After seven years of serving the Georgia State community as separate organizations, Campus Events and Spotlight Programs Board will merge into one centralized student event programming organization.
The change, which goes into effect May 1, 2015, has been discussed for at least three years and became a realistic option in the past month, according to Spotlight adviser and Student Center Assistant Programs Director Phillip Smith and Student Center Director Boyd Beckwith.
Beckwith and Smith said the centralized programming board will remain under the name Spotlight because of the organization’s strong presence in the Georgia State community.
“The Spotlight Programs Board has provided programming for Georgia State students for [more than] 25 years and they already have a significant presence on social media under that name,” Beckwith said.
The goal is to provide students with more campus involvement opportunities and to engage with Georgia State’s non-traditional students, according to Smith at a March 2 town hall meeting hosted by the new Spotlight Programs Board.
Smith also said students would be better informed about upcoming campus events because of the centralization.
“You don’t have to go looking for what’s happening on this Instagram versus what’s happening on that Instagram. It’s all in one place [and] makes it a little bit easier for the students to be able to find and know what’s happening on campus,” he said.
Beckwith said centralizing the organizations would allocate more of the Campus Programming Fee, which is separate from the Student Activity Fee, to programming. Centralization will also improve communication when planning student events.
“As one organization they won’t have two membership committees, two publicity committees, two copiers, etc.,” he said. “It will increase the communication and collaboration between what had been separate programming entities.”
The new Spotlight Programs Board will have 11 committees headed by 12 directors. Spotlight announced at the March 2 town hall meeting that the members of these committees will be made public on April 3.
The number of positions will provide students with more opportunities to hold leadership positions within the organization, according to Smith at the town hall. Most of the committees will be a combination of positions that were previously available through Spotlight, Campus Events or both.
Committees new to Spotlight will include the PantherNation committee, which will promote school spirit and support student athletics, and the Patnher Connections committee that will plan events geared towards students. These students will include graduates, professionals and other non-traditional students, according to a handout provided at the Spotlight town hall meeting.
This year, new discussion-based programs, such as Hot Topics and Screen Takes, were introduced and will continue under the new Spotlight. The programming board will also host TedxTalks, featuring Atlanta-based speakers, as announced at the March 2 town hall.
Sarah Wilcox, who currently serves as the assistant director for programs at Campus Events, said the centralized organization will be able to reach more of Georgia State’s diverse student body.
“Georgia State is home to so many different people with multiple and varied identities, and each person deserves to have programming on campus that they want to go to or with which they identify,” she said.
Current Spotlight Membership Director and Vice President-elect Avien Gober, who has also worked with Campus events in the past, said he has high hopes for the centralized program. He also said that merging the two organizations will continue Spotlight’s history of bringing great events to Georgia State.
“I believe that the [new] Spotlight will be able to continue to provide the traditional events that our students know and love while bringing and creating new events and topics of conversation that will help link Georgia State to the Atlanta community,” he said.
Azhia Brown, the current public relations and social media director for Campus Events, also said she believes the change will be good for students.
“I think by combining Campus Events and Spotlight, we are getting back to the focus of putting on programs to make each student have a great collegiate experience,” she said.
Though she currently has no concerns for the new board’s future, Wilcox said some students may assume that they already know what to expect from the new Spotlight Programs Board.
“One challenge I think we will have is people taking their preconceived notions of both Campus Events and Spotlight Programs Board as they currently exist and not giving the new Spotlight a chance because they ‘know’ what it’s about,” she said.
Spotlight Programs Board has been hosting programs and events for Georgia State students since the 1990s. Spotlight events currently include monthly Panther Prowls, amateur open mic nights, and football tailgates. Spotlight also operates the Cinefest film theatre.
However, Campus Events was created during the 2008-2009 academic year and has since been responsible for hosting community-oriented programs, such as Georgia State Nights at Woodruff Arts Center, Atlanta Botanical Garden and the recently held Georgia State Night at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.
In the past, the two organizations have collaborated on larger University events, such as the annual Pantherpalooza concert.