High levels of alcohol-related incidents and a student’s death, along with reportedly overworked and poorly trained staff members, lead two administrative councils to support canceling the annual festival for 2015.
The 2015 Sun God Festival may be in jeopardy after two campuswide administrative councils officially supported an immediate suspension of the annual music event.
In an email obtained by the UCSD Guardian last week, both the Council of Deans and Council of Residential Deans endorsed a moratorium on hosting the Sun God Festival in 2015 due to increasing safety concerns.
Both Councils, consisting of representatives from the six colleges and all residential areas, respectively, included their recommendation to interim Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Alan Houston.
UCSD’s Council of Resident Deans’ report noted that concerns about the student safety justified a shutdown on the festival next year. The report, entitled “Sun God Feedback – Residence Life – Anecdotal thoughts on SGF 2014” referenced the post-festival death of Revelle junior Ricky Ambriz as a reason to cancel the event.
“Due to the student death, and the cost in staff hours to preparing for the event this year, a recommendation to cancel or place a moratorium [on] the Sun God Festival for the near futures is strongly enforced by residence life,” the document read.
The Council of Deans, on the same note, said that because of “on-going concerns about alcohol use and the high conduct load, [COD] believes a larger discussion about putting a moratorium on the event needs to occur.”
COD’s report, “Sungod 2014 Feedback/Suggestions — All College,” also referenced Ambriz’s death, though it did not claim that the death was directly related to the festival. COD members, according to the report, felt they needed direction on how to convey information on Ambriz’s death in the context of festival safety.
Both reports, compiled by CORD and COD feedback initiatives from involved students and Housing, Dining and Hospitality employees, such as Residential Assistants and Community Safety Officers, commended on-going educational campaigns about alcohol and drug safety. However, the reports concluded that despite these campaigns, too high a number of hospital transports, alcohol incidents and conduct cases were recorded, comparable to that of Sun God Festival 2013.
Additionally, both reports claim the campus was understaffed by hired safety personnel in residential areas during the festival and that some security staff were undertrained or acting inappropriately while on duty. In one instance, a male Staff Pro member “made a female student get on her knees and beg,” while others were allegedly engaging in alcohol consumption with residents and accepting bribes.
Poorly trained employees also proved to be problematic, according to the COD report, as some Staff Pro members could not respond to simple questions such as “How do I get into the festival?” The CORD report elaborated on the issue, citing lack of coordination and exhaustion as major factors in the overall ineffectiveness of Staff Pro workers.
Houston’s term as the interim VCSA will end Sept. 1, and he will be replaced by former University of Texas-Austin administrator Juan Gonzalez. It’s unclear if Houston, who headed this year’s Sun God Task Force for festival safety, will take any action before he returns to his full time position as Provost of Eleanor Roosevelt College in the fall.
Houston was not available for comment by this story’s posting time.
This article has been updated to correct the name of “Staff Pro.”