Questions for the Coordinator, Sabrina Houck
What was different about this year’s AS Fall Info Fair?
Every year is a different year because we have a new group of students on campus with new ideas and energy! But this year was particularly different because of school starting on Thursday instead of Wednesday. Typically the AS Info Fair is on the Monday and Tuesday before classes, and it is the kickoff event for campus. Tuesday night before classes start is when campus has their First year Convocation on old main lawn. Upperclassman, staff, faculty and community members come to welcome the new members to the university and at the end there are fireworks. Because of those fireworks Old Main lawn is reserved all of Tuesday to set up. This year, there was an extra day, leaving old main lawn available for Monday and Tuesday. There had been some talk in previous years about how to expand if needed, and giving each area the space they need. Seeing how Carver is under construction, we could not push the AS Info Fair towards south campus, but we could expand onto the lawn. This year we took advantage of that and collaborated with some other areas on campus to make it a great Info Fair! We decided to put the Sports Clubs on Old Main lawn and that allowed them to bring their whole team, boats, equipment, and the ability to play some of the sports on the field. We also changed where the WTA information bus was located because of Carver, and we put it next to the WTA stop next to Haggard, which turned out to be a wonderful move because students got their bus passes and then got to take advantage of the WTA tours. Overall, it turned out to be a great event.
What was your experience coordinating?
Before I entered this position and took on the AS Info Fair, I was on a committee that planned and implemented the Huxley College Graduation Celebration for 4 years. This included selling merchandize for the costs, budgeting, picking the speakers and the flow of the graduation, writing the script, making reservations and prepping everything day of. I had not dealt with the level of this event before, but now I have two Info Fair’s under my belt and ready for the third!
What seemed to be the students’ reactions (namely new students)?
Another new thing this year was we had a survey and asked students why they were coming to the Info Fair. From that we got to see a small amount of students reactions. Although we can’t capture only new students, overall students really enjoyed the event. It’s a way to get information out to students that there are clubs, organizations, and office on campus they can engage in and there are organizations and businesses off campus that students can learn about. We strive for a good mix of fun and information sharing. This is the first time students get together after summer break, so bringing energy and information to everyone is key. What we did find out about is that there are groups in the community that bring high school students to campus during that time in order for them to see a “glimpse of college life” and to get information. We also found that there were a lot of community members who come to learn about Western during that time. Although new students are our key group to get information out to, it really has become a community event.
What were some highlights from the groups that were tabling?
Being one of the staff members for this event, my main job was to make sure everyone was being safe and following the rules, so I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked to enjoy a lot of the tables. But I do remember one highlight of the Info Fair, the Outdoor Center. We had two information booths set up on both sides, and part of the Fall Kickoff week the Outdoor Center was doing free outdoor events and people could sign up for them during the Fall Info Fair. Well I remember by the second day students had heard about it, and kept asking where to go. Eventually we had Outdoor Center students come over and inform us that they had filled up everything! Other than that, there was free Rootbeer floats, wonderful performances, and lots of information given out.
What are best practices in organizing an event like this?
Well first off it would be understanding the main focus of the event. This is the Associated Students Information Fair, and its main purpose is for getting information and resources out to students. On another note, it’s an event the whole community to enjoy and it represents Western Washington University and Bellingham. There is an Information Fair Committee which is made up of students and staff members and we bring those focuses into our discussion on how we want the fair to look, feel, and run.
Another reason we created the survey was to make sure we are being as accessible to all people. That means physically accessible; did we set the tables up for all people to get to? Accessibility to information; is the fair laid out in a manner that would make sense. Also to mitigate anything we could have overlooked by having student staff engaging with the attendees to get them to the table they are looking for.
Another best practice for me would be to make sure you have a solid answer to questions when people ask “why do you___” And have that answer have a clear understandable reason behind it. That was a main focus of mine and we still have more work to do on that as a committee. Some of it is me only having two years’ experience working with this event. I want to make sure as a committee we are following guidelines that are set in the most ethical manner. I want to make sure it is shaped to fit everyone’s needs.
Another best practice is to collaborate when possible. For example this year we met with Clark Cripps, the Assistant Director for Club Sports, and discussed their needs and desires for the fair. We shaped that into our plan and it turned out great. It was also another person to bring to the table to get their insights. The committee can’t possibly know all of the views of people on campus, so it’s great to bring some of those people into the conversation.
And lastly, it will never go to plan and that’s okay. Things will always change day of, so be prepared to not be prepared.
This section highlights the "best practices" of individual staff within the DOS/AS in interview form.
Want to see what else is happening in the DOS Unit? Take a look!
Employees of the DOS
Recognition & Awards