College councils pass the buck

    UCSD’s social life needs a boost. The school puts on events to further this cause but, unfortunately, the turnout is often meager while the costs are substantial and unevenly distributed among students.

    The Sun God Festival is an incredibly expensive undertaking, costing upwards of $250,000 some years. Although this is a large sum, it is a justifiable one considering the festival’s ability to attract a campus-wide audience.

    However, smaller, less popular concerts also receive large contributions from the A.S. Council and the six college councils — most of which have passed their own fee referenda. The free Rock n’ Roosevelt event on Feb. 6, for example, received $3,000 from the A.S. Council, as well as approximately $12,000 from Eleanor Roosevelt College fee referendum funds. Other colleges, whose students had equal access to the concert, contributed significantly smaller amounts. The Student Council at ERC could request only $75 from each of the other five UCSD colleges, as some, like Earl Warren College, don’t have fee referenda that allow them to contribute to such events. Other college councils, despite being flush with funds from referenda, specifically limit how much money they can contribute toward another college’s events.

    Such unequal distribution of costs imposes heavy burdens on the college hosting a free event. ERC absorbed the majority of the $14,500 bill for putting on Rock n’ Roosevelt, but students from Warren, whose student council contributed about $50, had the same access to the concert. Furthermore, because college council funds are being employed to fund these events, most students are paying for concerts that they never attend. Similarly, A.S. allocations come from fees paid by every student, further imposing costs on a majority of people who do not attend free on-campus concerts.

    Such free-riding expands beyond the non-hosting colleges. Individuals who do not pay school fees are able to enjoy free concerts courtesy of UCSD students. Browsing online message boards indeed reveals that UCSD students are essentially running a charity service for punk and rock fans in San Diego.

    The solution, however, is not to force Warren, or any other college, to fund an event planned and organized by ERC. Nor should UCSD close its events to outside audiences. There should exist, however, some system that ensures that the hosting colleges, the A.S. Council and the nonattending students do not bare such a disproportionate load of the burden for providing a concert that benefits all students and off-campus participants.

    One clear solution is to have the concertgoers fund a part of such events themselves. Even a small surcharge would ease the burden on the A.S. Council and the hosting college. A $5 cover charge for Rock n’ Roosevelt, for instance, would have generated some $4,000, assuming payment from the estimated 800 students who were most interested in the concert and stayed for its duration. Furthermore, if a system could be created that charged more for non-UCSD students who attend the concerts, and who are obviously devoted fans willing to pay, even less financial weight would fall on the shoulders of college referendum fees and A.S. allocations.

    Such policy would have the side effect of decreasing turnout to on-campus events. Indeed, such a reaction would prove counterproductive to the goal of increasing social interaction at UCSD. However, the number of people that stayed throughout Rock n’ Roosevelt suggests that such events would be far from empty, especially if fees were kept low. Charging admission would also motivate colleges to put on better, more popular shows that draw a larger and more campuswide paying base, and minimize the production of costly and unpopular shows that benefit fewer individuals while imposing high costs on nonparticipants.

    If the demand were immense and students were coming out in droves to these on-campus concerts, strong arguments could be made for continuing their support through fee referendums and A.S. allocations. More pressure could be placed on colleges not directly involved in the planning of such events to provide more monetary compensation to the host college.

    The majority of these events are, at most, popular only in relation to the weak UCSD social scene. The unpopularity of some concerts is not an excuse to throw up a white flag and surrender to anti-social forces. Muirstock, Marshallpalooza, and Rock n’ Roosevelt do stimulate social activity at UCSD. But some changes should be made when deciding how to pay for these events. New funding methods should rely more on the participants of a concert, epecially non-students.

    These methods may involve focusing funds on a smaller number of events, but this would ensure that only those performances reaching a large number of UCSD students would receive money that all students have contributed. Less popular performances would still receive financial support, but would be more reliant on participants to make up the difference. These reforms would lead to a more fair and efficient distribution of the costs and benefits of free on-campus events.

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