This past weekend, eight members of SGA traveled to Boston, Mass. for the 2014 National Association for Campus Activities NACA Convention.
The convention serves as a medium for students around the country to connect with and book big-name acts, such as comedians, hypnotists and musicians, who will visit their colleges during the following year. The convention began last Saturday, and SGA members returned to the Hill the following Tuesday.
“It was a really good networking piece for all these different talent agencies, but also a really good piece for the SGA members in the middle of their leadership,” said Nickolaus Stumo-Langer ’15, who serves on both ADC and SAC. SGA sent representatives from the Music Entertainment Committee MEC, the After Dark Committee ADC, the Student Activities Committee SAC and the Political Awareness Committee PAC. Most representatives were sophomores and juniors who will be returning next year to help plan the events.
According to Stumo-Langer, SGA relies on student feedback from past events to discern which ones would be worthwhile. No official decisions have been made yet about which acts will be booked for next year, but the selections ultimately come down to what SGA thinks will be best for St. Olaf students.
“We don’t want to get stuff because we like it, we like to get acts because they’re right for St. Olaf,” Stumo-Langer said.
The convention consisted of three main events. These included the showcase, where musicians and other acts performed for students. Next was the marketplace, which one attendee described as similar to walking down a storefront with various services and talent agencies waiting to connect with students. The final piece was an education session, where students attended presentations on topics like leadership and advertising.
Event booking for SGA goes beyond traditional entertainment acts like musicians and hypnotists. Rachel Palermo ’15, another of the SGA members who attended the conference, recalls attending snippets from lecturers who speak around the country.
“There was a wide variety of people talking about really amazing topics that Oles would be interested in,” Palermo said.
A number of acts also stood out for Stumo-Langer. He remembers seeing a comedy duo that has appeared on VH1 and Comedy Central. Mary Lambert, featured on Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “Same Love,” also appeared at the convention.
“She is phenomenal live,” Stumo-Langer said.
As a member of ADC, Stumo-Langer spent a fair amount of the time at the convention representing his own committee and deciding how the acts he saw fit into St. Olaf night life. He focused on comedians whose acts contained more explicit material, or hypnotists he considered to be more “scary.”
“Getting a feel for our respective committees was really interesting in this light,” he said.
Several attendees also expressed appreciation for being able to meet other college students from around the country who share their interests in student leadership.
“Seeing all that across-the-board passion for student government and hearing everyone’s story about how their own versions of SGA work was a big benefit,” SGA member John Bruer ’16 said.
Bruer noted that a major advantage of the convention is the opportunity for block booking, which allows college students in nearby locations to book an act during a similar time period for a steeply discounted price.
SGA sends students to the national NACA convention every few years and to the regional convention in St. Paul every year. However, the national convention happens on a larger scale and puts more emphasis on student training and leadership.
Palermo explained how valuable the NACA convention was for developing leadership skills and meeting students from other colleges who are interested in student government.
“You go all excited about student government and come back even more excited,” she said.