Whether it is because of midterms or lack of interest, students are not attending events on campus. Departments and clubs dedicate copious amounts of time, effort, and money to putting on an event, only to have a few people show up.
The Center for Peace and Spirituality experienced this exact situation with their workshop, Interrupting Hate in Public Spaces on Oct. 14 . Bringing in rabbi Debra Kolodny to discuss how to deal with hate, the center expected at least 20 people. Even though each person had RSVP’d, only one person showed up. The lack of students forced the Center for Peace and Spirituality to cancel the event and pay Kolodny $1300 despite her never giving the workshop.
The film department experienced a similar situation with their student-run Gateway Film Festival Oct 12-13. Even though they brought in professional panelists, screened films, and held a camera workshop, the turnout for the event remained small. Coordinator of the film festival Professor Jennifer Hardacker expected at least double of what she got. For the filmmaker panel, she expected at least 25 people, but only half that number showed up.
Hardacker believes students not attending events could be because they perceive extracurricular activities as additional school work. With every student having to manage their own workload, attending a workshop or even festival can feel like unnecessary school work. It detracts from time that could be spent on homework or even relaxing.
At this point, Hardacker feels she has to give students an incentive to come to events.
“You don’t want to attach an award to every event because you would think the event itself is its own reward,” she said. “But I’ve learned enticing people to come is necessary.”
Giving students a reason to attend the event, albeit it additional points in class or free food, would involve more people. Time is valuable to students, and they do not have a lot of it. Students divide their attention between school, work, sports, friends, and clubs. Often, though an event may be interesting, students have other priorities. Students are at a point in the semester that if the event feels like more work, they simply will not show up.