It took 11 months to bring the third annual TEDxClaremontColleges,
this time under the theme “Unexpected Narratives,” to Garrison Theater at
Scripps College on Feb. 22. Funding for the event came from the five
undergraduate colleges’ student governments, the Claremont Graduate University
student government, student clubs, local businesses, and private donors,
according to Sam Spurlin, a CGU student and co-curator of the event.
A number of sources, including ticket sales, helped finance the event, which was also already able to forgo some expenses. According to TEDx regulations, speakers may not be paid for their
presentations; TEDxClaremontColleges also partnered with the Scripps Office of the President, which allowed the organizers to use Garrison
free of charge all day, helping to keep costs low relative to the costs of hosting other TEDx events.
Tickets were sold to 7C students for $25 and to members of the
community for $50, which is higher than the average price of tickets for
“I would say it was worth the money,” wrote Frank Lyles PO
’17, who has attended other TEDx conferences that sold tickets for over
$60, in an email to TSL. “So in the grand scheme of things, this
one was pretty inexpensive … Plus it included lunch.”
Others, however, felt that the price was too high.
“I’m a huge fan of TED
Talks, and I really looked forward to this event,” Michelle Chan PO ’17 said.
“However, I found the price higher than most school-sponsored events, so I
would rather save my money for other events and off-campus trips.”
Five of the 12 TEDx speakers traveled to Claremont from states
outside of California. Although the speakers were not financially compensated,
the money raised from partners and ticket sales covered the cost of their
hotel stays and transportation to and from Claremont, according to Syd Peterson, a CGU student and Spurlin’s co-curator.
In addition to being geographically diverse, the speakers came from
diverse backgrounds of expertise, including fields like science and math.
“We wanted to stretch attendees’ ideas of what storytelling could
be,” Peterson said. “We wanted to help people think about it in a new
The process of selecting these storytellers had to begin months in advance. According to Peterson, the planning team this year, which consisted of about 40 members, included at least one representative from each of the 7Cs.
Beginning in spring 2013, the committee held several brainstorming
sessions to generate a list of potential speakers.
“Syd and I probably reached out to 40 or 50 speakers and either
never heard back or decided it wouldn’t be a good fit,” Spurlin said.
In past years, students at the Claremont Colleges also participated as speakers in the event, but this year, they were either
organizing the event or watching from the audience. Although there is no policy
against student speakers, Peterson said, this year’s committee decided to focus all of its
time on planning the TEDx event itself instead of hosting a separate event specifically to find
student speakers, as it did last year.
In addition, Spurlin said that the format of the talks changed
from that of past years.
“I think one of the things that we wanted to try was having less
speakers this year, but have them all give longer talks,” he said.