The 2015 Big Event, in which Washburn students took to the streets to help local non-profit organizations, was successful in many of its goals but for some of the students who participated, the organization of the event failed to live up to expectations.
Some of the logistical issues experienced included volunteers being sent to sites other than the sites originally indicated, some had too many volunteers, some didn’t have enough volunteers and one didn’t receive any at all. Some sites didn’t get the right supplies and some didn’t get fed, but Washburn Student Government Association (WSGA) sees opportunity to learn and improve with communications and logistics in the future.
“We just had some issues logistically. For instance, at one point the bus drivers disappeared. I wasn’t too happy about that,” said Dalton Hane, this year’s Big Event service director.
“But we’ve planned for next year to assign people to be with the buses all day. Honestly so that we can communicate more easily and get people to sites faster and more efficiently,” Hane said.
Student Activities and Greek Life (SAGL) advised WSGA during the Big Event and provided further insight into the situation.
“I would say that this year was sort of an anomaly,” said Jessica Barraclough, director of SAGL.
“This is an event planned by students and so every year is going to be a new learning opportunity and it’s a great event for the community,” Barraclough said.
“The incoming community service director on student government already has plans in place to address some of the issues we faced this year so that, from a logistical standpoint there will be a little bit more organization and success for the event, for all that are involved,” Barraclough said.
Though there were issues, Hane feels that the current WSGA administration has learned from this year’s issues and he believes next year will be diferent.
“I think if we’ve learned anything it’s that there can never be too much preparation and we need to really analyze any event that we’re planning to make sure that we have every base covered. We need to make sure that bus drivers can’t go missing for half an hour. We need to make sure the food run is on time and that it is actually good food,” Hane explained, acknowlding the opportunity to improve the event for future volunteers.
“And I think above all else that we just really need to make sure that we pay attention to what students are looking for and what they want out of events like this,” Dalton said.
The Big Event happens yearly and is organized by WSGA and is supported with on-site coordination by the Learning in the Community (LinC) scholar/Bonner Leaders, the Leadership Institute and any other student organizations that wish to pledge their help.
For the last few years the partnership between the WSGA and Bonner has worked smoothly. However, this year many of the on-site coordinators had concerns with how the event was organized and implemented.
Barraclough emphasized the need for further cooporation between all organizations involved.
“I think that with Megan and her position with student government I think that we’ll be fine. We’ll partner with the Bonner program again and work with those students and I think on both sides we have to learn and tweak things every year —that’s a part of the student experience.”
Barraclough also wanted to emphasize the fact that the Big Event was an overall success and students shouldn’t take some logistical errors to mean that the event isn’t worth attending in the future.
“It’s a great way for our students to connect with different organizations in the community and learn a little bit more about giving back to Topeka.”
She also pointed out that sometimes students find a site they enjoy and stick with it.