Whitman Events Board Shapes Student Programming

Georgia Lyon

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Are you interested in a fun event on campus? Then there’s a good chance the Whitman Events Board (WEB) is probably behind it.

WEB is a student-run group that organizes student programming and brings entertainment to Whitman’s campus in the form of speakers, movies, comedians, musicians and more. WEB is composed of 10 student coordinators and one WEB chair, who helps the other coordinators and manages the interactions between WEB and the Associated Students of Whitman College (ASWC). These coordinators can work with other student organizations to host events, an unique process known as co-sponsorship, which helps bring a greater diversity of events to Whitman over the course of a year.

Originally, WEB was founded during the Great Recession that occurred during the 2008-2009 academic year. Three organizations–the Campus Activities Board (CAB), the Coffeehouse and the ASWC programming committee–had all done student programming previously, and WEB united them under one umbrella. Once this occurred, ASWC could more easily provide funding for student programming.

“Around March or April of 2009, we realized there were going to be some pretty serious budget implications for programming out of our office. ASWC wasn’t sure what their budget was going to look like, and the other staff up here in this office and I made a proposal to ASWC that they consider reorganizing their programming body…and integrating our CAB group and our Coffeehouse group to create a larger, more collaborative, more intentional and strategic programming board to be funded through ASWC,” said Leann Adams, advisor to WEB and the student programming groups that preceded it.

Although the Great Recession accelerated this shift, Adams believes that a group like WEB would have eventually emerged from the three student programming groups that came before it. One group is simpler to direct and gives students more autonomy in choosing programming.

“I think this model was a direction we would have moved to at some point regardless of the other extenuating circumstances because it allows for better student collaboration and more student ownership of programming,” Adams said.

While students have greater autonomy over their events, they must be very responsible about organizing those events. According to WEB’s co-marketing coordinator junior Matthew Meyer, WEB coordinators must be self-motivated because, in many ways, working for WEB is not a traditional job.

“Mostly, this is an unconventional job in that there is not prescribed hours outside of office hours and director meetings. Outside of that, you pretty much do all this on your own time…You’re just paid through a stipend too, not an hourly thing…It’s all on you to figure out when you have the time to do WEB stuff versus when you need to do school work or relax,” Meyer said.

For WEB, advertising events is a key component of organizing them. This semester, WEB is mostly using posters and text messages to remind students to come to events they may be interested in.

“I think that [posters are] more for the sake of informing people that this event is happening than trying to convince them to go, in my opinion…We’ll send out a text message once a week that gives you an update of ‘Here are all of the upcoming events!’ so people can have that on their phones. It’s nice and really easily accessible, and it’s also not annoying and incessant. I think that people really appreciate that,” Meyer said.

While WEB has been structured with 10 coordinators and one chair since 2009, all the chairs have their own missions. This year’s WEB chair senior Olivia Hagel wishes to get students more excited to participate in WEB.

“Every WEB chair [has] their own take on what would they would like to see WEB do and be…We have one meeting at the beginning of every semester to gauge interest. We try to place people on committees for events and committees for directorship so that they sustain their involvement in WEB. There’s a good volunteer base with that. I think that is something we are looking to expand in the future, and to see how we can engage more students directly and in a more attractive manner,” Hagel said.

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