On Thursday, Jan. 24 students braved the uncomfortable conditions, dodging puddles and ice patches thick enough to skate across to gather in the Lown Room of the Memorial Union. While the cold weather and hard rain served as a reminder that warmer temperatures and sunshine are still months away, Campus Activities and Student Engagement (CASE) brought spring to campus early with their succulent planting event, “Pot Party.” Students planted colorful succulents and hand-painted flower pots, and shared laughs and stories in between handfuls of Cheetos.
This event is a part of CASE’s “First Week of Class Events,” a series of fun and free events designed to welcome University of Maine students back to the campus after winter break.
“We’ll definitely have to order more next time,” Cat Lamb, a graduate assistant for CASE, said.
CASE is responsible for a multitude of student events on campus, including Maine Day. To kick off the spring semester, they arranged an entire week of student activities starting on Tuesday with free Dunkin’ Donuts in the Union. CASE hosted a Kickin’ Flicks presentation of “The Spy Who Dumped Me” in the North Pod on Wednesday, the “Pot Party” on Thursday, and the student organization fair and “Gearing up for Self Care” event on Friday.
Planning activities isn’t always an easy task however, and no one knows this better than Benjamin Evans, the head programmer for CASE.
“One of the biggest challenges we face is figuring out what students are going to want to come out and see, particularly at night and in the cold weather,” Evans said. “The nice thing about all of our events though, is that they’re completely free. We want to make sure that we’re not asking students, ‘hey come to this cool event, leave your warm room, but you have to pay.’ We always try to have something for people to do.”
CASE breaks down its programs into two categories: pop-up programming and large-scale events.
“A lot of the events this week are pop-ups, but we have some events coming up in February and March like ‘Fresh Check Day’ which is a suicide prevention program in collaboration with the Mind Spa and the Counseling Center, and Tunnel of Oppression, which we’re bringing back this year, and that will take students through the oppressed lives of different groups on campus. And of course Maine Day. Those fall more into the large scale category,” Evans said.
In addition to organizing events and activities around campus, CASE also manages over two-hundred student clubs and organizations that the University of Maine has to offer. CASE also serves as the place for students to go when they want to plan an event or start a new organization.
“The nice thing is that a student could walk through the door right now and start their own student club. We really make sure that if our students don’t see a club that they’re interested in, we can teach them how to start a new student organization,” Evans said.
They also facilitate collaborations with student government, Friday’s organization fair being one such collaboration.
“Between us and student government, there’s about two-hundred plus student organizations on campus that are recognized and a handful that aren’t recognized. We provide support for them,” Lamb said. “If there’s an event that they want to put on we can take them through the planning process, we have rental equipment that we can give them, such as popcorn machines and different things for fundraising. We also provide moral support.”
With a successful first week of events out of the way and many more on the horizon, students have plenty of reasons to get excited about what CASE has in store for the University of Maine.
For more information about CASE, please visit the Campus Activities and Student Engagement website, or stop by room 149 in the Memorial Union.