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Behind the Scenes of the Student Activities Board at UM-Dearborn

Updated: Apr 29, 2023

Kylie Martin, Staff Writer - Student Life

Students at the Winter Wonderland Ball. Photo//Student Activities Board

I could feel the excitement in the air before I even arrived at the event. Walking a little further into the foyer, the room was bustling with people in floor-length dresses and handsome tuxedos.

A table straight-ahead was filled with Italian cuisine and a hot chocolate bar, stocked with marshmallows and whipped cream. Attendees were gathered around a table to the left, stuffing cotton into pastel heart-shaped pillows. To the right, through two propped double doors, was the ballroom, decked from floor to ceiling in winter-themed decorations, including a great blue and white banner that read: “Winter Wonderland”. In one corner sat a DJ booth, complete with the DJ pumping his fist to the beat of the music. In another corner, a professional photographer took pictures of friends and couples as they beamed side-by-side in their formal wear. This was the Winter Wonderland Ball, hosted by the Student Activities Board (SAB).

In addition to the Ball, SAB is also known for other events, like Board Games Night, Chinese New Year Celebration, and the World Nutella Day celebration. According to SAB, their motivation is to be the “main event planning organization on campus, responsible for coordinating and executing fun and interesting events that enhance social and academic life at UM-Dearborn”.

For more insight into the creation and planning of these events, I spoke to Rhythm Sharma, who has been the president of the Student Activities Board since 2020.

Sharma explained that, when planning an event, she and other board members first have to determine a focus. Will it be a social, diversity-promoting, or campus-enriching event?

They then pick a theme used to determine the food, activities, decorations, and dress code to be featured at the event.

Sharma mentioned how they typically try to work with other student organizations on campus so that they can take full advantage of all the services UM-Dearborn has to offer. For example, for the Winter Wonderland Ball, the Campus Video Network (CVN), UM-Dearborn’s campus broadcasting company, provided the DJ and photography services. In addition, the catering for the Ball was provided by Picasso Restaurant Groups, which handles most of the catering and food services at UM-Dearborn.

When quizzed about the source of funding for these events, Sharma explained, “SAB is classified as a student-sponsored organization, an SSO; five or six of these SSOs are given a budget from the university that comes from students’ tuition. So then, it’s up to us to give that money back to the students by creating fun, meaningful events that they can participate in, to help to add to their college experience.”

After SAB orders food, decides upon activities, books a room, and sets a date, they begin what Sharma labeled as one of the most critical parts of the process: marketing. First, they design eye-catching flyers with all relevant information to post on social media, hang around campus, and attach to the weekly email reminders. Then, they wait patiently for the day of the event to arrive.

According to Sharma, the Winter Wonderland Ball was one of the most successful events she’s witnessed in her four years of participating in the Student Activities Board. She explained how most SAB events are planned and scheduled before each semester begins (called “staple events”) but that the Winter Wonderland Ball was a brand new event at UM-Dearborn.

The idea came together after SAB couldn’t arrange their annual Homecoming Dance due to scheduling conflicts. Then, during one of SAB’s general body meetings, a participant came up with the idea for a Winter Dance event, which blossomed into the Winter Wonderland Ball.

“That’s what made this event so special,” Sharma said, “We were able to give students exactly what they’d asked for. It was a great opportunity for anyone who wanted to go to the Homecoming Dance but couldn’t. Plus, for the international students that didn’t have a prom in high school, it allowed them to experience some of these American traditions.”

The event had initially been planned for the week of Valentine’s Day but was unfortunately delayed a week due to a winter storm. According to Sharma and attendees of the ball, it was well worth the wait. The event was so successful that Sharma indicated that the Winter Wonderland Ball will now be incorporated into campus traditions as one of SAB’s annual events.

Don’t miss out on the rest of the Winter 2022 Student Activities Board events!

For the remainder of the semester, keep an eye out for the Pistons Game Night at Little Caesars Arena; Blood Drive, partnered with the American Red Cross; TEDxUMDearborn, for discussions on climate change, artificial intelligence, and more; and the Spring-themed De-Stress event before finals, partnered with the Office of Student Life (activities T.B.D.). Follow SAB on VictorsLink and Instagram for more information and updates on upcoming events.

Are you interested in joining the Student Activities Board? You can participate by becoming a general body member, attending general body meetings, and volunteering at SAB events. If you’d like to become an event chair, keep an eye out for SAB Eboard shadowing opportunities next academic year to gain some experience. Contact SAB through VictorsLink for more information.

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