Liz Watson

By Shasta Webb

The Mac Weekly: What are you the face of on the Macalester Campus? Liz Watson: It feels like everything, but I am the Traditions Coordinator for Program Board. I do the Petting Zoo, Winter Ball, Mac Idol, and maybe a new tradition in the spring, but you’ll just have to wait and see for that. It’s a lot of fun. I also work for Campus Programs, which is completely different. I’m the Student Engagement person, so I help plan study breaks and some of the smaller events on campus. We plan Mac @ Nite, and lots of really fun things, that I always enjoyed going to in the past. Do you have any favorites in the list of things you plan? LW: Probably Winter Ball. That was my biggest draw to Program Board. I helped Olivia [Posner] ’12 last year with planning and loved it, so I came back for more. I didn’t realize how much work she did without telling me. It’s been an interesting six months of planning. What goes into the planning process? LW: First, finding a venue. You would think that finding a place for 1200 people would be easy, but it’s not. There are probably ten venues in the Twin Cities that can fit us. Then there’s negotiating and finding a date and a time. We had to pick a date really early, because everybody likes to plan stuff on this campus and there’s something happening literally every weekend. We told everyone that December 1st is ours! Nobody gets it. Leave it alone. So we picked a date and found a venue. But then this venue booked some sort of strange piano exhibit for a month and a half. Then we had to find a different venue. There’s been a lot of talking to people, which gets exhausting. It’s fun, but there are a lot of logistical things that nobody realizes, like timing the buses. Who knew that I needed to schedule that? The fun part is the decorating and catering, but you can’t get to that until everything is done. But we did get my favorite DJ, so that made me happy. Are we allowed to know who it is? LW: DJ Soviet Panda. He played last year. We’re stealing him from First Ave for the night. Last year’s Winter Ball ended up being a big situation. What was that like, having to deal with the repercussions? LW: It was mostly just very embarrassing. I was sober and I had sort of been walking around and working at different things all night, so I didn’t really know what was happening. At the end of the night, everybody was leaving and [Olivia & I] got pulled to the side and we were told what had happened. We were both pretty shocked. But talking to the woman [who coordinated it], and seeing her not smiling, and not congratulating us like she was at the beginning was bad enough. But then her “you’ll get a call on Monday” attitude—it was just very embarrassing and surprising. I am hoping that we don’t have a similar situation. We’ve changed a few things so that that won’t be the case. I also hope, just for student safety, we don’t have the same issues. People were doing some pretty ridiculous things. And I thought, “When in your mind did that appear logical? Why was that the move to make?” Especially with the plants. I don’t understand. It really looked like someone said “I’m gonna destroy this shit!” and then pulled it out, and then decided at the last minute to change their mind. Like “I’m sorry plant!” and then gently set it down next to the plant. Why didn’t you just fling the shit everywhere? I don’t understand. At no point was this the reasonable pattern of events. Is event planning something you’re interested in? Had you been eyeing this position since your first year? LW: Not after this! No, I’m kidding. Sort of. I guess we’ll have to see what’s in the cards for after graduation. [Posner] and I played lacrosse together and had become pretty good friends and I walked in the [Program Board] office once and asked, ‘What are you doing?’ and she said, ‘Working on Winter Ball stuff.’ I freaked out and I really wanted to help. She gave me a leadership role in helping plan everything, which was great. I felt prepared going into this, but at the same time very unprepared. I enjoy planning something that makes everyone happy. Seeing everyone smiling and everyone’s faces makes it all worth it. If I were to do this type of work, I’d have to be in it for the long haul. You make connections and you keep them. There’s no point in making connections and going off and doing something completely different. How do you manage to plan all of these events and still be a student? LW: I have insomnia, so that’s one way. I don’t do much night sleeping. I’m usually up in the Kirk Basement Lab. Come visit me any time. I’m almost always there doing work. I’m also always ready to sleep, unless I’m coming from an important meeting. I’m usually in sweats, which means I can sleep anywhere. I’m a napper and a day sleeper. I guess the inability to actually sleep helps with college. I also have a very big planner. It’s industrial strength. Lawyers carry this planner. Doctors carry this planner. Liz Watson carries this planner. Do you have time for anything else besides event planning and school? LW: I think it’s really important to make time for fun. Sometimes you just gotta do a little ‘treat yo-self.’ A little “No regrets senior year” as well. I always regret those moments though. I think it’s important to see your friends and interact with people, instead of just staying in Kirk Basement Lab, because you could definitely live down there. What does your day or week look like when you’re in planning mode? LW: Insane. It looks insane. Program Board is unpaid but I feel like I spend more time on that than Campus Programs. Campus Programs is the fun, relaxing job. Program Board is the not-so-relaxing job. For Campus Programs, I work in the SORC [Student Organization Resource Center] and plan study breaks. Look out for something in the library soon. Fun, smaller events that are engaging and good for the student body to ease the tension a little bit. I also help with Senior Week. It’s gonna be good and we’re planning Halfway to May right now. If I’m not doing Campus Programs stuff, then I’m in [the Program Board office] on the phone, on the computer, responding to emails. That’s all daytime, which is not my prime functioning time. Nighttime is when I do the rest of my work. That’s my typical day. I’m in the Campus Center more than any person I know. How much creative freedom are you allowed in planning events? What do you take the reigns on? LW: A lot, I think. The study breaks that we’re planning—we sit down as a team and discuss them and what we want to happen. With Program Board, it’s literally like ‘What awesome thing can you come up with that the student body would love?’ We vote on it as a board. We all contribute to the same pot of ideas and we’re taking from the same pot of money. I chose the Winter Ball theme, which is classified information, and the venue. It’s a nice creative outlet. Pretty soon we’ll be sending out some Winter Ball details—location, theme. How can students get involved in planning events? LW: Just email me. Program Board is always looking for people to get involved and help out. I’ll probably need volunteers for Winter Ball. Shoot me an email at ewatson1. Not ewatson. That poor woman has been getting my emails for years. How has this added to your experience at Mac? LW: I think that it’s showed me the other side of things. I was always the girl who went to all the events and always had the best time. I went to all the shows. Now I’m actually planning all this stuff, which shows you the other side of everything. It allows me to engage with other students more. I was worried, as a senior, that I would be closed off, which is the exact opposite of what I wanted. It’s afforded me the opportunity to talk to lots of other people, especially younger people, and have some really good times. It’s been nice, and I’ve really enjoyed it. We’ll see how I feel December 2nd. refresh –>