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Student Activities events add fun, aid community

SA Staff
The Student Activities and Union Services staff (seen here from l-r): Bryan Smith, Suzanne O'Driscoll, Naomi Vogt, Brendan O'Brien and Phuong La develop and coordinate a variety of campus events. Photo caption Photo by Lee Conell

by Lee Conell '09 (English) Public Affairs intern

As campus life heats up and event attendance increases, the staff of the Office of Student Activities and Union Services is constantly on their toes.

"There's not a day or night when there's not something happening at SUNY New Paltz," said Suzanne O'Driscoll, the department's director.

O'Driscoll describes the central mission of Student Activities and Union Services as developing student leaders while offering a variety of program opportunities, from comedy nights to community service. The department's staff consists of two program assistants, Brendan O'Brien and Bryan Smith, a graduate assistant, Phuong La, and a keyboard specialist, Naomi Vogt. There are also a number of students, including seven Student Activity Managers (SAM). The SAMs generate ideas for programs and run the Student Union Building at night. Student Activities and Union Services also cultivates student leadership through Emerging Leaders, a program which encourages first-year students to take on active roles in their community. O'Driscoll loves watching students work hard to make the events they care about happen. "I am amazed and inspired by my students," she said.

Student Activities takes on an active community role itself, and is recognized for it. Last year one of their events focused on volunteer work in the community, Make a Difference Day, was named to the 2007 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. The department is now preparing for Relay for Life, an overnight walk-a-thon to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Not only does an event like Relay for Life, which will occur on April 18, contribute to the community at large, it also unites the college.

"Relay for Life brings together all sorts of groups on our campus," said Smith. "We have such a wide variety of students here."

A kick-off event was held for this year's Relay for Life on March 6, but people can still sign up by contacting Smith at

In addition to bringing together students, events like Relay for Life provide a unique opportunity for students and faculty to bond outside the classroom. "Students get such a kick out of seeing faculty at events," said O'Driscoll.

For more information about Student Activities and Union Services, visit