The Yale College Council is working hard to make sure this year’s Spring Fling is not anticlimactic in the wake of the tercentennial excitement.
A newly created committee plans to approach potential corporate sponsors, including the manufacturers of Pepsi and Coke, in order to supplement the money Yale gives to Spring Fling to finance a choice band. The committee consists of five members, a yet-to-be-announced Spring Fling chairman and the YCC officers.
Though University President Richard Levin said the administration has not yet decided how much money it will allocate for Spring Fling this year, YCC is assuming it will get approximately $40,000 and is aiming to raise $60,000 more.
YCC President Vidhya Prabhakaran ’03 said the YCC estimates it needs that much to attract a top-level band, based on the price of the Counting Crows, who gave a tercentennial concert Oct. 7. Last year’s Spring Fling act, Ben Harper, cost approximately $45,000.
“It’s up to us to raise the total amount of cash necessary,” Prabhakaran said. “The Tercentennial was a one-time thing; obviously [we’re] not going to get the same amount of money [from Yale as] we did for the Crows.”
Levin said he expects the YCC to receive the usual Spring Fling funding, but added that they were free to seek additional funds on their own.
“If they can get corporate sponsors, that’s great, and they won’t be penalized [with less money from the administration] if they can raise the money,” Levin said.
Prabhakaran said the YCC is approaching large companies that target college students, including Pepsico Inc., the Coca-Cola Co., and various cell phone, credit card and condom companies. They are also contacting investment banks, who are likely to sponsor such events because they want to seem like fun companies for which to work, Prabhakaran said.
“I think we’re targeting Pepsi and Coke, mainly because the president of Pepsico is from Yale, and we’re planning on trying to pit the two companies against each other because Coke provides dining hall drinks,” Sponsors Committee Chairman Matt Fong ’05 said.
YCC representative Jennifer Piro ’04 said Pepsico was a sponsor of the final tercentennial weekend.
The committee is mostly focusing on national corporations rather than New Haven businesses.
“We’re going to try local business, but we don’t expect that much out of them because they’re hit up for all kinds of things for charitable causes all over the place,” Prabhakaran said. “We’re probably not high priority for them.”
Committee members will not contact any alcohol or cigarette companies, nor will they work with clothing companies that use sweatshop labor, based on a resolution they passed last year.
Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg was skeptical about the YCC’s fund-raising capabilities.
“The YCC has tried before to raise money in substantial amounts from corporations, and they haven’t been very successful,” she said. “They’ve raised some money, but not the amounts they’ve wanted to raise — but there’s always a next time.”
Committee members, however, are very confident.
“I think without a doubt because of the people on YCC, especially the people on the committee, we will be ultimately successful,” Sponsors Committee member Howard H. Han ’05 said. “Personally I think we should aim for a larger goal; I think we’re going to blow away our current goal, which is $100,000. We understand YCC will get ripped if we don’t get a good band.”
Piro said this year’s Spring Fling T-shirts will have the Spring Fling logo on the front and the logos of all of the sponsors on the back. YCC is planning to have more shirts than last year, she said, so that every student can have one.
“It’s a great thing; everybody loves free T-shirts, and it’s a good incentive for companies to sponsor us,” Piro said. “Look around any day on campus, and somebody has it on.”
Piro said the YCC can also distribute free samples from sponsors as advertisements, but University policy prohibits companies from selling merchandise on campus.
“Basically so far what we’ve done, we made the list of companies, we’ve been checking with all the people we’ve needed to, to make sure the sponsor list we have is acceptable and wouldn’t cause any conflicts,” Prabhakaran said. “All of that’s been done, except for [checking with the] development office.”
The first callers’ training session will be this Sunday, Prabhakaran said.
“Everyone is putting out feelers right now to find who the contacts are,” Prabhakaran said. “Larger companies have a point person for campus affairs, and we’re asking a number of places to help us out with that. So hopefully we’ll start calling in the next week.”
The YCC did not actively pursue corporate sponsorship last year, Prabhakaran said.
“We did ask some local businesses, like Urban Outfitters,” he said. “It was just me, just in my role as treasurer going out. Frankly I was a little too busy worrying about Spring Fling itself. We’re changing that this year by starting much earlier — hopefully we can get a good idea of who’s willing to sponsor by the time semester ends.”
The YCC posted a survey on the YaleStation Web site this week for students to offer their top choices for Spring Fling acts. They have not yet begun to investigate what bands will be on tour next April because the bands do not usually plan their tours until December or January, Prabhakaran said.