Student government leaders take on a big responsibility when they assume leadership in developing and managing campus events. Planned correctly, these events not only provide entertaining and rewarding experiences for students, but also give student government leaders experience in coordinating a large, often complex event.
Everyone new to event planning can benefit with some tips on how to put the event together. The following tips come from years of creating and managing campus events. While there’s plenty of work involved, on-campus event planning is a rewarding experience for student governments that commit to creating the best event possible.
Advice and Tips on On-Campus Event Planning
The following looks at the major areas that student governments must address in on-campus event planning. Consider it a checklist that provides a framework for creating a successful, entertaining and rewarding on-campus event.
Start With Goals
An on-campus event can include many different types of events. It could be a fall festival, a speaker series, entertainment acts such as bands or standup comedians, a movie night, and academically focused workshops and conferences. Whatever the event is, student governments should have a clear idea of what they want the event to accomplish before taking the first step toward creating the event.
Examples of goals include providing students the chance to meet and get to know each other at a festival, offering speakers who cover a contemporary issue from a variety of standpoints, providing an event geared specifically for freshmen, or setting a monetary goal if the event includes fundraising. Student governments can also set goals for the number of people they want to attend and how many partner organizations on campus they want to get involved with the event.
Create a Budget
Student governments save a lot of time by creating a budget for an event and sticking with it. It saves time looking at types of entertainment that cost more than the event budget allows. On the other hand, it also ensures that student governments use all the funds available to make the event as good as possible.
In creating a budget, student governments should consider all the expenses involved, including venue rentals, food, entertainment, and promotional materials.
Once the plan and budget are set, then student governments can move onto the next phase of on-campus event planning, which involves taking concrete steps toward creating the event. This is where the planning becomes reality. The thing to remember at this point is to start this phase as early as possible. It’s helpful to create a timeline with clear deadlines for each task.
Choose a Theme
Obviously, a theme is not necessary if the event involves a speaker (although there can be topical themes for a lecture series) or a musical act. But for festivals, fundraisers and seasonal events, a theme that ties the experience together is helpful. It will allow student governments to make better decisions when it comes to choosing decorations, food, and the type of activities at the event.
Plan the Logistics
This is where it’s helpful to assign different people to oversee different aspects of the event. It helps to assign people to these areas who are reliable self-starters. It’s also key that everyone is on the same page in terms of the budget, theme, and goals. Some of the logistical areas include the following.
Choosing the location may come from the top because on-campus events usually are held in one of a handful of available spaces. However, one person needs to understand and enforce any rules about using the location, as well as oversee the set up and take down of the event.
Picking Time and Date
The main issue here is having a backup plan for outdoor venues in case the weather decides not to cooperate. Make sure that the alternative location is included on any publicity about the event.
Student governments have more choices than ever when choosing attractions for events, including extreme attractions, obstacles courses, and carnival games and concessions. Student governments also can partner with professionals who can help set up, take down, and operate attractions.
Food and Beverages
This can involve working with outside vendors, if allowed on campus, to provide food and drink. In some cases it’s best to not provide anything other than bottled water. This area depends entirely on the type of event, campus rules and whether local vendors are willing to work with student governments to provide concessions.
Publicizing the Event
This is one of the biggest jobs. It can involve a wide ranging list of tasks and activities designed to reach people and let them know the details of the event. Some of the common avenues of marketing and publicity for an on-campus event include:
- Flyers posted in classrooms, common areas, dorms, and dining facilities
- Social media posts
- E-mail notices sent out to the student body or various campus departments
- Advertisements in campus newspapers, or on campus radio or TV
- Announcements or flyers in church bulletins
- Flyers passed out to classes which specifically relate to the topic of the event
- Writing on classroom chalkboards or whiteboards about the event
It’s also helpful in many cases to collaborate with other campus organizations to cross-promote an event, increasing attendance and reaching a wider audience.