Sunday, September 23rd, 2018

Despite low residential enrollment, GEB continues to evolve

A group of students sit around a poker table in the Hastings Formal Lounge in Gorham. Events like Thursday night's Casino Night were created by the GEB due to student completed surveys filled in at previous events.
Justicia Barreiros
A group of students sit around a poker table in the Hastings Formal Lounge in Gorham. Events like Thursday night's Casino Night were created by the GEB due to student completed surveys filled in at previous events.

Posted on December 04, 2011 in Arts & Culture
By Anna Flemke

The narrative for the events held by the Gorham Events Board has been the same for the past few years: low student turnout, and even lower enthusiasm, has plagued the student-run activities board. This semester however, the GEB has been working to increase the interest of students and event turnout, by bringing new and unique programming to the Gorham campus and it’s starting to show results.

Currently, the events board is operating on a budget of just under $50,000. A completely student-run organization, GEB puts on a minimum of one event every Thursday in Gorham during the fall and spring semesters. This semester’s acts ranged from hypnotist Todd Nelson, to comedian Marcus the Magician. Annual events include Welcome Weekend, Fall Fest, Winter Carnival and Spring Fling.

Dan Welter, GEB staff adviser and coordinator of student activities at USM, compares GEB to other student organizations that rely on student involvement in order to build community at USM.

“The allegory that I think of is as more students read The Free Press, the better the value of the newspaper. The more students who attend a GEB event, the better the value of the program.”

This semester’s events have had high turnouts according to Welter, with hypnotist Todd Nelson bringing in 208 students and Marcus the Magician with 192 students. The GEB takes other factors into consideration when gauging the potential attendance for an event, such as weather implications or other events that occur in Portland at the same time.

“Yes, having a highly attended event is great, but even events that have lower attendance can have a significantly positive impact on the campus community,” said Welter. “The skills that the members of the GEB gain from planning, executing and evaluating programs are skills that are incredibly transferable into the professional world, so in that sense every program is a success.”

In addition to using numbers to gauge the success of an event, GEB depends on student feedback to determine the viability of a program. At the end of the spring 2011 semester, paper surveys were handed out to students who attended various Gorham events. Students were asked to write down what kind of events they would like to see more of during the semester, and GEB President Bret Baker compiled the open-ended answers. Baker also said online forums like Facebook have been helpful in gathering feedback from students.

“Between the paper survey and online, we’ve received feedback from over 150 people,” said Baker.

Every spring the GEB looks at potential programming and drafts a budget proposal based on the cost of events, then the proposal is sent to Student Senate for approval.

“If it seems like a lot of money is being spent on events that show a lack of student interest, then we definitely take that into consideration when approving the budget,” says Samuel Harmon, treasurer for the Student Senate.

Hypnotist acts and rock concerts are typically more expensive, costing as much as $1,700 for a single performance. To save money GEB participates in block booking, where performers will provide a discounted rate if booked with other schools.

“We’ve booked acts with the University of New England and St. Joseph’s College, even schools in Vermont and New Hampshire,” Baker said. “It saves the GEB money, and it cuts traveling costs for vendors.” Hypnotist Todd Nelson and Marcus the Magician were both contracted using block booking.

This semester, the GEB also took a trip to the National Association for Campus Activities’ Northeast Regional Conference, held in Hartford, CT. The trip was a first for the student-run group’s six delegates, who had the opportunity to see the variety of programming options available. GEB President Bret Baker, Financial Chair Nick Hare, Secretary Shelby Caron, Music Chair David Rubinoff and Marketing Director Sarah Roberge were all in attendance at NACA.

In a guest blog post for NACA Roberge credits Welter with the idea of attending the conference. “Dan opened up the group to new ideas and experiences, including the chance to go to NACA Northeast,” Roberge wrote. Welter is GEB’s newest adviser, having began his position in June of this year.

“It’s great from my side of things. By serving as an adviser, all I do is support [GEB] with the resources to make their ideas come to fruition,” said Welter.

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