The History of CAB
The Campus Activities Board has a history which spans two
decades and which reflects the changes in popular culture during
that time period.
Prior to 1974 the Student Government Association provided "activities" for the student body such as dances, concerts, homecoming events, and the Miss Southeastern Pageant. Things were changing, however, both locally and nationally. Students were requesting more activities on campus, stretching SGA's financial and personnel resources. At the same time, the field of "student activities" was becoming more professional and specialized at the national level.
In 1968, the National Entertainment Conference was chartered to assist colleges and universities in "block booking" entertainers, thereby saving money for each school. As the profession evolved, education became a major goal and in 1976 the organization's name was changed to the National Entertainment and Campus Activities Association to reflect the broader constituency it served and the varied activities programs presented by campuses. Finally, in 1982, the organization's name was changed to the current National Association for Campus Activities, reflecting the broad-based student development and leadership philosophy of the organization in addition to the traditional role of providing entertainment to students.
To meet the growing demand for activities, the Student Government Association held a student referendum in 1974 to create the Student Activities Board and to assess students $7.00 per semester to fund SAB's activities. The referendum passed and the STudent Activities Board, and a new era of student involvement, was born.
What activities were popular then? This was a time before cable television and video rentals and movies were very popular. It was not uncommon for 300-400 students to pay 25 cents to see one of the popular movies shown every Monday night.
This was also a time when bands used the college market to become known and develop a following. Touring was relatively inexpensive, so colleges could afford to do concerts without fear of losing a great deal of mony. As a result, colleges across the country, including Southeastern, could present two to four concerts a year and students would attend in large numbers because there wasn't anywhere near the competition for entertainment dollars that exists today.
The 1970's were also a time of interest in self-discovery and self-improvment. Arts and crafts wer very popular. A program called "Leisure Learning" provided classes in such areas as self-hypnosis, astrology, macrame, sand painting, etc. Students, as well as faculty and staff, took advantage of these inexpensive programs.
The Miss Southeastern Pageant and Strawberry Jubilee, which was begun in the mid-70's, were very popular with students.
The decade of the 1980's saw a change in American culture and in student interests. The idealism of the Vietnam era was replaced by the "me" decade. Students became more conservative and career-oriented. They no longer came out to hear nationally-known speakers, and they certainly lost interest in the "leisure learning" programs of the 70's.
New technology was making old programs obsolete. Cable television and rental videos steadily drove down the number of students attending movies. Nationally-known bands turned first to the clubs on the east and west coast to find an udience, and then to MTV where they could receive instant national exposure and followers. Their stage shows became extravaganzas and slowly but surely most colleges and universities were priced out of the major concert scene.
It was during this same period that the student activities profession was being asked to provide more than "fun adn games" for students. The term "student development" came to dominate the student activities mission and an emphasis on educational and cultural programs competed with entertainment in the programming process. It was during this time that the Student Activities Board became the Campus Activities Board to reflect its interest in reaching the entire campus community as well as the srrounding community.
After Southeastern cut its football program, an event called Fanfare was initiated to provide alternative activities in the Fall semester. The Campus Activities Board was instrumental in building Fanfare to the program it is now, providing programs and money to bring in many of the main events of Fanfare.
The most improtant programming activity to come along in the 1980's was the stand-up comic. CAB started a program called "The Comedy Corner" which was initially held int he Snackbar. As young comedians flourished throughout the nation so did they at Southeastern. The Snackbar quickly became too small to hold the audiences and the program was moved to the Ballroom, where standing room only crowds became common. Today, of course, the University Center is needed to hold the audiences for well-known comedians.
Throughout the years, one common element has been sure to produce a crowd -- Free Food!! Outdoor activities such as Gumbo Ya-Ya have increased and always seem to be one of the favorite activities for students.
Today? You are today, and it is still your job to find out what sutdent want and provide activities to meet those interests. That has not changed over the years. You still have the responsibility to provide programs which help people grow developmentally. This is a much more difficult job than hiring a comedian, but one which is much more important. You hold in your hands the power not only to entertain students for one night, but to also provide lessons and experiences which will be with them for the rest of their lives.