Sydney Kate Watson, asst. arts & living editor
KCAB’s 50th anniversary reunion reception will be held this Mountain Day Weekend, on Sat., in the Krannert Ballroom from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. Throughout its 50 years KCAB has experienced some changes, including a name change, but has remained an integral part of the Berry College community.
According to Dean of Student Work Emeritus Rufus Massey, in 1971, the Krannert Center, specifically the Spruill Ballroom, was not only used by the Berry community, but also by the Rome community. So, that year the Krannert Center Board (KCB) was established to determine how Krannert was going to be used by students and the outside community, Massey said. At that time, Massey said that SGA was the main group to organize activities for students, and KCB was left to handle the rules for Krannert and only a few activities.
In 1976, Massey was hired to be the Director of Student Activities, and instead of regulating Krannert’s use, Massey wanted to focus on activities for Berry students. Massey then decided that it was time to change the name of the board. Since the board would now have a primary focus on activities, the name was changed to Krannert Center Activities Board, or KCAB.
Once KCAB was the new name, the board began an activities blitz, Massey remembered. According to Massey, KCAB had a heavy focus on outdoor activities and traveling places outside of Berry for adventure. For their off-campus adventures, KCAB took students to the Cumberland Islands, on a cruise to the Bahamas and hiked parts of the Appalachian Trail, Massey recalled. Even though KCAB no longer focuses on outdoor or off-campus activities, Massey said that this is why KCAB has survived; KCAB is willing to adapt their activities to what students want.
“The goal of KCAB is to try to appeal to all students in a very diverse way and kind of meet them where they are, because, you know this, all students have different interests,” Massey said.
During this time in KCAB history, the organization ran on a very small budget according to Assistant Director of Student Activities Lydia Gordon. She describes early KCAB years as being a do-it-yourself kind of thing. When students would attend off campus experiences, Massey said, KCAB would help reduce the overall price a little, but students would be expected to pay the rest. Also, with events such as Casino Night, there would not be a company who would bring in tables, Gordon said. Students would lay out green felt on tables, brought their own cards and provided refreshments themselves Gordon said.
“A lot of events were home grown,” Gordon said. “The things we do now, but I would say on a more budget friendly scale.”
In 2007, there was a discussion about adding a student activities fee for students. According to Student Activities Director Cecily Crow, at the time about 90% of other schools across the country had a student activities fee. A student activities fee allows more events to be planned for students, and for events to be more extravagant. That year, SGA allowed students to vote on a student activities fee, and the students voted yes. With the help of this fee, the Casino Night that students know today is possible, and DJs can be hired for] student dances, Gordon said.
“It’s such a difference now as far as what we can provide for students,” Gordon said.
Some KCAB events are timeless and date back to the beginning, such as Casino Night, Koffee Houses and Talent Shows according to Crow. As student interests have changed over the years, so have the distinct types of events KCAB has offered. Crow accounts that there used to be a Hermann 500 where students would race tricycles around the traffic circle, and there was a lip sync battle event known as Airband. However, one of the most infamous events of the past was the Mud Wrestling event.
Mud Wrestling was one of KCAB’s most popular events for a long time, Massey said. The event began in the early 1980s after a student asked President Gloria Shatto if KCAB could host the event, and she signed off on the event, Massey recalled. The first Mud Wrestling event began with a whopping 2,000 guests, helicopters from Atlanta television stations circled above to broadcast the event and fire trucks hosed off contestants after they wrestled. The mud used for the event was essentially pottery clay, according to Massey. However, as the years went by, interest in the event died down, which happened to many of the previous events. Also, it became increasingly difficult to find clean mud, according to Gordon.
Even though events have changed through the years due to student interest, since the beginning KCAB has been an integral part of the Berry community. Gordon suggests that KCAB provides a weekly outlet for students to hang out and create community bonds without having to leave campus. While Massey believes KCAB builds community, he also sees how KCAB is a bridge between curricular and co-curricular activities as well as a bridge between students, staff and faculty. Current KCAB President Jasmine Little views KCAB events as opportunities for students to get out there and experience all that Berry has to offer.
“It’s just an opportunity for students to get out there and get involved, meet people and really just feel like they’re part of the Berry community,” Little said.
50 years is a long time for any organization to survive and it is almost unheard of. Currently, KCAB’s length of existence on Berry’s campus is greater than that of Berry’s founder Martha Berry. Massey credits KCAB’s long-lasting legacy to the board’s flexibility toward students’ perceptions of events.
“You love to see things stay the same but also, you know that things change and people’s interest change,” Massey said. “I am delighted that KCAB is still in the center of things, in terms of providing the services for Berry students.”
The KCAB 50th anniversary reunion will be a great way for past and present board members to make connections across generations, Gordon said. Each KCAB member has had similar experiences and memories, and the reunion is a chance to relive what members had while they were at Berry, Gordon mentioned. Also, according to Massey, KCAB members are located across the globe, and it is important that current KCAB members understand the legacy that they are upholding for not only past members but for future members as well.