Behind the scenes of campus performances — ranging from speeches by Bill Cosby and Joan Rivers to concerts by Third Eye Blind and The Avett Brothers — are the members of Virginia Tech Union.
VTU was founded in 1969 and quickly became the largest student-run programming board on campus. Its mission is to bring social and educational entertainment to Tech students and the Blacksburg community.
“That’s always our number one motivation when we’re booking people or looking for people. We always care about the students,” said Eroica Williams, director of special events for VTU and a junior communication major.
Williams said members of the club are motivated by their commitment to providing fun and engaging entertainment to the university.
Matt Haugen, director of concerts for VTU and a junior international studies and Spanish major, agreed.
“It’s just really cool when the students respond well and you’re actually doing something for them. That’s the whole purpose for us,” Haugen — who was recently elected as VTU’s 2012-13 president — said.
The group doesn’t hold back when it comes to spreading the word about performances, either.
“We have tried a lot of different marketing stuff that’s here — even down to putting coffee filters in toilets because it just shows up as floating words. It’s really cool,” Haugen said.
However, Haugen said planning for an event isn’t an easy feat and is a long process — the group decides on a performer and sends an offer to a performer’s agent. If an agent responds, they go through the logistics, working with production services, the ticket office and Virginia Tech Police.
But that’s just the beginning. The day of a performance brings its own set of challenges.
“The day of show is just loading all the equipment in, getting everything set up and ready for everybody to come in, and then hoping the show goes well and taking it all down,” Haugen said.
Although the process seems fairly straightforward, the organization’s budget has proven to be an obstacle. The budget limits VTU from bringing huge names — such as Kanye West and Lady Gaga — to Tech.
“It is limiting, but there are creative ways you can go around it,” Williams said.
VTU tries to circumnavigate the budget issues by working with other organizations and pooling their budgets to bring events to campus. The organization also focuses on timing when booking acts to make them more affordable.