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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Does Brandeis have poor student turnout at campus events?

Published: October 5, 2007
Section: Opinions

Only three students attended the September 19 Academic Services workshop, “More A+s in Less Time” and many of the attendees of a September 8 North Quad party left immediately after the pizza was gone. According to the Princeton Reviews 2008 Edition of the Best 366 Colleges, If you are looking for big sporting events with lots of spirit or parties with lots of people, you wont like Brandeis. Statements like these lead to Brandeis lackluster social reputation. A first-year student agrees with this assessment. “More people are interested in getting drunk than going to campus events,” Jonah Feldman '11 said. Although some students believe that campus festivities are poorly attended, school administrators think that overall turnout is satisfactory and do not agree with these generalizations.

Kim Godsoe, Director of Academic Services, characterized the lackluster attendance at this academic workshop as an “anomaly.” She explained the poor turnout by saying that this was the second time the workshop was held this semester (the first one drew about 20 people during Orientation week) and that the subject matter was not specific enough. She gave numerous examples of events with “big turnouts,” including a recently held senior audit night which drew more than 200 people. Godsoe admitted that turnout for the September 19 program could have been better. “I wish that more people had been at that workshop,” she said.

Yuki Hasegawa '09, one of the students at the workshop, said a lack of advertising was the problem. “I think that few people look at the Brandeis planner and it gets buried with so many other activities. If they offered free food it could help with turnout,” he suggested.

Student Activities, the organizers of many of the social events on campus, say that overall, attendance has been about the same as last year. We could always have better and thats a goal we always shoot for, Director of Student Activities Stephanie Grimes said. She was impressed with the turnout at the first film series screening this year. Grimes said that there were more than 250 students in attendance for the three showings, an increase from last year.

The Student Events entertainment pass, which gave students a discount to events around campus, used to be sold to students in the beginning of the semester. This program was discontinued two years ago because of a change in philosophy. “Student Events should already be providing free or cheap entertainment for the campus,” Grimes said.

Student attendance at sporting events, particularly basketball games, has risen over the last few years. Both basketball teams, Men and Women, made it to the NCAA Tournament last year and Brandeis students cheered on their fellow students. About 20 students painted their chests blue to spell out “Brandeis” and pumped up the crowd at numerous games last season. Aaron Hattenbach '09 was one of the organizers of the fan group. “I created the cheering section to get more people to go the games and create school spirit,” he said. Hattenbach, a member of the golf team, knows what it feels like when students are supportive. “The teams enjoy when other students show up and support them. It's an adrenaline rushit helps [us] get pumped up for games,” he said. The Brandeis Athletic Department offers free pizza at halftime and creates a theme night each year to entice students to attend campus sporting events.

These departments have initiated strategies to try to increase turnout across campus. Academic Services has cut back on the number of workshops offered in their department and is now focusing on going directly to students, rather than the other way around. Student Activities restructured its department over the summer by adding two new positions that focus on club resource assistance and programming. “We have a lot more people thinking about what's happening on this campus,” Grimes said. There is also an increased emphasis on feedback from the Brandeis community this year. “If students aren't seeing what they want on campus, we want to know about it,” she said.

Although students agree that they would like to participate in events, a successful program requires dedication by both the planner and the attendees.