Students can often find musical artists rapping, singing or strumming in the University Union (UU) Plaza during the week. Sometimes performers even come out at sunset to play for Cal Poly. Other days, students can enjoy comedians, or even a weekend at an interactive carnival in the Recreation Center.
This year, the University Union Advisory Board (UUAB) took on the role of student outreach in the event decision-making process.
How it works
The UUAB is one of three branches of student government at Cal Poly.
UUAB chair and sociology senior Haley Houle said the UUAB’s campus outreach is a new process that works on learning students’ music and comedian preferences for Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) events.
Because musical preference among students is constantly changing, Houle said in the past ASI struggled with campus outreach, and allocating that responsibility to the UUAB “is a great idea.”
Houle said one of the biggest challenges is still reaching out to students who are not attending concerts and events.
“We still have kinks to work out,” Houle said, “but I think it’s always great to have students around the table.”
UUAB represents a broad base of students on campus, including a representative from each college, Houle said.
Program coordinator Missi Bullock said the reason ASI wanted to have a more formalized group was to be able to “look at people and see their availability, and then put it out to students.”
Bullock said after she checks the availability of potential artists, she sends a list of the names to UUAB. The board then narrows the names to a top five based on student popularity, and determines the best candidate from there.
“For instance, if we have a group of comedians we’re looking at, we can give this group of names to this group of students,” Bullock said. “That gives us more of a direction of who students like as far as comedians or musical genres or bands, or stuff like that.”
Bullock then makes the final decision.
While student opinion is a huge component of Bullock’s decision, budget and artist availability are limiting factors in her decision.
ASI events is allocated approximately $200,000 each year for event programming, Bullock said.
While the budget has been cut in the past few years, ASI events is a mandated program, along with Poly Escapes and the new Recreation Center, that has a specific budget due to a student-voted referendum from the early 2000s.
Because of the budget cuts, students’ first choices do not always make the cut.
“I would love for it to always happen,” Bullock said. “But … sometimes it doesn’t work out as the No. 1. But that’s what we strive for.”
Bullock added that the new formal decision-making process through UUAB has made this quarter’s events “awesome.”
“So far, it’s been great,” Bullock said. “It’s only been a couple months, but the long-term effects, we’ll look at it and we’ll see. But so far, so good.”
The UUAB tries to find types of events and concerts that cater to Cal Poly students’ tastes.
According to Bullock, country music is a more commonly requested music genre, but also one of the harder genres to book on campus.
“There’s a lot of underground hip-hop (artists) that are not formally signed,” Bullock said, “and country artists are typically formally signed, so they request more money to perform.”
Bullock said hip-hop and reggae are also popular at Cal Poly, and recently, larger hip-hop concerts on campus have been highly attended.
Crop science junior Gabrielle Chrisco said she is happy with the UU concerts this year.
“I feel like they’re bands everyone really likes,” Chrisco said.
Chrisco said the student government’s artist choices are “really spot on” to what students enjoy listening to.
Concert turnouts are really good, Chrisco said.
“I think they’re doing a really good job,” Chrisco said.
One of the new concerts this quarter was the sunset concert, which Bullock said was a success.
Non-music events have also turned out well, Bullock said.
In early November, ASI hosted the “Comedy Central on Campus tour,” featuring comedian Rory Scovel.
“The comedian show went really well and was highly attended,” Bullock said. “It’s just been a really good quarter.”
How can students share their ideas?
Bullock said events such as the Cal Poly Craze, a carnival at the Recreation Center, “ended up entirely successful because of the student input.”
While members of the UUAB have conducted individual outreach on student opinions, Bullock said the board also uses paper surveys at events to determine attendee demographic and what performers students want to see at Cal Poly.
Bullock said UUAB polls at least 10 percent of event attendees and also uses Facebook polls to get ideas for future events.
“It’s not just the names of comedians or the names of bands that we’re getting feedback on, it’s also types of events,” Bullock said. “And so we really count of students to bring us those ideas.”
At this point, Bullock said no events are planned for winter quarter.
“Winter is typically a more mellow quarter,” Bullock said. “We find that students don’t really participate as much when it’s winter quarter because of the weather.”