USU: Fall health and wellness classes remain virtually ignored

Alyssa Lofgren

Despite a lot of advertising, many short courses and wellness series events offered in conjunction with the University Student Union’s Life Skills and Leadership Institute have low attendance rates.

The classes, which were designed to complement student’s personal interests, have mostly seen low attendance figures since the start of the fall semester.

“I’m not sure whether it’s awareness (about the events) or if we’re just not getting through to all 34,000 students,” said Hamid Jahangard, program coordinator for training and development at the USU.

The first short course, “Overcoming Shyness,” which was supposed to take place on Sept. 27, was cancelled due to low enrollment. The event was cancelled a few days before it took place, and as the registration forms came in, it appeared that 12 students wanted to attend.

A wellness series event, “Get Fit?The CSUN way!” took place on Sept. 26 and had only three or four people attend.

“For these short courses, if we can consistently get eight to 10 people, we’re good to start,” said Jahangard. “But eventually we want to get 30 or 50 people.”

The USU accepts registration for the courses online, by phone or e-mail and drop-ins. Once students enroll, they receive a courtesy call when the event is close.

A course about sleep on Oct. 16, had 12 people signed up in advance, but only three showed up. A belly dancing short course had 27 people in attendance, when only 15 had registered.

“I have never seen the courses advertised, but I definitely would have went to the belly dancing course for the experience,” said Amber Szotak, a senior anthropology major. “If I knew about it beforehand and couldn’t go, it would be purely because of scheduling difficulties. I would go if it worked with my schedule.”

The USU spends a large portion of a program’s budget on advertising to increase student awareness about the events.

For these particular short courses and wellness events, the USU advertises in the Daily Sundial, at freshmen and transfer orientations, at advisement centers for all nine colleges, at the Matador Involvement Center, the Fitness Center, the Satellite Student Union and on the internet through the USU website. In addition, USU staff sometimes passes out brochures at different on-campus events.

“We really try to diversify our advertising,” said Jahangard. “We think we’re doing a lot of marketing. We’re doing what we think is reasonable.”

Some students have suggested that the low attendance might be because the bulk of visual advertising, like banners and signage, seem to be solely around the USU area.

Szotak spends a majority of her time around Sierra Hall and at the library. “I think posters and billboards should be randomly dispersed around campus instead of concentrated in one area,” she said. “Maybe they can start e-mailing notices too.”

Students who attended the short courses and wellness events seemed to agree that the short courses were entertaining, enjoyable and beneficial.

“Students that attend tell us (in their assessments) what a great value it is to them,” said Jahangard.

The next wellness series event, “Nutrition”, will be on Nov. 7 from 11a.m to 12:30 p.m. “We have six people registered so far,” said Jahangard.

A “Relationships” short course set for Nov. 15 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., shows a promising attendance, as 18 students are currently registered and the event is still being actively promoted.

“It would be nice if they could send e-mails or publicize in the newspapers more,” said Peter Rodriguez, a senior theatre arts major. “I always look at my e-mails from CSUN. If they’re having problems getting people, if it’s possible, they should put more billboards on campus.”

Jahangard mentioned that next year, the USU will be looking into hanging banners about the events during the first four weeks of school.

“Students go to school to enrich themselves, and to become a better part of the global community,” said Jahangard. “How many people can say that they’ve learned about belly dancing in their four or five years of college?

“Changing a tire? Everyone needs to know that. You want to leave college with a broader experience. This is the forum and the time to do it.”

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