Large-Scale Event Planning

Last night, I hosted a collaborative event with another department, which was essentially a big tailgate + basketball game with a competitive aspect to see which living community could get the highest attendance. I’m going to use this platform to do a little public reflection (in #SAPro world we love reflection). Here’s my crash-course in the nitty-gritty of planning a campus-wide competitive & collaborative event in Residence Life:

  • Start planning way in advance, and ask questions from people who have been involved with the event [or similar events] before.
  • If you know this is an event that has been done in the past but have no materials from the previous years(s), ask for them.
  • If a colleague warns you not to put too much faith or energy into a person involved, trust their advice.
  • Work your hardest to make sure that everyone involved is fully bought in to the event. Give incentives and model “the hype” to ensure that the staff is excited to get their residents involved.
  • Know that regardless of how much you have planned, things will never go exactly as anticipated.
  • Be okay with the fact that not every aspect will go as anticipated.
  • Rely on your colleagues to vent a little about your frustrations, then use them to help reflect and brainstorm ways to make the event better in the future.
  • View every small misstep as a learning experience, and push yourself to do better next time.
  • Remember that when you see things going not-as-planned, there’s a pretty good chance the participants do not. Just take a breath and know that the event will be wildly successful to the outsiders.

For those reading this who attended, please know that the event *actually* was a huge success! I’m so lucky to have supportive colleagues and student-staff members who helped make this event great, and look forward to seeing how it builds on this campus in the future.

Als0- totally not rigged, but the community I work in WON and had the highest attendance, so that was a bonus.

Also- I got brought out in between 3rd and 4th quarter for an “alumni competition” sponsored by our conference and won $50… so that was also a plus.

Any other “bare-bones” pieces of advice for this type of venture? Let me know in the comments.


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