Keith Osentoski: Student organizations should go big

Now that we’ve unpacked our bags, waved goodbye to our parents and submitted a fair share of FIXit requests, it’s time to sit back and enjoy the excitement of being on campus. Luckily for us, we have Welcome Week and Fall Fest to look forward to and, with Girl Talk headlining Fall Fest, it’s sure to be a highlight of the fall semester.

A large campus-wide event like Fall Fest is the epitome of what student-life programming should be.

By collecting people in one place for a common experience, these sorts of events foster shared memories. After we’ve graduated and moved on, we’re not going to care about that chemistry test we crammed for or the University Writing paper we bombed; we’re going to remember the big, unifying events and memories that made our experience unforgettable. These events also build excitement on campus and bring about school pride. They give people something to look forward to and something to talk about weeks later.

But the University alone won’t be able to put on all the major events that make a college career memorable. When student-run events like Fall Fest can draw such success, I can’t help but wonder why student organizations and groups don’t strive to host more of their own campus-wide programming.

We saw some exciting examples of student organizations taking the reins and playing big roles in campus programming last year with the Howard Dean vs. Newt Gingrich debate that was completely organized by the College Democrats and College Republicans. Bhangra Blowout, an event entirely organized by students, draws Indian dance teams from across the country to D.C.

As student leaders begin filing back into their Marvin Center fourth floor offices and start planning the year’s events, I encourage them to stick with what works. Large events are indeed costly and harder to plan, but when student organizations partner up and put on joint events, they consistently create a big impact on campus culture and student life. This is the way traditions are born.

The University can mark up the calendar with its traditional hallmark events, but if we want to continue to grow and foster a sense of campus pride and purpose, student organizations must also take leadership in working to organize unifying events. Fall Fest alone won’t keep the student body spirited until basketball season; students also have to work together and form partnerships that make everyone proud to be part of this campus.

At the end of the day, this is our campus, so it’s ultimately what we make of it. While it’s easy to remain focused on our individual student organizations and groups, if we want to have a true community of Colonials, we should also work to have more student-run shared events.

We are often taught at GW to think of things in new ways, to go bigger, to do better. By having student organizations work together in new and innovative ways, the Student Association and Program Board supporting student-initiated event planning and the University itself focusing on the existing big hallmark events, we can make this another exciting year of timeless Colonial memories.

Keith Osentoski, a junior majoring in political communication, is a Hatchet columnist.

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