Diversity in campus activities: Suffolk University attends the NACA conference

HARTFORD, Conn.–Suffolk University’s Program Council spent last weekend at the National Association for Campus Activities regional conference (NACA) held at the Connecticut Convention Center.  Campus activity groups from hundreds of universities all across New England attended the conference to gain ideas and opportunities for booking entertainers to come to their schools.

n1239660106_30070991_4548.jpgStudents gathered in a comfortable, enjoyable atmosphere to learn from each other, meet new friends from other schools and grow deeper bonds with their fellow students.  Musicians, spoken word artists, comedians, magicians, celebrities, lecturers and more had the opportunity to showcase their talents for the students attending.

This was an opportunity for Suffolk University’s Program Council students to review a multitude of performers for possible bookings at their campus, located in downtown Boston, Mass.  Program Council is a campus organization that plans events for the student community and the ticketed programs to outside shows or sports games have been the most successful for them this year.  Attending the NACA conference allowed the members to learn more about campus entertainment options.

“We were able to get fresh ideas of what’s out on the market,” said Brian Martineau, the campus life chair on Program Council’s executive board.  “It gets our creative juices rolling.”

Cassandra Rondazzo, a student at the University of Maine at Farmington, attended the conference with her school’s student activity group, “Beaver Productions.”  Their focus for attending was based more on the financial aspects of campus performers.

“We want to book people cheaper than we would on our own,” explained Rondazzo.

Whether the schools present at the conference wanted cheaper bookings or new ideas, all were there to experience and learn in a fun and relaxed atmosphere.  The conference began on Thursday, Nov. 6 and finished late Saturday evening.  Each day was crammed with many different sessions, lasting until the wee hours of the night.  Mornings were spent attending educational sessions to teach the students new ways of recruiting, managing, planning and building techniques for their campus’s organizations.  The rest of the day was comprised of showcases and marketplaces.  Showcases allowed entertainers of all shapes and sizes to illustrate their talent within a 15-minute block.  Marketplaces provided a time to visit the performer’s booths for information about costs, booking and contact information.  Many of the students walked out with free CDs, DVDs, shirts, flyers and an array of novelty items given out by the performers to lure students into booking them for their campuses.

Diversity at NACA: Matt Glowacki

The performers at the NACA conference also sent one message: the importance of diversity.  Spoken word artists, event speakers and comedians all strived to convey the significance of diversity and all had very different means of doing so.  Event speaker Matt Glowacki explained his connection to diversity and its importance.  Glowacki was born a healthy baby boy in 1973, but surprisingly he didn’t have legs.  Through his childhood, he was raised as a normal young boy without any restrictions to his abilities.  After graduation from the University of Wisconsin Whitewater, Glowacki struggled with his calling in life.

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“I got fired from two jobs and had always loved public speaking,” explained Glowacki.  “I decided to go to schools around Minnesota [his residence at that time] and said, ‘Hi, my name’s Matt.   I don’t have legs and I want to speak with your students.’ ”

From then on, Glowacki traveled to schools all around the country giving lectures on topics such as diversity, disabilities, and prejudices.  His NACA lecture, “Diversity According to South Park and Family Guy,” explored the educational benefits these two animated comedies contain.  He explained that the average families spend less than seven minutes interacting about meaningful issues, while the average high school/college undergraduate student spends seven hours a day watching television.  Through this lecture, Glowacki dissected the two cartoons and the lessons they teach about stereotypes, diversity, and behavior regarding people’s differences.

“Looking around and pointing out all of the different races is not diversity,” explained Glowacki.  “It’s when you learn from those people.  That’s when you can call it diversity.”

Glowacki ultimately encourages students to view life with a fresh outlook.  He believes that open hearts and open minds are crucial in order to eliminate racial and disability discrimination.  Glowacki proudly stated that his career was something he enjoys doing and is rewarded every single day.

“People come up to me, shake my hand, and say, ‘Thank you for changing my life,’ ” said Glowacki.

NACA’s goal of educating and creating successful business and networking opportunities was fully reached during this regional conference.  Students from across New England walked away with memories, new events for their schools, and stronger relationships.  For the future, Suffolk University students may have the opportunity to attend a performance that was showcased at the NACA conference.  Martineau, of Suffolk’s Program Council, has a new outlook for the campus activities organization.

“We’ve gotten great creative ideas.  We’re going to strive to program for other students, not for ourselves [on the executive board] to incorporate the Suffolk community in our events.”

For more information regarding Suffolk University’s Program Council please use the following contact:

Andy Dolan, president of Program Council: ADolan47@gmail.com

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