Social Board, best known for planning Summer Sendoff and bingo nights, is looking to expand its repertoire of events next semester with more regular programming that makes better use of its funding.
By transitioning to a departmental organization under the umbrella of the Office of Student Engagement (OSE), Social Board will receive more logistical assistance, advisory support from an OSE employee and a regularized stream of funding that means Social Board does not have to constantly approach Student Council’s Business and Finance Committee (BFC). Director of Student Engagement Sam Filkins and Social Board Co-president Patrick Nally ’21 are both optimistic about the organization’s new status.
“I’m really excited that we have an entire semester of programs planned,” Filkins said. He expects that this will improve not only the quantity of programs but also their quality.
As of the spring 2019 semester, Social Board’s status has fallen somewhere between that of a departmental organization and a student organization. Departmental organizations receive both their advisors and their funding from the division of the college that sponsors them. Student organizations, on the other hand, request funding through the BFC, choose their own advisor and are largely independent from the OSE, with the exception of campus contribution policies and other basic requirements.
Last year, Social Board had features of both types of organizations. They received formal assistance from Ashley Rastetter, the former assistant director of student engagement, but they were officially a student organization, meaning they were technically able to choose their own advisor.
With Rastetter’s departure, Social Board and the OSE decided to treat last semester as a trial run where Social Board would be a full-fledged student organization. Both Filkins and Nally believe that the lack of formal support from the OSE kept the organization from putting on as many events and programs as it wanted, hence the switch this semester over to a departmental organization.
“Without an advisor [in the OSE], it was good, we had great ideas and everything, but the logistics of making these events happen, per se, was tougher,” Nally said, referring to the complicated nature of ordering the many tickets and travel arrangements for programs like trips to Columbus sporting events.
Filkins, too, mentioned logistics. College students have less experience negotiating contracts, so having the “institutional memory” of the OSE will help streamline these processes. This institutional memory will also help with screening speakers and events in advance, since OSE employees have colleagues at other institutions who can shed insight into whether a speaker puts on a good show or is easy to work with.
Another part of the problem last semester was that Social Board was not able to think as far in advance or as ambitiously as they will be able to now, according to Filkins..
“[Social Board] will have a guaranteed percentage of funding for each year so they can plan further in advance,” Filkins said — a change from having to request it from the BFC. According to Filkins, it is often necessary to be able to know how much money is on hand before booking a comedian or a musical act. Already, Social Board has a full slate of events for the spring semester, varying in size and scope, and Filkins expects that there will be approximately one event per week. “By being an advisor, we have the opportunity to tell them to dream big,” he said.
But logistical support is not the same as the OSE directing the organization. For instance, students will still be responsible for thinking of, planning and putting on the programming.
“Becoming departmental, I believe that it’s gonna give the organization as a whole more help … but it’s still going to be student-run,” Nally said. “We just want an extra hand in helping make sure these events actually get put on.”
Money is perhaps the biggest issue at hand. After all, the events Social Board puts on are paid for by students.
“One of the other things is just making sure that we are using good fiscal management,” Filkins said. “So, Social Board this fall had a large amount of money left over… [now] we can make sure every student is getting the best bang for their buck with that student activity fee money.”
Social Board is also meant to be a representative body whose events are intended to reflect the whole student population, according to Filkins. In addition to more regular programming and more effective spending, he also looks forward to Social Board crafting events for a more diverse audience.
For both Filkins and Nally, this upcoming semester provides an opportunity for Social Board, through more regular programming, to become known not just for a few large campus events, but to emerge as a regular feature of weekly social life on campus.