It’s no secret that in a post-COVID-19 world, campus community and school spirit have become more challenging to build. As more students started to enroll in online classes (even upon their return to campus), they became less active participants in on-campus events and other engagement opportunities.
In that environment, building a stronger campus community is more important than ever. Student engagement in events and other on-campus activities can no longer be taken for granted. Instead, offices around campus have to take an active role in building both awareness and engagement at these events to help their students succeed.
Studies have shown that students who are more involved in college are more likely to succeed academically. They also become more hireable in the eyes of employers. From the university’s perspective, stronger campus communities not only help students succeed but also become a selling point, with campus life still among the top reasons why students choose one college over another.
Against that backdrop, you need a strong event infrastructure that not only ensures the success of individual events but also creates a larger strategy designed to get each event in the best possible shape to be a success for everyone involved. To get there, you need the right tools for student events to be successful.
Building a stronger campus community through your events ecosystem isn’t possible without the three ingredients of people, access, and calendars. Let’s dive in.
Ingredient 1: People (Event Organizers, Hosts, and Managers)
The success of any event depends on the people who organize it. Unfortunately, it’s also where many campus events fall apart. That’s because you will likely need multiple people in the organizational chain. But finding qualified people willing to spend their time is not always easy. Every successful event needs:
- A point person for organizing the event: Responsibilities would include taking care of all the logistics like reserving the space, ordering food, etc.
- A point person for event promotions, which we’ll discuss in more detail below
- An event host, ideally one that students are familiar with and comfortable with: They will become the face of the event from the school’s perspective.
- Event managers: They help ensure that the event goes smoothly as it is happening, from setting up tables to welcoming attendees or providing attendance vouchers.
Not every one of these roles has to be filled by a different person. But all of them are important for an event’s success. It’s the only way to ensure the event runs smoothly, attracts enough students, and contributes to a stronger campus community.
For your larger event ecosystem, that means having people on hand to fill each of these roles for your events. That may fall to your student affairs team, who can keep a running list of individuals who might make good hosts, organizers, etc. It might also mean involving your marketing team in promotions.
Choosing Your Organizers Carefully
Of course, the exact people you choose to be organizers, hosts, and managers also matter. Students, faculty, staff, and even members of the larger community can all help. The key is finding the right people to fill these roles, then training them on their responsibilities enough that each of them feels comfortable in their role each time the school hosts an event.
Finally, diversity is key in taking this step. Your students are likely a diverse group of ethnicities, genders, and other factors, and they expect your events to reflect their interests and desires. A more diverse group of people in charge of these events can bring different ideas to the table. This builds a stronger event ecosystem in the process.
Ingredient 2: Access to Information
If an event happens on campus and nobody knows about it, did it really happen? Even the best events will not create a stronger campus community if no one attends. But your audience will only attend if they know all the details they need to know about them.
That means prioritizing information about your events in two ways:
- Create a central place where students know they’ll learn about all campus events relevant to them. It should also have all the information they need about each event to decide whether they want to attend.
- Use a robust promotional structure that pushes the word about each event out to the students, even when they don’t actively seek it out in that central location.
Addressing the first point means working through a calendaring system that becomes your single source of truth for all campus events. You might share the information on social media, your website, your student portals, and via email. But the core of the information should always be visible and accurate within this central calendar.
Addressing the second means building out from that calendaring system. Promoting your event requires a multi-platform strategy. Share it on social media, feature it on the website, and send out emails to students who might be interested.
But that’s only the beginning. Word-of-mouth promotion remains a crucial tool; after all, 92% of today’s consumers believe recommendations from people they trust more than advertising.
For example, you can promote your events to faculty members, who can mention it in their classes if the topic is relevant to their curriculum. If you offer attendance vouchers for extra credits, that strategy works even better. Close collaboration with student groups, like your school’s student government association, can also pay dividends to drive student attendance for a stronger campus community.
Ingredient 3: A Robust Calendar Workflow
Finally, one of the most important tools for student events revolves around the calendaring workflow your school has in place.
That workflow begins with the central calendar system mentioned above. The more obvious and user-friendly it becomes for members of the campus community to enter their event, the better. No one hosting or organizing an event should have any confusion about the steps they need to take to get their event onto the platform.
From there, it’s about putting automated steps in place that turn the initial calendar entry into a web of information that can push out through multiple channels. For example, the central calendar might integrate with your website, featuring events that might interest the entire campus community on your homepage. Similar benefits apply when it links to your student portal or even your interactive campus map.
Despite your best efforts, not every event on campus will have enough people or resources behind it for manual promotion. But departments ranging from the alumni office to athletics, student affairs, and academic affairs all have a constant need to host and promote their events.
The Value of a Centralized Calendar Solution
The right calendaring workflow can serve all of these departments. If they know that posting their event within the central calendar will automatically push it out to all or most relevant channels, they become much more likely to do so. As a result, the central calendar becomes a more comprehensive and accurate tool for community members looking for what’s going on at your campus. This creates a cycle that benefits everyone involved.
However, keep in mind that this central calendar can only become one of your core tools for student events if it’s managed well. To truly leverage it with the goal of a stronger campus community, you need a centrally managed solution.
Without this centralized solution, the institution risks each group creating its own alternatives or using different systems. As a result, the benefits of the above-mentioned single source of truth for campus events go away. Your community doesn’t necessarily think of events as belonging to any specific area in the organizational chart. So people will find it more difficult to discover the events that interest them personally.
Leveraging Your Events Ecosystem for a Stronger Campus Community
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of a strong ecosystem of campus events, especially as everyone looks for a return to campus life normalcy post-COVID. Your prospective and current students, alums, and even your local community are all looking for things to do. It’s up to your school to provide those opportunities for them.
The time to create a strong infrastructure for your campus events is now. These three ingredients can help:
- Finding, training, and helping the people who organize your events to ensure consistency, quality, and a steady stream of happenings
- Easy access to accurate information for any of your audience interested in learning what’s going on around campus and how they can participate
- A robust and centralized calendaring workflow that makes posting, promoting, and finding events easy for everyone involved
None of these ingredients are enough in isolation. Instead, they all work together to create the ecosystem your school and your students need.
The good news is this: with the right university events platform, you’re halfway there. The right central calendar platform can help you build a single source of truth. It can also help you create a workflow that integrates with relevant channels.
In other words, Localist and Concept3D can help. Ready to learn more? Contact us to learn more about it today.