In November, at a time of leadership changes, the University Programming Council (UPC) will reform into the University Programming Center. This is not a change in name alone, however, as it accompanies an organizational restructure which will not affect current UPC leadership.
Formerly, students that filled a seat on the council would organize the specific events they were assigned. Following the restructure, UPC will comprise three separate boards, the University Traditions Board (UTB), the Cultural Connections Board (CCB) and the Student Activities Board (SAB).
According to Director of Student Engagement and Leadership Heidie Lindsey, each board will organize events that fall under their umbrella of responsibility throughout the semester.
“Whatever the topic or subject matter is for that board, those members will work on that subject matter all year as opposed to a student being in charge of this event and a student is managing this event and these two are in charge of this,” Lindsey said.
UTB will plan events such as Homecoming and will propose new traditions for the university to follow, CCB will plan and implement cultural events and SAB will plan performances and entertainers. These boards will hold their own meetings at a schedule they decide.
Each board will include eight students who apply and receive interviews for the specific board they are interested in. Applications opened Oct. 13 and will close on Oct. 28. They can be found around campus and online at ulgetinvloved on Instagram.
According to Amber Felix, assistant director of Student Engagement and Leadership, at their meetings, each board can recruit volunteers to work with them. She said this recruitment can give hesitant students an opportunity to work in their interests.
“If they have an interest in UPC but they potentially don’t want to try out for the board yet they can kind of get their feet wet and see what’s kind of the workings behind the scenes,” Felix said.
By creating multiple boards that can recruit volunteers, the number of students who can engage in UPC directly will increase. Typically, UPC has 15-20 students involved, but following the change, UPC will have 24 board members plus the pool of volunteers at their disposal.
According to Felix, student engagement, promotion and outreach are all critical goals of the rebranding effort.
“We actually had a student make the new logo that was a way to kind of have that get started and we also have been having info sessions, we’ve been reaching out to different organizations to kind of see if we can get into talking to them and let them know a little bit more about it,” Felix said. “So our main thing is just kind of spreading the information out as far and wide as we can and even with current students in UPC, they’ve been also talking to different people.”
Lindsey said she hopes the rebranding will give more students the opportunity to get engaged in event planning and develop long-term skills in project planning.
“Well, I hope students will feel a sense of belonging to the organization and feel fully engaged with it all year. We want them all to get the experience of planning events from start to finish,” Lindsey said. “It can include contract negotiations, looking for vendors and looking for space. Each board will also tend to its own promotion and advertising. I just think it’s gonna add to the skills that students will learn, especially when they’re all working together on it.”
Another goal of the rebranding, according to Lindsey, is to drive planning engagement with UPC by other campus organizations and independent students.
“With the change from University Programming Council to University Programming Center, we want this to be a place where all students feel like they’re welcome and even other students or other organizations could come and get help in implementing their events too. So it’s more than just the three boards, you know, a resource,” Lindsey said.
As director and assistant director of Student Engagement and Leadership, Lindsey and Felix stay up-to-date about modern practices. Lindsey identified these practices as a driving factor behind the rebranding.
“We always want to know what best practices are and what we mean by that is we’re seeing what other schools are doing that’s working and what’s the state of student programming today. So you know, in doing research and keeping up with that, it was time to refresh and get more serious,” Lindsey said.
Due to the pandemic, UPC found difficulty in getting students engaged over the last few years. UPC held many events virtually, which Lindsey said drove student engagement downward.
“When a student is in Zoom classes all day, they aren’t going to go home and get on another Zoom call to do something fun,” Lindsey said.
Lindsey said she hopes that a return to normal campus life and a “refresh” from the rebranding will catch students’ attention and move engagement upward.