James Weleber’s Screening Tips
From: James F. Weleber
Sent: Thursday, April 01, 2004 1:49 AM
To: Lauren Hathorn
Cc: Steven Slverman
Subject: BUSTED Screening
Congratulations on getting involved with SSDP, it’s a great organization to devote your time and talent to.
Ok, so on to the BUSTED screening. I browsed around ASU’s webpage for a bit and found that you most likely want to deal with the folks on the “Programming and Activities Board”; this is a board under the ASASU student government. The first thing I would do would be to pitch the idea of them co-sponsoring this event with your SSDP chapter. This way you get to tap into their funding — which should be more than enough to pull this off — and you get street credibility for bringing them the idea.
When you pitch them the event make sure you stress the educational nature of this. Tell them how you are trying to get more students to be familiar with their constitutional rights and be more comfortable dealing with the police. Tell them you just want to create a more enlightened electorate — just like the founding fathers would have wanted. (I know that sounds corny but give them the gist of it).
If they buy in, then you have just tapped into a resource that has been putting on events of this magnitude all year. They should have a set way to handle the event, but if they don’t, find out what they will need from your SSDP chapter (e.g. funds, advertising, people to work the door, etc.), and start putting that together.
If the Programming guys don’t want to be involved with this event, don’t sweat it. You don’t need them. The amount of legwork you’ll have to do is greater but shouldn’t be too bad.
1) The first thing is to find a good time for the event and a good location. You’ll want to check with your conference services department to see how they handle room reservations. You are going to want to check the university calendar and make sure you won’t be competing with too many other activities. Sadly for us we missed out on about 450 students because we scheduled our event the same night as “Dress Your RA”, which most on-campus students must attend.
2) After you get the room, start your advertising!!! This is the most important thing. It’s cool to host an event, but trust us; you’ll have a much better time when people flood your event. We put up huge (11×17) posters all over campus, all over town, and on every floor of the dorms. The best advertising for us turned out to be the advertising in the dorms. Check with your residence life office to see how you can submit posters for events. (Click here to see our poster.)
3) We also sent out press releases to the local papers, and local TV stations. They added our event to the community events calendar. It’s important to send out these press releases at least one week before the event. Try to meet with a news anchor or writer when you drop off your press release. The student paper should be an automatic buy-in for press coverage, but don’t be afraid to tackle the big papers in town.
4) Talk up the event with other organizations on campus. We stopped by all the Greek houses to give them posters and cordially invite all of their members to the event. We also dropped by numerous other meetings from clubs like “Students for Choice”, “College Dems & Repubs”, “Habitat for Humanity”… the list goes on. Also, make announcements in your classes. See if your professors will make announcements in all of their sections also. Bottom line is this: Tell everybody you can think of, because you never know where your strong supporters will be.
5) Get a local attorney. We got the Bozeman Chief Public Defender for our event and we even got her to do it about 2hrs before it started. Our contract attorney had to leave town and so Mr. Silverman and I drove to a few attorneys offices and pitched them the event. Most loved the idea. Our public defender just could not say no. She said that this event was a great idea and that EVERBODY needed to know their rights better. You shouldn’t have to try too many lawyers before one signs on. Be sure to let them know what great, free advertising this would be for them.
6) Last, talk it up with the administration. Make meetings with the Dean of Students, the University President, the University Chief of Police, etc. Even if you don’t know what good the meeting will do, schedule it anyway. It is always good to be the one who approaches the administrators. You never know when having them on your side or just having them familiar with your chapter will come in handy. As an example: I met with our university police chief to explain to her how we were not trying to generate anti-police sentiment with this screening. I just told her we felt it was important that citizens knew their rights and how to use them in realistic ways. She thanked me for stopping by to clear that up with her and to this day we feel like we have open communication with the university police.
I know I wrote a ton. Good luck and have fun with this. It’s the best program we’ve ever put on.