Programmers Unveil Festival Changes

A.S. Associate Vice President of Programming Kevin Highland (left) speaks at a Feb. 29 meeting to announce structural changes that his office will make to this year’s Sun God Festival. (Andrew Ruiz/Guardian)

Late last week, student programmers unveiled their
overhauled version of the Sun God Festival, which will now be reorganized into
five thematic regions on RIMAC Field. The newly engineered approach to the
annual event, which attracts thousands of attendees and costs hundreds of
thousands of dollars, comes after yearlong discussions over organizers’
security and managerial tactics.

Related Links
Feb. 28, 2008 — "Officials: Drop the Bottle, Sun God"
Jan. 24, 2008 — "Committee: Sun God Safety Foremost Concern"
Oct. 18, 2007 — "A New Face for Sun God?"

Now, the festival’s nighttime concert mainstay will be
garnished with a barrage of activities, all run throughout the day and
concentrated on RIMAC Field. Additional attractions will include a “street
fair” of booths operated by vendors and student organizations, a DJ-hosted
dance and performances by local bands.

This year’s festival will also be the programming
department’s first event to allow re-entry. Students will be able to enter and
exit RIMAC Field with a wristband until a designated time. Entry wristbands,
which will be required along with photo ID as the only forms of admittance,
will be distributed the weekdays preceding the festival at locations at every
college and one central site, programming officials said. No wristbands will be
distributed the day of the festival.

A.S. Associate Vice President of Programming
Kevin Highland

said he was “extremely proud” of his department’s new designs. It represents
the first student-led attempt at not only restructuring the festival, he said,
but also reassessing its campus impacts.

Last quarter, the programming department launched a
full-fledged evaluation of Sun God, partnering with the University Events
Office to field input from a number of campus departments. The range of
complaints and suggestions was widely mixed: Police officials lamented the
pervasive alcohol presence, parking administrators said the event cramped
campus infrastructure and student policy officials found the event’s date
inconvenient to prosecution procedures. All comments were compiled into a
22-page report released in October.

Student programmers said they used the report’s
recommendations, and ongoing debriefing meetings following its release, as a
touchstone for their re-imagined festival.

The report focused heavily on security concerns, many of
which student politicians admittedly said were appropriate, in light of last
year’s troublesome festival. While the evening attracted record numbers of
attendees, the level of citations and arrests spiked and entrance lines
generated several security problems.

Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Penny Rue said last
year’s Sun God had reached a “tipping point.” She emphasized the report’s
suggestions to establish a community-building event that bonds the campus.

The new Sun God meets students’ and administrators’ demands
for stronger community ideals, said Garrett Berg, festival coordinator for the
programming department.

“We want to support students representing their orgs and
showing off their artwork and films,” Berg said after revealing the
department’s plans. “There will be a space for all of those things now within
Sun God’s newfound atmosphere.”

Highland said
his department is heavily relying on its student volunteers to shoulder the
extra managerial weight generated from the new plans. The event will be better
managed through simple changes such as the new re-entry procedure, Berg said,
which sheds last year’s malfunctioning ID-scanning systems.

Berg added that there are still details to be finalized,
including the location of the fan-favorite Junkyard Derby. Berg also said that
this year’s concert would substitute the traditional fireworks display with a
pyrotechnic attraction.

The concert is slated for May 16.