It’s not often that students get the chance to work with celebrities, plan events and have a say in what programming universities promote. However, at Ohio University, one group of students gets to do it all: the University Program Council, or UPC.
This is a day in the life of UPC, a volunteer board of students who work to bring free, world-class programs to OU’s campus.
“It is free events put on for OU students, and some of the events are for the surrounding people in the community to just come have fun and be able to have experiences you might not be able to in other places, as well as you get to do a lot of cool things for free,” Abby Spencer, a senior and UPC’s university events vice chair, said.
Through UPC, the students are able to put on annual events like the Throwback Thursday concert, where the organization brings an artist from the student body’s childhood to perform, and the Bachelor Night, where the organization brings someone who was on The Bachelor to OU to speak and do a meet and greet with students.
Another event UPC is known for is the weekly “Flavor of the Week” lunch in Baker University Center, where UPC picks a type of food and serves it during Wednesday lunchtime.
“Any student who's on campus can be involved in undergrad,” Spencer said. “So if you are a first year, second year, third year, fourth year, even fifth year, you can come be involved in UPC.”
Anyone can be an associate member with UPC, which equates to being a general staff member. Some students can also interview to be on the board of UPC, which has positions like president, vice president, university events chairs that focus on university happenings like Mom’s Weekend, Dad’s Weekend and Siblings’ Weekend, creative events chairs that focus on programming throughout the year, a social media chair, a photography chair, a graphic design chair and more.
Each day for the UPC staff looks different. Some days they’re having quick staff meetings to brainstorm events or discuss other plans; other days they are in high gear working tirelessly to put on events for OU students and the Athens community; and some days they don’t have any work to do at all.
However, this particular day had a lot of hustle and bustle as UPC put on its biggest event of the year: the Throwback Thursday concert, more favorably known as the TBT concert.
For this year’s TBT concert, UPC selected the sister duo Aly & AJ to perform. UPC staff has a producer they work with who sends them a list of people who could potentially be selected for the night. Though there were some other great choices on the list, Aly & AJ seemed like a no-brainer, Spencer said. The show is held in Baker Ballroom and is free to all OU students with a valid student ID.
“It's so cool because people can come to a concert for free to see some of the artists they grew up listening to that they haven't been able to see before,” Spencer said.
On the day of the show, all the UPC staff got together to figure out what they needed to set up. First, because the show has a throwback theme, the staff wanted to provide decorations, food and snacks that reminded attendees of their childhood. They handed out candy like Gushers and Little Hug Fruit Barrels, and provided food like chicken tenders for attendees to enjoy prior to the concert.
“We just make sure that whoever's coming that they're settled in, they have everything they need,” Spencer said. “We’ll make sure everything's set up before a concert, and then if you're on the board and some associate members, depending on if you've been an associate for a while with UPC, you guys get to have a meet and greet with whoever's coming, which is cool because you get to know them a little personal and it's kind of cool to have that interaction with them.”
In this case, after setting up the food, fun backdrops, props and t-shirts that said “I (heart) TBT,” the board members and a few associate members got to have a meet and greet with Aly & AJ prior to the show.
Then, the group puts the finishing touches on setting up, and they start allowing people to come in and mingle before the show begins, taking part in all the food, giveaways and photo opportunities present.
Once the show starts, the UPC staff can breathe a sigh of relief, as all of their hard work leading up to this moment shows through a performance they can all enjoy.
Luke Vannus, a freshman and university events vice chair of UPC, said the group takes a lot of pride in watching the group’s work come together, and thinks the opportunity to be a part of that every step of the way through UPC is very special.
“It's also really cool to see the behind the scenes work of what goes into some of these events on campus,” Vannus said. “And you get to have a say and what goes on for your own entertainment too.”
Vannus and the rest of the UPC staff feel UPC is a great way to make connections between OU and the Athens community.
“The University Program Council really helps bring the community together, because we put on free events throughout the year, whether that's through the drag show that we have at the beginning of the year or Flavor, which we do every week, it’s just a way for people to come together,” Vannus said.
Everyone on the staff can’t express enough how students should join UPC, be it for professional development or just as an organization to meet people and have a good time.
“UPC, to me, means having friendships, seeking the roles of being in college and things like that,” Skylar Chinn, a senior and vice president of UPC, said. “Having leadership skills in my job and later on, and just meeting new friends and exploring the rest of university.”
UPC meets Tuesdays at 8 p.m. in Baker 230. People can reach out through Bobcat Connect or email President Hannah Barcum to get involved.
“I think everyone should join UPC,” Maggie Old, communications director of UPC, said. “Whether you join as a general member or as an exec member, it's so laid back but it's so much fun. You get to meet celebrities, you get to eat free food, you get to put on some crazy events that would totally blow your mind that you wouldn't even imagine planning in college. So I think it's really good experience, whether you want to be an event planner or a graphic designer or photographer, I think there's a place for everyone in UPC.”
Original Article: https://www.thepostathens.com/article/2022/04/day-in-the-life-ou-university-program-council-aly-aj-tbt-concert
Photo taken by Riley Runnells.