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Lamar State College Port Arthur is a community college with an interesting set of demographics and programs uniquely for an entirely commuter base. Some of its areas of study include nursing, cosmetology, process technology, commercial music and drama, along with some other traditional academic and technical programs.
Claire Thomason is the Director of Student Activities at LSC-PA, which is a member of the Texas State University System and she talks with us in more detail. The programming board is unique at this school, because of it's size and format, and the fact that its part of the Student Government Association itself. "I know that's not typical of how most campuses operate," Claire says, "but we are such a small campus that we found that it was much better to keep the student government close to student activities so we all work together to keep the events and programming and what students wanted on campus seamless."
The SGA has 8 elected members and all of them work toward a general consensus on the suggestions for programming at the campus. "I brought all of those members to the NACA Convention in Tulsa for the central region this year, so they all got an opportunity to participate in workshops and see all the showcases. They all have a good feel for how the whole process works and the types of entertainment that are offered and the things that they can do to speak with the agents and book for our campus."
Claire does still provide some guidance. "I do make sure that we have some diverse programming on campus, but a lot of it is their own ideas, many of which are excellent and very innovative."
It's clear that professional development is a big consideration for the LSC-PA SGA, as bringing 9 people including Claire to a conference is a considerable investment for a school with approximately 3,500 students. "We get a lot of support from the entire school's administration, but especially from our vice president for Student Services. He works closely with me and all of our SGA people when it comes to being involved with the entertainment brought to campus. He is really vested in making sure that the students have exactly what they need. Part of that is in going to these conferences and making sure they understand the process. The main thing we are trying to accomplish is to get the students to see more than just the political side of student government that may be happening on some other campuses. We want them to get a feel for a more complete process, which includes leadership training and time management skills, which are so important not only while they are in school but will follow them long after they are in the working world. Also, you never know which students might go into this type of career down the road. There are so many different types of things they might glean from these experiences and just watching them progress from the time they are elected into office to graduation is amazing."
The budget for activities comes form the campus' student services budget. "That is the main source of funding, but we also work hand in hand with each student organization on campus, about 15 altogether. We are happy to say that number is growing each year. The individual organizations do their own fundraising, but all of the activities and events we bring to campus that are sponsored by SGA are funded through student services fees."
Because LCS-PA is a 100% commuter campus, the scheduling is a bit different than many typical campuses that are trying to keep students on campus on weekend nights. SGA programs between 10 and 15 major events each semester along with other filler events in between. "We do some of the traditional events, like the Welcome Week activities, which features something each day. Not all of them are expending the budget because we do some homegrown programming. They have some very creative ways of doing that, for example they made their own Angry Birds game by decorating boxes and using other articles from around campus. One of the things our students wanted to do that we instituted this year was Cultural Days. We have a fall festival where we concentrate on Halloween and Homecoming. We also have our Spring Fling and we celebrate Black History Month. We have a Health and Safety week and also celebrate Cinco de Mayo. We have a very diverse ethnic background here on our campus so we are very cognizant of trying to cater to all of those in our major events."
The mascot for LSC-PA is the Seahawk. This year they decided to throw it a birthday party. "He was turning three, so we did that. We do a lot of different things to not only get students involved, but provide some support to school spirit and the history and traditions we want to honor as the years go by, making sure the students are a part of the whole campus experience."
About half of the events at LSC-PA are booked with outside talent from agencies and the other half are homegrown events that stretch the budget and allow students to create something from scratch. "We do utilize a lot of the things on campus that we already have and also try to bring in some local talent, but probably half are things we have seen at conferences or from booking through agencies we are familiar with."
Student housing is a priority for LSC-PA, so it's likely some of the formula for their events may change when that occurs in the next couple of years. For now, they are making great experiences for the commuters coming to campus on a daily basis, and are extremely effective at stretching their budget.
For more information contact Claire Thomason at firstname.lastname@example.org