Over the past week, among all the stress and excitement encircling this year’s Woo Fest, rumor has spread that this may be Vanguard’s last year celebrating the tradition. While space is an ongoing issue, Resident Director Daniel Van Hoff says that there “is a very minute chance” that Woo Fest will be discontinued in the coming years. However, there is a chance that it could be altered or merged with another similar event such as Mr.VU or VU’s Got Talent, two events which showcase male students’ talent.
If there was a change in the outstanding Vanguard tradition, it would be in the student population’s best interest. “We are always looking to enhance our programming and to make it more effective,” Van Hoff said, “as the student population changes, we try our best to adapt to meet those changes.” With the amount of incoming freshman topping last year’s, Student Life is working harder than ever to accommodate Vanguard’s ever changing student body both in size and demographic.
“Space is always an issue on our campus,” Van Hoff says. From parking to fitting a throng of underclassmen into NMC Thursday night, space is something everyone wrestles with. But is it enough to cancel one of Vanguard’s longstanding traditions? Van Hoff thinks not. Last year, he estimates over 700 people were squeezed into the tent which was camped in the parking lot directly behind the bookstore. While Woo Fest’s transition to NMC creates a nicer venue, it does not solve the space issue, roughly seating only 550 people comfortably.
Numbers are less of an issue to Student Life. A greater cause to pending potential changes to Woo Fest is the event’s ability to reach different groups among the student body. To meet the demands of our differing student body, Student Life is working hard to diversify their programing. “Our student demographic continues to become increasingly diverse in ethnic background and in denomination,” says Van Hoff.
This shift in the growth of the student population may mandate a difference in programming. Which may or may not bring Woo Fest to an end, but will more probably alter the event or other similar events such as “Rez Rally” to reach a broader spectrum of students to participate. It may even lead to a merging of like events, to make way for events that effectively reach unnoticed student groups on campus.
In Division 1 universities, Van Hoff explains, football games are the highest attended events, however, other sports such as golf or pole vaulting reach a different demographic. Without these sports, some students may graduate or transfer without feeling a genuine connection to the school. Likewise, through diversifying their programming, Student Life hopes to reach those missed students and give them that connection.
Vanguard has already started to incorporate new programming, starting with a Night of Spoken Word on November 13th, hosting poets Janette…IKZ and Ezekiel of P4CM (Passion 4 Christ Movement) for the third time at Vanguard. The event’s exciting turn out could lead to Student Life and the Diversity Programming Department to partner together on projects more often in the future.