Prior to the 1970s, arrangements for student-sponsored events at the University of Maryland were largely the responsibility of the Student Government Association. Campus organizations petitioned the student board on an ad-hoc basis to secure funding for what generally amounted to small, locally publicized events.
In the fall of 1972, the University of Maryland Student Government Association proposed the creation of a representative, campus-wide organizational committee to contract with performing artists and promote concerts on campus. The resulting University Program Board (UPD), however, was riddled with debt and mismanagement almost from its inception. UPD efforts to book popular artists were constantly undermined by the competing, alumni-led M Club, which received questionable discounted rentals and labor from the Department of Physical Plant. The opening of the nearby Capital Centre in 1973 also siphoned students away from the sub-par acoustics and cozy atmosphere of Cole Field House. High facilities costs, poor concert attendance, and mediocre acts resulted in nearly $60,000 in debts by January 1976. The group's financial woes were further compounded by heated internal power struggles and failed attempts to compete with big-name promoters, eventually leading to its demise in the summer of 1976.
From the remains of the defunct UPD emerged the restructured Student Entertainment Enterprises (SEE) in fall 1977. The entirely student-run group, however, promptly over-extended its funds and failed to turn a profit in its first twelve months. Amidst renewed accusations of financial mismanagement, then-SGA president Jordan Fox reluctantly initiated an extensive, year-long search for a non-student advisor to oversee the concert panel, resulting in the hire of Michael Jaworek, an experienced campus entertainment specialist. Jaworek was tasked with re-engineering SEE productions and providing continuity for the organization. Within the year, the group abandoned its free concerts on McKeldin Mall for smaller, more lucrative acts. Employment of contracted promoters and stage managers, rather than campus advertisement and production teams, allowed SEE to overcome the competition offered by the Capital Centre and secure guaranteed revenue in the event of poor attendance.
While the majority of early SEE productions tended to emphasize popular musical acts, the organization quickly began to expand its domain to include other aspects of the performing arts and guest speakers. Under the leadership of Jaworek, SEE initiated the Cultural Attractions and Lecture Series in 1980 as an effort to promote fine arts entertainment at Tawes Theater. Although initially focused on jazz music, dance performances, and lectures, the series was quickly enlarged to include theatrical presentations and literary readings. Diversity in SEE productions during the early 1980s was matched by increased attention from a variety of campus groups, in particular the Black Student Union (BSU) and Jewish Student Union (JSU). As student organizations became increasingly verbal about public figures and entertainers whom they wished to appear on campus, SEE often found itself in a mediatory role, juggling concerns of special interest groups to ensure equal representation, and frequently partnered and pooled funds with the BSU and JSU as well as other student organizations to sponsor events.
Despite its enlarged student program board and dramatic push to expand campus programming, SEE remained weak both financially and administratively. Accusations of corruption and irresponsibility in March 1984 prompted an SGA task force investigation of the organization's financial transactions. Confronted with evidence of incomplete records and accumulated debts, SGA terminated SEE funding and dissolved the group later that month. In its place was thrust the restructured Student Entertainment Agency (SEA), a three-branch organization consisting of a representative programming council, an SGA-governed board of directors, and a group of special events sub-committees. On May 14, 1984, the SGA allocated $69,000 to SEA for the following year and agreed to allow the organization to return to the name Student Entertainment Enterprises by the summer. Within the next five years, SEE would again alter its name, this time to Student Entertainment Events.
In May 1985, SEE announced its first Art Attack, a large-scale production involving university talent and contracted performers. Held on the McKeldin Library "stage," Art Attack was initially billed as a spring celebration that would feature culturally diverse music, food, and dance. Despite the mediocre nature of its earlier acts, Art Attack quickly emerged as a headline performance attraction, featuring such notables as the Fugees, the Beastie Boys, and George Clinton. It has since become a signature feature of SEE concert programming.
Cole Field House, once the home of many SEE concerts, was abandoned in favor of the less expensive and more freely available Ritchie Coliseum. Increasing competition from the university athletics department and concerns over possible floor damage to Cole contributed to an eight-year hiatus in SEE's use of the popular facility until it was again made available in 1996.
The organization continued to uphold its reputation for diversity and innovation as it introduced a dynamic series of guest lectures in 1991 and expanded its activities beyond university borders with a student retreat to Middleburg, Virginia. Since then, SEE has ambitiously expanded its yearly programming efforts to include over one hundred independent and co-sponsored events. Once focused exclusively on musical entertainment, the organization now extends its arms to charitable events, orientations, and other campus gatherings. Recent activities have included the annual 5K Terp Trot charity race, Art Attack, a Homecoming comedy show, New Resident Orientation, and promotional listening parties, among others.