By Kate Rogers, Community Editor
With a noticeable decrease in attendance from last year, Student Activities is working hard to solve the mystery of why less students are attending events, according to David Lewis, the Coordinator of Student Involvement & Activities. Lewis has several theories including timing and the possibility that they are simply doing too many events.
Lewis has been working as the Student Activities Coordinator for only two years now. Before he filled the position, the number of events that were put on between Student Activities and the Gorham Campus Activities Board were as few as two a week. Attendance was on average 75 students. Lewis dramatically increased the number of events, going up to as many as five events a week. “Last years attendance was phenomenal. We could do anything and we were easily getting 100-150 people,” Lewis said. Events like flower pot or T-shirt decorating were very popular, with performers bringing in even more.
This year Student Activities took what they had been doing and tried to add even more. They tried out theme nights, like trivia night and coffee shop performances, which had mixed successes. According to Lewis, attendance has dropped this year to only around 50-75 people per event.
The Pingo event, which offers expensive prizes, is getting plenty of attendees. However, according to social work major Allison Gemmell, who works with the student events crew, even if other events offer prizes the attendance is still average. Lewis said that a big part of the feedback from students about the events is that they wanted even more prizes, despite prizes already being a really big part of the budget. “If we do prizes like Pingo we are only going to have about four events a year … we have to have some low impact minimal cost types of events so that we can do bigger stuff,” Lewis said.
Lewis talked positively of the regular attendees to the trivia nights, generally the same students every time. Gemmell however expressed concern about this, saying that even the attendance for trivia was going down. As far as what events students want to attend, it was a popular opinion that trivia was far too frequent. Political science major Alex Chapman even went as far as to say that it was occasionally inaccurate. A few students brought up a sports theme as something they’d like to see more of instead. “Dodgeball was lit last year…David Lewis is a beast at it,” Chapman said.
Gemmell believes that having events so often in general is one of the problems, largely because of advertising. “If you’re having an event each week there can only be so much advertising that happens before the next,” she said. Event crew employees social work major James Fagan and English major Nicole Welch both agreed that the lack of advertising was a big problem. According to Fagan, the advertising this semester was limited to sparse facebook posts, a few flyers and posters in lower brooks. Welch suggested that simply more of what was already being done could be helpful. “Consistent posts about events on social media so people always have the reminder,” she said.
Student Activities will be pushing starting times back to what they were originally, 9 p.m., because it allows more students with late classes to attend. Lewis even talked about the possibility of late night programming, even as late as 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. “It’s about the students not us … we’ve signed up for these positions, this is what it entails,” Lewis said about later activities. “If we can get them connected with other students, there’s that sense of belonging, maybe some more friends … you’re liking college more because of that,” Lewis said.
There are some events that Lewis doesn’t mind getting low attendance for, he says. Some students don’t like crowds. For example, the very popular girls count cookie and therapy dogs event had significantly lower attendance this semester from the last, possibly because of the overwhelming crowds. Student Activities hosts some events that they hope will attract these students specifically, for a more personal and quiet experience. “If there’s only 20 people, that’s perfect because that’s what it was for,” Lewis said.
Lewis and the other members of Student Activities are taking all student feedback into consideration as they look forward to next year. Their ultimate goal is to find a happy medium and have events that all students can enjoy. “It’s student focused every day,” Lewis said.