Programming Shouldn’t Drown in Open Floodgates

    (Illustrations by Michael Capparelli/Guardian)

    The first of many Sun God Planning Committee meetings is a
    sign of things to come; whether that’s good or bad for students will be up to
    A.S. councilmembers. Specifically, the council’s programming department will
    decide what to do with the Sun God 2008 Planning Report, 22 pages worth of
    inextricably muddied content. It will be a heady task, as that content is as
    effusive as it is broad — every campus department had its say, and those voices
    range from intense complaints to light grievances.

    The filter to be used in prioritizing the flurry of
    proposals is safety, council programmers say. It is the extent to which basic
    safety bows to basic entertainment that is most at question; a stronger officer
    presence encourages safety (and is undoubtedly supported by the campus police
    department), but does it ruin Sun God’s free-spirited ambience? This is where
    negotiation, bartering and back-and-forth dialogues will be key in preserving
    students’ love of their treasured daylong event.

    So far, the negotiating parties appear to have sturdy heads
    on their shoulders. Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Penny Rue took a
    much-appreciated stance against undercover officers during this week’s A.S.
    Council meeting, supporting councilmembers’ sentiment that uniformed officers
    would make Sun God safer, while plain-clothed officers lead to a backward route
    of enforcement. Officials from the University Events Office have proclaimed a
    “tied at the hip” partnership with council programming, which gives them
    much-needed authority to rebuff complaints from administrative departments used
    to strong-arm student voices.

    Programmers, UEO and Rue are correct in admitting the near
    unmanageable nature of this era’s Sun God. It is a colossal undertaking that
    reared its ugliest angles last year, when entrance lines collapsed, ticketing
    operations imploded and the number of arrests shot upward. The problems in 2007
    heralded a perfect time to re-evaluate the festival, though it has opened the
    floodgates to on-campus departments, allowing them to throw every stick and
    stone at UCSD’s defining event.

    Because of the report’s depth and breadth, the programming
    department must be wary of its own boundaries and powers: What boundaries will
    it set to festival changes, and what power does it have to snub departments
    that believe their changes should take priority? The answers vary.
    Councilmembers love to voice programming’s autonomy over its events, but
    administrators have muscled past that “Students have rights!” argument before.
    Baseline issues such as safety can give administrators a possible tool to
    regulate Sun God’s basic operations — changing the date of the festival, for
    example, is an unconscionable proposal. Yet another concern is the programming
    department’s approach to marketing and advertising, part of its attempt at
    changing the overall image of Sun God. But that image should be self-evolving
    and self-perpetuating, not a product of UEO, programmers and administrators.

    Though there are problems that require some form of
    committee attention, and soon. The rising profile of nonaffiliates at the
    concert is causing multiple roadblocks. While completely restricting
    nonaffiliate access to the concert is extreme, it may be the only way to ward
    off the shockingly violent behavior of kids that have no concern for a campus
    that is not theirs.

    So as the committee meetings progress, only time will tell
    what our children’s Sun God will look like — hopefully just as fun, just as
    community-oriented and just as wild.

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