Student Union Board expands programming, empowers freshmen
Andrew Cameron | Thursday, December 12, 2019
The Student Union Board (SUB) has worked to invite notable figures to speak on campus, introduce new events and expand programs from previous years.
Major goals for the year among committee leaders and directors included an increased focus on diverse representation, heightened collaboration with other student government groups and involvement of freshman students in event planning.
For the largest SUB-sponsored event of the semester, Yusef Salaam, one of the “Central Park Five” convicted as a teenager of assaulting and raping a jogger who was later exonerated, was invited to speak at Notre Dame. SUB executive director, Eric Kim, estimated attendance at Salaam’s speech to be 400.
The special events committee hosted three different comedians this year, as well as entertainer Mat Lavore, who specializes in magic, mind-reading and hypnotism. The committee also held several smaller events, including giving out free coffee for international coffee day and celebrating international redhead day — a first for SUB — with orange food, music by redheaded artists and a cutout of Ron Weasley, a Harry Potter character.
While SUB typically hosts a concert in both the fall and the spring, there was no fall concert this year. Senior Jackie Weinrich, co-director of programming, said SUB had planned to host a concert this semester and had booked an artist, but the artist cancelled at the last minute. Weinrich did not identify the artist.
“[The artist cancelling] is an unfortunate reality of show business, but that’s kind of exciting because it means we have a lot more resources to put towards a spring concert,” Weinrich said. “We’re going to try to bring in a couple big artists. We never really know what’s going to happen, but it should be something fun.”
Junior Cameron Lucas, co-director of programming, oversees the committee for AcoustiCafe, a free weekly concert where student musicians perform short musical sets in the Hagerty Family Cafe. While SUB has run the event for several years, Lucas said the committee introduced weekly themes for the concerts, including a “spooky” theme for Halloween at which candy was given out, “AcoustiCornucopia” for Thanksgiving, featuring free food from Chick-Fil-A and others.
SUB also hosted the Fall Mall, selling school and housing supplies, in the Stepan Center in August. Lucas said this year’s Fall Mall had a record number of sales.
Kim said one of SUB’s successes this year has been more effectively involving and empowering freshman members of SUB in the planning process. The First Year Student Union Board (FYSUB) was established in 2016 to encourage freshmen to join SUB and help them develop planning and coordinating skills.
“We have a huge retention rate right now with our FYSUB group because they are passionate about what they do and I believe that they feel more involved with the organization, they feel more connected and more responsible for the jobs that they do,” Kim said.
SUB co-director and senior Annie Morejon joined SUB as a freshman and went through FYSUB during its first year. She said she went through the program with a “critical eye,” which has helped her to implement positive changes to improve the program’s effectiveness.
“One of the biggest things we’ve tried to focus on is giving our FYSUB-ers the space to flex their muscles,” Morejon said. “… There’s a tendency with freshmen to be like ‘stand back and let us do it,’ but we’ve really tried to put as much power into their hands as possible because they are very capable and creative and wonderful human beings.”
While members of FYSUB were still largely “learning the ropes,” Morejon said they successfully organized the Fall Fest on Nov. 1, where SUB members gave out pumpkins, cider and other seasonal items.
In addition to the Spring concert, SUB officers expressed anticipation for several events planned for next semester, including inviting two more stand-up comedians, a “puppies and pizza” event and more themed AcoustiCafe events. Additionally, for the first time, FYSUB is planning to host an acoustic concert with an unannounced outside artist.
SUB has continued to hold and build on successful events from previous years such as AcoustiCafe, while introducing new and successful events to appeal to a diverse array of students. While it is unfortunate the fall concert was cancelled for reasons beyond SUB’s control, SUB has seen success in many other of its events this semester, especially the Yusef Salaam speech. Additionally, the continued development of the FYSUB program offers a valuable way for first-year students to get involved and contribute to campus life.