A Staff Report Series
Whether you are a commuter or resident student, you have undoubtedly seen the phrase “Student Programming Board Presents…” gracing the top of numerous posters throughout the tunnels.
The Student Programming Board, more commonly known by the acronym SPB, is, by definition, not a club. It is a council that is a subset of the Undergraduate Student Associate (USA) as a result of the dissolution of the office of Campus Programming and Leadership Development (CPLD) four years ago.
“Our major goal is to provide programming for everyone and not just a specific community of people on campus and I think our more traditional events really do that well,” said current Chair, Amanda Boccolucci ‘19. “I don’t think, personally, Canisius would be the same without Griff Fest or our Welcome Weeks. It’s really gratifying in that sense, to be behind that.”
Students primarily recognize SPB by its large scale events that they put on each year. These events include, Griff Fest (formerly known as Spring Fest), Fall Fest, Christmas in the Quad, Semi-Formal, Fall/Winter Welcome Week, and Create A Critter (formerly known as Build a Bear).
Generally, such larger events eat a larger portion of SPB’s initial budget allocation of just over $200,000. Given the number of events that SPB produces, this large number broken down between amongst each event makes much more sense and becomes justifiable.
Many students may not realize the sheer number of events and programs SPB provides each semester. In addition to these staple events, there are also bimonthly Griff Flix events, weekend events, travel events, and on-campus performance events. In previous years, the number of SPB events held each semester has been close to 60.
“I think we also try to be super inclusive in the sense that not all our events are geared towards one group of people, such as like the travel events, we try and have art type of things, or sporting events,” said Special Events Coordinator, Bridget Kyhos ‘18.
With every event held, SPB must get it approved by the Office of Student Life and vice president for student affairs, Terri Mangione.
During the reign of previous SPB’s previous chair, Kate Anticoli ‘17, the transition was made from SPB having a general body to just an Executive Board (E-Board) consisting of 20 members. “I think that was really helpful in that everyone on the Executive Board is able to directly participate in planning events and in working those events, as well so that’s been a good change,” said Boccolucci.
“There’s no longer people standing around trying to help when we already have enough help or there’s just not enough of a need for it,” added Special Events Coordinator, Jessie McKay ‘18, “Now, everyone on the E-Board has something to do at each event.”
Now, sans general body, SPB is comprised of a chair, four special events coordinators dedicated to aforementioned larger events, such as Griff Fest, three weekend programmers, responsible for programming events Friday through Saturday night, a travel event coordinator, responsible for off-campus events in the local area, a comptroller, marketing coordinator, member coordinator, Griff Flix coordinator, and six event assistants, responsible for helping to run events.
“I didn’t do anything as a general body member, that’s why I was really happy when they got rid of it because there was no point for it,” said McKay. “It makes sense for a club like RHA [to have a general body] because they don’t have as many E-Board positions, so they need more help from the residents and it gets the residents involved,” added Kyhos.
The E-Board strives to keep an open line of communication between them and the student body, asking them for feedback and ideas for future events. One of the ways they do this is through their Pizza and Programming event, in which the members go to the library, or another central location on campus, and have students fill out a survey, and in return, the student receives pizza, or another another food item, such as donuts. The next Pizza and Programming event will be help on Mar. 21, from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the library.
SPB also gets feedback from students during the events themselves, as well as by sending surveys to students who attended the events asking them how they felt about it and what SPB can improve upon in the future.
“I think we really try and take feedback from people, especially with our Pizza and Programming,” said Kyhos. “We take that to heart because it really shows what the campus community wants to see… We try to be as inclusive as possible, and get everyone involved because that’s what our organization is all about, it’s providing programming for everyone on campus.”
“I think that makes us different from all the other organizations, because we’re not just for commuters, we’re not just for residents, we’re for everyone in any major, whatever club you’re involved in, wherever you live,” added McKay.
SPB is always looking to adapt their events to the changing student body – an example of this being the replacement of the annual Bald for Bucks event with mentalist and illusionist, Wayne Hoffman, on Apr. 13 in the Montante Cultural Center.
“I think over the past few years, there hasn’t been that high of an attendance for [Bald for Bucks], so I think this transition to a mentalist instead will get more attendance,” said Boccolucci. “It’s just kind of feeling out each event and trying to take different things that didn’t work as well and incorporate new, creative ideas to still make that traditional events new feeling.”
Another way that SPB has been trying adapt to student needs is by changing the time of events, such as moving some of their weekend events to Thursday nights, as Saturday night events have been seeing much lower attendance.
However, this lower attendance has been seen across the board and had plagued a majority of clubs and organizations. SPB is just one of the many clubs to be trying to combat this student apathy crisis on campus.
“I think we’ve definitely seen a decline in most, if not all, of our events,” said Boccolucci. “Also, with this decline in student apathy [sic], we have to really see what people want and try to gear our events more towards that.”
Kyhos added, “It’s kind of sad because you put so much effort into creating an event for the students, that you think they would like or that has worked in the past.”
She continued, “But I think that’s all about programming itself, that you have a different population coming in, so next year there will be new freshmen and things like that, who usually are the ones to attend since they’re on campus and things like that, so you are constantly changing and fluctuating your ideas and bouncing ideas off of other people, so I think that makes it challenging, but that’s all part of the game is that you have to adapt to the new student population.”
SPB has been actively trying to combat this apathy through more aggressive marketing of events. However, a cause of this decline in attendance that several clubs have independently concluded could be the “Today at Canisius” daily email and blog.
“I think maybe a lot of people aren’t looking at [“Today at Canisius”], which is where a lot of people find out about the events,” explained weekend programmer, Janelle Covert ‘18. “I just think [people] are unaware of the events that are happening, so like if you’re not like a freshman or sophomore on campus, you’re not really looking at paper advertisements on the walls, and it’s just like really easy to click it away.”
She continued, “Even though it was kind of annoying to get bombarded with a lot of clubs sending emails, I feel like there maybe could be a middle point that we could try to reach. Because I think, again… It seems like a lot of things aren’t doing as well in attendance, and that could be a reason why, because people just don’t know about the events.”
“I think we also just don’t have as many students on campus, like the student population has also dropped,” Boccolucci added. “But we’re just getting creative with what we’re doing and trying our best to meet the needs of what the people want.”
With this being said, SPB explained that a number of students do still show up to their events, despite such circumstances. “Once people are there, I think people will see that they’re actually really cool and fun and it’s free, but it’s just getting people there that’s the hardest part,” said Covert.
In the face of such challenges, SPB strives to provide entertainment and activities for the student body. Looking forward, SPB’s primary events coming up are Wayne Hoffman, the raffle occurring alongside this event, grocery bingo, and Griff Fest.
“I think that SPB in general gives students something to look forward to, like they look forward to these big events, they look forward to the weekend ones,” said McKay. “When I give tours all the time, I tell them that one of the best things about Canisius is that there’s always something to do events-wise, and I don’t think that that would be made possible without SPB.”