Revisiting campus social planning

Throughout the year, All Campus Entertainment (ACE) has faced a number of challenges in adapting to its new organizational system. ACE is integral to planning the College’s social life, and it is disheartening to see that it has been hampered by a lack of manpower and recent modifications to its structure.

It is remarkable that students at the College have the power to determine their own social lives. However, when orchestrating events becomes a burden – due to a lack of student interest and restricted access to venues – rather than a pleasure, it can lead a crucial organization such as ACE to consider disbanding, as mentioned at last week’s College Council meeting, as its only viable option.

Sustaining student interest in events, however, requires that ACE take advantage of opportunities to spread the word about its integral role on campus. This fall’s Kid Cudi concert was a missed opportunity for ACE to publicly take ownership of a successful event and clarify its role on campus. Advertising itself to the student body – particularly to first-years who have little understanding of the group – will be vital to ensuring the group’s renewal as its current leadership prepares for graduation.

Since it has become an expectation that the Neighborhood Boards plan and execute social events on campus, ACE has found itself without a clearly defined role in campus social life over the past few years, and the organization has remained undefined in relation to the Neighborhood Boards, which theoretically each serve only a quarter of the campus. ACE has traditionally existed as the sole organization capable of planning events for the entire campus; now that neighborhoods throw parties in Goodrich and advertise to the entire student body, students do not look to ACE for weekend events. Many aren’t even sure which events, if any, are planned by ACE. To add to the confusion, it is unclear who ought to clarify the roles of these two entities.

What is clear is that ACE’s expertise is a resource that should not go to waste. Shouldering out a unique, valuable part of campus social life in favor of allowing the neighborhoods to plan more campus-wide events seems unproductive. In examining ACE’s structure, there appears a natural avenue for increased connection and communication between ACE and the Neighborhoods: the recently-revived general entertainment (GE) committee.

The majority of the redundancy between ACE-planned events and neighborhood-sponsored activities falls under the category of GE. In contrast to the concerts, Stressbusters and First Fridays committees, GE does not have one specific purpose on campus. Instead, it serves to fill in the gaps in the social calendar, whether by bringing a comedian from The Office to Paresky, planning a semi-formal Winter Carnival dance or hosting speed dating at the Log. These are the events that most often overlap with neighborhood-planned activities such as late-night snacks, arts and crafts or weekend cookouts. GE was an important part of ACE’s restructuring this year and, as it has proven redundant, should be re-worked in order to both better accommodate the College’s needs and acknowledge the neighborhoods’ desire to plan campus-wide events.

In understanding this connection, it seems logical that instead of competing for venues and attendees, these two organizations should work together to more effectively create enjoyable all-campus events. GE has an understanding of how to plan successful events, while the Neighborhood Boards offer the manpower that ACE has lacked in recent years. Furthermore, both sides also have great ideas for a wide variety of potential events. Sending a liaison from each Neighborhood Board to ACE – an idea suggested by last year’s Neighborhood Review Committee – could serve both groups well. ACE could serve as a sort of umbrella organization: Neighborhood Boards could bring ideas for campus-wide events to ACE, which would then help with their funding and execution.

Neighborhood Board liaisons would also benefit ACE through these elected representatives’ accountability. An individual voted onto a committee is automatically held responsible to his or her constituents. ACE would do well to consider the strength of this accountability: Elected representatives would alleviate the lack of sustained interest and involvement that the group has recently seen from students.

Campus Life could also play a role in bridging the gap between ACE and the Neighborhood Boards. Campus Life has been instrumental in helping ACE orchestrate recent events; this assistance is valuable and could even be further expanded to help ACE remain accountable for planning events that not only pique students’ interest but are also financially responsible.

ACE is a unique organization that addresses a key need on campus – one that any group looking to plan campus-wide events should remember to take advantage of. ACE and the neighborhoods both need to step up in order to effectively utilize their collective resources to best serve the College’s social needs.

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