Programming with the Student Ambassadors
Co-Pilots, Student Programming Board, Student Activities Board (SAB)—the groups that bring community and fun to the Santa Fe University of Art and Design campus have gone through many names and changes over the years. Just this past semester, Campus Life Coordinator Malcom Morgan facilitated a convergence of the Student Activities Board and Student Ambassadors Program to create a united, diverse programming experience for the students of SFUAD.
Morgan is also a SFUAD alumnus and was just as involved in campus activities during his student life. When he started the Ambassadors program at SFUAD, Morgan, Shelby Gray and Alexander Mazon were called Co-Pilots. They were the first three first student ambassadors through enrollment, where they worked most of the time, and then after he graduated they stayed Co-Pilots before changing to the Student Ambassadors, and the Student Programming Board became the Student Activities Board.
When Morgan joined the administrative ranks of Mouton Hall last semester, he saw that SAB was programming (planning events) every so often, but not as much as the two events per weekend requirement of his Co-Pilot and Student Programming Board days. So he started thinking. “I wanted to kind of bring that vibe back without overwhelming the students. There’s been a lot of change in curriculum for students here—this university’s a lot harder now, I won’t lie; there’s a lot more on your plates as students. So the SAB was doing what they could last semester, then I stepped in and I started programming as well, and as the semester was getting closer and closer to an end, there were a lot of efforts getting put in so many places. So I thought, how can I consolidate this and make it one strong, united front?”
So Morgan sat down with Director of Student Life Ryan Davis with an idea to dissolve SAB and absorb that group into the Student Ambassadors program to all program together. “The role of the Student Ambassadors Program is to kind of be like a Big Brother Big Sister mentor into college and to also enhance the student experience here just like Resident Assistants do. And if that’s going to be their role anyway, what I can do is make all of my leads program, and bring in Meg Colburn from SAB to be my fifth lead,” Morgan said.
After working on a model and finally deciding to program himself, along with Library Technician and fellow alumnus Keynan Johnson, and delegate to and with Executive Lead Ambassador Sabrina Martinez, a plan was set. Colburn would do one big event a month and the other ambassadors would do four other smaller events each per month that would hit different student populations. The goal is to appease students of varied interests: those who want to dance, those who write, those wanting to just play games, and even those who just want want to have a Saturday morning where they eat cereal and watch cartoons for five hours. “We try to make sure we hit everybody’s fun spark that they have,” Morgan says.
Digital Arts senior Sabrina Martinez, who has been a student ambassador for the past two years, does behind-the-scenes planning and keeps the group organized and on task. She is very enthused about the structural changes in the organization. “Before the two groups merged, the student ambassadors had a hard time running events because we didn’t have many members. With the merger and the increase in our numbers, we are now able to host more small and large events. Everything has been going great so far and I am excited for the future.”
Colburn, a theater major who had been with SAB since her first week at SFUAD, says that she and her team couldn’t be more excited by the group’s absorption into the Ambassadors program. She says that SAB had a lot of ups and downs, and that there was an almost constant shift in programming style since she started. “While it was very organized my freshman year, it wasn’t very fun. It was more work than play and it caused us to have a serious recruitment problem. My sophomore year it was a lot more fun, exciting and hands-on, so recruitment wasn’t a problem, but as soon as people realized it could be actual work at times, then came the retention problem. We could get new people every week but they would only stay for one event and then be gone.”
By the end of her sophomore year, Colburn was promoted to co-manager with another student who no longer attends the school. Things were finally running a bit more predictably and she had high hopes for the next school year. “Last semester, I feel, was the roughest one SAB had ever experienced. We were overwhelmed, overworked and understaffed. We needed a solution. Student Life bringing on Malcom Morgan was that solution. He brought a new level of organization and accountability. It was exactly what we needed. But more than that, he brought with him the idea of the century for SAB. A merger. So now, here we are.”
Morgan agrees about the amount of work the Ambassadors have to handle, but is always excited seeing the fruits of their labor. “I like to see people have fun. Like at the Super Bowl party that was my favorite part: watching everybody cheering and throwing stuff and upset and happy. Just to see the camaraderie that happens from the events, and seeing people out at the different events that I don’t normally see. And I see lots students around campus—I try to stop and talk to students who I don’t normally see attending events and ask them, ‘What are you looking for? What are you wanting?’” Morgan is encouraged by seeing students who he had not seen at any events in the past, meaning that the ambassadors are doing different things that are appealing to different audiences. “I can’t please everyone, but as long as we can get [students] out of their rooms every so often for something that they’re liking, then I’ve done my job.”
Students can keep up with events by Malcom Morgan, the Student Ambassadors, and the Student Life team via emails and the Student Life Facebook page.