Behind the WYSIWYGs

The Easterner Online
Eastern Washington University, Cheney

What You See Is What You Get. In computer jargon WYSIWYG is the menu that displays each font. Arial. Courier New. Tahoma. Rockwell.

To Eastern students, however, WYSIGYGs are nights to catch some music, win prizes or just hang out with friends.

Eastern alumnus and current Director of Student Activities Stephanie Ennis brought the term WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) to the front of Eastern’s vocabulary. “It applies because we don’t know what we’re going to book each week,” Ennis said.

And Ennis has seen her share of weekly programs.

Her involvement began while she was an undergraduate at Eastern. “The way I got involved was the way most students do,” Ennis said. “There was a girl in a class that I sat next to.” The classmate was a member of Activities, Programming and Entertainment (A.P.E.) and soon Ennis was a member as well. Over 10 years later she continues to work with the program and has watched it evolve into Eagle Entertainment.

The evolution occurred in not only the name but in the manner the organization was run. A larger staff was brought in and with it came Mike Dolinger, the advisor for campus activities. Dolinger directly oversees Eagle Entertainment, saying, “It’s been a good year. We’ve done a lot of great events and the campus community has responded very well.”

A change also occurred in the role of students with Eagle Entertainment. Rather than being a volunteer-based club, paid positions were added. Jana Jaraysi, the administrative coordinator, holds one of the paid positions. “We are allowed to work 19 hours a week,” she said. “But we probably work a little more than that. Especially if we have a huge event coming up.”

And Eastern has been host to quite a few big names. The event featuring Dr. Drew was a particularly memorable night for Ennis.

It was 10 p.m. and Showalter Auditorium was packed with students waiting in anticipation for the advice guru. The only problem was Dr. Drew was in Salt Lake City waiting for his flight to take-off. Ennis gave students the choice to reschedule or stay and wait. They chose the latter. “Not one person voted to reschedule,” Ennis said. “And not one person left.”

Not one WYSIWYG has ever been cancelled. Despite bomb scares and power outages, they continue on schedule every Wednesday night.

One bomb threat happened on a Wednesday night. The Eagle Entertainment staff fought back and created a WYSIWYG with free massages intended to relieve the stress of students who spent the day in Reese Court. “That is such a credit to the students who work so hard for the other students,” Ennis said. “Because there’s no one who jumps in and makes it happen for them at the last minute.”

Often times it’s not the actual event that proves memorable but rather the experience students have with their peers at the events. Ennis remembered a particularly unforgettable Bingo night. The beach theme created an army of college students wielding squirt guns and buckets of water. And soon the participants were engaged in an epic water fight. “It was harmless, it didn’t damage anything and people had a good time,” Ennis said. “For the people that were there that was incredibly memorable.”

Memorable experiences are precisely what WYSIWYG attempts to give students-no matter what your area of interest might be. “I bet if you think back on the five most fun times you’ve had this year they probably don’t have to do with a particular concert or performance,” Ennis said. “They were a time when you were hanging out with friends, doing something stupid, it was kind of fun and you just talked and goofed off.”

Although not every event is a sure-fire success, trial and error is how WYSIWYGs were created. After a few programs fell through-Tune-in Tuesdays and a concert series in the MoStreet Cafe-Eagle Entertainment decided to run the gamut and get as many students involved as possible.

The first thing Eagle Entertainment did was decided on Wednesday evenings. Ennis explained, “We really needed a way to make programming happen regularly and not just randomly. So people could plan for it and put it on their calendar.”

Doing this also opened a world of possibilities as far as booking. As a participant in the National Association of Campus Activities, Eagle Entertainment went into conferences knowing exactly what they wanted and when they wanted it, and were therefore able to get more programs for the same amount of money.

As Eastern continues to grow, so does Eagle Entertainment. WYSIWYGs have become a tradition in building memories. “I think its really interesting to see how its become completely institutionalized,” Ennis said. “Meaning there aren’t many people on campus who have never heard of a WYSIWYG. They may have never been to one or even know what WYSIWYG looks like in writing. But they know something happens every Wednesday evening.”

WYSIWYGs have, however, seen a marked attendance decline in Ennis’s view, which is why the time has changed from the previous 7p.m. to 5 p.m.

Why the sudden decline?

“I think it has to do with a lot of things,” Ennis said. “Everybody has 9,000 things clamoring for their attention.” She also thinks that students disassociate themselves with the posters hanging around campus. Perhaps students don’t realize these events are for them.

Despite the recent decline in attendance, WYSIWYGs continue to offer the tradition that Eastern seems to lack.