Brent Papson, who leads the office responsible for advising student organizations on their event planning, is constantly looking for the all-important fun factor in the college experience. Susquehanna Currents talked with Papson about the work he does with the university's student organizations.
SC: What are some of the more "off-the-wall" activities that Susquehanna has hosted for students, and how have students reacted to these offerings?
BP: The Student Activities Committee hosts some exciting and exotic events every year. In fact, the more "off-the-wall" the idea, the better the event typically turns out. Animals always go over well with students, so we've held events like camel rides and petting zoos. Last fall, we had reptiles visit Charlie's Coffeehouse, where students could hold a small crocodile and a variety of other reptiles.
Then there are activities like stunt jumping and gyroscope rides that offer students a little stress relief between classes.
The last weekend of August 2014, we held our first large outdoor concert. It was attended by more than 1,000 students. Then, last September,
TRAX nightclub attracted 300-plus students for a night of dancing in a foam pit.
SC: What are some of the student activities that have become annual traditions, and why do you think they've become so popular among students?
BP: Our biggest student traditions are the Spirit Party and Casino Night for first-year students; Fall Frenzy, which was celebrated with a large free outdoor concert this year; an annual Airband competition; and the Spring Weekend carnival. These events have really taken off in recent years. Airband outgrew Evert Dining Room and nearly fills the 1,500-seat Weber Chapel Auditorium. The Spring Weekend carnival is an impressive display of rides, games and food that overtakes TRAX's parking lot.
These events, and many others, are so popular because they are student-centered. Everything we do needs to come from the student, or it is unlikely to succeed.
SC: From the vantage point of a student life professional, why is it important to have all these different student activities?
BP: The biggest reason is student development. While the Office of Student Activities helps student groups plan and organize programs, it all comes down to the students. They have the ability to decide what happens on campus, and they learn a lot through the process. Within these organizations, students learn leadership skills and event planning, but more importantly, how to work with other students and campus offices such as facilities management, technical services and risk management. They supervise peers and have fun doing it!