By Kierra Whitaker; The Whetstone
Student organizations hold many events to bring the student body together.
But during the past four years there has been a noticeable decline in event attendance. Organizations are finding that either the same few people attend the events or no one at all.
Senior Alexis Bynum has been active on campus since her freshman year, and has been part of Fairy Godsisters of Delaware, Women of Wesley, and the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality.
She now serves as the event coordinator for the Black Student Union (BSU).
“Things are not the same here,” she said. “During my freshman and sophomore years, students actually came out and enjoyed themselves.”
She said BSU plans its events over the summer just like many other organizations.
“We know that there is a 4-week process about completing paperwork for events,” she said.
Each organization when planning events must fill out an Event Information Form (EIF) and Room Reservation form before hosting any event. This process needs to be completed at least four weeks in advance to get approval.
Bynum said BSU tries to get the students to suggest what type of events it should have.
Bynum said the same people or around the same number attend their events each year.
“People do attend our events, but when they can it’s usually around 15-20 people,” she said. “But for our annual block party event, a lot more people try to attend.”
Bynum said there are several roadblocks for student attendance.
“With Black Student Union there are usually more African American students that attend than other races,” she said. “Black Student Union is for everyone and we have said this numerous times in the past.”
Most organizations do not keep the statistics of their events but most use a sign-in sheet to keep track.
There are currently 41 organizations on campus but fewer than half hold events. Wesley requires that an organization hold two events per month. Some hold none.
Women of Wesley tries its best to have two events per month, said organization President Tariah Edmonds.
“The first week of school we have a meeting to decide events that we want to happen over the semester,” she said. “We stick to one specific goal when planning our events, which are events that impact women.”
Edmonds said she tries to do “spontaneous things around campus to get women more involved.”
Since becoming an organization, Edmonds said she has found that the student body is stubborn about events.
“Of course, most males will not attend our events due to the name of the organization but we welcome everyone,” she said. “Students appear to attend events that benefit them in some type of way.”
Edmonds, a senior, has been very active on campus since her freshman year as well.
“While being a part of multiple organizations, Women of Wesley, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, you see the events that students attend and what they do not,” she said. “If there is a party, most likely the student body will attend. But for table talks no one is interested unless the topic is something that they know about and even then they still do not come.”
Senior Ashli Moore said she has found that if students receive an incentive they are more likely to come out.
“If there is a prize, students try to win whatever they have to,” she said. “Or, if we say we are having free food or giving out free T-shirts, students attend the events on time.”
Moore represents the Fairy Godsisters to the Student Government Association, and she reports back to the organization.
“As an organization we try to attend other organizations’ events because we want the same in return,” she said. “But as for students, we would like them to be engaged in our events that we have. We do not want to have events if nobody will attend them.”
Senior Kelvin Laosebikan suggested that organizations hold surveys to know what the students want.
“If organizations do not ask, they will never know how to keep the student body engaged,” he said. “Holding a town hall meeting or handing out surveys at the end of your event.”
Lasoebikan, the former Greek Union President, said he knew how hard it was to keep students engaged and how hard it is to get students to join organizations. He saw a decline in students attending events or joining Greek organizations.
“Greeks are community-based known organizations, so it’s easier to hold events for the community,” he said. “But it appears that students here want to be rewarded for their services.”
Organizations receive a budget each semester so they then can plan what to spend their funds on.
“The Greek Union shares one budget that six organizations must split,” Lasoebikan said. “Organizations do not always have the money to reward students at every event.”
Former Student Activities Board member Cortey Holder said attendance goes up when food is offered.
“When we advertise free food on our flyers, people tend to show up earlier in order to get food,” she said. “But they only show up for the food and leave which is not beneficial for us. It’s like they are taking our money and leaving.”
Organizations have provided food for their events but often hold it until the middle or end of the event to make sure students stay and are engaged.
Graduate Korey Edmonds, former SAB President for the 2016-2017 school year, said planners have to think ahead.
“When planning events you have to think outside the box or you will lose your audience,” he said. “When we repeated the same events and we found that people stopped showing up after a while.”
Senior Sydney Brokenborough said she tries to attend as many events as she can.
“I like to show support to organizations because it’s not fair that they are putting money into events and no one is coming out,” she said.
Senior Elijah Tinson said he doesn’t have much time to attend.
“I have a busy schedule that stops me from attending events,” he said. “I am a Residence Assistant where I have to plan my residences events through the semester and I am usually on duty most of the time.”
Senior Rex Chege said organizations should advertise better for their events.
“Organizations should advertise weeks in advance so that students get the chance to prepare and arrange their schedules.” he said. “When the event flyer is last minute, students have to move around things which most of the time they don’t want to.”
This is the first of several stories Senior Multimedia Communication major Kierra Whitaker is writing about student events and attendance at Wesley College.