By Anne Dolan || Contributing Writer
Franklin & Marshall student organizations are always planning events. Mass Facebook invites, dormstorming, and social media pushes are the norm. We invite all of our friends and acquaintances, begging them to come out for free pizza and a guaranteed good time. However, as much as groups want high attendance at their big events, F&M’s all campus programming is not nearly as inclusive or as plentiful as it appears to be.
In reality, there are only a handful of well-established events for the entire student body. The first things that come to mind are Spring Arts, Flapjack Fest, Classy Ball, Relay for Life, and Greek philanthropy events (such as KD Bowl, DipSync, Casino Night, Alpha Phifa, to name a few). These programs are full of tradition and fun, but the majority of them have one problematic thing in common: in order to participate you must register as part of a team. If you’re not a member of a Greek organization or a large affinity group (a sports team, a popular club, or a performing group), it is difficult to be included in the major events that occur on this campus.
I have no problem with these events. I’ve attended and enjoyed all of them. However, I have to acknowledge that since joining a sorority I’ve always had a team to play on. And before I was a member of a Greek organization, I didn’t feel nearly as welcome or comfortable attending them. The large activities on this campus bring together established groups; they don’t focus on including individuals. If you’re not part of a well known affinity group, these events are not designed for you.
Unfortunately, the way money is allocated for student activities continues to divide us. College Houses use their annual $14,000 budget to put on awesome events, but those are only open to members of their house. Additionally, while College Houses are invited to make teams for philanthropy events, few people feel connected enough to their college house to want to sign up with them.
Club Council supported organizations have great ideas for events, but that body has to support over 100 clubs. Therefore, they can only provide minimal financial support in order to fairly distribute their resources. Class presidents attempt to program for the entire class year, but we operate with a measly budget of $1,000. The College Entertainment Committee funds and organizes Spring Arts and Fall Fest, but they don’t have the financial resources or manpower to do much more.
Put simply, we need to rethink and reevaluate the large programming on this campus. Change starts with recognizing this culture of division at F&M. If we are mindful of the way most events are currently organized, we can find ways to better include all of the student body. All students–both members of large organizations and those who are not–can brainstorm creative solutions to include more students in programming. Club leaders and event organizers can find ways to include individuals in established campus traditions. Administrators can look closely at the financial support different student groups receive and consider revising their policies. And finally (here’s my not-so-subtle plug), students can attend their class events. The class governments work tirelessly to create and execute events designed to include everyone.
I know class events aren’t the answer, and I know a solution to this problem isn’t straightforward or simple. Nevertheless, we need to acknowledge that there is room for improvement in our all campus events. F&M can and should be more than a collection of Greek organizations, sports teams, and clubs.
Senior Anne Dolan is a contributing writer. Her email is adolan@fandm.