This Bird’s Not Ready to Fly

    Illustrations by Kim Cyprian/Guardian
    Illustrations by Kim Cyprian/Guardian

    ON CAMPUS — Leading up to last spring’s 2009’s A.S. election, then-A.S. presidential hopeful Utsav Gupta made a monumental promise: he would “uncage” the Sun God Festival.

    One presidential victory and a lazy summer later, Gupta has cooked up a couple more details for his campaign promise. He’s proposing a party in every corner of the campus — from Revelle College’s shady cement hallways to Sixth College’s expansive green fields. While this plan may make the happiest day of the year that much better, there’s one problem: Gupta is pushing the six colleges to fund his promise.

    But if anyone wants to see such a revolutionary Sun God change, with limited resources and Fall Quarter already coming to a close, we’ll need to think small this first time around.

    Among other promises — Library Walk booths and additional ticket distribution centers, to name a couple — the crux of Gupta’s vision includes pairing the colleges into teams of two (according to geographic location) for a total of three separate events the morning of the Sun God Festival.

    Said sideshows, according to Gupta, are entirely up to the discretion of the college councils. They could be something as gleefully simple as Sixth College’s Chocolate Fest or a full-fledged 9 a.m. concert starring a band you (sort of) dig.

    Though Gupta wants each college to make its Sun God Festival event its own, it’s probably too late in the budgetary game to ensure each college can afford anything more than a free hot-dog stand.

    According to Marshall College Council Chair Tanvir Dhillon, although his council’s not willing to spend its every last penny on a Sun God event, Marshall has $7,000 in unallocated funds and $7,000 in project funds that could be used for Sun God. Warren College Council Chair Emily Law, however, said she feels her college would need to dig painfully deeper into its $20,000 events budget to make “Sun God: Warren” a reality.

    A.S. Associate Vice President of Concerts and Events Alex Bramwell said he fears that the administration won’t be game for a campuswide free for all. But even on the offchance that Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Penny Rue gives an inebriated ice-cream social the green light, not every college is willing to pony up.

    While Law said she is excited about Gupta’s plan, she apparently doesn’t foresee Warren dipping into its reserves to fund it. It’s important to remember that reserves are just that: reserves. If college councils do use their reserves this year, they won’t be a reliable funding source for future Sun God popcorn stands.

    Every college, with the exception of Eleanor Roosevelt, has already passed its budget for the year, so picking up an entirely new event will be far from smooth sailing. Just two weeks ago, Muir College passed a referendum necessary just to keep existing orgs and events afloat. With such full plates already, expanding college councils’ commitments would be irresponsible.

    Another major concern for Law is that because the funds for a Sun God event would be coming out of Warren’s student fees, it should be primarily benefitting Warren students. While the entire student body may not make it to each college event — blacked-out Muir freshmen probably won’t care to stumble all the way to Warren for a free romp in a bouncy house — in passing the bill to the already emaciated college-council budgets, Gupta is blurring the A.S. and college council funding lines out of their comfort zone.

    Currently, none of the college councils have even an estimate of the size or cost of the Sun God Festival events Gupta has proposed. And just in terms of safety and security, every college would have to follow a set of UC Police Department stipulations and regulations.

    Last year, Muirstock security cost $3,100. Even though Gupta doesn’t anticipate the individual colleges to host events as large as Muirstock, since no event of uncaged-Sun God magnitude has ever been planned, college councils are swimming in murkily untested waters, especially in terms of security costs. A.S. Concerts and Events spent nearly $60,000 on security last year — a pretty sum that would rise by the thousands once our beloved day of mayhem is spread across the entire campus.

    In the end, who doesn’t want this to work? So hopefully, Gupta’s Disneyland dream won’t end up another half-baked idea stuck in the pipeline. Financing college-specific events will require a strict sense of fiscal conservatism that the A.S. Council has not so far expressed when referencing their newly inflated Sun God budget. Recruiting student bands and looking to local vendors for cheap catering (quality be damned — free food is free food) could help keep the cost of these events low. The goal of these daytime gigs, after all, is to unite our student body — not to divide the college and A.S. councils even further and burn through every last cent for the future.

    Readers can contact Cheryl Hori at [email protected].

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