Q & A with new SPEC president Josh Oppenheimer
Oppenheimer shares his vision for SPEC's future
April 23, 2012, 9:10 pm · Updated April 25, 2012, 12:05 am·
Ellen Frierson | DP
On Monday, College junior Josh Oppenheimer was elected the new president of the Social Planning and Events Committee.
Oppenheimer, who formerly served as the executive secretary of SPEC, sat down with The Daily Pennsylvanian to discuss some of his goals for the year ahead.
Daily Pennsylvanian: Why did you decide to run for SPEC president?
Josh Oppenheimer: I knew I wanted to join SPEC even before I got onto Penn’s campus. I started off joining the Spring Fling and Connaissance committees as a regular member. This past year as executive secretary, I feel like I’ve added a lot of value to SPEC. I’m looking forward to challenging SPEC and once again pushing us to another level.
DP: What are your goals for SPEC this year?
JO: I’m coming into this with three goals: improving the events we do, improving the co-sponsorship process, the number of student groups we’re reaching and improving the committee experience.
In terms of events, we want to really challenge ourselves to think outside of the box and to do the unthinkable. Next year will be the 40th anniversary of Spring Fling, so we’re hoping to do something big.
In terms of co-sponsorship, SPEC is given roughly $100,000 each year by the Undergraduate Assembly to fund student groups. Before this year, the process was very disjointed and groups had to fill out many forms when applying for funding. This year, we’ve combined the three applications — Connaissance, SPEC-TRUM and Fully Planned — into one application.
Next year, the UA will hopefully come out with a Common Funding application, which will allow student groups to fill out one funding form for all funding sources on campus.
Finally, I think SPEC presidents in the past have focused on building director leadership. This year, I want to focus on how the freshmen joining these committees can get the most out of SPEC: by allowing them to grow as leaders, SPEC enthusiasts and well-rounded Quakers.
DP: Are there any specific challenges SPEC is facing this year?
JO: Increasing student awareness of SPEC events is always a priority. This year, we’ve significantly boosted our Twitter following to 1,200 and our Facebook friends to 1,300. We also have 8,400 students signed up for our bi-weekly email newsletter. Next year, we’re going to challenge the directors to think of even more creative ways to get the word out.
DP: This year, news that Tiësto would be headlining Spring Fling was leaked prematurely. How do you hope to minimize future leakages?
JO: We don’t hide anything from the student body. The only reason we keep which artists are coming a secret is because in the contracts we sign with the speakers and artists, they may pull out before the date on the contract. It’s an industry standard.
We try our best to keep it on a need to know basis. This year, we brainstormed a great idea of how to announce Tiësto. Because we didn’t get to implement our idea, we might just save it for next year.
DP: What is the best part about working for SPEC?
JO: I get to work with some of the most dedicated and hardworking students on this campus. These directors and committee members give up so much time — including part of their Fling — to put on some of the biggest campus events. I wouldn’t choose to work with any other group of teammates.
Also, even as a SPEC committee member, you get to meet the speakers or artists. The behind the scenes stuff that most students don’t get to see, SPEC directors get to share and talk about that.
DP: What is the best kept secret at SPEC that you think students should know about?
JO: This past Spring Fling, Passion Pit decided to stay for the entirety of Tiësto’s set and mingled in the floor. As far as I know, no students recognized them.