Spring Fest to Stay on RIMAC Field

At the first Sun God forum of the year, councilmembers complained that they were limited by security regulations. Two years after the administration pressured A.S. Concerts and Events into instituting a complete makeover of the annual Sun God Festival — tightening security and confining the festival to RIMAC Field — councilmembers are still trying to live up to A.S. President Utsav Gupta’s famous campaign promise to “uncage Sun God”.

Core members of A.S. Concerts and Events met with interested students at the first Sun God Festival 2010 Open Forum, held on Jan. 15, to discuss plans for this year’s concert format.

The majority of the two-hour town-hall meeting focused on the inefficient entrance policy and the diminished role of student organizations at the 2009 festival — as well as the possible inclusion of a Bear Garden in 2010.

AVP Concerts and Events Alex Bramwell said he is reevaluating the entrance policy — the issue that received the most attention at the forum. At last year’s festival, 19,000 students waited in line for up to four hours on the day of the event to receive their wristbands, due to unstrategic buildup of frantic students.

“Last year, there were about 1,000 student wristbands that we didn’t give out,” Bramwell said. “If people came at 1 p.m. in the afternoon, they got their wristbands immediately. But some people waited for two hours because they were afraid we would run out.”

Campus Events Manager Alex Kushner said an ideal entry policy would be where students could go straight from class to the festival without waiting in long lines. In 2008, students could pick up wristbands in the week leading up to Sun God, but A.S. Council ran out before the concert.

“The biggest fear we have is that we give out wristbands during the week, and then people don’t show up for the event,” Kushner said.

One student at the forum suggested that A.S. Council set up a wristband tracker on Facebook, so that people could log on the day of the festival and see how many tickets were still available.

In addition to entrance logistics, forum attendees discussed the declining role of student organizations ever since the festival was first confined to RIMAC Field in 2008. Last year, only four student orgs set up booths.

Bramwell said that A.S. Concerts and Events is looking into making the booths — which were moved to the west end of RIMAC Field last year — free for student orgs as an incentive.

Kushner noted that, as evidenced by last year’s festival, it is difficult for student orgs to generate competitive interest with the festival’s large-scale activities, like an inflatable obstacle course, a rock climbing wall and a dance tent.

“For the past 28 years, student organizations have been able to come up with something cool to attract students,” Kushner said. “But when there are 10,000 people heading over to the dance tent, it’s hard to compete.”

However, according to Gupta, this year’s Sun God will incorporate student organizations by allowing the setup of booths outside of RIMAC Field, on Library Walk.

Last year’s event marked the second Sun God Festival enclosed entirely by RIMAC Field. According to Bramwell, the A.S. Council is open to fielding events such as a Bear Garden in other locations on campus, but pressure from the administration to maximize security makes these activities unrealistic — despite campaign promises from Gupta to “uncage” the festival.

“Not having the feeling of Sun God on campus has been the No. 1 complaint,” Bramwell said. “But having people wandering around in a free-for-all is what we’re trying to avoid.”

According to Gupta, this year’s Sun God will actually be more of a campuswide event, with student orgs and college councils adding their own events.

“We’re not going to be able to bring back the smaller daytime concerts [in Price Center],” Gupta said. “But in terms of the rest of it, like booths on Library Walk, we’re bringing those back.”

Kushner expressed doubts about the ability to of orgs to handle the large crowds that turn out for the festival.

“We’re not in the business of preventing people from doing what they want,” he said. “But … can student orgs weather the storm of [a Sun God-sized] onslaught?”

Readers can contact Janani Sridharan at [email protected].

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