This just in: A.S. Council is planning on cutting funds from FallFest, the second-biggest concert of the year, in order to pay for a position whose chief duties would be to book said headliners. Yes, the ironies are apparent. Thanks to UCSD’s $60-million budget cut, an increasingly impotent campus administration that once fully funded the position can now only contribute 30 percent as of Fall 2011. It’s not a position that can be ignored — the Campus Events Manager helps with concerts and events on campus by arranging, marketing and booking artists. So, scrambling to make ends meet, councilmembers have appointed FallFest as the sacrificial lamb, cutting its funding from $135,000 to $50,000.
As a result, our student fees must now shoulder the brunt of a Campus Events Manager’s salary — an $85,000 sum. Of course, no matter how A.S. Council chooses to deal with FallFest, the administration passing off pay for the Campus Events Manager position sets a precedent for an increasingly slippery slope. Just this last year, the Transportation and Parking services asked council to fund a transportation referendum to keep the shuttles running, a bluff our representatives — in one of their ballsier moves — called and, eventually, denied. Council using student fees to fund its own positions could potentially lead to other academic and campus departments asking for financial support. In a perfect world, student fees should be used to fund student life, not fund an internal service, but with the university still hemorrhaging money, there’s little else council could have done about the overall cut.
But while it’s important to fund the person who ensures that our concerts will have good headliners, in the end, councilmembers shouldn’t have cut from FallFest. According to Vice President of Student Life Meredith Madnick, since the council must fund the position itself, the only alternative would be to cut the budgets of smaller events, but doing so would have created a better scenario: one blowout festival in the fall, than some poorly attended Library Walk gigs every week.
According to the Vice President of Finance Kevin Hoang, A.S. would be better off cutting a large amount from one event than skimming many small ones, though no exact numbers were given. But with students more likely to get excited about a heavily publicized, talent-heavy concert (a la Sun God) than a bunch of underfunded events, council might be needlessly diluting its concert funds by taking it all in one big chunk.
And, with plans to cut Winter Triton Festival from the budget, Sun God Festival is on its way to being the only event in the entire year that socially minded students have to look forward to. Granted, WTF wasn’t a feat of glory — candidate after candidate trashed it as a money-waster during elections season, and attendance and planning weren’t optimal — but there’s no replacement in sight. Instead, the money saved from the festival will be channeled into another Winter Quarter Bear Garden. This is indicative of A.S. Council’s pattern of cutting larger festivals in favor of smaller events but in this case, Bear Gardens are one of the most highly attended campus events. We can’t say the same for some of the smaller comments.
At this point, it’s difficult to say how FallFest would work with nearly one-thirds of its original budget. According to Associate Vice President of Concert and Events Oliver Zhang, not much headway has been made on FallFest planning.
The office has yet to finish hiring the rest of the concerts and events staff, and planning for FallFest, including hiring talent, is not going to happen until late this summer.
Because the FallFest cuts are unlikely to change in the near future, ASCE might as well scrap the idea of hiring modestly priced talent for FallFest, and channel the money into improving the smaller concerts the office wanted to prioritize and preseve. Or, stick to hiring someone to DJ — making the event more like the All-Campus Dance or Let’s Bounce than an actual music festival.
The event would still be huge and campus-wide — it just wouldn’t involve the amount of money that headliners would require, and in the end, drunk students may not even notice the difference.
Instead of wasting money on cheap random talent, ASCE would be better off putting money into marketing, since the concert would no longer have the appeal of a big artist to draw students in.