By Russell Dotson
Texas Java opened its doors for more than 200 students March 3 for an event hosted by the Campus Activities Board.
This small-town coffee shop has progressively become the local student hotspot for studying and social networking, so it was only a matter of time before student organizations began to bridge the gap between campus and students’ favorite caffeine dive.
Jeff Sutton, assistant director of campus activities, organized the event with Jennifer Larkin, a junior history major, who serves as the executive board member over logistics.
“We had a lot of students say they wanted to do coffee house events,” Sutton said. “They like music, and they like free stuff.”
So CAB came up with an idea.
“We tried combining as many things as we could, passed out free drinks, and had live student musicians, and then we were able to pass out some surveys to find out what students would like to do next year.”
Once students filled out the survey, they got a ticket that was good for any drink in any size.
“The surveys gave us vital information, helping us know what events students have gone to and what events they liked, and what they have heard about from other places that they would like to bring here,” Sutton said.
The first musicians to hit the stage were Ryan Chandler and Jacob Campsey, who call themselves Two Guys and Two Guitars.
After Chandler and Campsey were Alison Hankins, Mark Rojas, Jonathan Dean, Abbey Smith and Megan McCuscy.
“Jeff and I wanted an easy, low-key event,” Larkin said. “It was a great opportunity to get feedback on CAB that we might not necessarily have gotten on campus.”
Larkin is one of three executive board members working with CAB.
“I plan events, make sure they go well and make sure that if any problems come up, I can deal with them,” she said. “I also take event ideas and make them a reality.”
Larkin and the other two board members meet throughout the week, assisting with the planning and oversight of events. They work closely with 30 other students who volunteer their time and services.
Mara Prindle is a freshman who works with CAB.
“At the meetings, we talk about the upcoming events and volunteer to help with them. Each event has to have a chairperson. I served as the chair for Ladies Night and Preview Weekend last semester,” she said.
For the Texas Java event, she handed out flyers in Johnson where she lives.
Last semester, the Beltonian, Belton’s dinner-and-a-movie movie theatre, started offering UMHB students a free movie pass on Thursday nights.
Sutton said that was during the preliminary phase of CAB’s communication with the Beltonian.
“We have heard students say they want more to do on the weekends, want more options. The Beltonian shows movies all day on Saturdays, giving students something to do that is free,” he said.
Students can pick up a free ticket in their office in the SUB or show their student ID at the theater.
“Our goal is to provide UMHB students an atmosphere where they can have a good time and network with their peers,” Sutton said. “We do one CAB event during the week and one on the weekend.”
The students who work with the group frequently call after they graduate, thanking Sutton for the opportunities they were given.
“They chair events, figure out how to use the budget, what supplies they need, how to advertise,” Sutton said. “It’s a great opportunity for students to learn things they won’t necessarily get in a classroom but they can definitely use in real life.”