FallFest as It Should Be

ON CAMPUS — When campus events are touted as free for students, they’re implied to be almost favors from the university, bestowed upon starving, jobless undergraduates for one night of escape from Geisel Library. Of course we’re grateful — plenty of sister universities don’t offer anywhere near the quantity of extracurricular entertainment, not to mention quality of content, that UCSD does.

However — to cop the idealistic platform of our fave blue-state candidate and his articulate leading lady — those campuses as they are don’t mean we can lose sight of our campus as it should be.

Among heaps of other mysterious entries in the undergraduate bill every quarter is one aptly named the Campus Activity Fee, a $28-per-student allotment to Associated Students toward the funding of on-campus events. (Almost four times that amount per student is divvied out to UCSD sports teams to ensure they play in luxury, but that’s a gripe for another day.) So, FallFest being the single major free-for-students activity planned for fall quarter, it becomes quite clear that by mere status as a paying undergraduate, we are by default shelling out at least the $18 ticket price charged to the public — which is all nice and cuddly if we do indeed choose to attend.

But last Friday, as thousands of students eager to catch Ben Kweller, We Are Lions and Lupe Fiasco in their very own backyard (and for free!) were turned to the streets outside RIMAC Arena, they weren’t just paying in tears: The venue’s low maximum capacity and a significant number of nonstudent ticket-holders denied many a campus card-wielding hopeful the right to what they had already paid for back when tuition was due. Even some of the nonaffiliates with prepaid tickets were denied entry — with promise of a refund, sure, but nothing really makes up for the pointless drive and a ruined Friday night.

Event coordinators encourage us to arrive early to the arena to avoid such a fate, but if everyone who wanted to get their activity fee’s worth followed that advice, we’d be stuck with the same problem — only an hour earlier.

According to A.S. councilmembers, talent this swoon-worthy couldn’t have been afforded without extra funding from ticket sales. But nothing — not even the great Fiasco himself — should compromise the right of every undergraduate to the fruits of that activity fee, and the maintenance of FallFest as a service to the students first.

Perhaps the less popular opening acts could be compromised, or students could be charged an extra couple bucks to bridge the funding gap; maybe the festival could be made up of high-quality but lesser-known (and therefore more affordable) groups, and Lupe could play RIMAC Field on a separate bill, with a greater capacity for paying nonaffiliates with plenty of space left over for student discounts.

But above all, scheduling should be maneuvered to ensure the significantly larger RIMAC Field be available the single night of the quarter it’s needed for something other than unpopular sporting events.That way, arriving early would mean a pleasantly intimate spot in spitting range of the main act — not a swift kick out the front door.