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SAB clarifies role in event planning, community building

| Thursday, April 16, 2020

Saint Mary’s is a place of community and learning. Despite the popular phrase repeated by parents and professors alike, “You are here to learn and not play,” the Student Activities Board (SAB) and the Belles who work on it combine the two, organizing events which allow students to take a break from studying while still participating in their college community. 

For the members of SAB, the work is often rooted in a personal connection. Outgoing vice president and incoming president junior Sarah Catherine Caldwell expressed this sentiment in an email.  

“Coming to Saint Mary’s knowing one other person, I felt intimidated when trying to make friends, and SAB events provided a natural space for me to connect with people,” she said. “I met most of my friends at SAB events — such as Belles Bash and Oktoberfest — and have watched countless other Belles connect over food, crafts and fellowship. I knew I wanted to be a part of the organization. Our involvement in organizing timeless Saint Mary’s traditions, such as Midnight Breakfast, has only enhanced my love for Saint Mary’s.” 

A love for Saint Mary’s and its students motivated junior treasurer Maria Bruno to join the board.

“One of the biggest motivations I have is the students,” Bruno said. “I want to make sure our events are inclusive and offer things for everyone. Making sure our campus is fun and we have events that students want to go to is really important to me.” 

Student programming is the focus of SAB, differentiating it from other Big Boards. SAB is an independent Big Board, separate from Student Government Association (SGA). Although they work in conjunction with SGA and other Big Boards, such as Student Diversity Board and Residence Hall Association.

Ultimately, the Board is in place to serve the student body and its needs, Caldwell said. 

“SAB provides lots of different activities for students throughout the year,” Bruno said. “Our events provide a fun environment for students to come and take a break from school and hang out with their friends. We provide lots of different activities to appeal to different students as well.”

This inclusion for different types of students extends to the Board itself which allows and encourages participation from all grade levels and students. 

“Our events provide a natural way to connect with each other, but also our board is made up of all classes,” Caldwell said. “It is really beautiful to watch first-year and sophomore Belles connect with junior and senior Belles who they may have not had the opportunity to meet if it wasn’t for SAB.”

Diversity reaches beyond class years into geographic and cultural diversity. Caldwell’s background influenced the planning of events, specifically Mardi Gras, she said.

“This year, I was able to celebrate Fat Tuesday in South Bend with authentic king cakes at our Mardi Gras event,” Caldwell said. “Mardi Gras is my favorite holiday because it always falls around my birthday, and I am from the birthplace of Mardi Gras in the U.S., [Mobile, Alabama]. My position on SAB allowed me to share a piece of my home with my campus community. I loved watching fellow Belles enjoy their first bite of real king cake and connecting with other Belles from the Gulf Coast.”

In light of Saint Marys moving to distance learning for the remainder of the semester due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Board had to cancel all events for the remainder of the academic year.

Bruno said these cancellations just make her even more excited for the next school year.

“We had some fun new events planned that we were excited to debut and are working to make them even better for next year,” she said. “We also once again have a really great executive board for this next school year, and I am excited to work with all of them and continue to grow SAB.”

Students interested in joining SAB can apply in the fall at the involvement and resource fair.

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