The Wait is Over

    Jane Rho/UCSD Guardian

    This Friday’s Sun God festival will take place on RIMAC field, where musical acts including Wiz Khalifa, Mike Posner and Crystal Castles will grace the main stage.

    The event will include a lounge for students to relax, games, comedians and of course, music performances. This year’s biggest change is the lounge, a collaboration with beverage retailer D’lush. The lounge will serve mixed drinks — including an official Sun God drink — and provide couches and television screens for a live feed of the midway stage and dance tent.

    “The planning for Sun God begins a year in advance and involves students and the campus community,” University Events Director Martin Wollesen said in an email. “This annual event impacts the entire campus, and there have been months of meetings with camps partners in the planning and preparation of Sun God.”

    Daniel Yuan/UCSD Guardian

    Each May, right after the festival, the University Events office — responsible for managing the festival and advising A.S. Concerts and Events — does a debriefing with colleges, health and safety personnel, police and security personnel, technical crew, venue staff and others.

    Feedback from these meetings is used in the planning of the next year’s festival, which begins in Fall Quarter when the ASCE staff first meets, and continues through Spring Quarter.

    “We’ve also hosted open fora with students, and certainly A.S. leadership,” Wollesen said. “Those notes are then used for the planning process. The summer is largely dependent on the availability of ASCE staff. If they are around or we can connect remotely, meetings/planning can happen in the summer. That varies from year to year.”

    According to Wollesen, festival planning is complex and detailed. ASCE and the University Events Office must prioritize safety while still making the festival enjoyable for students.

    “Our primary concerns of course are the health and safety of our students,” Wollesen said. “At the same time, everyone is committed to providing a robust community-building event that is uniquely UC San Diego.”

    Andrew Oh/UCSD Guardian

    Campaigns and programs such as “Sun God Says” — which works to promote safety on the day of the festival — have been implemented to promote responsible festival behavior.

    “The Sun God Says campaign is a health and wellness campaign that goes on all throughout the year,” Lupe Samaniego-Kraus, Student Health Services Center Health Educator, said. “We know that students make choices when they drink or not drink. We just want them to be as well-informed as possible so if they do decide to drink, they do it in a low risk way, minimizing negative consequences.”

    This year, Student Health Services partnered with Recording Artists against Drunk Driving — a designated driver program to give students safe transportation to campus on the day of the festival. When picking up festival wristbands, students will receive a RADD card and a “Sun God Says: Don’t Miss the Music” card to remind students not drink to the point of unconsciousness.

    ASCE and the University Events Office plan all aspects of the festival, including ticketing, merchandising, artistic planning, security, lights, sound, staging, venue preparation, vendor selection and support.

    John Hanacek/UCSD Guardian

    The budget for the festival is roughly $530,000 drawn from student fees. ASCE spent about $690,000 on the festival last year, allocating $50,000 to security and about $190,000 on the artists. ASCE plans to spend a similar sum this year.

    Wollesen said this year’s festival boasts improved communication through the event’s website, the addition of more sponsors, opportunities to meet the artists and improved layout, games, and midway performances.

    There is also an effort to reduce the festival’s carbon footprint and promoting sustainability. In the interest of discouraging waste, students who bring their own reusable bottles will be provided free cold water.

    Those without bottles will have to purchase recyclable cornstarch cups for $1, and Styrofoam cups will be banned. The festival aims to reduce carbon emissions by collaborating with CarbonGuard — a San Diego-based environmental organization — to calculate the festival’s carbon footprint and use this information to fund carbon emission reduction projects on campus that will offset the carbon emission from the festival.

    Crystal Shei/UCSD Guardian

    “Every year, ASCE students and campus partners learn from and improve on previous festivals,” Wollesen said. “We have a constant focus on supporting the safety and well being of our students, as well as creating a more engaging community experience that reflects UC San Diego at its most creative and innovative. Sun God, like UCSD, is constantly evolving.”

    Zhang expects that the event will reach RIMAC field’s capacity of 20,000 people.

    “There were some bumpy roads along the way, but in the end, I think we’re really pleased with the finished product and what the lineup is. We’re pleased with how smooth things are going, especially right now,” Zhang said.

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