UW-Milwaukee’s first ever Geek Week began Tuesday, February 5, and will run until Thursday, February 13. The series of events is being put together by the Campus Activities Board and Union Programming in collaboration with the respective student organization.
The celebration started off with “Geek the Book: Recycled Book Art Project,” a craft being offered by the Studio Arts and Craft Center. It will run throughout the rest of this week. A cosplay-themed dance and a “cardboard regatta”- making contest also took place over the weekend.
Upcoming Geek Week events include: laser tag on Tuesday, February 11, along with several smaller events like “Comics 101” and “201” hosted by the Bam! Pow! Comic Book Club. Geek Week will conclude with Thursday’s “Think Geek” Trivia hosted by the Gasthaus Entertainment Series.
UWM December 2013 grad and former Campus Activities Board member Patrick Heffernan said the planning committee tried to plan a lot of events around commuter students so they wouldn’t miss out.
“We’re casting a wide net,” Heffernan said. “If you’re interested and you look at it, you should be able to find something you like.”
Last August, Vice Chancellor Michael Laliberte got the idea for Geek Week while at a conference at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He heard about the Geek Week hosted there and pitched an idea to Union Programming.
According to Program Coordinator Kim Mueller, the Union Programming introduced the idea to the student organizations at the beginning of last fall during the student org kick-off.
“I think I felt very encouraged by seeing all of the interest that we had from the students who were part of it,” Mueller said.
Heffernan, who was primarily involved in bringing Bill Nye to campus for Monday night’s lecture, and is also organizing Thursday’s terrariums workshop, said that a lot of collaboration took place between student organizations for this event. For example, the terrariums workshop he is helping with is being sponsored by Studio Arts and Crafts Center and the Conservation Club, a first year club.
According to Heffernan, Union Marketing came up with the marketing campaign that can be seen on the walls around the union, which involves taking things people don’t necessarily consider geeky and putting it under the “mantra” “Geeks on ______.”
“There’s a lot of different ways to geek out on things, you know,” Heffernan said.
Most of the student orgs that are part of the Geek Week planning group — Strategic Gaming Club, Society of Women Engineers, etc.— are linked to typical geek subcultures. However, the events have been planned to appeal to audiences who don’t consider themselves “geeks”, according to Mueller and Heffernan.
“But in thinking about Geek Week and geekiness in general, we wanted to take a more broad approach than just those traditional geek things, and really help people who may not think of themselves immediately as a geek to think about what are the things that they’re really passionate about, what do they get really excited about and looking in geekiness in that really what do you geek out about, what do you get excited about,” Mueller said.
“So combining something that’s really popular and mainstream and putting a twist on it with something that is fairly entrenched into geekiness or a part of geek culture is one way that we were trying to make geek week appeal to everyone and to not have it be programming for just one small population of the student body,” Mueller said.
“I would hope that if we did Geek Week again, then we would get other student organizations interested in helping with that planning process, whether it’s sponsoring an event or sitting around the planning table and being part of the conversation, throwing out ideas,” Mueller said.