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The Secret to Throwing Successful Events

Nicole Entin asks what it takes to make a St Andrews event fun, inclusive, and memorable.

My friends think I have a very glamorous gig as an events writer, and they’re not entirely wrong. When I’m not battling bus queues or the inflated egos of committee members in certain societies, I spend a lot of my time reviewing events ranging from fashion shows to wholesome evenings organised by smaller societies – I’ve seen it all. At the same time, there is one question that is often on my mind as a reviewer: what is the most important thing to consider when planning an event?

I decided to put this question to four committee members of various societies in St Andrews. Whilst each of the societies I spoke with create events for different demographics of the student body, I found that the responses of the interviewees often overlapped in aspects including organisation, accessibility, and wellbeing. Curious to learn if there really is a perfect formula for putting together a successful event? Read on to find out…

For Sarah Routley, Second Fellow of the Fellowship of St Andrews, there are few things more important than having a team with clearly defined roles to execute the vision of an event. I was especially interested in learning how the Fellowship organised Raisin the Roof, the popular Raisin Weekend charity club night hosted at The Vic, which raised £3000 for local charity Families First. Sarah owed the evening’s success to “the enthusiasm of the Fellows and their diverse skill-sets. From marketing to finance, and from project management to liaising with DJs”. A similar response came from Stanislas Zagun, President of the French Society, who echoed Sarah’s comments on the necessity of good organisation. He emphasised the importance of being proactive when it comes to choosing “the dates, book[ing] the rooms and locations”, often before the semester even begins in order to anticipate issues before they arise. For a group like the French Society, Stanislas also discussed the importance of ensuring popular events like their annual Wine and Cheese nights represent “the country, the culture, the spirit of the society”.

Good organisation leads to events that are accessible and inclusive, two aspects which committee members were quick to highlight in our conversations. Leo Doherty, Secretary of the St Andrews University Mathematics Society (SUMS), discussed working to schedule the society’s upcoming Christmas Dinner. He told me that “we keep the idea of an equal and fair opportunity at the forefront of all our decisions when planning events”, as he balanced high demand and limited space by providing advance notice for signups on a “first come first served basis”. The creation of inclusive events reflects what Leo sees as the wider goal of SUMS as a society, “offering anyone with an interest in maths an opportunity to become a member of the community”. Kennedy Herron, President of Dog Walking Society, also values inclusivity and well-being – for the two-legged and four-legged members of the St Andrews community alike! She cited Dog Walking’s collaboration events with societies including YogiSoc, Nightline, Frisbee Club, and Saints LGBT+ as having “had some component of well-being, such as exercise, group dog walks, or information on support at the uni”.

My conversations with Sarah, Stanislas, Leo, and Kennedy reminded me how much effort it takes to get from an idea to an event. Although you probably don’t find yourself thinking of marketing or catering when going to a ball or a society get-together, there’s always a hardworking team behind the scenes of every event that you attend. So, while there may not be one single formula that leads to the creation of an ideal event, there will always be committee members who are dedicated to organising events that are fun, inclusive, and memorable.

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