There's a lot more to Student Union Activities than $2 movies.
SUA provides a wide range of programs for Kansas University students, ranging from guest speakers such as Monty Python comic Graham Chapman and Rolling Stone writer P.J. O'Rourke to ski trips to concerts to Strat-O-Matic baseball games.
Not that the movies aren't popular they're drawing more students than ever, according to SUA. In his annual report, David St. Peter, last year's SUA president, said attendance nearly doubled from the previous year. And although the film series lost more than $10,000, it represented a 38 percent decrease in red ink, he said.
Anita Bajaj, this year's SUA president, gives much of the credit for the turnaround to the restructuring of the SUA film committee. The single committee was split in two, creating feature and spectrum films committees. The feature film series offers recently released popular films, while spectrum films are classic or art house films.
THE COMMITTEES combined to present 148 films in 1989-90.
The feature films committee also started a new tradition by sponsoring a free "Movie on the Hill" during orientation for new students.
In all, SUA last year put on about 425 events that more than 154,500 participants, St. Peter reported.
SUA is made up of a 12-member student board, three full-time advisers, two office staff members and more than 150 committee members.
SUA has eight committees: Forums, Special Events, Feature Films, Spectrum Films, Fine Arts, Marketing and Promotions, Recreation, and Travel.
The forums committee presents lectures, debates and group discussions that are free and open to the university population.
Last year, the committee helped sponsor a six-part environmental lecture series that included speakers ranging from Christopher Childs of Greenpeace to John C. Calhoun, mayor of Homer, Alaska.
This year, the forums committee is working to bring J. Gordon Liddy and Timothy Leary to campus for a debate, said Dean Newton, vice president of university affairs for SUA.
THE SPECIAL EVENTS committee is responsible for bringing concerts to campus. Past acts to appear at KU include Oingo Boingo, R.E.M., Homestead Grays, the Romantics, and just last spring, the Smithereens. The committee also sponsored "Day on the Hill," a free, all-day concert that drew more than 3,500 students to Campanile Hill.
The recreation committee oversees leisure activities such as Strat-O-Matic baseball, Dungeons and Dragons, backgammon and the chess club.
However, the committee's main programs involve the All-Campus Recreation Tournament, the KU College Bowl and the wilderness discovery camping rental service.
This year, "we are going to try to break the world record for Twister," Newton said, referring to the party game that's usually played by a handful of people. Newton said the SUA recreation committee hopes to hold the game in Memorial Stadium and attract more than 4,054 participants, which is the current record.
SUA'S TRAVEL committee organizes discounted trips for students. Last year, the committee sponsored 11 trips, including one to Panama City Beach, Fla. The committee also started day trips to places such as the Woodlands dog races, Kansas City Royals baseball games, the Renaissance Festival and Worlds of Fun.
SUA's travel committee also is planning a trip to New York City over New Year's, Newton said.
Bajaj said SUA also will focus this year on fine arts.
"That's an area we'd like to expand," she said, possibly to include things such as poetry readings, exhibits of food art and sculpture and experimental theater.
The Kansas Union Gallery displays student and faculty works, as well as traveling presentations. SUA's fine arts committee also helps with creative programming such as visiting artists and touring repertory theater productions. Also featured are visiting poet and writer series.
The marketing and promotions committee's duties include helping publish brochures, developing advertising campaigns and coordinating the 864-SHOW line.
Newton said the committee is being restructured to unify the advertising effort "and make it more cost-effective, hopefully."
SUA also will be trying to promote cultural diversity in the events sponsored by each committee, Bajaj said. For example, SUA is trying to bring civil rights activist Angela Davis to campus this year, she said.
Bajaj said that working in SUA is worth the effort.
"It's really an exciting organization to be a part of," Bajaj said. Students are given a lot of responsibility, yet they receive guidance and support from the full-time staff.
"YOU HAVE the chance to see a program through from start to finish," she said, adding that the skills students learn will prove valuable when they graduate.
Some SUA members have reaped benefits from their college experience. For example, she said, former SUA President Steve Traxler is now promoting concerts in Chicago. And Melanie Tusquellas, the current special events coordinator, was scheduled to spend the summer in London on an internship with MTV.
"It's fun, too. That's the bottom line, I think," Bajaj said.