Student planners see low turnouts for many activities
Ashley Dill is required to spend 10 hours a week planning on-campus events. At the end of the week, however, she and other members of Kent Student Center Programming and similar organizations end up devoting the better part of their college lives to planning things for other students to do on campus.
While there may be months of tedious work to produce an event lasting only a few hours, the least Dill, a programmer for KSCP, can ask for is the joy of having people appreciate her efforts. She doesn’t always see that. And when an event has a bad turnout, she said it’s hard to keep up enthusiasm for future projects.
“People weren’t coming to our programs, and they thought (the money) would be better used in other places,” Dill said. “They keep expecting us to come up with newer, better events, but it is hard when we don’t have the resources or time.”
What is there to do?
Concert tickets for $10, dance recitals, fashion shows, plays, comedians, chorus concerts, poetry readings, wine tastings, early release movie showings, influential speakers and sporting events are only a fraction of things students can experience on campus.
While many of these events are put on by individual academic departments, there are student organizations that cater specifically to student entertainment. KSCP is just one of them. It’s main responsibility each year is putting on the Black Squirrel Festival.
The Center for Student Involvement is another entertainment-oriented student group, and promotes events such as Late-Nite programming and Relay for Life.
The All Campus Programming Board hosts FlashFest, Rockin’ the Ratt and Thursday Night Karaoke.
The Undergraduate Student Government is in charge of staging major concerts, such as Lupe Fiasco and Cartel.
All of these groups are student-run, and while they have paid positions, the members often spend many hours above the weekly quota to produce entertainment their peers will get excited about and ultimately love.
Lots to do, but with little turnout
There are 22,352 students who attend the Kent State main campus (as of 2007), yet at most events there is only a fraction of those in attendance.
Many students, like Faith Millik, junior art history major, don’t attend on-campus events, although they are almost always free and located within a few square miles.
“I try,” Millik said. “If it seems fun or interesting, I attend. But usually I hang out with friends or go to parties.”
Student group leaders find most students are like Millik, and that reflects in their events’ turnouts.
ACPB programmer Doug Hite said Rockin’ the Ratt, a Rathskeller show that features local bands, is the most successful weekly program the group puts on, with, at times, hundreds in attendance. However, the last Friday performance only entertained a crowd of about 30.
Karaoke is KSCP’s biggest event, said host Bailie Kraiger, who said it draws an average crowd of about 80.
The last USG concert, which cost $45,000 and featured Lupe Fiasco, was far from sold out.
For the Center of Student Involvement, it’s midnight movies only draw full crowds a few times each semester.
Crowds fluctuate from week to week, but group leaders said they have found weekly events tend to draw larger crowds than annual events.
Think you missed out this semester? There are still a few more events left to attend before Winter Break:
&bull Dec. 4-6: “Cool Runnings”, 11:30 p.m. (Thursday in Eastway; Friday and Saturday in the Kiva)
&bull Dec. 4: Karaoke, 9 p.m. in the Rathskeller
&bull Dec. 4: Basketball vs. St. Mary’s, 7 p.m. in the M.A.C. Center
&bull Dec. 5: KSU Gospel Choir concert, 7:30 p.m. in Cartwright Hall
&bull Dec. 6: Kent Chorus concert, 7:30 p.m. in Cartwright Hall
A result of apathy
There are many theories as to why students look outside of campus to have fun. The most common is the lack of interest or time.
Junior education major Andrea Hauser said she commutes from Newton Falls in addition to having a part-time job. That leaves her with little time to attend events on campus. However, she said if it was something she really wanted to attend, she would find a way.
“I see the advertisements, but I don’t ever see anything in particular that I would like to do,” Hauser said. “I don’t think having entertainment adds anything to campus, but I don’t think it detracts either. I just wish they would have more academic stuff, politicians and speakers who give students awareness.”
USG programmer Mike Szabo said the group has done surveys, and Dill said the students who work for the groups try to represent the student body as best as possible. Still, some students remain unhappy.
Students have taken other means to voice what they’d like to see at Kent State.
On the Web site JuicyCampus, for example, students have replied to a post that asked what performer they would like to see come to Kent State. Although the posts are anonymous and therefore could be considered unreliable, many replies named Chris Brown as an act they would drop everything to see.
Tom Simpson, assistant director of the Center for Student Involvement and ACPB adviser, said he wants students to understand that having big acts come to Kent State is next to impossible.
“When we ask people who they want to see, they always say Dave Matthews or someone really big, but they don’t understand that that isn’t possible,” Simpson said. “We have to work with who is available and with the money we have. These performances and events are free by design to give students an experience. If we had bigger names, we would have to charge just as much as other concert venues instead of $10 or $15.”
Devin White, a junior human communication and interpersonal communication major who lives on campus, said students have nothing to lose by attending an event they might not know much about. He said he is always willing to give on-campus events a try.
“I think the money factor is what really draws me to events on campus, plus it’s so close,” White said. “A lot of people probably see the fliers and don’t think it will be good, but I figure if I don’t like it, I can get up and leave, and I won’t feel bad because it was free.”
In addition to unknown acts and limited funding, another concern is that the promotion of the events is ineffective.
Kraiger said with so many other groups looking for attention, it is sometimes hard to stand out.
“We try our best to advertise, but it seems like people just don’t see it,” Kraiger said. “After all, there are hundreds of postings on the Student Center bulletin. Who has time to sit there and look at them all?”
In addition to posting fliers, groups often hand out hotcards, send e-mails and place ads in the Daily Kent Stater. ACPB even has its own MySpace and Facebook accounts. Students can also find listings of all campus events on Kent State’s Web site and every Monday in the Stater.
But White said it took more than fliers to catch his interest.
He remembers learning about basketball games when he was a freshman living in Allyn Hall. The basketball players hung out in the Eastway lounges, encouraging people to come to games. He said the team’s unique approach to promoting their sporting event got his hall to attend many games that season and the two to follow.
He said he thinks it would be effective if other groups took this approach.
“I went to Dance 2008 a few weeks ago, and no one on my floor knew what I was talking about when I told them,” White said. “If the dancers would have come around and passed out fliers, people might remember better.
“College students don’t usually plan ahead for things, so if they see a flier a few weeks in advance, they’re probably not going to remember, but if they talk to someone involved with it they will probably be more likely to go.”
Whatever the method of getting students’ attention, Simpson said he hopes each student will set aside time to have fun and appreciate the opportunities at Kent State at least once during the semester.
“Students should try to attend some events while they are here,” Simpson said. “No matter what event students attend, it’s never more accessible, closer, or less expensive than when you’re in college.”
Contact on-campus entertainment reporter
Melissa Dilley at [email protected]