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The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Behind the scenes of SUA event planning

With numerous events throughout the year, Student Unions and Activity employees work to cater to students.
Image by Shalom Berhane
SUA has four committees that focus on planning different types of events.

The University of Minnesota’s Student Unions and Activities (SUA) hosts events, entertainment and opportunities for students to find community and connect on campus, but there is a lot more going on behind the scenes. 

With over 200 students employed annually, SUA works to provide students with events like trivia, bingo, line dancing and making tie blankets. 

According to Sydney Amundson, a second-year student, SUA has four different committees with their own subcommittees: Social, which has an array of events mostly aimed toward making new friends; Gamerooms, which includes trivia and bingo; Music Groups, which hosts concerts, open mic night and the Battle of the Bands in The Whole; and Homecoming and Spring Jam. 

Amundson works in Gamerooms and is the bingo host, planning the weekly Wednesday event. 

Like trivia, Amundson said bingo themes are planned the semester before and they work them into what prizes people would like. 

Amundson added they have a few regular theme ideas, like blankets or stuffed animals, but find it fun to come up with new themes relevant to pop culture moments. 

“We really try to center it around something that everyone will have access to and things that will bring community to anyone that wants to go to the event on campus because we know we have a very diverse campus and it’s important to make sure that everyone can be included in our events,” Amundson said. 

Calvin Hume, a second-year student and Gamerooms event planner, said planning events takes a lot of work, including communication and ensuring everything runs smoothly.

“There’s a lot of work, you know, that people might not see at our events, and I think that’s important to be recognized,” Hume said. 

Hume is the SUA trivia host, planning themes, prizes and questions for the weekly game night. He said the trivia themes are planned out the semester before and then the questions are written the week before the event. 

“We have ideas to make the trivia theme more engaging,” Hume said. “Like for Glee trivia, we rented a slushie machine, which was really fun. We’re always thinking of ways to make trivia more engaging and fun for the audience.” 

Hume said that for trivia, the most challenging aspect is finding the right balance between easy and challenging questions. 

“People are upset if it’s too easy, but they’re upset if it’s too hard,” Hume said. “So just trying to find the mix of the right questions.” 

Despite the challenges, Hume said his favorite part is the social aspect and getting to know the regulars who attend trivia every week. 

Even though both Hume and Amundson are hosts for regular events, Amundson said they also help and host other events. She added that the process for coming up with new events is a long one. 

“First we get the idea and then I have to send it to my supervisor, who sends it to another supervisor, who sends it to another supervisor, and they say we have to propose a date,” Amundson said.

Choosing a date for the event can be difficult as it cannot be on the same day as other events and, with four committees, Amundson said trying not to overlap is difficult. 

Ashley Kaser, the student events and entertainment program manager, said planning an event happens in different phases. 

Kaser said the first phase is brainstorming, where the team researches what is trending. She added that it might include looking at other events or seeing what students are into. 

The next phase is finding a date and figuring out how to make the event happen, Kaser said. She added that once there is a theme, students then figure out the activities, food and different elements of the event that need to be executed. 

“Once you have that, then it starts getting a lot more concrete,” Kaser said. “You start contracting with vendors or you start placing orders or solidifying those details with the vendors. It goes from this ideation into an actual concrete plan.” 

Kaser added that after the specifics of the event are planned, the marketing team gets involved to communicate the event with the student body. 

“Then it’s actually executing an event, and a lot of that people at our events probably see,” Kaser said. “But there’s certainly things where we’re there a couple of hours before the event getting everything set up, and then we’re there after the event making sure everything gets torn down.”

Hume said the group has been successful at not having any delays in events this year.

“It does take a lot of work,” Hume said. “There’s lots of communication between outside vendors or outside groups that myself and my co-workers, we are all doing constantly when we’re at work. Trying to make sure that everything goes on schedule is really important, and we’ve been really pretty successful not having any delays in our events this year.” 

Both Kaser and Amundson said SUA does a lot of feedback forms to make sure their events run smoothly in the future. 

Events that Kaser said she enjoyed throughout the year include Candy Land bingo, tie-blanket and unique bingo and trivia themes such as colors, drag bingo and Harry Potter. 

Amundson said her favorite events from the year were diamond painting, line dancing and trivia. 

Kaser said there are opportunities for students to get involved, whether that be through SUA jobs or volunteer opportunities. 

“We’ll start hiring again in August if people are looking to actually plan events, or we have our volunteer opportunity, which we call Gold Group, [which] is constantly open and people can sign up for that if they are interested in seeing behind the scenes and helping out with events,” Kaser said. 

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