Student-run SUPA sponsors educational events

Joanna Dornfeld

Students eating at the St. Paul Student Center Terrace Cafe on Wednesday got a taste of more than just french fries and ice cream.

They got lunchtime tunes from pianist Skott Freedman.

“This right here is great,” Firooz Basri, a senior forest production marketing major, said about the concert. “Escape – get away from the rest of the day to day hectic schedule.”

The Student Unions Programs and Activities board sponsors the weekly noontime concert series. And the series is just one of about 535 programs the board sponsors every year.

About 45,750 students attend the events each year, officials said.

In spring 2000, the Coffman Program Council and the Programs and Activities Committee for the St. Paul Student Center combined forces to create SUPA.

By combining the two groups, the board feels it will provide better services to students because it will be able to draw from more resources.

“Everything was done more efficiently – better use of resources,” said Lisa Solomon, communications manager for Twin Cities Student Unions.

SUPA has a $364,000 operating budget for 2001-02. The money comes out of University student fees. People pay for specific events only so the board can cover costs.

“We set a goal for ourselves at one of our retreats … for every dollar we spend to reach one student,” said Johnna Anderson, SUPA president and a women’s studies and public health major.

SUPA provides events through its nine affinity groups for a variety of student interests. The groups sponsor events including Spring Jam, the Roxy Film Series and the upcoming Korean Tea Ceremony.

“Our goal is to provide safe, educational programs that offer recreation for students,” Solomon said.

The board is working out of the St. Paul Student Center until Coffman Union reopens, though some programs will still happen on the Minneapolis campus.

“Our programs are more than just a building,” Solomon said. “We’re trying to have a Minneapolis presence. It just so happens that our headquarters are in St. Paul.”

SUPA is led primarily by students who work in conjunction with a few advisors. Each spring, the board president and advisers select new committee chairs for the following year. It is a one-year appointment. The committee heads earn about a $700 stipend for the year.

The board provides a great opportunity for students to network, gain leadership skills and learn event planning, Anderson said.

The board also relies heavily on volunteers to staff its larger events. In the course of the year, about 200 students volunteer for SUPA events. Anderson said volunteering grooms students for leadership positions in later years.

“Volunteers are really important to us because we plan some pretty big events,” said Siri Sorensen, SUPA’s performing arts committee head.

 

Joanna Dornfeld welcomes comments at [email protected]