Interview: Mr. Ikemoto, iU Fes Executive Committee Chair

 The iU Fes Executive Committee was established to plan and organize events on campus. In particular, the iU Fes in October will be planned and managed entirely by iU students. Apart from the iU Fes, the committee plans to host other events that address students’ needs, such as sports festivals.

Q: Could you briefly tell us what iU Fes is all about?

It is the school festival at IU that takes place in October every year. As an example, the first iU Fes2020 was held online and included performances by student bands as well as an on-campus esports tournament. This year, we plan to hold the IU Fes on October 23-24. We plan to do a hybrid of real events and online events, based on the social situation.

Q: What did you do at last year’s iU Fes?

An esport tournament, show, and several faculty presentations were all held online last year. Live performances were given by student bands, dancing by students, and a comedy performance by Yoshimoto comedians. While the student band stage had a short period of time from formation to actual performance, the performance was excellent and very exciting. In the esports tournament, students competed to be the best at “Super Smash Brothers.” The students were mostly beginners, but I believe viewers and participants both enjoyed the experience. Ms. Madoka Chiyoda and Mr. Taro Matsumura were the faculty presenters. Participants thoroughly enjoyed hearing stories outside a classroom setting.

Q: When you were preparing for the festival, what did you have in mind?

My responsibilities in terms of fireworks were to discuss with the students where they would be set off. I discovered that setting off fireworks requires the cooperation of the local fire department. There was no response when we called Sumida-district fire officials to see if we could set off fireworks on campus. Therefore, we decided to set off the fireworks on the property of the company that would set them off. There is, however, a new problem this time, which is the lack of an online display environment. Our challenge is to figure out where to start and how to address these problems one by one. It is our hope, however, that we will be able to eventually live stream our fireworks display.

Q: You held the iU Fes for the first time after the opening of the university. What were some of the difficulties you faced in actually running the iU Fes?

Starting from scratch, I believe, was the key. In other schools, there was no precedent for streaming cultural festivals. During last year’s event, we had no idea how we were going to execute the project, and we didn’t finish all the preparations until the day before. The day of the event was chaotic due to the lack of rehearsal time. The iU convention was the largest event at the iU, and the time and budget spent on it was quite different from other committee activities and projects; as such, we all felt a sense of accomplishment after completing the convention.

Q: How did you feel about the feedback you received after the festival?

I was very happy with the internal positive feedback we received from those around us, but that came from the actual participants. iU Fes did not receive external feedback from those who participated in the event or from those who supported it. When compared with real life, it is tough to convey the enthusiasm of event participants, and I think getting the audience to feel the fun is even more challenging. In spite of that, I was thrilled to hear the words “it was fun” and “I’m glad you did it,” and I think I did my best. However, we received some harsh comments as well. Several attendees expressed their displeasure about the difficulties of the support staff and the slowness of information sharing, which will have to be addressed for this year’s festival. iU is a university that seeks to learn from its mistakes, so I don’t see making mistakes as a negative. I would like to see failure as a means by which we can learn how to avoid repeating the same mistakes.

Q: What is the main composition of the iU Fes Executive Committee, how many members are there, and what are their responsibilities?

By June 25, 2021, there are 46 members on the committee. The number of requests for membership from first-year students was greater than we had expected, and we welcomed 31 new members in May. In the committee, there are two main roles.

The first main role is management, which is subdivided into three sections. 

  1. General affairs: includes the chairman, vice-chairperson, and the overall management of the festival.
  2. Accounting: oversees the funds needed for the festival, and distribution. 
  3. Goods management.
  4. To acquire sponsors, we established a sales department this year.

The second main role is planning. iU festival committee members were mainly responsible for organizing the e-sports tournament and live streaming of the event last year. Unlike last year, however, we plan to do a hybrid event with both real and online components this year. If we hold the festival in real life, the campus may feel lonely without a certain number of projects. To avoid this, we will have student leaders outside the iU Fes Executive Committee actively plan and run the festival starting this year on.

Q: What do you want to do with iU Fes this year, and what do you hope to achieve?

Second-year student committee members will be tasked with assisting in the festival for the last time. It’s for that reason that we would like to host a live festival if possible. Furthermore, we hope to involve local people and make this an event that many people can participate in and enjoy together. Obviously, the pandemic situation will have some influence. But we want this campus to be bustling with people, to get potential students interested in iU, to inform them about iU, and in turn increase enrollment and brand recognition. Last year, It was difficult for us to display our best efforts. Yet, I think what makes our university unique is that we can create anything from scratch. So, I see this as an opportunity to create a school festival that has no boundaries.

One last thing

All members of the iUFes Executive Committee are hard at work preparing for future events. Our next steps will be to begin accepting applications for projects in July, as well as the launch of the IU Fes website. Student, faculty, and everyone else associated with iU are encouraged to submit their ideas for possible events. We will be posting these iU Fes Executive Committee activities on Twitter, so please keep an eye out.