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Student Organization Spotlight: GAB Washington and Lee's Generals Activities Board has taken a dynamic approach to bringing the student body together through live music.

GAB-Exec-2024-1140x760 Student Organization Spotlight: GABThe 2023-2024 GAB executive team (l-r): Kam Saalfrank ’25, Lily Miggins ’24, Winnie Leahy ’25 and Amanda Romano ’25 (not pictured: Walt Phillips ’25)

Washington and Lee’s Generals Activities Board, known as GAB, brought a dynamic performer to the stage on Wednesday, March 20, on a brisk spring evening under a tent on Cannan Green. The sold-out performance by rapper Waka Flocka Flame was the result of months of work, on-campus promotion and collaboration fueled by a dynamic new executive leadership team.

Generals Activities Board has traditionally held concerts on campus open to the entire W&L community, inviting a diverse array of celebrated recording artists such as Rusted Root, Dillon Francis, B.o.B. and Dr. Dog in recent years. The organization has also sponsored comedians and open mic nights, and collaborated with other campus organizations on events. Although the organization experienced challenges while continuing to operate during Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, it still found ways to bring events to students virtually by partnering with Contact Committee on a virtual Q&A with Late-Night host Seth Meyers and live virtual concerts with bands and DJs.

GAB Chair Winnie Leahy ’25, a cognitive and behavioral science major from Yarmouth, Maine, began working with the organization last year on social media and marketing, and quickly realized that she wanted to assume a leadership position and grow with the organization.

“I could see that GAB was capable of offering so much more, and wanted to help the club reach its potential,” Leahy said.

Screen-Shot-2024-03-22-at-8.51.22-AM-WP--624x768 Student Organization Spotlight: GABGAB’s backyard barbecues in the fall of 2023 invited student bands to perform for the campus community.

Leahy began the 2023-2024 academic year with the goal of rebranding the organization by creating a new approach to GAB’s fall programming schedule. During Fall 2023, GAB invited the W&L community to small backyard barbecues with food and live music from student bands that culminated in a Battle of the Bands event on Cannan Green. The organization hopes to make this a campus tradition and plans to offer the band showcase series leading up to Battle of the Bands again this fall.

The success of their fall event schedule, according to Leahy, was born out of a commitment to outreach and inclusivity that the organization has made a priority this year. As the organization began planning the Winter Term concert, GAB leadership was approached by Phi Beta Sigma, a historically Black fraternity recently rechartered on W&L’s campus, about collaborating to gather input from the student body on what artists to consider for their annual Fancy Dress Kickoff concert. Members of Phi Beta Sigma were closely involved in selecting the artist and also designed merchandise, including posters and T-shirts, for the event. Leahy said GAB wants to partner with Greek and non-Greek organizations in their event planning strategy, and their experience working with Phi Beta Sigma was an invaluable one.

“It brought the whole student body together in a way I don’t think we could have otherwise,” Leahy said. “This is something GAB would not have been able to do by ourselves and be truly representative of the culture, so it’s been great to see these shirts around campus. I want anyone on campus with ideas to feel comfortable approaching us with suggestions or feedback.”

WakaFlockaFlame02-1140x760 Student Organization Spotlight: GABAn enthusiastic crowd welcomed Waka Flocka Flame to the stage at GAB’s March concert.

This year’s executive team has focused on increasing engagement within the organization as well. Lily Miggins ’24, a cognitive and behavioral science and sociology double major from San Antonio, Texas, who serves as the organization’s secretary, is responsible for coordinating the organization’s new system of member participation points, which rewarded GAB members who had logged the most hours selling tickets or setting up for GAB events with the opportunity to attend a meet-and-greet with Waka Flocka Flame before the March 20 show.

“It was so fun getting to meet Waka with the exec board and those members who really went above and beyond this year,” said Miggins.

Laura Ulmer, W&L’s director of student activities and the group’s adviser, said this year’s executive leadership team has been thoughtful about their strategy to revitalize and grow the organization.

“Since last summer, they have prioritized their goals to grow exposure on campus and it shows,” Ulmer said. “I look forward to seeing how this progresses over the next year as well.”

Follow GAB on Instagram for updates on upcoming events.