Almost all UR students have seen the countless posters and emails advertising artists, speakers, comedians, or other entertainment events for the UR community. Have you ever wondered who chooses entertainers, how activities are selected, and how our spirit weekends are created? Then you may be interested in stopping by a meeting of the Student Programming Board (SPB).
SPB is a student organization on campus that is responsible for planning and running entertainment events. They work underneath Wilson Commons Student Activities to plan the four community weekends — Yellowjacket (September), Meliora (October), Winterfest (February), and Springfest (April). SPB plans and selects the musicians and speakers. Outside of the speakers, concerts, and weekends, they also plan Friday Night Live, a recurring show for students to come and enjoy music, poetry, comedy, and other live performances.
SPB has a sizable $300,000 SA-endowed budget to entertain the UR community — excluding the budget they have to select artists. For artists, as President Kerimar Nadal explained, SPB receives its funding from the College of Arts and Sciences. “[The artist] depends on how much [UR] can spare that year,” Nadal said. “Some years they spend more, some years they spend less.”
SPB is different from the Wilson Common Student Association. Both plan programming for the UR community, but SPB is an SA-funded student organization. While they work together from time to time to keep Rochester’s traditions alive, they are separate entities.
The artist selection process starts with a list generated by general members of SPB. At a general meeting, members will discuss who they think should be the artist for upcoming events. At the end of the discussions, SPB has a list of artists for future events.
That list gets whittled down based on factors like whether the artist does college shows, if they’re booked, and their price SPB works with an agent to contact the artists and with the University for the cost. Nadal emphasized that a student does not need to be a general member of SPB to be involved in the selection of artists. “If people want to participate in [SPB’s] decision-making process, all they really need to do is come to our general meetings, speak to us, or DM us on our social media,” Nadal said.
For events like Meliora Weekend’s speaker, SPB works with Alumni Relations. Alumni Relations and SPB will decide together on speakers and artists, to ensure that UR alumni attending Meliora Weekend feel included.
Speaker chair and junior Jennifer Jordahl shared some of the challenges of finding comedians for comedy shows, which occur during Meliora Weekend and Winterfest Weekend. “I think definitely just finding someone who is available, and that people will come see, has been tough at times, just because lots of comedians will not be touring or coming to campuses,” Jordahl explained. “So just finding people who are available, [who] will come here, and that is at our price point. People will always want really big comedian names but don’t realize how expensive they are.”
While SPB might not be able to get the biggest names in the business, they still manage to bring great talent to campus. ”We’ve gotten some really great comedians in the past, so we’ve upped our budget and we can get even better comedians this year,” Jordahl said. “We are really just trying to bring people to campus that are funny and interesting.”
Nadal and Jordhal encourage UR students to join SPB if they’re interested in the entertainment events at UR. They pointed out cool perks of the job, such as getting to know the artist or comedian before the general student body, and being able to get all the giveaway prizes each weekend. “SPB is a really amazing club because you get the behind the scenes access to a lot of different things, these Rochester traditions,” Jordahl said. “You get to have a say in what is going to happen in all of these weekends.”