In planning for the University’s largest party, student organizers are facing tight costs and tough decisions.
Months after the Yale College Dean’s Office postponed a proposal to increase the student activities fee, the Yale College Council’s Spring Fling Committee is working to plan the event with a limited budget. Funding for Spring Fling comes largely from the annual SAF — which, along with Harvard’s fee, is the lowest in the Ivy League. As a result, Yale’s Spring Fling budget was the second-lowest of its peer institutions last year. According to YCC President Michael Herbert ’16, the dean’s office decision will force the Spring Fling Committee to operate within tight financial limits.
“We are going to get it done, but [the people on the committee] are definitely under what I would characterize as excessive constraints because our Student Activities Fee is so much lower than our peer institutions,” he said.
Some universities’ spring concert budgets are three times as large as Yale’s, said Spring Fling Committee Chair Tom Marano ’16.
While the SAF makes up the majority of funding for Spring Fling, the president’s office also allocates $40,000 to the event, and the YCC looks for outside sponsorship, Herbert said. Last year’s Spring Fling budget was $185,000, according to the YCC’s website.
However, because sponsorship does not contribute enough money to affect the quality of the show, organizers heavily rely on the SAF, Marano said.
In deciding how to allocate funds for the concert, the committee first determines non-negotiable costs, like production or security, YCC events director Jaime Halberstam ’16 said. Money that is leftover — typically half of the original budget — is spent on hiring performers, she said.
Some peer institutions charge an admission fee to raise money for their university-wide concerts. At the University of Pennsylvania, students pay $35 for admission to spring fling, and their non-Penn guests pay $70, said Lea Nowack, a sophomore at the school. Last year, with David Guetta as headliner, some students were deterred by the $35 cost, but many were willing to pay because Guetta is such a high-profile artist, Nowack added.
Marano said the YCC might consider charging non-Yale attendees a fee but has never considered charging Yale students beyond the SAF. To do so would be “double charging,” he said.
“The concert always has been and always will be free to Yale students,” Halberstam said.
Still, eight out of 12 students interviewed said they would not mind paying a little more money, either through the SAF or through an admissions fee, to secure a bigger name artist.
Greg Suralik ’17 said he would be willing to pay up to $150 for a SAF, adding that more money would always bring about improvements in the concert.
“We’ve managed to do well with what we have, but we have a great space and could attract great performers with our University’s name,” he said. “I’d definitely be willing to pay more. It could go to Spring Fling itself, better security, cleaning up. A lot of things improve when you just put a little money in.”
While the YCC’s budget for Spring Fling is not expected to change much this year, the proposal to increase the SAF is still up in the air, Herbert said, adding that student body support for the measure is strong. Discussion about the proposal is moving through the administrative channels, said Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry.
The YCC is optimistic that the SAF will be increased, Herbert said, and sees it a necessary step to increase the quality of Spring Fling.
“The questions [when it comes to Spring Fling budgeting] are always, is it doable? And are we going to be putting on a first-class event?” Herbert said. “Because those are two very different things.”
The average Ivy League SAF is $160.