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New Programming Board Aims To Fill Gap Left by Dissolved SCC

By Jennifer Lane
News Editor

The Campus Activities Complex Programming Board has risen to replace the Student Center Committee, which elected to cease to exist at the end of last year amid financial difficulties and dwindling student interest.

The board is striving to provide programs and activities that will bring students together and promote interaction between student groups and all members of the MIT community, said Phillip J. Walsh, director of the CAC.

"Hopefully, we can make things happen," said Ted E. Johnson, assistant director for programs in the CAC.

The SCC ran the 24-Hour Coffee House and the SCC Gameroom. It also organized the MIT College Bowl and ran postering services as well as events like Strat's Rat, Battle of the Bands, Spring Weekend, and comedy nights.

Last year, SCC's membership had dwindled to around 10 and all but about five of those graduated, Walsh said. That fact - combined with dwindling attendance at large events like Spring Weekend and overwhelming administrative and financial difficulties in running things like the Coffeehouse - caused the SCC to look to the CAC to take a more active role.

From discussions between the SCC and CAC dating back to last January, the Programming Board was born. It divided into five committees each responsible for a different aspect of the Board's activities.

There are currently ten students on the Programming Board, and Rick Gresh, now graduate assistant for programs of CAC, was hired early this term to help the Board get off the ground, Walsh said.

Halloween Hauntings goes well

The first major Programming Board-sponsored activity was last week's Halloween Hauntings in the Student Center.

The Board decorated the Student Center for Halloween and advertised various seasonal events, which they hoped would "give a heartbeat and life to the Student Center," Johnson said.

Roughly 100 pumpkins were decorated, and 25 students left their pumpkins to be judged in a contest, Gresh said.

"To get students to just sit down and play and socialize that way is a big step,"Johnson said.

The Board also showed two Halloween-theme movies during the evening in Lobdell. While large numbers of students flowed in and out of events all day, roughly 25 stayed through the movies, Gresh said.

Board wants to work with groups

The Board hopes to be able to work with a lot of student groups and encourage joint events, Gresh said.

The Board was involved with the Lecture Series Committee earlier this term to sponsor LSC's free Registration Day movie, Rumble In the Bronx.

The Board also exchanged publicity with the Concert Band and their Halloween Concert in Lobby 7. "We tried to tie all the Halloween events together," Gresh said.

Plans are in the works to sponsor joint events with other groups and with other portions of the community, Gresh said.

"Our goal is to work together with students and faculty and staff," said Afsheen A. Zuberi '99, general secretary of the Programming Board.

For instance, Katherine G. O'Dair, associate dean for residence and campus activities, has been working with the Board to bring them more into contact with the Dean's Office, Walsh said.

The Board hopes to sponsor several events with Medlinks on Valentine's Day.

One incentive for groups to plan joint events or to work through the Board is that "no one has enough money to do anything" themselves, Johnson said.

Board will promote socializing

Students identify closely with their living groups but rarely get together outside that, Johnson said. "There are too many compartments."

"The concept of a student union is to bring the community together," Gresh said, and that is what the Board will attempt to do.

A big concern on undergraduates' minds seems to be time, Walsh said. By sponsoring small events that happen regularly - as opposed to large events that take excessive time and energy to plan and attend - the Board hopes to get higher attendance, Gresh said.

The Board, while focusing on the Student Center, may plan activities in Kresge Auditorium, Walker Memorial, outdoor areas, or even the MIT Chapel, Johnson said.

Hopefully, events in all of these areas will reinforce the feeling of a community on campus, he said.

"We're taking a long-range perspective on this. There's a lot of opportunities for students to become peer resources" by returning to their respective student groups and promoting activities, Walsh said.

"It's hard for students to know where to go to get something done," Walsh said. Hopefully the Board will be able to solve that problem and bring good student ideas to fruition, he said.