Category Archives: SU Events

In Depth: University Union Performing Arts

University Union Performing Arts, Seth Meyers 2013

University Union Performing Arts

is responsible for bringing speakers and comedians to campus each year. In its earliest stages, the board was actually two different boards, University Union Speakers and University Union Comedians. The boards eventually combined to create University Union Performing Arts. As a board, the directors focus on bringing diverse acts to campus, focusing on attracting a large audience as particular issues affecting students today are discussed. The board seeks partnerships within the university in order to cross promote events and reach target audiences. With these partnerships, University Union Performing Arts has been able to build relationships and focus on national issues through their shows.

The typical set up for the Performing Arts schedule includes one speaker and one comedian a year. The events are typically held in Goldstein Auditorium, with tickets typically priced at five dollars ($5.00). Events for speakers either include a moderator, or the speaker will prepare a presentation and speech about his or her organization, cause, or work. Comedians present their stand up routines in the typical manner. Given a stage and whatever props they may require, comedians are given free reign to perform whatever material they would like. In the cases of Bo Burnham and Demetri Martin, the only accompaniment they needed were two musical instruments and a sketchpad and easel, respectively.


In the spring of 2012, University Union Performing Arts attempted to expand their reach. As Goldstein Auditorium only holds fifteen hundred people, the board wanted to venture beyond a show of this size. The shows are typically only open to the Syracuse University/SUNY ESF students and faculty, but in 2012, the organization announced that Aziz Ansari would be performing at the War Memorial/On Center. In an effort to engage a larger audience than just the university community, the show was open to the public.

In previous years, the Performing Arts board has steered clear of hosting events at off campus locations, but on rare occasions, there were events held at the Landmark Theater. These events seemed to go over well for the greater Syracuse community, as they were an attempt to connect students and residents of the city of Syracuse. While these events are less frequent, the organization has been committed to finding ways to increase the capacity of shows and bringing new talent to entertain the Syracuse audience.

The Performing Arts board hopes to expand its reach even more, and as University Union adapts to its new status as the official programming board of Syracuse University, all of the programming boards are working towards amplifying the quality of their shows. For Performing Arts, the new status gives the board a boost and a means to shine as a division of University Union.





In Depth: University Union Concerts

University Union Concerts, Juice Jam 2011

University Union Concerts

is comprised of one director of concerts and an executive board of members, all dedicated to successfully booking and marketing concerts that the student body. Excluding Mayfest, the Concerts board is responsible for booking six concerts a year, all of which are geared towards the greater Syracuse area, with a primary focus on the student body. Through the use of an annual survey, the Concerts board attempts to book acts that appeal to a wide demographic, though there are always issues with the final decision.

Juice Jam

At the beginning of each school year, University Union hosts a large-scale concert known as Juice Jam. On the second Sunday of every September, students are bussed to Skytop Field to view the concert, take part in the Student Activities Fair, and enjoy the carnival style games that abound. This concert acts as an introduction to the Syracuse community for some freshmen students, and is often the first time student organizations get to present themselves to potential members.

Juice Jam originally began as a small concert. In it’s first year, the show was free and open to the student body, but the venue was much smaller. In 2002, when it began, the concert was held near Lawrinson Hall. While the event was new, it still managed to “sell” out its limited number of tickets.

In 2011, Juice Jam took place on September 11th. As the show was announced, University Union Concerts notified the student body of the intent to donate funds to a charitable cause. The organization also used promotional opportunities to collect canned foods for food pantries throughout Syracuse. In keeping with the theme of charitable work, in 2012, University Union decided to do it again.

Following the tragic incident in Aurora, Colorado and the impact it had on a member of the Syracuse University community, University Union donated a portion of the proceeds to the Colorado Organization for Victim’s Assistance. Considering the response from the student body when the previous year’s charitable endeavors were announced, the organization found it fitting to continue in this vein. Stephen Barton, a graduate of the Syracuse University Class of 2012, was injured in the Aurora, Colorado attacks; this gave the organization a cause to support that needed urgent attention and affected people outside of the Syracuse University community.

Past acts for this event include Passion Pit, Lup Fiaasco, Girl Talk and Childish Gambino.


The Bandersnatch Concert Series is a small concert that takes place in the Schine Underground. Each semester, two concerts are held, each 350 capacity, with the majority of these shows being open to students only. The series focuses on bringing musicians that either fall in the category of indie, or up-and-coming, with most of the acts being rappers or small bands. Typically, artists that are selected for these shows tend to go on to greater success in the near future. Examples of this occurrence are the band Grouplove, rappers Big Sean and Joey Bada$$, and indie rockers Two Door Cinema Club.


A staple of Syracuse University is the annual tradition known as Mayfest. On the last Friday of every April, students take part in festivities to celebrate the end of the school year. In 2009, the University decided host an official Mayfest celebration in Walnut Park, enlisting the help of Student Association and University Union. Since then, University Union and Student Association have worked together to find a balance in producing a safe environment for students to party responsibly. Though there are still events on Comstock and in houses around campus, Mayfest acts as a university-sponsored event that creates a safe space for students to enjoy their last full week of classes.

University Union Concerts’ role in the planning of the event is booking the musical talent. As the university-sanctioned event is still in the early stages of becoming a full-blown tradition in its own right, the organizations involved are still finding their place in the larger scheme of things. For University Union, the role has essentially been to find artists to play during the day, and as this has become the focus, the organization has begun focusing on the way the day-show would mesh with Block Party, the concert that takes place later that night.

Block Party

Block Party is the largest concert held y University Union. Each year, the Carrier Dome is opened on the last Friday of April. During the day, Mayfest takes place in Walnut Park, and around six o’clock in the evening, students move from Walnut Park to the Dome in preparation of the show. Since 2011, the capacity for such a show has reached a maximum of fifteen thousand people.

Because Block Party is the largest concert of the school year, it is often met with harsh criticism from the student body. In 2012, the student body was so outraged over the scheduled performer that the hashtag “Things I’d Rather Do Than Go To Block Party” became a national trending topic. Despite the repeated announcements about use of the annual survey, students still complained that they were not given an adequate line up. The fact that the organization was given seed funding and named the official programming board of the university only lead to more frustration within the student body. As a result of this, the show received a relatively low turn out rate, while students found other means of enjoyment. Those who attended the concert did enjoy themselves, as the event evolved into a giant party.

Tickets for this concert are available for purchase via and the .






In Depth: University Union Cinemas

University Union Cinemas, Les Miserables 2013

University Union Cinemas

is primarily responsible for the weekly movie screenings held on South Campus and Main Campus, in Goldstein Student Center and Gifford auditorium, respectively. The films screened tend to be major blockbusters that have recently been released, but the films have yet to be released to DVD/Blu-ray.

When the Cinemas division of University Union first began, the films ran from Wednesday night to Sunday night, with screenings being held in Watson Theater, as opposed to Gifford Auditorium. Before the influx in licensing prices, the organization hosted multiple screenings on multiple nights, for a moderate fee to subsidize the costs. Midnight screenings of films would be held as an additional event, while blockbuster films would be shown at earlier times. These blockbuster screenings had an admission price of two dollars.

In the recent past, Cinemas has evolved and eliminated midnight viewings, instead opting for weekly screenings of one film. Every Thursday and Sunday night, a film can be viewed on South Campus thanks to partnership between University Union Cinemas and S.C.O.P.E. On Friday and Saturday night, the same film can be viewed on Main Campus in Huntington Beard Crouse’s Gifford Auditorium. All screenings begin at 8 pm. At the end of each spring semester, the board closes University Union’s year with a film screening on the quad. This event is free and open to all members of the Syracuse community.

Each year, Cinemas is asked to host advanced film screenings for major production companies. Studios such as Fox, NBC Universal, and Sony Pictures have brought films to campus through the use of their student representatives. Movies such as The Evil Dead, American Gangster, and Get Him to the Greek have all been brought to campus through these partnerships.

In 2012, University Union Cinemas attempted to expand their reach by introducing a full-fledged student film festival. The film festival, aptly titled SyRECuse Student Film Festival, was created in order to give back to the students for all of their support to University Union. The first place prize included two tickets to the Tribeca Film Festival. As the event was in its beginning stages, there were a few problems and missteps in the planning and execution of the event, but the goal was not lost on the student body.

As the organization continues to expand, University Union Cinemas has continued searching for ways to engage and excite the student body, as it is a weekly presence. The board incorporates new and exciting ways to promote events, attract students, and provide a fun alternative to partying, especially in the cold weather months.




University Union

University Union 2013

University Union

, a student run organization, is the official programming board of Syracuse University.  The organization consists of three programming boards, four administrative boards, and two cabinet positions. The organization is responsible for planning large-scale concerts, speaking engagements, and weekly movie screenings on campus.


University Union was founded in 1962 as a student organization focused on bringing quality entertainment to the student body. At the time, the programming board focused on smaller scale events, but in its fifty years of existence, University Union has expanded its scope in order to reach a wider demographic of students. The organization consists of three programming boards: Performing Arts, responsible for the speaker and comedian engagements; Cinemas, responsible for the weekly film screenings and quad film screenings each year; and Concerts, which is responsible for planning six concerts a year.

With each school year, University Union’s Board of Directors (comprised entirely of students) works to provide diverse entertainment to fit the student body. With the incorporation of student surveys in the mid-2000s, the group focused on gaining more student insight as to what artists and speakers they wanted to see. As surveys go, the organizations sought to reach as many students as possible. In 2011, the organization was told to use Syracuse University’s Office of Institutional Research and Assessment as its means of surveying. This was to be done in accordance with Student Association Bill 55. 243, which made University Union the official programming board of Syracuse University, as well as granted the organization seed funding.


University Union consists of three programming boards, two boards dedicated to external relations, and three, internal “cabinet” positions. Cinemas, Concerts, and Performing Arts are the three boards responsible for programming events for the student body and each of these boards receives funding from Student Association. Collaborations and Promotions are the two boards that have the most experience with other student and professional organizations. The internal positions include the President, Vice President and Director of Operations.

Getting Involved

To get involved with University Union, students simply need to join the University Union group on . Registration requires students to sign in with their school network ID and password, and simply verify their e-mall address. Once this is done, students only have to search for University Union and join the group. The password is juicejam.

For those who want to get more involved, the University Union office is open most days of the week. Members of the board of directors as well as executive boards can be found in office 126D in the Schine Student Center.