Baldwin closure leads to SAB creativity

Changes on Truman State University’s campus have been abundant this semester. Baldwin Hall has been closed for construction, the search for Truman’s next University president is underway and on top of all of it, the calm of the storm that is Midterm Break has ended and the stress of rigorous work and finals are upon the student body.

Despite these challenges, the Student Activities Board and Homecoming committees have made an effort this semester to bring relaxing and enticing entertainment to Truman students to attract different types of crowds — events that have garnered positive feedback.

Senior Taryn Sohal, Homecoming committee co-director, says she thinks Truman is full of students who strive to study hard and be active on campus. Sohal says this semester’s Homecoming events were meant to serve as a way to pump up school spirit and help students relax and meet new people.

“The type of students who go to Truman are very driven and motivated — they want to get good grades, they want to be super involved, but they don’t necessarily take the time to relax,” Sohal says. “I think Homecoming is a way to boost your school spirit and it gives you an opportunity to de-stress if you’re willing to take it. Truman is more than rigorous education. You are here for your experience and the friends you make.”

Sohal says she and other Homecoming committee members have been planning since February 2016. Sohal says unlike other schools, Truman has people participate in Homecoming in teams, and she estimates there were roughly 1,600 students in these teams.

Sohal says she thought participation in Homecoming events was almost equivalent to last year — and if anything, a bit higher — despite not having Baldwin to host the traditional Lip Sync event, which usually attracts a larger audience.

“Other schools structure Homecoming differently,” Sohal says. “While we do it team-based, a lot of other schools’ homecomings are individual-based. Homecoming is a very inclusive event and we want everyone to get to know different people with different ideas, values,and thoughts.”

SAB president junior Tim Hudson says in addition to Homecoming events, SAB has been hosting events throughout the semester that are different than in the past. He says because of the challenges caused by the renovation of Baldwin Hall the SAB has had to be creative about events. Despite this, Hudson says the events SAB has hosted this semester — while they have been different than events SAB has done in the past — have still attracted the Truman student body.

Hudson says because Baldwin Hall was SAB’s biggest venue, SAB this year is focusing on not bringing as many popular speakers and comedians that would pack Baldwin auditorium. He says SAB is instead finding less expensive speakers who will target more specific interests and attract a smaller audience that could fit in the Student Union Building Georgian Rooms or Ophelia Parrish Performance Hall more easily.

“This year is a great opportunity for us to experiment with smaller events that we might be afraid to experiment with otherwise,” Hudson says. “Instead of trying to sell out our events and have students waiting outside the door and not able to come to our events, we’re trying this year to create a few smaller events that target more niche audiences that maybe touch different parts of campus that we don’t always touch with our programming.”

Hudson says one of the big pieces of the SAB mission statement is that the organization provide diverse entertainment to the student body. He says SAB wants to make sure throughout the year they’re targeting every group on campus, regardless of size.

Hudson says an example of a niche speaker SAB brought to campus this semester was Kamau Bell, who talked about racial inequality in society during October.

“He talked about some emerging topics like Black Lives Matter that are very important to campus and did seem to attract an audience that was very different from the type of audiences we normally attract,” Hudson says.

Hudson also says to make bigger events with big-name speakers happen this year, SAB has had to get creative with the space they have.

Hudson says comedian Adam Devine, who is coming in the spring, would normally fill up Baldwin Hall because so many people want to see him, but because they have smaller venues to work with SAB will actually have Devine do two shows in the OP performance hall — which seats about half the amount of people Baldwin does. Hosting the event in OP ensures that close to the same number of people who would have wanted to see Devine if Baldwin were open still can, Hudson says.

“We’ve come to a hybrid ground where we aren’t afraid to be more creative and do more events like this year,” Hudson says. “I do hope that we take some of the lessons we’ve learned from this year, because I think we’ve been very innovative in light of some of these challenges and we continue to use them next year and start new traditions.”

Hudson says the smaller events SAB has put on this semester have actually done very well so far. Hudson says for tie-dye on The Quad SAB gave out all 500 of their t-shirts and for their presidential debate viewing party Hudson says they had the most people at an event in the SUB Hub in event history.

With such high turnouts for events this semester, Hudson still encourages the Truman student body to continue to participate in SAB events because SAB’s ultimate purpose is to serve the student body.

“Students spend $45 dollars a semester on the student activities fee and about 50-60 percent of that goes to SAB directly,” Hudson says. “They spend over their four years a couple hundred bucks just to SAB. I think it’s important current students don’t forget about the really awesome opportunities Truman has for them.”

For more information, visit the SAB website and for more information about the Homecoming committee visit their section of the website.

This appeared in the Nov. 3 issue of the Index.