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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Student Arts and Events Council wins award at regional conference

Isabella Villegas, Dillon Rodgers and Ashvi Shah pose with SAEC’s award. Photo submitted by SAEC.

From Oct. 26 to 28, UMass Boston’s Student Arts and Events Council attended the regional National Association for Campus Activities conference in Syracuse, N.Y. At this conference, amongst the workshops and events, the group was also able to vote on their events and presentation of these events. After all of this voting, SAEC was voted Best Overall Event for their work on Fall 2023 Welcome Week. This was the second year the group had won the award, with the first year being in 2022. The Mass Media was able to sit down with Isabella Villegas, Dillon Rodgers and Ashvi Shah, three of SAEC’s coordinators to discuss the conference, their win and their takeaways from SAEC.

Katrina Sanville: Okay, and then would everyone mind introducing themselves?

Isabella Villegas: I can start. So my name is Isabella Villegas. I’m one of the coordinators for SAEC this year, and I did it last year.

Dillon Rodgers: Hello, I’m Dillon Rodgers. I’m an SAEC Coordinator.

Ashvi Shah: Hi, I’m Ashvi Shah. I’m also one of the SAEC Coordinators.

KS: So, how did you all get involved with the conference and its awards? What was the process? […] And what was the process like to get ready for it and picking the event to present?

IV: Well, NACA—the National Association for Campus Activities—does a regional conference once a year, and a national conference once a year. And we always attend the regional one, just because we want to get to know the vendors, artists that are in our region. And, of course, to find the most—the better prices and activities to offer on campus. And this year was no exception that we participated.

DR: For the campaign, the marketing campaign, they invite everyone who’s attending to be a part of it. And since most schools this year flew to the Syracuse conference, we had to adjust the way that we presented. So the year before, we did a big trifold, and this year, we had to work with something that we can fly with. We cut up a trifold so that was more manageable to fly with, and we set it up so that it was still super engaging and intriguing, and so that when it was put up next to everyone else’s stuff, it was still, like, the most noticeable.

AS: For the marketing campaign, we kind of gave each of our ideas. We also had a meeting before the conference where we called for our members’ opinions on what they would like the most about our events, our giveaways or everything. And we kind of made a campaign based off of that as well, because we had to also involve what was the impact of our creations on campus.

IV: I can also add that we chose for our marketing campaign [to be] the marketing campaign that we use for Welcome Week this year.

KS: That is actually my next question. So you went with Welcome Week; how did you pick the marketing campaign to enter? And what does entering an event entail? Like, is it graded? Do you get scores or critiques, or is it just for fun?

IV: It’s mainly–yeah, it’s really friendly. You just get a QR code and people are just voting around the day, throughout the day. No one really comments. And for example, we won marketing campaign overall, but some other schools won like the best flyer, best No-So poster, best cultural event and that kind of thing, but we won overall, but it’s really nice and friendly.

DR: It was cool to be able to see what everyone else had submitted as well. Because it does—you can get ideas from everyone else.

KS: And then in terms of picking Welcome Week versus picking something that happened last year, what drew you all to pick Welcome Week?

AS: I think we chose Welcome Week because that was like our most recent event, because both of us [Shah and Rodgers] joined this year. So I think that was like a teamwork, the Welcome Week, for the fall semester, which is why we chose the ones we’ve created as a community. That’s one of the reasons.

KS: Besides the voting, what else do you all do at the conference?

DR: When you’re at the conference, we watch a lot of performances. So there were a lot of comedians, musicians and magicians. And you get to see the people who really want to come to campuses. And you get to kind of compare and see how your campus would interact with those people. And then there are also workshops, so more people who really want to come to campus, so I went to a “sex rules” workshop–that’s the name of it—and it talks about how to talk about sex on campus and how to make it a safe environment.

AS: Yeah, there was a lot of stuff to add to it, there were like […] singers, dancers, a lot of which, like, had an exhibition, kind of a stall at the marketplace where each of them had all the schools pitch to them, if they would like to have them on campus on the events. And by the workshops, I think there were a lot of workshops, one of them that was really intriguing that I attended was “the C word: consent,” that was really interesting. They also had, like a skit, an act for the talent showcase. They presented a real life scenario where consent is really important in relationships, which was interesting to learn, like, that would be probably something if schools would like to bring on campus.

IV: And also, we had the opportunity to network with other universities to block booking artists or vendors. Sometimes, the prices are really high if only one university wants to bring them because of transportation and hotels, meals. So when multiple universities get together to say “Okay, let’s do a whole week of events like every single day, this artist has something to do in this area,” so it makes them more affordable. So we have the opportunity to do that. Unfortunately, not that many schools around us went to this conference, as we have to fly. But it’s really good to have the opportunity to know people and also get to do business.

KS: With your win in mind, what does the future hold for SAEC? This could be events or things you’d like to bring to the way you shape planning or ideas.

IV: Hopefully more success.

AS: And more engagement on campus. So for example, this year, we’ve seen the events were pretty engaging, especially the Welcome Week events that were way more engaging compared to what we have had previously. So, it was a really good response. We were a lot better in response than we were expecting, so we were really happy about that. And we’re hoping to get more and more engagement on campus.

DR: Yeah, we’re also starting to look at our spring Welcome Week and what new events we can bring to that, new people, more creativity, so that everyone has something they can engage with.

KS: On NACA’s website, they say their goals are to empower campus members through inclusive learning, meaningful connections and engaging entertainment that transforms college communities. How do you see yourselves implementing these tenants through your programming? How do you plan to do so in the future?

IV: From my perspective, as our university is so diverse, it definitely helped us to see more options that we can bring to campus. Not the ones that we have normally done, […] and we were also able to see things that we know wouldn’t work on our campus because they’re not that inclusive, or things that our communities are not related to. Sometimes there were some showcases that were about campuses that are, like, really closed on their beliefs. So it was like, “open your mind.” Our campus is already open-minded. So sometimes it’s more like, “respect other people’s minds.” So definitely both sides, like what else can we bring to promote that inclusivity, diversity and what things we can see.

DR: I think that’s a good way to answer.

KS: What is something that you took from the conference that you’ll be implementing into your life, whether that be your personal or your professional life?

DR: I think for me, from the conference, I learned how many different ideas there are, and how to try and implement that into the people who have the power making the decision. So like us three, we work with our boss to create the events. But I think getting more of the school’s opinion on how the events are going and what they’d like to see in the future. I think that’s a goal of mine coming from the conference.

AS: Like at the info-sessions at the conference, where we talked about how you could make your events and campus more inclusive, or how you could engage more students, or how you could have a diverse or sort of pro-social message, probably in your events, somewhere down the line. So I think those were like really good tips that we could incorporate into our future event ideas for mostly coming out of spring Welcome Week, and even for the other events that we would plan, I think those are those really good tips that we like to incorporate.

IV: I agree with both of you, and especially what you mentioned, Dillon, how we can get feedback from the university. Being there, you can see that in many schools, their programming board is the same as their student government. So it’s really interesting how they get the funding directly from the people that are actually organizing it. And personally, I enjoyed it in this time, and the last time, all the little details that make the students feel comfortable in the conference is not only offering the shows, but like they attend. Like the attention that you have when they go to eat, how they get to the place. So it’s definitely something that I would like to do in my future organizing events. So it was great learning.

KS: What is one of your favorite memories that you’ve taken from SAEC? It can be an event or just a general moment: You’ve all had this space or like planning something.

DR: My favorite memory is the Lawn on B that we threw this year. I am a big dancer, and at that event, there were so many people in front of the DJ dancing, so it was so fun to see our community together, doing something that I normally don’t see them doing.

AS: There are so many. I think my favorite memories include the ones we had on the First Friday concert. I think there were so many people just enjoying [themselves]. So, I’m really a musical person, so I love to dance—I really enjoyed the […] Lawn on B. [It] was really a great one to like, enjoy, like, have so many people like being an Indian, they were like, the DJ was playing so many diverse songs, which was really exciting, because a lot of people were able to enjoy the music.

IV: In my case, my favorite memory would have been last year’s summer when I was doing the first marketing campaign. Because I realized how much influence I had on all the things that I was able to share with campus; like every single drawing, it was going everywhere on campus. So I was really excited about that. And also seeing how the events actually work at the end and all the wonderful people that I met in the journey.

DR: Starting the job is cool; seeing how much–how far your work goes.

AS: That was a surreal moment like when everything just came out like the posters and brochures and everything. It was like the first time something I designed was all around campus. So that was really a surreal moment for me.

KS: Are you welcoming new members? If so, how can students get involved and what does that entail for the regular students?

IV: Yes, we’re always welcoming new students, any students even though if they cannot meet at the times, they can just come sometimes. We normally meet […] every other week on Fridays at 1 p.m. They are more than welcome to come to the office just to say, “Hi, I would like to participate!” but our favorite or most common way would be through UMBeInvolved. They just have to look for SAEC or student arts and events council and click join so they can start getting our emails and also following us on Instagram. They can get to see everything that we do.

About the Contributor
Katrina Sanville, Editor-In-Chief