When University-wide events are planned the right way, they can prove to be a memorable time for students. Given the responsibilities of Program Board to hold various events throughout the school year, the organization needs to both pick the ideal location and sufficiently promote the event. Saturday’s Fountain Fling is an example of an event that, if held on the Foggy Bottom campus or promoted better, may have been more successful.
This is the second year Foggy Bottom’s Spring Fling and the Mount Vernon’s Fountain Day were combined and Saturday’s event proves the two should stay separate. Compared to previous spring events put on by Program Board, this year’s Fountain Fling was poorly attended, with about 250 people there consistently. Last year, Program Board said it combined Spring Fling and Fountain Day because the Smith Center was unavailable as a rain location. This year, Program Board chair Tiffany Meehan said in an e-mail Sunday that PB and the Mount Vernon Programming Council wanted to “make the most of our resources and have one big end of the year event on the Vern.” Neither of these reasons is compelling enough to continue to host a single event. Knowing that a Smith Center reservation hindered last year’s event, any issues with reservations could have been resolved well in advance for this year. If PB and MVPC are seeking to maximize the use of their resources, this year’s Fountain Fling has proven that they are better served by hosting separate events.
Location can be extremely important for the success of events. While we believe Mount Vernon should not be excluded from programming, it is clearly more realistic to host University-wide events on the Foggy Bottom campus. Hosting these events on Foggy Bottom puts them in closer proximity to the majority of students living on campus. Rain or shine, being closer, these students will be much more likely to attend an event.
The Mount Vernon Programming Council will obviously be interested in programming for the Vern community. But Fountain Day as a separate event has the appeal of being unique to the Vern, and does more to bond the student community of the Mount Vernon campus than this year’s attempt to host a University-wide event.
If GW decides to continue using the Fountain Fling model for PB’s main spring semester event, it needs to seriously examine the challenges that plagued this year’s concert. By combining the events, students are required to travel to the Mount Vernon campus. To overcome this inconvenience, Program Board needs to put more emphasis on promoting Fountain Fling and its headliner State Radio. Program Board should have done more to build the hype surrounding Fountain Fling.
The location and the lack of publicity surrounding the event speak to the quality of Program Board’s leadership. Tiffany Meehan has had a mixed record as Program Board chair. Fall Fest in 2008 and Fountain Fling on Saturday are two such examples of faulty leadership. Given Program Board’s resources, the organization has dramatically under-performed, and students should have higher expectations. Under such leadership, the organization’s presence on campus has faltered. Wesley Callahan, next year’s Program Board chair, must revive the organization so PB can host events that more students will attend. This transition of power within Program Board presents an opportunity to improve.
This year’s Fountain Fling represents an event that, if better planned and publicized, would have been more successful. Holding the event on the Vern jeopardizes student turnout. Furthermore, no matter where the event is held, Program Board needs to improve its promotion efforts. It will be up to next year’s leadership to redefine Program Board’s role and, hopefully, prove more effective in the way it plans events.
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