Featured (Slider) News

Student Government Association’s Big Event Receives Record Post-Pandemic Turnout

Monmouth’s Student Government Association (SGA) held its annual Big Event on Saturday, Oct. 21, and received a turnout of about 200 students, faculty, and staff for the largest Big Event since before the pandemic. Participating clubs included, but were not limited to, the Black Student Union, Wrestling Team, Love Blue, and every sorority and fraternity. Worksites were spread throughout campus and the surrounding Monmouth community, with sites stationed at Deal Lake, Monmouth’s Community Garden, Trinity Church Soup Kitchen, and more.

Kiera Luckie serves as SGA’s Big Event Committee Chairperson and planned the entire day. “I served on the Big Event Committee my freshman year and then became the Chair for this school year,” she explained. “Back in the summer I reached out to worksites and coordinated with them. As the date drew closer, I advertised the event through tabling, email blasts, and social media. As for volunteers, every sorority and fraternity on campus participated along with the Black Student Union, Wrestling Team, Dance Team, Cheer Team, Love Blue, Volunteer Club, and more!”

Though this year’s turnout was the biggest since before the pandemic, SGA has been holding the annual event for over two decades. Vaughn Clay, Ed.D., Advisor of SGA and Director of Student Engagement, said, “Our version of the Big Event has existed since 2001. The Big Event originated at Texas A&M (TAMU) in 1982. Monmouth University’s SGA learned about the program when they began attending COSGA (Conference on Student Government Associations) at TAMU in the spring of 2000.”

“While we share the name and overall concept, our version of the Big Event is different in ways from that of other campuses,” Clay continued. “Some of the institutions that host a Big Event are much larger, some are smaller and some are about the same size as Monmouth University. With that said, it’s hard to make an actual comparison aside from the idea that we’re all trying to spend a day giving back and thanking the local communities where our campuses exist, live, shop, socialize, etc.”

The goal of the Big Event is to give back to the community in the University area. Locations that can submit applications to become a work site include individuals who need a hand, community-based agencies and organizations, local towns and municipalities, houses of worship, schools, and assisted living facilities based in Asbury Park, Deal, Long Branch, Ocean Township, West Long Branch, and Neptune. In previous years, the Big Event has helped the SPCA in Eatontown, cleaned beaches in Long Branch, spent a day with senior citizens in Ocean Grove, and painted murals at grade schools in Ocean Township. Over the course of the Big Event’s existence at Monmouth, more than 6,000 members of the University community have volunteered at more than 600 different worksites.

Katie Marshall, the President of Love Blue, Monmouth’s club dedicated to cleaning the shores, explained that the club typically postpones cleanups if the weather is unfavorable. For the Big Event, however, they did not cancel. “This year we had the opportunity to have fifteen dedicated volunteers willingly persevere through rainy weather to remove 150 pounds!” she said. “I couldn’t be more thankful to have these remarkable and committed volunteers brave the rain and invest significant effort into picking up litter. We definitely brought the sunshine to the shore on that gloomy day!”

For the Big Event, Love Blue hosted their worksite on the beach at Phillips Ave where volunteers donned gloves and filled buckets with beach litter. “This beach is not only a favorite spot for locals to surf, fish, and walk but also hosts field day events for a local daycare when the weather permits,” elaborated Marshall. “Our cleanup efforts ensure a safe and pleasant environment for children and all visitors, free from the inconvenience of stepping on trash.”

“One of the important takeaways is the idea that we’re all connected whether we realize it or not. Another thought centers on the idea that giving back and community service can make a tangible difference in the lives of community members, local agencies, churches, community gardens, area parks and beaches, and so on,” Clay said.

Anybody directly affiliated with the University can sign up to volunteer to help at the Big Event, regardless of club affiliation. A volunteer application can be submitted on SGA’s University website page before next year’s deadline.

“If the Big Event was able to instill in the volunteers the notion that community service is both important and personally enriching,” Clay said, “then maybe the participants will take that experience and continue to volunteer in other events in the future.”