Each month, in our ‘Behind the Scenes’ series, we give you a look at our day-to-day workings and the decision making that goes into our advocacy, support programs, workshops and events. This month, Ash explains the process we went through to develop our monthly trivia nights at NeW Space.
NUPSA endeavours to engage with each UON campus (including online) as much as possible, and this has led to some of our most successful ongoing events (such as Shut Up and Write and Wii Wars @ HMRI). Therefore, it is incredibly exciting for us to present our newest monthly event: Trivia Night at NeW Space! For Behind the Scenes this month, we thought it would be interesting to share with you what happens ‘behind the scenes’ (haha) to get these events started. All the cogs and wheels turning behind the flawless face of NUPSA. The intricate workings of the machine… you get the idea.
We began brainstorming ideas for a regular event at NeW Space after several students approached us during O-Week, asking whether we represented students at the city precinct, and if we ran events there. This was very concerning to us; NUPSA represents postgraduate students at all UON campuses, and it is incredibly important to us that students feel that they are represented and supported. We got similar feedback at a film screening we showed there, and it was clear that NeW Space postgrads wanted more regular engagement with us.
The first step, then, was to explore some options for a regular event, something that could help foster a sense of student community over time. Sure, we could run a film night here and a workshop there, but that wouldn’t create the community that is so important for postgraduate students. One of the trickiest things about running social events at NeW Space is the unique layout; all the rooms are blended learning spaces (movie nights are a little awkward sitting in booths or concentric circles), and the room capacities are typically smaller than what you’d find at Callaghan campus.
Additionally, there are very few self-contained social spaces in the building (as it favours open spaces), so many of our usual events just aren’t suitable. We determined that something different to what we already run at Callaghan, HMRI and Ourimbah would be best, as many students can move between these campuses. As a team-based activity, trivia lends itself beautifully to these spaces, and it’s something we’ve been itching to run for a very long time.
We’ve chosen XG18 as our venue; it looks a bit like an art-deco nightclub, with rows of
semi-circular booths and private screens for each trivia team.
At this stage, it all sounds lovely. We have a space, and we have an idea. But one of the big questions we must always ask is: will they come? Is a trivia night going to convince busy, stressed, tired postgrads to leave the hobbit-holes of their labs and offices and connect with each other? Fun as the activity will surely be, what can we do to make it more appealing?
The answer, of course, is food. Free food. It is a fact, universally acknowledged, that free food will bring even the shyest, most reluctant student from the shadows to feast and (hopefully) be merry. But. Food costs money! The unfortunate reality is that the budget has the final say on many ideas and initiatives that NUPSA explores. This year, NUPSA had a very small amount of funding allocated to events at NeW Space, and so this became the second roadblock to our engagement with the city precinct.
Enter Student Central. I met with representatives from the Student Central team to discuss a collaboration between themselves and NUPSA, where we could facilitate an ongoing event to engage with the city campus, and bring other postgrads into the city for a new event. Student Central has some amazing plans for NeW Space this year, and offered to contribute funding for a regular event that NUPSA could run there. This would cover food for the event, and prizes for the winners each month.
Pizza in the ground floor lobby of NeW Space. The source of all our power.
Now that the idea is approved and funding is confirmed, we can plan the event itself. Trivia has a lot of moving parts, as there are several ways you can go about it. Is it themed trivia? Does the theme change each month? What kinds of questions are accessible but not too easy to answer (and who will write them)? What is the best time for students? What kind of food should we order that students enjoy and that fits within the budget? Shall we serve food before trivia starts, or during the rounds?
Many little decisions must be made to make the event run smoothly and engage as many students as possible. At this stage in the game, the Executive and the Project Officer determine likely answers to these questions, and the first event becomes a test run – an audition, if you will. This is why we collect your feedback and suggestions! The Executive will write the questions, Hugh will make them look snazzy and put together a bonus round or two, organise the catering, book the room, and promote the event. (Honestly, what would we do without Hugh?!)
So please: gather the troops, register your team and come join us for our first night of trivia at NeW Space on Thursday, April 26 at 7pm!! There will be pizza, hilarity and prizes, and we hope to see you there!