GPB Defends Its Autonomy
Published: Monday, March 19, 2012
Updated: Monday, March 19, 2012 21:03
After reading and carefully considering the Student Life Report, I want to offer my commentary on the section that pertains to the Georgetown Program Board.
The recommendation to merge GPB and What’s After Dark is understandable. The mission statements of the two organizations are somewhat blurred; in the past, there has been overlap between the functions of WAD and GPB’s Late Night Committee in particular. We occasionally co-sponsor events.
WAD was created because the amount of late night programming desired by the university exceeded that assumed by existing student groups on campus. If GPB were to take on the programming that WAD is currently responsible for, it would affect the number of events that GPB’s nine current committees are able to offer.
The report recommends that this new organization collaborate with the Lecture Fund under a new advisory board. When I spoke with John Gwin, the current chair of the Lecture Fund, we were both hesitant to accept this idea. It is true that at some of our peer institutions, the program board handles lecture events — Georgetown is unique in the sense that these two boards remain separate entities. But, Georgetown is also unique in that it hosts a much larger number of lecturers than other schools. While we may need to increase dialogue and coordination between these two groups, they should not be merged.
The Student Life Report gives a rather accurate account of the challenges associated with concert planning. But perhaps the most significant problem encountered in spring 2011 was that the initial concert headliner withdrew its contract 29 days prior to the concert date. Frankly, I commend last year’s board for impressively handling this setback to put on a smoothly run show with Shwayze, Kevin Rudolf and Dev and the Cataracs.
I also noticed that at many points in the report, references were made to concerts in the plural sense. While the spring concert has become an annual tradition, GPB has never been able to guarantee a smaller concert in the fall. Given the funds available and the high cost of staging and lighting, it is difficult to secure an artist that is likely to bring out a significant portion of the student body and make the event worthwhile. Last year’s board made the decision to forgo the event for these reasons.
I do not understand the recommendation that proposes a concert fee as a means of improving future concerts. The way I see it, this is essentially equivalent to increasing ticket prices, except that it would also charge students that may not be interested in attending the concerts that GPB hosts. Students already saw a recent increase in the activity fee as a result of Student Activities Fee Endowment reform. We should question whether a larger portion of these funds should be allocated to concerts if that is where the undergraduate population is placing emphasis. Even though total expenditures on this year’s concert are somewhat higher than they have been in past years, we were still able to keep ticket prices at $20 for students.
Finally, GPB’s Executive Board is very conscious of matters relating to marketing and feedback — another issue raised in the report. We have expanded the use of our Facebook page, as well as other media outlets. Admittedly, GPB could improve its collection of feedback, although we have made progress in this area. Committee chairs are now required to complete event evaluation forms; we hope to release a general survey for undergraduates near the end of this semester.
We also see enormous potential in the ways that Hoyalink will allow us to more effectively reach out to students and other groups on campus.
Tyler Simpson is a junior in the College and the chair of the Georgetown Program Board.