The Undergraduate Student Government (USG) has significantly changed the distribution of responsibilities in planning USG-funded campus events in the past few years, the larger changes being the restructuring of the Student Activities Board (SAB) and the creation of the Special Programming Agency (SPA), both of which were done by the 2010 Establishment of Student Life Act.
The most recent change, initiated at the September 8 USG meeting, is the creation of a new position, event programming associate, to support the administrative director and the SPA director in planning large campus events.
According to the USG bylaws, SAB controls all funding for USG-sponsored events and activities—$534,887—and is charged with “establishing a vibrant student life that responds to the diverse interests of the undergraduate student body.” SPA is a sub-agency of SAB entrusted with planning events.
The SPA director, responsible for hiring event planners to assist in the coordination, planning and execution of events, as well as supervising the planning of events, is a yearly position appointed by the USG President. The front-runner for the associate position is graduate student Patrice Zapiti, co-founder of the concert series RockYoFaceCase, though her appointment is pending senate confirmation.
The departure of Eunice Ro, the previous USG administrative director, and
individuals that made planning an event on campus a smooth process. Ro had been at the university for six years and Duggan for nine. That is what made the creation of the new associate position so necessary, according to USG President Mark Maloof. The act expires at the end of the 2012 spring semester, after which the associate may no longer be necessary.
“I believe that we need a person who can give a level of some consistency, at least for this year, while USG organizations have time to mature and are able to plan events,” Maloof said during the September 8 meeting, according to the USG minutes. “Having a person who can devote these hours for organizing for major events is important,” he added. Chief Justice Moiz Khan Malik, the previous SPA Director, agreed.
“Planning events is an incredibly difficult task,” Malik said during the meeting. “There is a lot of red tape, such as meetings with police, security, logistics, etc. I used to spend 70-80 hours a week in the run up to a large concert or event. I believe that the assistant will have more than enough work that is needed to do.”
Other senators raised concerns about the financial burden of paying the new associate $22 an hour—or $440 a week—totaling $16,000 a year. However, Maloof said the new associate will not be an undergraduate student, but rather a professional employee dependent on that salary.
“We believe, for instance, that the end-of-year concert will be such a huge undertaking that it will require, for lack of a better term, an “adult” to be on board in helping run this event,” Maloof said.
The associate, who may not work more than 20 hours a week and 40 hours per pay period, would accomplish several tasks necessary in event planning. Meeting with University Police and the fire marshal regarding the security and maximum capacity of events, working out contracts for lighting and as well as the artists and meeting with the administration are just a few. All are things the SPA director, an undergraduate student, may not have time for with a full-time course load.
“I want to develop a culture within the Student Programming Agency,” Maloof said. “I don’t want anyone to have the perception this year that [USG office- holders] just decide to bring whoever they like to campus.”
The goal, rather, is to put on events that get people out of their rooms, and that is difficult to do without experienced people in the USG event planning positions. Maloof added that having someone experienced in the event programming associate position “eliminates the risk” that the half a million dollars from students’ pockets will be spent unwisely.