Welcome Back and the Weekend!

A warm official welcome to our new freshman class! We hope you enjoy your journey at Bard. Welcome back to our returners! We hope you’re as happy to be back as we are to have you. Welcome Back Weekend kicks off with Manor Party at 10PM on Friday, September 6th featuring O-Face and DJ Serg. On Saturday, September 7th there will also be Outdoor Games and Vendors on the Campus Center Quad 3-7PM; a BBQ from 5-7PM and then an Outdoor Movie at 9PM.

Both old and new club heads are required to register their club at http://inside.bard.edu/studentactivities/sparc/form/logon.php before 6PM on Friday, September 6th and also attend club head day on September 7th at 11AM in the MPR in order to qualify to have an active club for the semester. Remember to do both steps or you won’t be able to get a budget!

Budget Proposals are due on Sept. 12th by 11PM or else your club will be stuck with a penny budget which can’t buy much!

The new SPARC hours for the semester are:

Mondays: 12:00 – 6:00 PM

Tuesdays: 3:00 – 9:00 PM

Wednesdays: 10:00 – 6:00 PM

Thursdays: 3:00 – 7:00 PM

Fridays: 10:00 am -1:30PM and 2:30 – 6:00PM

We will be continuing our Club Spotlights so if you want your club to be featured just send an email to SPARC at sparcatbard@gmail.com with the subject line “Spotlight My Club”. For more details on a club spotlight feel free to check out previous club spotlights on our blog. Club Spotlights can serve as a way to publicize your club by letting others know some awesome things you have planned for the semester or a cool event you will be hosting.

More next time! Have a great Welcome Back Weekend!

Oh, The Great Outdoors

The birds are chirping, the bees are buzzing, this can mean only one thing: it’s finally SPRING!!!

Now that it is starting to warm up, we can move our events OUTSIDE! We have already seen some awesome events outside such as Funki Parti and Farm Fest, both on Ludlow Lawn! But did you know that there are even more places to have outdoor events on campus? You could host a party on the field behind Manor, on the Campus Center Quad, or even in the Village Walkway. You could have a bonfire in the community garden or in the meditation garden. The Stone Row Quad is a great place for a BBQ or for moving a Root Cellar band outside. There are so many great locations to host your events! Just come into SPARC and we can help you plan it!

You only have two more days to book an event this semester (May 6th and May 7th), but don’t forget that outdoors events are a great way to kick off the new school year in Fall!

Club Spotlight: LASO

Maria Hoz has been involved in LASO (Latin American Student Organization) since last year, but this year is her first time as a club head.

“I was really nervous at first,” Maria said. “I wasn’t sure how that [being a club head] worked and what it meant, but I was really excited to actually do things and put things together and see them come through.”

Maria’s co-head, Victoria Prince, is also a first time club head. Together they have been paving their own path. Maria hadn’t expected to be a club head this year. She first ran for the advertising/publicity position, but when she was voted as a new club head, she decided to go with it.

“Last semester I had Amaya [as club head]. And then she dropped because of senior project and all that. I had her to show me the ropes and show me how to do things, and then this semester me and Victoria have just been like, ‘Ok let’s do this because we’re both new and we both have ideas.’ And it’s been going really well.”

Although Maria wasn’t an active member of LASO until her sophomore year, she first heard about the club as a freshman. Maria knew the then LASO club head Katherine Garzon through BEOP. Katherine would often talk about all the exciting events and dances she was planning. When Maria asked her why she always seemed to be working on events, Katherine invited her to join a couple meetings.

“She said ‘Well, it’s for LASO,’ and then, ‘You guys should come to the meetings!’ So I started going to a couple meetings and it was really interesting. And I was like, ‘Huh, this is really interesting,’ because the things that we talked about weren’t just things pertaining to Hispanics or people of Hispanic or Spanish descent or however you want to label it. We were talking about all kinds of things that define identity and what it means to be Latino and how people define that and all these things.”

Katherine’s work with LASO inspired Maria. Katherine’s enthusiastic energy and effort to incorporate the entire community and not just the handful of people who came to the meetings helped to create a place of belonging in Maria’s freshman year. Katherine made planning events for LASO look fun, and Maria decided that was something she wanted to do. Now, two years later, Maria is facing the challenges of being a club head herself–and she’s having a blast.

Maria says that’s due to a combination of a really great group and some really exciting events. Everyone in the club comes together to share ideas and opinions. Members have different ways of doing things, but they all hear each other out.

“It’s really nice to be in a group of people that are like ‘I think that’s a really good idea’ or ‘I don’t think that works so well because of xyz’ instead of like, just attacking each other for whatever reasons. I’m with a group of people that is willing to listen to each other and work together to achieve the same goal. So I think that’s definitely been good.”

One of the things the group has been working together on is establishing new traditions. This week has been the first year LASO has hosted La Semana Latina. For the first week in April, LASO, ISO (International Student Organization), and the LAIS Department have been collaborating to host a series of events. It started with a student poetry reading in the Olin Auditorium on Monday with Juno Diaz and will end tonight with the Latin Dance Festival at 8pm in the MPR.

Maria is especially excited for the Latin Dance Festival. The show involves the Latin Dance Club, Salsa Club, Tango Club, and Samba School. There will be dancing and lessons, music and food, and it’s going to be epically fun.

“We’ve all been working really, really hard to put the performances together, and putting things together. We got the food order… and we’re hoping this will turn out really well.”

The idea started when some of the club officers who are also in the Latin Dance Club proposed setting up a show. But they didn’t want to do it all by themselves because they represent a very small portion of Latin America. So LASO invited the Tango Club to join and Samba School will be representing all sorts of music from all over. Maria likes the idea of bringing together music and dance to energize the whole Bard community.

These dances are going to be beautiful. If you aren’t excited, you’re wrong!

“We’ve noticed in the past when doing club fair day, or like the big health-related events [such as Body Fest or Bard-on], when you play music and you get people involved, the environment changes entirely and you get more alive and more involved. That’s definitely what got us to be like, ‘We should do this and we should include people from other clubs.’ Because when you provide music you give people an incentive to come out and do things, and it just makes everything happier. And it’s spring, people should be happy.”

LASO’s next event is on April 12th. They will be participating in the Global Festival with ISO.

“That will be really fun,” said Maria. “We’re putting together a PowerPoint of all the Latin countries and a little bit about what makes each of them so special.”

Anyone interested in getting involved, sharing ideas, or joining LASO are invited to join the weekly meetings on Wednesdays, 8pm-9pm. Most of the meetings are in Olin, but every other Wednesday LASO has Cafecito las Ocho in the Red Room (second floor Campus Center). All are welcome to come and talk and share ideas. If you are interested in helping plan an event or hosting one to prepare for being club head next year, Maria invites you to just come by or email her directly (Maria Hoz through Bard Mail).

Club Spotlight: SMOG

Near the end of last semester, I met with Preston Ossman and Zachary Taulp. They are two of the club heads of SMOG, along with Eve Alpert, Kasra Sarikhani, and Mebe Wilson. Being the most frequently used student space on campus and the only completely student run venue besides the Root Cellar, their job is mostly administrative.

“We’re essentially creating precautions to keep the space safe and keep the students safe,” Preston told me.

This is partly because in the past SMOG had trouble with doing just that. But since then, they have worked with administrators and students to keep SMOG a space where students can freely express their creativity and their love for music and art.

“Obviously a few years ago SMOG was on the verge of being shut down and nobody wanted that to happen,” said Zachary. “So once we got past that, we really established our legitimacy. Now is the time when we can really establish how great of a space we can be.”

The student body has a share in this, too. Both Zachary and Preston felt that people have the tendency to take SMOG for granted. There aren’t a lot of schools that have a similar space.

“I think SMOG is like a great space but it definitely gets trashed, and I’m sick of people being disrespectful to it,” said Preston.

But what makes SMOG so unique? Let us count the ways. It’s run by students, for students, and because the SMOG club heads work hard to fund and pair bands with students willing to host them, there’s an event at SMOG almost every night – and certainly every weekend.

It’s also the only place students are allowed to tag. Banned everywhere else on campus as vandalism, graffiti is just one of the ways SMOG celebrates Bard creativity. But, Zachary was quick to remind me, only on the inside. When people tag the outside of SMOG, B&G needs to take the cleaning fees out of the club’s funds, money that could be better spent revamping the space and funding bands.

Preston told me that even though SMOG has come a long way, there is still room to improve.

“I just want it to be reliable. And I want to be proud to bring bands there and have them play and have it sound good and have people enjoy it and have people stay,” he said. “I just know that some of my most amazing experiences at Bard have been at SMOG, just bringing, like, amazing music there and enjoying that music.”

It’s times like that, Zachary said, that really make him proud to be at Bard.

I asked them what they wished to see more of at SMOG.

“Performance,” said Zachary.

“Definitely performance,” said Preston.

Sometimes that does happen at SMOG. Occasionally seniors or moderating students will hold their shows in SMOG, but Preston and Zachary said would love to see more, especially since SMOG is essentially a black box theater… just with bad acoustics (something they’re working on this semester). But mostly what you see at SMOG are rock shows, and Preston and Zachary are eager to see more variety.

“It could be used for anything, students just have to be creative. And we want to encourage people to come to us and we want to be able to make that happen,” said Preston.

For instance, when the Surf and Skate club approached SMOG about building a skate ramp, SMOG was happy to work together with them. The two clubs have since built a strong friendship, and the skating community has been supportive and respectful.

But everyone can’t build structures in SMOG. There are other ways to use the space. If you can bear the cold, SMOG would be a great place to hold a movie screening.

SMOG is currently going through the slow process of improving the space, including acoustic foam and possible new lights. The updates won’t be cheap, but they both agreed that it will be worth it.

“I think if we invest more money into SMOG students will treat it with more respect,” Preston said.

At the same time, they’re making some improvements to their sound support.

“Right now I’m currently running a how to guide for our techs,” Said Zachary. “Even though we train them they still don’t always remember everything to do. So just to get a solid, steady line of audio techs who know what they’re doing and know how to trouble shoot. It’s very important–step one.”

Anyone wanting to be involved in SMOG, or who has a new idea on how to use the SMOG space can email smogbard@gmail.com.  And of course, if you’re planning to hold an event in SMOG, make sure to stop by the SPARC office (Room 218 in the Campus Center) to register!

Welcome Back, Spring Is A-Comin’!

Welcome back, everyone! It’s the start of the new semester and clubs are on their way to being full-fledged, registered, and budgeted! I hope you’re excited. I’m excited.

So, just a reminder for those of you who may be confused, budgets are due by 11pm (on the dot!) this Thursday. Once you’ve turned in your budget, make sure to drop by the Student Activities office to sign up for a budget defense timeslot. Remember, if you don’t attend budget defense, you’ll only get a penny, and there’s not much you can do with a penny.

Next week Club Fair will be on Wednesday, February 13 in the Campus Center. Make sure to get there early so you can grab a table! Pro note: by early, think 45 minutes to an hour early. Those tables fill up FAST.

Once you have your budgets, you’ll probably want to book some events. Just come in to the SPARC office (Campus Center second floor, room 218). **Make sure to bring a second event host so the registration process can go smoothly, and plan to be there for a possible 20 minutes.

Our hours this semester are:

Monday 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Tuesday 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Wednesday 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Thursday 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Friday 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Read more

5 Creative Ways to Use Up What’s Left of Your Budget

You can count the number of weeks left on one hand, but you have money left in your budget that you don’t know what to do with. You’re sure there’s something you can use it for, and anyway, there is still some time left before you have to transfer it all back to the convocation fun.

But what to use it on? It’s too late to plan a big party and at this point catering might be more trouble than it’s worth. Well, don’t worry, we’ve come up with a few ideas for you! These are by no means the only ways to use up the remainder of your budget, but they might help you come up with some ideas of your own.

1) Food Social

Everyone likes food, right? So why not grab some snacks, sweets, and drinks? But wait! Clubs can only buy food for open events, right? Yup, that’s right! Before you start planning a big party in the MPR (or, more likely, skip to number 2), you don’t need to host a large event for it to count! Why not host a small social or Q+A meeting? I’m sure there are people who haven’t heard of your club and are interested in learning more about who you are and what you do. All the yummy food you buy with your extra budget will draw some newcomers, too.

For an extra few dollars, you can have posters printed out advertising your event. If you design them yourself, they can be printed much faster! Stop by the SPARC office for the club printing card for anything black and white and 8.5” x 11”. If you design a poster in color or bigger than 8.5” x 11”, send a .pdf version to printing services at printjob@bard.edu. **Don’t forget to mention your club’s name and to cc student activities so we can charge your club’s budget! If you have questions about pricing, send SPARC and email or drop by our office.

2)  Interactive Crafts

Have you ever seen a club tabling in the Campus Center lobby? It’s super easy to do. All you need is a quick stop in the SPARC office to reserve a table at least a few days in advance. But no one is going to reserve a table without knowing what to do with it, right? Why not host some interactive crafts? Craft supplies can eat up money like nobody’s business, and once you have them, things like crayons, markers, and stamps can be used over and over. Giving people something to work on will encourage them to stop by your table, and they will probably be more interesting in hearing your club spiel (we all have one). Also, crafty things are just plain fun!

3) Games for All

Well, while we’re reverting to our childhood with Crayola art supplies, why not take a detour through toys and games? There are games that can relate to just about anything. Advertise your club meetings with a table of Barbies on strike or legos building an ancient fortress, or perhaps an entire table of rubix cubes. Maybe pair a night of playing Life with some social commentary on representations in popular games, or discuss the multifaceted complexities of international relations over puzzles. When you’re done, if you don’t want to keep them for later events (and really, who doesn’t want to keep toys for events?), donate them! They might not be as important as blankets for Sandy relief, but someone will appreciate a soft teddy bear to snuggle. And there are a multitude of other organizations locally and in NYC that would love some lightly-used toys. A quick google search will help you decide which ones to pick. Just make sure you buy the toys first for your club! Unless your club is specifically for Sandy relief, buying supplies to donate with club budget is actually a misuse of budget money.

4) Cards to decorate 

Got something to say? Want to hear the voices of the student body? Why not say it in cards? This overlaps with craft supplies I mentioned before, but hear me out. You can buy magazines and newspapers along with your colorful paper, stickers, and glitter glue to be cut up and used in cards. The cards themselves could be anything. Maybe they’re advertisements for an event you have coming up. Leave them around Kline and DTR, and they will draw more attention that the average slip-of-paper ad. Or perhaps they will be sent to friends and family with a themed message. Or maybe anyone coming to your table or events can make cards in response to a question you pose, and afterwards you will post them up in a wall display. The possibilities are endless.

5) Speaking of Wall Display…

How about a creative wall display? The theme doesn’t have to be anything spectacular – it could just be some information about your club or your club’s purpose (fun facts, anyone?). But hey, why not be creative and make it look extra spectacular? Why not pin up a string and hang colorful photos and snappy facts from it using clothespins? Or maybe buy some thin cardboard and reflective material for some hand-made mirrors? Make and decorate paper picture frames to highlight the images you use. There are all sorts of devices you can use to catch people’s attention. A quick stroll around any craft store is sure to give you an idea or two!

10 ways to beat the mid-semester slump

November is creeping up and you’ve got extra club money that you need to use. Or your one big party fell through and now you have nothing planned for the next two months. Or your meetings are getting smaller and smaller and you suspect no one is reading your emails.

Every club feels it: the mid-semester slump. There isn’t enough time to plan a big, expensive event (and in any case, most spaces have already been booked), but you really need something to put on the budget request come Spring. What’s a club to do? Read more

Club Spotlight: J Street U

J Street U is a national student club that advocates for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. It’s the university branch of J Street, a progressive lobby association on the hill that formed because of frustrations that other organizations were spending more time focusing on security issues than a two-state solution. Now, J Street U has groups in many universities across the nation.

Abby Lutsky and Sarah Stern are two of the three club heads of Bard’s J Street U group. With their third club head Jordan Cooper, they work together to facilitate discussion meetings and plan various types of events on campus. But both Abby and Sarah came to J Street U from different places. Read more

Club Spotlight: Pin-Up Appreciation Society

You may remember Galen from Bard LARPs. Along with her co-host Bella, she also runs the Pin-Up Appreciation Society. The two have been a tag team since the start of the semester, but that doesn’t mean they’re interested in all the same things. Bella’s interests lie mostly in pin-up while Galen tends to emphasize burlesque. As a result, the Pin-Up Appreciation Society is a mix of both: The name is Pin-Up, but the email is bardburlesque; they hold burlesque shows and sell pin-up calendars for fundraising.

“Where we find common ground is that we are a pro-beautiful, pro-being yourself and being beautiful group,” Galen explained. “We say that we’re pro-sex, but that’s not really it. It’s really pro-happiness and pro-contentment. It’s about being like, ‘you know what, whatever my body is it’s awesome and I’m gonna rock it.’ ” Read more

Club Spotlight: Bard LARPs

I talked to Galen Dorpalen, head of Bard LARPs, or as Galen said:

“I like calling it BLARPs. I think it’s hilarious as a name.”

For those of you who might not know, LARP stands for Live Action Role Play. It’s a combination of improvisation, play acting, and, sometimes, really awesome costumes.

Bard LARPs, or BLARPs, whichever you prefer, is starting its first semester at Bard. They’re looking to see where there is the most interest. But even among LARPing aficionados, that’s not an easy task. There are a lot of ways to have fun with LARPs, and a lot of things to run a LARP. Many people have strong opinions about what does and does not count as a LARP. The problem is finding a common ground that can speak to all shades of LARPers and generate common discussion. Read more