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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

That’s Some Very Expensive Pizza

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As Carleton students, we are part of the elite. We have the privilege of receiving one of the most prestigious educations in the country, we have peers, faculty and staff that truly support one another, and we have the opportunity to express our concerns and voice our objections to authority – to question our actions and the actions of others. But last Saturday, as we passed the security guards and entered the “Halloween tent,” we became acutely aware and uncomfortable of another type of elitism; we attend an institution that is willing to spend $21,000 to host a Halloween dance, and institution that can, and sometimes, opts for extravagance over frugality. While students do truly appreciate these larger events, where do we draw the line, how do we determine how much is too much?

The Student Activities Office at Carleton has an extremely hard job, and has funded and hosted many successful events such as Midwinter Ball and Spring Concert. Before jumping to conclusions concerning the Halloween dance, we decided to talk to Robert Kaylor 16’, the Special Events Program Assistant and CSA SAO Liaison. We learned that the dance was incredibly successful, with over 1,000 in attendance. While by some standards the event was a success – specifically the number of students who attended the costume contest and dance party – we feel that the sheer amount of money spent on this event were too high. In total, the event cost $21,000 – CSA allocated $12,000, and SAO allocating $9,000 to the dance. While the dance was originally going to cost $18,000, $3,000 had to be contributed at they last minute in order to heat the tent. Although this event was five to six times cheaper than the Spring Concert, the CSA spent the same amount of money on this event as the typically spend to host Mid-Winter Ball. While we recognize the tremendous work the four full-time staff members and thirteen student employees put into planning this event, we wonder whether this money could have put to better use.

Is this event setting a dangerous precedent at Carleton? Should expensive and elaborate events each term be the norm, or can we be more frugal with students’ tuition money and CSA allocations? Are there better, more economical ways to ensure that students have interesting social activities? Some of the events that are the most fun, such as the Cowling Dances, only require good music and infamous Dominos Pizza. Other events, such as ScrewDate, are put together by student groups (this year’s Screw- Date events were organized by students in Firebellies, acappella groups, the Experimental Theater Board, SUMO, and comedy groups such as Cujokra). We are college students, and as such, have a resounding ability to make most situations fun. We don’t need an expensive dance to have a good time.

It makes us uncomfortable that $21,000 is seen as being “needed” to facilitate successful social events. Not only do we be- lieve this isn’t true, we also believe that equating money with fun is dangerous. This is especially true at an elite college like Carleton, which is often criticized for high tuition costs and disproportion- ate socio-economic representa- tion. We are not advocating for all social events to be cancelled. Instead, we recommend that the Student Activities Office, the CSA and the student body in general think more critically about what types of events they solicit.

Carleton has many fiscal restraints, and we believe that the $21,000 dollars spent on the Halloween festivities could have been allocated to other areas. For example, it could have supplied much needed funds to Carleton’s externship program or supported student travel and student groups. Having some of our tuition money go towards activities put on by SAO is fine, but sometimes providing pizza and a place to dance is all we need.

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