Ch-ch-changes: Brown Lecture Board

Amidst the excitement surrounding the spring lineup for Brown Lecture Board, you may have noticed that the organization is going through a lot (ch-ch-ch)changes this year. BlogDH sought out BLB President Kaivan Shroff ’15 to explain the recent alterations to the process. Here are the basics:

1. They’re increasing their use of social media as a way to further engage with the student population. Shroff described the shift as “a way for students to get more information, and for us to get input and feedback.” They have launched a Facebook page and an Instagram in the efforts to make the details of Lecture Board events more accessible. In the vein of getting input and feedback, Lecture Board has been hard at work on the internet to gauge campus’ reactions to their ticketing processes and events. This includes distributing a variety of surveys, as well as a Google moderator for the upcoming panel that has students submit questions and other students vote on those questions. Last semester, BlogDH hosted a vote for Fall Lecture Board speaker, which got over 1600 responses. Shroff explained, “There’s a trade-off between time and democracy. In the future, we are trying to get these polls up as soon as possible, so we can best represent what the students of Brown want.”

2. The ticketing system has moved online in a new lottery process. Shroff said that in the past “we would have the line circle around JWW, or a spiral in the Kasper Multipurpose room, but the spaces available at Brown for hundreds of people to line up are very limited.” The major goal of the lottery is to equalize the online ticketing process.” Bill Nye tickets literally sold out in 20 seconds… luckily, we could respond quickly to this and changed the distribution to a lottery system, accommodating people who could have slower Internet connectivity or a malfunctioning computer.” An important thing to note is that there will be a standby line for every Lecture Board event, although the number of people let in will vary depending on how close the venue is to capacity.

3. FIRST. PANEL. EVER! Yes, this event is the first time that they have formatted an event like this, and everyone should check out the Google moderator that was mentioned above to decide what questions are going to be asked on March 16th. Shroff said that this was part of an effort to “step away from the very formulaic and slightly rigid structure we’ve had in the past, and we are open to newer and exciting ways to bring speakers to campus.” One of Lecture Board’s priorities is to bring in more diverse sets of speakers, so they are really excited that the Laverne Cox, Aasif Mandvi, R.J. Mitte panel was able to work out. This has always been a priority, but actually snagging a speaker can be tough, with “a majority of pursued speakers not panning out due to limited money or scheduling conflicts.” It’s understandable, because Lecture Board has to balance a lot. Speakers will always have limited dates of availability butting against limited dates in which Salomon can be booked (particularly this semester, with 250th celebrations as far as the calendar can see). They must also balance gathering student opinions while remaining flexible enough to grab great last-minute opportunities like Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.

4. Lecture Board is working towards better communication with the student body regarding its mission. In the words of Mr. Shroff: “We want to reflect who the students want to hear speak, not dictate that to them. We’re not a stiff organization; we’re your peers.” Lecture Board’s funding comes from the Undergraduate Finance Board. According to Shroff, “Our goal is to fill Salomon — that way the students are getting more bang for their buck.” Brown Lecture Board is a student group, and meetings are open to the public. Members who are guaranteed tickets are those who frequently attend the weekly meetings at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays (generally in Faunce Underground), help poster and volunteer to usher, but Shroff says that “anyone is welcome to come to the meetings.” They have also recently added a VP of Technology to their executive board to help ensure that the online aspects of the events run smoothly.

In the future, Lecture Board will be putting a greater emphasis on getting the most exciting speakers possible. This may mean only two events a semester, but it is a choice that they have made over the previous policy of dividing the funds into low, medium, and high-cost speakers, with money for only one expensive, well-hyped speaker. The “low” speakers still cost a significant amount of money, and the Lecture Board doesn’t think their money is well spent when Salomon isn’t filled. As an overall comment on the goal of Lecture Board events, Shroff said “the benefit of these lectures is that students can get a unique insight from people they wouldn’t normally get to be in that intimate of setting with, so it’s great if people leave with a more educational experience than just having been in the presence of a famous person.”

Finally, Shroff says that we have something to look forward to with “webcasting as a strong possibility for next semester!”

The best ways to keep up with Brown Lecture Board in the future are through its website and Facebook page.

Images via, via, via, and via.

Leave a Reply