Programming boards are standard-issue on most college campuses. They organize musical artists and guest speakers, and bring together students with myriad interests to participate in campuswide activities.
So why did Richmond’s Campus Activities Board seemingly disband last spring?
As it turns out, the group realized with the volume of programming offered by various organizations on campus, CAB didn’t need to be the sole provider of campus activities. So they spent a year redefining their mission before relaunching with a new brand — the Spider Board.
“We realized that we are the largest programming board on campus, and we have the ability to do the most on campus,” says Chloe Zung, ’15, president of Spider Board. “We’re not just going to be an activities board or a programming board. We thought we could be a meeting ground for people to work together.”
What does this mean? The Spider Board is now less of a solo programming entity and more of a collaborative partner to organizations on campus. For instance, student organizations can use the Spider Board’s established connections with managers and agencies to help facilitate the booking process, and smaller groups can get assistance reaching the wider campus to publicize their events.
“Most of us have been programming since our freshman year so we know the way the system works and what the deadlines should be,” Zung says. “Cosponsoring has allowed people to get a glimpse of what we do.”
It’s only their second semester as the Spider Board, so there’s been a lot of explaining to do, but students and organization leaders seem to be catching on.
“For Black History Month, we partnered with the Black Student Alliance, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, and the planning committee,” says Jordan Nguyen, ’16, chair of the Spider Board’s Lectures, Entertainment, Arts, and Diversity committee. “We’re also going to partner with the Asian Student Union for Asian Heritage Month. Calling ourselves Spider Board is a way to say that we’re representing all Spiders.”
The shift also means that with more emphasis on partnering, the Spider Board can use their resources to put considerably more oomph behind their own programming.
Case in point: Judy Smith.
In some ways, the Feb. 26 event was considered the board’s official launch. A big name, from a big TV show, with a big draw — and the first to carry a little line: sponsored by Spider Board.
It’s not just about the name, though. Smith’s lecture demonstrates a shift in the board’s thinking when it comes to booking guest artists.
Smith talked about her own start in crisis management, fresh out of law school. She explained how her path meandered from the Iran-Contra affair, to deputy press secretary for President George H.W. Bush, to managing situations for the likes of Kobe Bryant and Paula Deen, to executive producer for Scandal, the show inspired by her own life. In the end, she took questions from law and political science students, entertainment junkies, and those wondering how to start their own careers in the legal and crisis management landscape. The event resonated with people from all walks of campus — which is just what the Spider Board was hoping.
“It’s one of the biggest events I’ve done in my three years,” Zung says. “We’ve brought in big artists and big events, but nothing to this level. We’re really reaching out to a lot of different offices and people and groups on campus.
“It’s so cool to hear people talk about something that they really liked and know that you planned it. It’s such a great feeling to know that you improved student life on this campus.”