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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Low attendance plagues Brandeis events

Published: April 12, 2013
Section: Opinions

One thing we Brandeis students pride ourselves on is the incredible amount of extracurriculars we all seem to juggle. I can remember my time as a prospective student touring Brandeis: my tour guide, former Student Union president Herbie Rosen ’12, prided himself on all the activities he and his fellow students were involved in. From being Student Union president, to participating in theater, to volunteer work, the list went on and on. I was very impressed by all the various activities students could take part in.

But now that I’m actually here as a Brandeis student, I sometimes feel like I, along with many of my friends, am just doing too much. It gets hard, balancing extracurriculars and academics, and so often I feel like the quality of my work or my effort put into activities declines as I become exhausted.

Perhaps as a result of a proliferation of clubs, many events on campus are extremely under-attended. My job on campus involves supplying lighting and sound for various student events, so I get to attend a lot of different shows, dances, performances and student activities put on by a multitude of different organizations. While many events are well-attended, especially a select few such as Liquid Latex and Culture X, many extraordinary events are under-attended.

One event in particular stands out in my memory: I was working at a show during which a visiting comedy group from the Boston area was performing. The event was put on by Student Events, and Levin ballroom was set up to seat a hundred or so students. It was really a class act, and I was impressed by the white table cloths laid out, the centerpieces filled with candy on the tables. Yet, I hadn’t heard about the event, and I didn’t know of anyone planning to show up. Finally, about seven students showed up to see the performance. I honestly felt a bit embarrassed for our school, having invited these outside performers to come to our campus. Of course, they performed anyway, and their show was great.

While I do think it was partially the planners’ fault for poor advertising, I was nonetheless surprised by the small size of the audience. I had seen events with disappointing audiences, but never quite as conspicuously as this one.
It seems that people are always working to be the leader of one club, a member of another organization, all while taking five classes, balancing an off-campus internship on the side. And trying to somehow fit in a social life. But once you have all of these activities piled up on top of one another, it becomes harder to actually attend events.

Because students seem to become so involved in their own little niche, the events many students work to provide end up not as well-attended as they should be. I went to a movie screening last semester, and there were a total of four people in the audience. I also worked an event last year that one club had toiled to produce (the coordinator told me of the months of grueling organizing and production put into said event, which included a live performance by a band from New York), and only about 20 people showed up.

Maybe this is due to the quantity of clubs. However, I don’t feel that the amount of clubs should be limited or restricted in any way. I love how there seems to be at least a small community for every type of person here.

What seems to be the problem is how people join too many of these clubs, and that (on top of their double major and minor) becomes too much to handle. As a result people rarely go to other events simply out of curiosity or interest. Many stay in their niche, and do homework and party in their free time.

I don’t know if there’s a solution to this issue, if there needs to be, or if anyone really wants one. I personally would like to see more events attended with larger crowds, but limiting the number of events would be unethical. Instead, I would encourage students to choose one or two extracurriculars and not over-schedule themselves. That way, when an interesting event occurs, a student can attend that activity without too great a sacrifice.