Director of Student Volunteer Programs Charlene Elvers recalls the day that the concept for the Pride Awards was born. After Vice President and Dean of Students David Braverman arrived at Springfield College, he approached a group that included Elvers about organizing an awards ceremony for the students. Elvers had several ideas about how to run the event and was put in charge of jump-starting what has now become the Pride Awards.
“The Pride Awards were really designed to broadly recognize student leadership across the campus,” Elvers said.
The fifth-annual Pride Awards, which will be held on April 30 at 7 p.m. in the Richard B. Flynn Campus Union Dodge Ballroom, was not the first attempt at such a ceremony. The SC Oscars were held for three or four years prior to Braverman’s arrival. Before the SC Oscars, the Division of Student Affairs departments each held their own separate celebrations to hand out awards to students for their contributions both on and off campus. The SC Oscars created a unified event that each department could participate in.
“All of the departments that gave out awards just came together and gave them out in one ceremony instead of in individual ceremonies,” Elvers said.
Although the idea had been implemented with the right reasoning, the event itself did not satisfy what Elvers and others had envisioned. There was no chance to nominate anyone, so the event was very scripted because only the recipients of the awards and their families attended.
“It wasn’t a broad representation of the campus and no one else on campus attended, so people still didn’t know that other students were getting recognized,” Elvers said.
With Braverman’s arrival, Elvers received the opportunity to start fresh and alter the format of the awards ceremony. She wanted to design a program to recognize not only students who are in public leadership positions, but also students who might not be the most widely recognized people on campus.
To successfully follow through with this goal, Elvers and her committee constructed the Pride Awards as an open nomination process. Any students, faculty or staff can nominate a student for an award so that a diverse group of around 70 students is chosen from year to year.
“If it was just left to the Student Affairs staff to come up with these awards, you’d probably see some of the same people year after year that we know about and that we work with,” Elvers said.
There are currently 14 awards presented at the annual spring event, all of which are “based upon the college’s model of leadership,” according to Elvers. The only change from last year’s list is that the Martin Luther King Jr. Award was renamed and is now called the Diversity Leadership Award to promote diversity instead of race in order to better fit the award’s description.
A six-member committee facilitated by Associate Dean of Campus Life Terry Vecchio and comprised of students, faculty and staff has a one-time meeting that lasts anywhere from two to four hours to select the winners of each award. The group reads every nomination before discussing who should be the recipient. This year, Elvers also asked students to send in resumes so that the committee could get a better feel for what each nominee did on and off campus.
Elvers continues to organize the Pride Awards because she feels that the annual event serves an important purpose on campus.
“It’s important to recognize the initiatives that students are taking,” Elvers said. “We can talk about it, and every Student Affairs person has stories, but until you bring it together in a very public way, it’s hard for people on campus to have a sense for the breadth and the depth of what our students are doing.”
Joe Brown may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org