraged to celebrate “life, happiness and support within and outside of Brandeis campus.”
Jake Hurwitz ’16, majoring in Econ and minoring in Theater and Math, has been the social department director of Student Events. He first joined in his sophomore year after applying to the position when he was a first-year. In addition to Student Events, Hurwitz has also participated in many different musicals and in Top Score, most enjoying playing the piano.
Student Events has several teams that contribute to the organization as a whole. The social department, which Hurwitz has led, is party-focused and organizes events such as Bronstein Weekend and Louis Louis Week. The concerts team is in charge of organizing the fall, winter and spring (Springfest) concerts. The entertainment team organizes events such as film screenings and comedians, most recently hosting H. Jon Benjamin, a comedian and voice actor best known for portraying Sterling Archer in Archer and Bob Belcher in Bob’s Burgers. The public relations team markets for all of the events, and both the executive director and the advisor, Steve Pagios, help to organize a lot of the rest of the work that goes into Student Events.
While Student Events is open to anyone for volunteer opportunities, leadership positions are also open for anyone to apply for and require an interview.
In his sophomore year, Hurwitz was on the social team. “I was tasked with planning one event for our social weeks, so in the first semester I planned the talent show,” he remembered.
Events such as these, however, can get complicated. Many students, Hurwitz noted, might not imagine the amount of planning and headache-inducing complications that can go into planning these functions. In the second semester of that year, Hurwitz was planning a ’90s tribute concert. After conducting plenty of research and planning, however, costs quickly rose and it was replaced with an event run by a specialized vendor.
In his junior year, Hurwitz switched to the entertainment team. He recounted, “All of the events were spread throughout the semester rather than being concentrated in one week. It was good for managing commitments, since spirit weeks and tech weeks for shows tend to fall around the same time. I planned a stress-buster for Kindness Day, which was really fun!”
Thinking about Student Events highlights, Hurwitz really appreciated most recently when Brandeis hosted H. Jon Benjamin. “One of the things that we have as a part of the contract when we bring in an artist is that they do a meet-and-greet with all of the volunteers,” he said. Because of this, the volunteers and Students Events coordinators all get to meet and take photos with the celebrity who they bring in.
Recounting Student Events lore, Hurwitz noted a piece of paper that hangs on the wall of the office which mentions a few events. In the ’70s, there would be balloons at all of the events—when popped, students might discover that a joint or two would fall out, supposedly.
When planning events, an enormous and often unseen amount of work goes into the execution. At a Stressbuster, for example, one might see a massage therapist. However, Hurwitz has had to research local therapists who would come to a college campus, negotiate a good price, work out a contract and gain approval from the university. “Lots of it is just knowing how to navigate the university bureaucracy to make it happen in a good time frame,” said Hurwitz.
More recently, Student Events has had a smaller budget to work with. As a secured club, the organization is virtually guaranteed funding each semester that they request it, but more recently, the Allocations Board has had greater amounts of oversight over secured clubs, and Student Events’ budget has been cut to about 60 percent of what it previously was. Next year, with the changes that are being made to the marathon process, instead of requesting a lump sum and then planning their functions, Student Events will have to create line items for specific events far ahead of time.
For Louis Louis this year, for example, Student Events has had to focus on doing more with less. To make an event happen, Hurwitz explained, there needs to be some combination of time spent organizing and money. When there is less time to put in, more money can make the event better; however, when there is less money, more time needs to be put in. “We had a lot less money, so to maintain the same good quality, we had to put significantly more time into it, and we’re all students with our own schedules,” said Hurwitz.
When asked about what his dream events would be, Hurwitz noted how every year, someone brings up the idea of bringing Beyoncé to campus. However, she costs $4 million for an 80-minute act, which would necessitate many years of club funding to afford. Nonetheless, Hurwitz noted, “We can dream.”
Yet what he’s gotten his greatest pleasure out of hasn’t been the events, but has been bringing up a new group of Student Events organizers. He commented, “This fall I started with a new team, and watching them learn and grow as leaders and events planners has been really rewarding […] I’m really proud of them.”