BY ERIC STEIGLEDER
At the Inter-Club Association Meeting in January, John Bowers was informed that his club’s largest event of the year was in jeopardy.
Bowers, the president of Japanese Animated and Dramatic Entertainment club (J.A.D.E.), was told that the date he had reserved for his club’s “Mary Washicon,” an anime convention, had also been reserved for another event. Several other clubs have had their events canceled due to recent scheduling errors on the part of the administration as well.
“We reserved the Great Hall from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on March 29 back in late October or early November,” Bower said. “Around the same time or sometime thereafter, [Director of Residence Life] Chris Porter was notified that she needed to have more days for housing selection by Dr. Hample’s new Strategic Planning committee.”
Bowers said that Director of Student Activites Joseph Mollo pulled him aside at the ICA meeting and told him of the scheduling conflict.
“He said ‘we have some good news and some bad news,’” Bowers said. “He was not happy about this.”
The good news was that Mollo had reserved the March 15 spot, and was willing to offer that as a replacement for the original date of the 29th.
“We took that option instead of sticking with the conflicted date,” Bowers said. “However Joe made it clear he was willing to fight for it. OSACS has been nothing but helpful to us with Mary Washicon.”
Yet the new date has brought its own set of difficulties. Campus policy is that all funding requests be made two weeks prior to the event. Because of the earlier date, Bower and his club had to rush to meet the deadline.
Bower also expressed his concern that if J.A.D.E. had scheduled speakers or performers for their event (as many clubs do) they would have been forced to either cancel the appearance or to log extra hours trying to work around performer schedules.
“It screwed up our schedule,” Bowers said.
Something similar happened to the UMW Renaissance Club, which, in November of 2008, submitted their request to reserve the Great Hall for March 15. The club was planning their Elizabethan Feast, the largest event the club hosts.
However, according to club President Brad Fisher, plans soon changed after winter break.
“The week after we got back from winter break,” Fisher said, “I received an e-mail that said the date wasn’t open. It said there was an event on the calendar, but it wasn’t on the calendar.”
According to Fisher, an orientation event had taken precedence over the Elizabethan Feast, despite not being listed on the Events Calendar.
Fisher, once having brought his complaint to Office of Student Activities and Community Service, had to resubmit all of his club’s applications.
“We had to redo all the paperwork,” Fisher said. “It delayed everything else.”
While March 15 was eventually freed, reserved by Mollo and offered to the J.A.D.E. club, at this point the 15th was still off limits due to the club’s rescheduling efforts.
Eventually the Elizabethan Feast was rescheduled for March 22 with only limited problems. Yet the complaints are still audible, namely from these club leaders who feel the reservation system is flawed.
Mollo agreed there is a problem, but not from within OSACS.
According to Mollo, the issue is with the limited communication on the part of the Events Office, which is in charge of the actual Events Calendar.
This sentiment is echoed by Bowers, who expressed his disapproval with the reservation system. As it stands, Jessica Connolly, administrative assistant of events and conferences management, and Susan Knick, assistant vice president for public safety and community services, have the power to add events to the calendar.
“Sometime after our event was on the calendar, the Housing Selection event was added to the reservation calendar on the same date at the same time,” Bower said. “There shouldn’t be two different people in charge of the room reservations, because it causes unnecessary conflicts between offices.”
That, according to Mollo, gets to the heart of the problem.
“We met with Jessica before the Bullet contacted us,” Mollo said. “We met and said that we cannot properly advise a group if someone is just plugging people into the calendar. Pick up the phone and put a hold on a space with OSACS.”