The Taming of the Beast: Sun God’s Sobering Fireside Tale

    Stefany Chen/Guardian

    Once upon a time, three years ago, there existed a Sun God Festival like no Sun God Festival to come.

    One where you stepped outside your on-campus apartment and a crowd of half-naked students covered in water/paint ran by; where the Price Center Fountain doubled as a wading pool; one where — for a single gloriously excessive day — every student under the San Diego sun was united with the common goal of learning to prioritize academic success a budge below having fun.

    It was a unique freedom — one that, sadly, most current students have never experienced, thanks to administrative lockdown beginning in 2008. In fear of being responsible for student deaths after a particularly belligerent 2007 festival, higher-ups bullied event planners into chainlinking RIMAC field, eliminating re-entry privileges, hiring gobs more security personnel and preventing student-sponsored activities from occurring around campus.

    The next year, tumbleweeds blew in what were once legendary Sun God hotspots. The epic Junkyard Derby race at Peterson Hall was converted to an underattended Thursday powwow, student-org tables were relocated to the RIMAC Field sidelines and the Price Center Fountain stood empty and still.

    Within a year, UCSD’s most infamous holiday had become a tamed version of a high-school carnival — complete with face painting and bouncy houses.

    Since then, it’s been typical of student politicians — especially 2009-10 A.S. President Utsav Gupta — to promise they will “uncage” Sun God. That is, until newbies who never experienced the old festival began to assume positions on the student council.

    Just this year, Gupta asked former Associate Vice President of Student Orgs Andrew Ang to reinstate student-org booths on Library Walk, but Ang said most orgs preferred to set-up on RIMAC Field — “where the festival was.”

    KSDT Radio, UCSD’s “fiercely independent” student-run station, also moved its annual anti-Sun God event to Thursday this year, ensuring that no other part of campus could compete with the underwhelming and fiercely corporate acts on RIMAC field.

    Turns out AVP of Concerts and Events Alex Bramwell — the guy who plans Sun God — prefers his fun orderly as well. In an interview with the Guardian on Monday (in which he refused to share this year’s increased cost of security), he defended the festival’s fenced-in format and said he’d cage the Sun God Festival any day if it meant he was saving a student’s life.

    We understand that Bramwell can’t help but capitalize on the opportunity to play god at his own mini Coachella, but let’s not forget that this isn’t his event, — nor the A.S. Council’s. It’s a festival for the students, paid for with $550,000 of their fees. It’s a student’s decision to binge himself into a stupor — and whether he’s attending an isolated concert or an all-campus bash, it will always happen. (By the way, if you want to ensure people will stay sober, you should give them a lineup that’s worth staying conscious for.)

    Most importantly, we must remember that the Sun God Festival earned its best-day-of-the-year reputation with a rare ability to unite bio-obsessed wallflowers and brawny Greek bros under a common goal of turning our institution of learning into one giant playground.

    But it seems the administration — along with wet blankets like Bramwell — have successfully tamed that unique phenomenon into just another music festival. They’ve squashed the possibility of maintaining the original Sun God spirit at an institutional level — a sobering fact for the small population of us who still remember what it was like, and what it could be with support in the right places.

    It will only get worse as time goes on, and the memory fades. In fact, according to Bramwell, the administration will continue to push harder and harder for the festival to take place on a Saturday — and lord knows it will only take are a few spineless councilmembers to let that happen.

    Our only advice to you, the student, is to adopt the role of campuswide party-planner on Friday. Every year — even before administrators put a damper on our favorite rager — it’s the grassroots efforts of a few pioneering drunks that make this all-campus dance party special. Get creative and impulsive: Cover yourself in body paint, get see-through in the Price Center Fountain, start a spontaneous rave in your local dining hall and ignore any and every authority figure who tries to stand in your way — but you might consider running if you see a security officer fast approaching with some cuffs.

    We’re begging you to help make it happen: Prove we’re not the cold and introspective nerd herd our fellow UC campuses think we are. We’re willing to do our part, too. Just meet us at the fountain — and don’t forget your game face.

    More to Discover
    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $200
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal

    Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $200
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal