Wesleyan Activities Council (WAC) has responded to a recent focus by Student Affairs to provide more on campus events during the weekends by creating a new organization called Wesleyan on the Weekends.
Wesleyan on the Weekends, W.O.W. was the brainchild of Jake King, graduate assistant for WAC, and Ashley Jones, associate director of Residence Life.
“It was started essentially with an idea [Ashley] had about having more of a formalized organization to work on [improving weekend life],” King said.
W.O.W.’s strategy in filling the gap of weekend programming is to put planning in the student’s’ hands.
“We recognize that it’s kind of weird to start a student organization with two staff members,” Jones said.
It is Jones’ and King’s hope that after this initial process of reaching out to students and gauging interest, their role will decrease and they can become true advisers of W.O.W. For now, they are focused on building the necessary foundation with interested students.
The original pool of students that W.O.W. pulled from was Resident Assistants (RAs) due to accessibility and familiarity with programming. RAs are now bringing their residents and other interested students, expanding the student demographic of the organization.
“Our biggest thing is that students here feel like they are able to join W.O.W.,“ Jones said.
Interest meetings are held every Friday at 3 p.m. in Batten 228 to provide students the opportunity to join, as well as express programs they are interested in seeing happen on campus.
“We want to make sure we’re doing quality events, and not just a whole host of quantity events,” Jones said.
W.O.W. is not only seeking to simply provide more events, but to create memories and traditions that will allow students to feel like they are at home.
With an apparent decrease in traditional Virginia Wesleyan events, such as the painting of the Adirondack chairs by the freshman class, Jones and King are hoping to find events that students can walk away from hoping to do again.
“Expect to see two programs from WAC pretty much every single week,”
—Jake King, graduate assistant for WAC
W.O.W. has already hosted one successful event this semester during the second weekend – gutter splits. Over 60 students came to make their own ice cream sundae using ingredients waiting in a gutter. Space Jam played nearby so that students could stay and relax instead of getting their ice cream and leaving.
Although W.O.W. is an organization that was specifically created this year to begin responding to the need for more weekend events, many other organizations have prepared to step in as well. Residence Life and the Office of Student Activities, through WAC, amped up their focus on weekend programming over the summer.
King has witnessed how WAC has responded to this school-wide change in regards to weekend life. This year, WAC will host a weekend event every weekend, in addition to programming during the week.
“Expect to see two programs from WAC pretty much every single week,” King said.
Residence Life has also adjusted to this change, with a new focus during training on providing well-rounded program events. Overall, no across-the-board expectations have been set, but instead are established by the individual village staffs.
“We want to focus a lot on programming throughout, so we’re not just programming for our first-year students” Jones said.
This focus on programming goes far beyond simply providing events, but catering them to the residents’ needs.
Gabrielle Freese, senior Village I RA, is striving to help her residents become acclimated to the whole campus.
“I’ve heard students ask, ‘Where is Village IV?’” Freese said.
Freese has experienced the change from last year to this year in Residence Life.
“There is a bigger push for large-scale, weekend programming,” Freese said.
In order to make programs more “large-scale,” RAs are encouraged to make the programs encompass the entire campus or to involve Rec-X.
With so many groups seeking to provide more events, there is increased opportunity for co-sponsorship. Jones saw this co-sponsorship in action during a recent Village I Residence Life event. The RAs hosted a Quidditch program for their residents and requested W.O.W.’s help in order to provide extra help.
W.O.W. is also looking forward to various clubs taking advantage of co-sponsorship opportunities at their events.
“If we see that a club or organization fills a need or fits an event that we’re doing, we’ll contact them,” said King.
They have started contacting other clubs seeking interest in manning a booth during their upcoming Fall Fest, which will take place during the last weekend of October.
Whether it’s a brand new formalized organization or long-standing offices on campus, the campus-wide focus on increased weekend programming appears to be unifying a variety of clubs, organizations and students. If the focus persists, new traditions and exciting, creative events could be on the horizon.