By Krista Murray
NEW KENSINGTON, Pa.—Throughout the fall semester of 2013, the Campus Activities Board at Penn State New Kensington worked diligently to provide enjoyable activities for students on campus and to raise participation at these events.
With the 2014 spring semester about ready to begin, the individuals behind the Campus Activities Board (CAB) are planning even more events for students in the spring. The board is hard at work in enabling students to be able to enjoy themselves while catering to their busy schedules.
The board is headed by a group of students who each have their own particular job requirements in planning and executing activities that either take place on or off campus. One of these students is the CAB Marketing Chair, Corey Bobak, who said he understands the difficulties of balancing studies with time for relaxation periods.
“Students have a lot of things happening in their lives and it’s hard to be able to plan an event every student can come to,” said Bobak. “Even when there is common hour some students have other complications and aren’t always free during this time.”
Bobak said he is mainly in charge of advertising each event by changing the chalkboard next to the Student Life office, hanging up flyers, maintaining the Facebook Student Life page, and several other promotional tasks.
“I love being a part of CAB,” said Bobak. “It’s very rewarding to see the students having fun at an event I planned or was a part of. Being able to plan events that my friends and peers will enjoy is fun and they are so appreciative and it makes all the hard work worth it.”
However, sometimes this hard work does not pay off in full. CAB Vice President, Mikaela Dunegan, whose main job requirement is to organize and plan each event, commented on the hardships of acquiring student participation, especially since the campus is primarily commuter.
“As soon as classes are done, a lot of students leave campus immediately after to go to work or other engagements,” Dunegan said. “We are working hard to try to close that gap and make students want to hang out on campus a little longer or at least come back for the later activities.”
Since the New Kensington campus is mostly a commuter school, it can sometimes make it difficult for students to attend activities, especially evening events such as grocery bingo and karaoke nights. However, the board members of CAB said they have been successful in producing more student turnout this year.
Student Life Coordinator, Lauren Blum said, “Our CAB group is motivated to make the best experiences available to our students and are confident and excited about everything we are offering. That excitement shows in our students and shows in the amount of participation we have at our events.”
When asked if she felt that student participation might be low due to the campus being mainly a commuter school, she stated that the board strives to make students feel like New Kensington is a residential campus.
“Unlike most commuter schools, we offer a great balance of daytime and evening and weekend events, and work to get a good mix of students at everything we offer,” Blum said. “Finding something for everyone will never be possible, but we strive to give our students the best we can.”
Acquiring this student participation is a difficult task, but the board members said they are aided by student volunteers who signed up for CAB at the Back to School Bash at the beginning of the fall semester.
Freshman student and CAB member, Aishwarya Venketeswaran, described volunteering for CAB with much enthusiasm.
“I like participating in the various events that CAB conducts on campus for the students,” Venketeswaran said. “By being a part of the Campus Activities Board, I get to know about events earlier than others. I think the events held by CAB play a major role in enhancing the student experience on campus.”
This enthusiasm for the organization provides an overview of CAB’s work ethic and a positive experience for students on campus who might need a break from their studies by partaking in smaller events during common hour or even the highly popular Penn State in Pittsburgh visits.
Thus far, the Penn State in Pittsburgh visits have included going to a Pittsburgh Pirates game and visiting the Andy Warhol Museum.
“I am loving the Penn State in Pittsburgh events this year!” Blum said. “The series itself is something totally different than what we have previously done and they have been so successful. The students seem to be loving the opportunity to get into Pittsburgh.”
Christine Patroski, a student who said she has been to several CAB events credited the board for their hard work during each event by stating, “It probably is very hard to get students to participate in each event, but CAB really seems to be able to get the numbers and they are always so positive.”
Even though the fall semester is over, CAB is showed no signs of slowing for the spring semester, and there are several events that are taking place as early as the first few weeks in January when students return.
“We are excited to have Jason O, a wonderful musician coming soon,” Dunegan said. “I am also looking forward to our next Penn State in Pittsburgh event, which is the musical WICKED because I’ve seen it before and it was awesome.”
Tickets for the popular Broadway show are on sale now in the Student Life office for a total of $50 and they are going fast. These rapid sales highlight the main priority for CAB, which is their specific consideration for every student in listening and understanding student opinions.
“Our [CAB] students are very hard workers and are great at what they do,” Blum said. “Each member has particular strengths they bring to the group and I feel that they have developed into even better leaders than when they started. I am very pleased with this group.”
Students can still be a part of CAB by attending their monthly meetings during common hour, but if joining the club isn’t a potential option then students can still enjoy plenty of campus activities in the upcoming semester. These activities include returning events such as Cooking with Chef Mike, a murder mystery dinner, a poverty dinner, and much more.
“I would like to thank everyone who has come out to our events so far and for making them be a success,” said Dunegan. “Thanks to our committed club members, we appreciate all the help. I also am looking forward to next semester and hope to see some familiar and new faces at our events.”
Each member of the Campus Activities Board urges students to participate in as many campus-run events as they can and Corey Bobak said that students will not be disappointed.
“I genuinely feel that if each student came to one event and got involved then they would come to another event,” Bobak said. “I encourage each student to take a leap of faith and get involved in our events.”