Ria Sabnis: The Five Upgrades I’ll Make to Emory’s Student Programming Council

By Ria Sabnis, Candidate for SPC President

Ria Sabnis is a junior from New Jersey. She likes trail mix, the hit NBC series 30 Rock, and student programming. She can’t be Queen of trail mix. She can’t be Tina Fey. So she’s running for President of the Student Programming Council (SPC).

What’s up, Ria?


Let’s jump right in. What makes you uniquely qualified to be SPC President?

I’ve served on SPC since the beginning of my freshman year at Emory. In that time, I’ve gained extensive experience in each sphere of the organization: I’ve planned school-wide events for Dooley’s Week and Homecoming. I’ve chaired the Special Events committee. I’ve directed SPC’s marketing efforts. Now, as a junior, I’m SPC’s Vice President.

I’ve learned the ins and outs of SPC’s work, built a broad network of contacts and relationships within the Emory community, and have become familiar with where SPC falls short. This comprehensive array of experiences makes me the most qualified candidate for the job.

To me, SPC comes off as an exclusive club. What will you do to change that?

Amen. True dat. Hashtag retweet. As president, I’ll do three things to shift that perception and that reality.

First, I’ll revamp the way that SPC interviews work. This will require shifting the organization’s focus to target more graduate student applicants with intentionality and consistency.

Second, I’ll level the playing field by making sure that the details of the interview process — like examples of past interview questions and the criteria for the kinds of skills SPC is looking for — are posted in a public and highly accessible place (like Facebook or OrgSync). I’d also create a mentor-mentee partnership between current SPC members and applicants to get all questions answered.

Third, it’s no secret that SPC’s membership is predominantly Greek, White, and upper-middle class. This represents only a portion of Emory’s student body. We can do better. SPC needs to work harder to recruit members who reflect and represent the racial, religious, and socioeconomic diversity of the entire university. If I’m President, this will be a priority from the beginning of recruitment until the final selection of members.

I don’t always feel comfortable at SPC events. How would you make programming more inclusive?

My goal as SPC president will be to connect with groups that have previously been underrepresented in student government, to create productive relationships and programs. This will include outreach to various religious, cultural, and political groups across campus to better understand how to program for these communities. It will also include outreach to faculty and staff to identify windows of opportunity to program in the classroom — a new frontier for SPC. A quick King of Pops between Financial and Orgo never hurt anyone.

I would also push to make sure that the food served at SPC events caters to more dietary preferences and restrictions, while keeping our events sustainable and free of additional cost to Emory students. This means ensuring that there is a Halal, Kosher, gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan option at every major SPC event. No one should feel like they don’t belong at an SPC event.

If I vote for you, will we finally get Kanye at Dooley’s Week?

Probs not, but maybs. It’s true that SPC’s budget is big — big enough to bring some dope artists to campus. We get our funding from a portion of the Student Activity Fee, paid by each Emory student. This is why I think it’s important that SPC is honest and transparent about its sources of funding. While SPC’s spending is public, we need to do a better job of making it accessible.

As President, I will publish a simple, in-depth explanation of the funding process that SPC takes part in as a divisional organization of the Student Government Association. This document can be integrated into first-year and transfer Orientation, made accessible to chartered clubs for their reference, and published on OrgSync and Facebook for any curious or concerned student to gain a better understanding of how organizations receive their own annual budget. The money is the students’, after all, and I will be committed to keeping students up to speed on how it’s being spent.

I often only hear about SPC events after they’ve happened. How would you improve publicity?

It’s unfortunate that word of SPC events sometimes fails to reach Emory students. As Vice President, I’ve worked hard to build a better infrastructure for publicizing our events and initiatives. I directed the launch of SPC’s first-ever Publicity Committee, a special task-force within the organization that is responsible solely for marketing our events across campus.

But this solution isn’t perfect; it operates by pulling money from the budgets of other SPC committees, limiting the impact that the Publicity Committee can have. As President, I’ll take new two new major steps to improve publicity.

First, I will allot the Publicity Committee its own independent budget, ensuring that it has the resources to publicize events on campus in a more frequent and compelling way, so that a larger percentage of Emory’s students know what events are coming up.

Second, I will utilize OrgSync features to improve SPC’s real-time, day-of communication. Too often, students arrive at SPC events and pop-ups — like “make-your-own-teddy bear” or Blue Donkey in Asbury Circle — after we’ve run out of the giveaway and are packing up. With OrgSync’s text message feature, Emory students can sign up for SPC text alerts to find out when and where we are hosting events, when supplies are running short, and when our event has ended. It’s important that we open new lines of communication with the students we represent.

It seems like SPC only really exists to run Dooley’s Week and Homecoming. Can you fix that?

This is a reputation SPC has long hoped to change, but that’s not possible unless we truly increase the frequency of our events. I want to transform SPC into the university’s go-to organization for new, innovative, and engaging programming.

The fix is really simple: to shift SPC’s programming identity, our organization should take on the responsibility of additional smaller-scale events that happen more frequently throughout the year. My goal is for SPC to create four highly engaging events per semester, in addition to the established week-long ones.

Some of the most popular events on campus have been signature SPC Special Events, like Finals Food Trucks Friday and Massages in the Library. As SPC President, I will push for more events like these and team up with other organizations for co-programming and broader buy-in from the student body.

So, can I have your digits?

Yeah. Text me! (732)710–8438.