Wagstaff is not planning on running for social chair again after his term ends in December, although he jokes that he may change his mind as elections draw closer.
“I don’t want to overstay my welcome,” Wagstaff said. “I’ve really been honored to be in this position, and I’ve loved every minute of it, but I think it’s time for someone else to enjoy what I’ve enjoyed.”
Wagstaff said he hopes to give other deserving students an opportunity to take on his role of social chair, a change he said he thinks the campus deserves.
“Maybe I’ll end up trying to be the first social chair to run for another position and stay with the USG after my term,” Wagstaff added.
Wagstaff is one of few to be elected USG social chair as a freshman and one of few social chairs to occupy the position for three semesters, a result of a constitutional amendment that extended Wagstaff’s term by a semester in order to align the election of social chair with that of other members of the executive committee.
As a result of the extension of his term, Wagstaff was able to work with the same social committee he had worked with in the spring to plan fall Lawnparties.
Farrah Bui ’14, a member of the social committee, said the extension of Wagstaff’s term made the entire process easier, as the summer is often a difficult time to communicate with other social committee members. Before the amendment, the social chair was elected in the spring and had to do most of the planning for Lawnparties during the summer, Bui explained.
Reid Bergin ’15, another member of the social committee, said the amendment would help future social chairs.
“It makes a lot of sense to move the elections to December because it makes it so much easier for the next person,” Bergin said. “Benny will still be on campus and can help out with all the questions and contacts.”
Wagstaff said the amendment was really put in place to help future social chairs plan fall Lawnparties.
“It gave me an opportunity to continue the work and continue to work with the team that I loved. But at the end of the day, the decision wasn’t made because of me or for those reasons,” Wagstaff said. “It was simply because we all thought ... that basically it made sense for the social chair to come into the position when they had the resources available to them on campus.”
Wagstaff said he has been “fortunate and very honored” to be elected to the position early on. He added that he didn’t view being elected as a freshman as detrimental to his success as social chair.
“As an underclassman, I was able to take a lot of energy into the position. I was lucky that I won the election,” Wagstaff said. “I felt I had something to give … I really didn’t know if I would stand a chance in that election, to be honest, because I was really young, but at the end of the day I felt that I was ready and I decided to go for it.”
Wagstaff said he came into the position with a lot of goals he wanted to accomplish, many of which he’s seen executed in the past year. However, Wagstaff recently posted in a Facebook status that his time as social chair has been “far from perfect.” He clarified that though he has had a positive experience as social chair, he wouldn’t say he did a perfect job due to his high expectations of himself.
“I think doing a perfect job would’ve been a really tough thing to pull off. I’ve given it my best shot, and I’ve put a lot of energy and enthusiasm into this [position], but I still wish I had been able to do more,” Wagstaff said.
Former USG IT committee chair Rodrigo Menezes ’13, who worked on coding for many new initiatives under Wagstaff such as the Prospect Avenue Map TigerApp, said that he thinks Wagstaff has done a great job as social chair.
“I think that ultimately the person who has the highest expectation of Benny Wagstaff is Benny Wagstaff,” Menezes said. “He went into this position and really tried to do a lot more than a lot of other social chairs have done.”
Two of the goals Wagstaff said he wanted to accomplish when he first assumed the position were to increase the “buzz” around Lawnparties on and off campus and to incorporate student feedback and preferences into the artist selection process. Wagstaff pointed to the Lawnparties website and surveys as evidence that he achieved these goals.
Menezes said Wagstaff’s push for the Lawnparties website as well as the Prospect Avenue Map has attracted attention from outide artists and companies as well as University students.
“To a certain extent a lot of the things that Benny has done, a lot of those effects — you’re going to see them years from now,” Menezes said.
Wagstaff’s tenure has also been characterized by many new changes to Lawnparties’ infrastructure and funding. This fall, Lawnparties was sponsored by Microsoft, the first time an outside company has sponsored the event. Changes to the sound system and stage were also made during Wagstaff’s time as social chair.
Wagstaff attributed a lot of his accomplishments and initiatives to the work of his colleagues in the USG and on the social committee, who he said have worked 12-hour days at times.
“I’m lucky because I have a great team,” Wagstaff said. “I couldn’t have done what I did without them, and they have been truly some of the hardest-working individuals on this campus.”
Among his social committee members, Wagstaff is known for being a good communicator, using Skype and meetings to talk with members face-to face. Menezes said Wagstaff is also known for his good humor in difficult situations.
“Every time something bad would come up, he would just come out with a smile because he’s Benny,” Menezes said.
In his remaining time as social chair, Wagstaff hopes to incorporate a charity element into Lawnparties.
“Ideally, I think it would be beautiful if Lawnparties could be a day where we are having a lot of fun and receiving a lot on the day of the event, but we are also somehow giving back to the community around us,” Wagstaff said.
Wagstaff also hopes to continue working with the social committee in a different role after elections and to become more involved in some of his other extracurricular clubs and personal projects relating to international development.
“Maybe I should also focus on getting some classwork done, which is sometimes a bit of a challenge,” Wagstaff added with a laugh.
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/09/26/31267/