Johnny Depp. Michael Moore. Dr. Dog Poker tournaments. Campus MovieFest. Though you may have heard the buzz about all of these entertainers and events coming to UC Berkeley’s campus in the past couple of years, you’ve likely never asked yourself who was behind all of these incredible shows.
It is currently week 6 of the semester and yet SUPERB has already hosted some major events. Three weeks ago, indie-pop band Chairlift melted the faces of eager students on Lower Sproul. Two weeks ago, a pre-screening of Looper starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis wowed filmgoers as they enjoyed a behind the scenes Q & A with director Rian Johnson. Just last week, another free Lower Sproul concert entranced Berkeley’s music lovers as they listened to JJAMZ perform ‘Heartbeat’, the tune that Katy Perry deemed as her favorite song of the summer. SUPERB’s packed lineup for the semester has also included an action-filled screening of The Avengers, and has no sign of slowing down.
What is this SUPERB I speak of? SUPERB is an acronym for the Student Union Program, Entertainment, and Recreation Board. The title’s undeniable grandiosity fits the unmatched efforts of the student-run, nonprofit subset of the ASUC. The 60 undergraduates who make up SUPERB work tirelessly and with immense passion solely to keep the students of UC Berkeley and the rest of the surrounding community fully entertained.
We call ourselves SUPERBees, akin to the buzzing insects that work so selflessly to achieve a larger goal. For people who care and do so much for UC Berkeley, we only think about how much more could be done to serve our peers and community. However, an issue we face, like most other student groups, is a lack of funding that could allow us to grasp our full potential. SUPERB simply does not have the same amount of resources that the Program Boards at our sister UC schools have. I’m sure at some point you’ve wondered why Berkeley doesn’t have a “Sun God” or “Extravaganza” music festival like UC San Diego and UC Santa Barbara do. Our funding comes from the ASUC, not from student tuition, as it does with other schools. Therefore our budget is inevitably tight. In an attempt to remedy this issue, in 2008, SUPERB applied for a referendum to increase every student’s tuition by a mere $4.50. It was a close call, but SUPERB ultimately lost the referendum, crushing UC Berkeley’s hopes of hosting any type of free and cheap large-scale music festival, comedic performance and film director series. The list goes on.
It is without a doubt that SUPERB as a group is more than capable of creating huge events. If you made it out to The Glade show last year featuring LA Riots, any Cal Day concert in the past three years, or any of our sneak preview film screenings, you’ve seen this capacity in action. Though we truly love what we do as things stand, our only hope would be that we could maximize the potential of every single one of our events, thereby reaching every single Cal student.
The beauty of SUPERB, and the reason why I think it is so underrated, is that people don’t realize that what we provide reaches those of all backgrounds. SUPERB brings Berkeley’s rich amalgam of students together through the common pleasure of entertainment and creates a community of people with broad interests. There is no substitute for what SUPERB does for UC Berkeley. Everyone is invited to our events and everyone can find some aspect of SUPERB to enjoy.
For those of you who think entertainment is disposable or that three hours in lab can be just as satisfying as a movie break, it may be hard for you to see the importance of an organization like SUPERB. Although SUPERB’s focus may not seem as ambitious as those goals of saving the world that many students here have, we know that what we do is meaningful. Students like you and me need to take a break from our hectic schedules in order to put our lives in perspective. If you ever feel the immense weight of the expectations that can be placed on you at Cal, please take a breather and come to one of SUPERB’s Friday night movies. De-stress by gathering a group of friends to join you at Disney Trivia Night — and have the chance to win some sweet prizes, no less. SUPERB offers a cheap and reliable way for you and your friends to just relax and have some fun.
Gina Holly is a co-general manager at SUPERB Productions.
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