Planning fun and engaging campus events is crucial for morale and the overall environment of the college. Yes, students have courses and internships to focus on—but they also need a break, and time to make new friends and memories. Well-planned campus events can achieve all of that by being relevant and easy to attend.
Relevant campus events target the interests of your student body. What are they talking about, and what do they care about? Maybe your campus is full of musically diverse students, who spend time humming or whistling in between classes. Or perhaps student-run clubs are focused on environmental and climate-related causes. You may notice an increase in campus-wide recycling, and volunteering at local non-profits. Students are more engaged on campuses where they feel heard—and your event can show them just how much you’re listening.
Below are three highly customizeable campus event ideas that will excite your students. Keep reading to see how you can make them relevant to your campus!
1) Campus-Wide Clothing Swap
Yes, you read that right—we’re really suggesting a large-scale opportunity for students to exchange unwanted clothing with each other. And while it’s a fairly simple event to plan, it also has a lot of benefits. First, a campus-wide clothing swap reduces clothing waste, and encourages recycling on campus. This could be part of a larger Go Green initiative, or just another perspective on reusing what you don’t need.
Second, it’s a great way to reach students on campus who don’t have a car to go shopping off campus, or are on a limited budget. Like, for example, freshman and sophomores who can’t have cars or don’t hold on-campus jobs. You can even restrict the swap to certain classes, if you know there’s a need.
And third, any leftover clothes can be donated to a local charity. This, of course, benefits the greater community, and builds those important local relationships. Just make sure to contact the organization ahead of time, so they have time to prepare. You will definitely have leftover clothes!
How it Works
Choose the date and location of the event. You’ll need a large space—like a gymnasium—to hold all the clothes and shopping students. And if you have the time, we recommend hosting the swap over the course of two days, so every student has a chance to attend.
For 1-2 weeks leading up to the swap, have students drop off the clothing they no longer want, already washed and in good condition. Students receive one ticket for every item they donate. For example, if Sarah Student donates four items, she receives four tickets. On the day of the swap, she can take up to four items for herself—when she checks out, she hands the volunteer one ticket for every item she takes.
2) Talent Show
Every campus is filled with talented students. Some students are using their talents to earn a major, while others pursue them as hobbies or extracurriculars. But opening up the stage for all your students gives them performance experience, while letting them share their passions.
It’s also great way for the student body to get to know each other. Before every performance, introduce the student with a little bio. You can include their name, year, major, and a fun fact or two—including what they’re about to perform. Even if there’s no first-prize winner at your campus events, it’s still an entertaining night for all involved.
How it Works
For larger campuses, you may need to hold auditions, or make the event multi-day to fit everyone’s act. Whether you hold auditions or not, participating students will need to know what type of talent is allowed and how long they have to perform. Typically, acts are limited to 3-5 minutes.
If you have a wide variety of talents, group them by categories and promote the schedule to non-participating students to boost attendance. And make sure each talented student knows who is going before and after them. After all, you can plan the schedule down to the minute, but it’s difficult to stick to it perfectly. So, your students should know when they’re up next.
3) Film Festival
Hosting a film festival is the most flexible option on this list. For starters, you can choose between screening student-produced shorts or 2 or 3 feature films that share a common theme. For the latter option, let the campus vote on their favorite Christmas movies or critically acclaimed black and white films. Like we mentioned earlier, this all depends on the interests of your students, and the values of your institution.
No matter how you plan your festival, there are plenty of benefits. A student-created film night offers exposure and experience—much like the talent show. You’re able to support the Arts on campus, while offering a night of free entertainment. On the other hand, watching a few movies that share a common theme gives you the chance to dialog with your students. For example, you can host a panel discussion after each movie. Or attendees can break off into small groups and have their own conversations. Either way, it becomes an enriching experiences as well as an educational one!
How it Works
If you’re hosting a student film festival, they will need a few months to produce their video. We recommend announcing the festival during first semester, and hosting the event second semester. As with the talent show, give students an application deadline, parameters and length requirements, and a submission deadline.
A movie night requires less notice, however. If you want the campus to vote, send an email a few weeks before the event. (Just make sure you have the rights to show the movies before offering them!) Provide a list where the students choose up to three favorites. The top-voted movies are the ones you screen! For a panel discussion, contact faculty, staff, and community members a few weeks in advance to gauge interest and availability.
Of course, there’s always room for improving your campus events, whether it’s your first time hosting it—or your tenth. One of the best ways to show students you’re listening is to encourage post-event feedback. You can put out paper questionnaires during the event, or send a follow-up email to attendees. Even if you don’t get a lot of feedback, the students still know you care about their input.
Which of these campus events are you interested in trying? Which have you already tried?