A blog post or two ago, I wrote about OUTLook’s upcoming lecture series, and now, here I stand, on the other side. The experience built character, to say the least.
But first, let’s focus on the positives: I learned a lot about two fascinating topics: laws relating to discrimination and the history of HIV/AIDS in America (I was not able to attend the lecture on Evolutionary Biology, but I heard it was fantastic). I got the experience of contacting speakers and following through with getting them to speak.
So then why am I disappointed? I am going to try to parse out some of my complicated feelings about the lecture series. One of my main concerns is that all three lectures had very few attendees, with the middle one having the most attendees only because the professor invited her class to see the event. I thought that I put a lot of effort into inviting people on facebook and reminding them via facebook statuses and posts, and I now realize that the problem was not how much work I put in, but where I directed my efforts. I put most of my eggs in the facebook basket, without putting a ton of attention to flyering and making personal appearances at different group events to advertise.
I feel like I will take this main lesson into planning next year’s programming, but advertising is just the external symptom for a much larger problem. OUTLook was really small this year. From talking to Liz Douglass, the main OUTLook contact, I understand that there have been many more people contacting the chapel for personal meetings to discuss GLBTQ issues and spirituality, but fewer people have been coming to meetings. I have really been thinking about why this might be, and I have come to two conclusions: 1) like the lecture series, better, more directed advertising will help more people know that we exist, or 2) this is just a phase that the group is going through. Civilizations rise and fall, and student groups do so as well.
This led me to realize, though, that I was defining success very narrowly, just in numbers attending the lecture series. Going forth to next year, I really need to try to redefine my notion of what successful planning of the semester and year will look like. On my part, I need to be better at communicating my goals and actually following through with following the appropriate steps to achieve them. I am excited for next year’s OUTLook because I really do think it is time for us to take our rightful place as a much more visible and active part of Religious Life on campus.