Returning to school after summer break, holidays and January term trips may present students with stress about what they should do to get back into the swing of campus life. Any student can remember the first days of freshman year, when he or she wandered about campus, looking for a group of people to find common interests with.
Almost magically, a sign appeared for the “Kamannawannameetcha Luau.” After the luau, students are seen strolling around campus in shirts reading phrases like, “Follow me to the next SPB event!” or “Follow me for a good time!” Maybe stalking these shirt wearers isn’t the best idea, but the clothing definitely sparks student attention. On the Maryville College campus, the Student Programming Board, better known as SPB, has an important presence in the social community.
From chalk on the sidewalks advertising about bingo night to the design and planning of Homecoming week, SPB members are tirelessly working behind the scenes to make finding a social niche on campus a little less difficult.
“We really work hard to keep students on campus and foster the formation of friendships with our events,” said Leah Petr, this year’s president of SPB. “I think it makes MC a better place because it provides a fun atmosphere for students to get together and have fun, and it provides some great getaways from homework,” said Cole Burns, a freshman member of SPB. Of course, what makes any organization interesting are the people that make it up.
Members have to apply for positions at the beginning of the year and undergo an interview process to decide if they are the right fit for the job. Every Tuesday, 30 student board members and faculty coordinator Allie Fox meet. SPB members belonging to either the Special Events Team, headed by senior Cayce Crisp, the Annual Events Team, headed by junior Garrett Painter, or the Publicity Team, headed by junior Katie Fair, help to plan, organize and advertise events around the MC campus that all students are invited to attend. Membership on the board is a fulltime commitment.
Students on the board rotate between committees to work with each team’s focus and requirements. The Annual Events Team plans events such as school dances and Blister in the Sun, which take a lot of time and dedication to successfully plan. The Special Events Team puts together smaller events that occur monthly, while the Publicity Team makes sure that the word gets out about all of these planned activities. Members of the board also make keeping up with their event schedule easy and accessible for the average student.
SPB runs and updates a Facebook page, a twitter and, of course, they are constantly hanging new posters in front of Pearson’s, inside Isaac’s and in the entrance hall of the library. The goal of SPB is to organize events for students both on and off campus, so that they can find peers and enjoy a night away from the stress of classes. The people that make up the board and the extensive dedication that goes into each SPB event clearly illustrate the immense benefit that the organization brings to MC campus.
“We have to think a lot about what will appeal to the student body as a whole and how to balance all of the differing opinions,” Petr said
The board gives students an outlet to decide what movies to play on the Scotflix movie channel, brought the comedy group Einstein Simplified to campus earlier this year, as well as plans events like Dancing with the Faculty, which will occur later in the year. Any student at MC has heard about the series of celebrations during Homecoming weekend. Believe it or not, the events of the weekend revolved around more than just a football game.
SPB organized the election of Homecoming King and Queen for each grade, the parade and specific floats within it, as well as the“A Dance to Die For” celebration at the Smithview Pavilion in Maryville. The process of choosing a theme, venue and actually setting up the physical preparations for the dance took months of hard work on the board’s part. SPB chose where the event would be held, who would cater, what decorations would be purchased, created a float for the parade and planned both giveaways and t-shirt sales for the homecoming events. SPB works year round to create opportunities for students to get out and have fun. According to team leader Katie Fair, getting involved is not difficult.
“Just put yourself out there and step out of your comfort zone,” Fair said. “If you’re not the outgoing type, start by getting a couple friends together and easing into it. Go to a game, watch a concert or attend an event.” Fair said that the more students meet people at these events and get involved, the more they will feel at home on MC’s campus. “Just pay attention to the places where we and all other campus organizations publicize, like the posters in Isaac’s and MC Today,” Petr said. “There is almost always something going on if you keep your eyes open for it and are willing to take a step or two out of your comfort zone.”