UW-River Falls is known as a “suitcase campus,” although Student Life is planning events throughout the year to encourage students to stay here over the weekends.
The University is known as a “suitcase campus” because students who attend frequently choose to return home on weekends. However, in the past the Office of Student Life has offered a wide variety of programs so students have something to do besides going home.
According to Office of Student Life Event Coordinator Karyn Wells, some of the events that Student Life has planned in the past include: open mic nights, bingo, comedians, mentalists, hypnotists and other performance groups.
“We make an effort in the Office of Student Life to communicate with all departments in the Division of Student Affairs to make sure that we are offering a variety of programs on the weekends,” Wells said. For the remainder of the semester, weekends on campus will consist of more open mic nights, a film competition, a trip to the Minnesota Science Museum, a trip to the Como Zoo and Finals Fest.
Wells finds that more students attend events in the fall semester than the spring semester, “so we are sure to adapt our programming and offer less in the spring to best use student resources,” added Wells.
As far as attendance goes, Wells said that Student Life generally has a good turnout for the weekend programs and are almost at capacity for the open mic nights, RADD Jazz Swing Dance and Cabaret and the comedians. The bingo nights and other performances range from 50-200 people, but Wells said it depends on the weekend.
Overall, Wells said that the most popular events have been the comedians and the RADD Jazz Swing Dance. “This year we had almost 400 students attend the off-campus Union Depot Swing Dance event in St. Paul,” Wells said.
Students also tend to come out in numbers to events that occur at either the very beginning of the semester, as well as to celebrate or reward themselves at the end of the semester.
Even though not all students choose to go home on weekends, not everyone chooses to attend the events put on by Student Life either. Freshman Kristina O’Brien said that she doesn’t have a car and lives three hours away so she tends to be stuck on campus. However, she doesn’t always hear about a lot of the events that have been planned and she said that it also depends on if her friends are around to go with her.
“I don’t want to go by myself,” O’Brien said.
Junior Aeriana Culpitt finds herself in a similar situation.
Culpitt said that she attended more events at the beginning and end of her freshman year than she has this year.
She travels home once or twice a month, but it is hard for her to attend student events because of her school and work schedules. She added that she would attend a program if it were for a class, though.
In order to market the events that Student Life puts on, Wells said students are encouraged to like the department’s Facebook page, UWRF Student Life, and she said “they try to spread the word in the University Center with popcorn Fridays.”
Student Life also works with the rest of the Division of Student Affairs on the publication called “Falcon 411,” which is distributed to students via email.
“Falcon 411” provides more detailed information on upcoming events and programs. Posters, flyers and slides on the screens in the University Center are also ways Student Life gets the word out.
Wells said that the information is available, although students need to know they must take an active role in choosing to seek it out.