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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Clubs react to F-board reform

Published: November 16, 2007
Section: News

Performance-oriented clubs reacted this week following an announcement from Treasurer Choon Woo Ha 08 on Sunday that clubs Finance Board funded clubs will no longer be able to charge Brandeis undergrads for admission, services, or items for their events next semester.

The reform, which will go into effect January 2008, comes in an effort to minimize financial burden to undergraduates. The Student Activities Fee, which all undergraduates currently pay, collectively amounts to about $1 million.

I believe that when students pay their Student Activities Fee, they are paying for every event, Ha said. The Student Activities Fee will still be the same, we will just give a lot of priority to events which will bring in the entire Brandeis community.

The reform also brings about a change in F-boards financing of club transportation and lodging. Next semester, the F-board is going to pay 15 cents per mile for gas fees, as well as parking costs for chartered student clubs and fund up to the full amount for train, plane, and bus fares, according to Ha. Still, Ha said, club leaders have to realize that they will not have full funding guaranteed, and it depends on the clubs priorities and merits.

Under this reform, clubs may ask for donations, and can still charge admission to patrons who are not Brandeis undergraduates.

In response, the Undergraduate Theater Collective decided to allow all patrons into their shows for free, although shows may still suggest donations. The UTC wants to be consistent in how we treat everyone, said UTC Commissioner Stefan Isaac 10.

Isaac, who was contacted by Ha prior to the campus-wide email notification of this new reform, was optimistic. I think were going to see the UTC becoming accessible to more people across campus and well hopefully see a greater number of people come to our shows, Isaac said. He applauded Has idea, stating, it makes sense – if money from Student Activities is going to pay for the show, why should people have to pay for it again?

Scott Moerdler 08, Hillel Theater Group President, was also hopeful, but expressed concerns about F-boards ability to finance all the groups on campus. Weve had trouble getting money for shows weve had in the past, and I dont see how the F-board will be able to fully finance us.

Currently, the UTC, which is an umbrella organization of five theater groups, has a joint-UTC fund which each of its five groups pays into with 25 percent of its ticket sale proceeds. The UTC fund, which finances new equipment for all five groups, may eventually be depleted as a result of this reform, according to UTC F-board Liaison Allie Winer 08. She worried about complete dependence on F-board funds, stating, we should be held financially responsible [by F-board,] but we need some autonomy.

Next semester the UTC will not be greatly impacted by this new reform as they will still be able to rely on the proceeds from their fall semesters shows and dip into the UTC fund if necessary, said Isaac.

Hold Thy Peace, the Universitys Shakespeare society, did not share UTCs positive outlook. Were upset about this new reform because it makes us completely dependent on F-board, said HTP Secretary Rachel Funk 08. At the moment, were able to have a bigger budget for shows than what F-board allocates us because we have what is left of our profits from previous shows. Funk expressed concern that F-board funds will not be able adequately finance each groups needs. She explained that in the past, F-board funds have never been enough to finance a full HTP production.

Other clubs shared this concern. In the past weve made about $5,000 from tickets and this reform will hurt charity organizations that count on our donations each year, explained Aileen Gleizer 08, a coordinator of Vagina Monologues. Vagina Club donates proceeds to the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center among other charities.

Ha explained that although the proceeds for an event may go to a good cause, he doesnt feel undergraduate students should feel required to pay any extra money when they already paid the Student Activities Fee. If they feel strongly about a cause they will still give money, but that should be voluntary.

The Free Play Theatre Cooperative does not charge admission to its shows. I am glad that there will be more free theater on campusI dont think that good ideas like that should be restricted to one particular group, said Free Plays Founder and Artistic Director, Josh Mervis 08. Free Play raises money for shows through donations from university departments. For the first time this semester they also received money from F-board, explained Mervis.

If this reform is implemented past next semesters experimental period it will affect cultural events on campus that occur in the fall such as Mela. For this year, Mela has an estimated budget of $10,500 [not including the after-party]. Of this, we requested $9,360, and were given $5,160 by the F-board. Most of the costs not covered by F-board are those of food and advertising, said SASA Co-President Ameeka Pannu 08.

The Student Sexuality Information Service, which utilizes F-board funds to purchase products such as condoms and lubricant to sell to students in addition to doing free outreach and programming, will not be affected by the current reform, as they do not sell their products at formally ticketed events. Emily Moignard 09, a member of the SSIS board who is also on the F-board, explained, this issue has not yet been addressed.

We dont want to jump in and try everything at once. We want to focus our attention into this discussion, Ha said. Ha plans to hold polls and open forums next semester to study firsthand how students feel about this. He stressed these discussions would be for the entire student body, not just club leaders.

I cannot say for sure if the pilot will last past this semester, it really depends on future elected officials, and how discussions about this program go, said Ha. Were going to do our best for the betterment of the entire student body. They come first to us no matter what.