The Arizona Desert Lamp

There ain’t no such thing as a free Friday party without alcohol, either.

Posted in Campus, Culture by Evan Lisull on 11 August 2009

Soviet Anti-Alcohol - "Het!"Among the smorgasbord of programs approved for funded from the now $80 per-year Student Services Fee was “Friday Night Live,” a CSIL program that promised to bring “an alcohol free environment with opportunities for students to gain experiences in programming, leadership development, and responsible social interaction.” For this service, students will pay a total of $25,600. Except, according to the Facebook group, you like totally didn’t!

Something new that will be happening this year is called Friday Night Live! These will be Friday night events that happen each month in the Student Union and on the mall. They’ll have free food, music, prizes, entertainment and tons more!

. . .
The first FNL will be on the Friday right before classes start (August 21). It’ll be a chance to meet other students, eat free food, and have fun before the semester starts. Don’t miss out! [emphasis added – EML]

Err, no. Again – the food and entertainment is provided from the Student Services Fee, which costs students $80 per academic year. This is the antithesis of free. Further, the Fee requires that the “Student Services Fee logo must be used in all related materials” – however, no such indication of SSF funding can be found anywhere on the Facebook site. Perhaps, though, this requirement has all the force of an election code; which is to say, none.

To reiterate and elaborate on what we said earlier: there’s no reason that students should be forced to pay for this. Asked to justify their proposal from priorities in the SSF survey, CSIL could cite only two. The first, the demand for “health and wellness programs and initiatives,” is fairly specious. Never mind that drinking in moderation is in fact beneficial for one’s health* – it would be surprising if the food were a strong divergence from the usual college food pyramid, in all likelihood pizza and pop in this case. “Wellness” is subjective enough as to be meaningless – those whose ‘wellness’ is improved by FNL will certainly be outweighed by those who would’ve preferred to buy an eighth or a fifth and ‘get well’, as it were. The second justification, “Increased faculty/student program opportunities,” referred to faculty-student interaction outside of the classroom. In the latest SSF survey, this student “priority” ranked fourth from last, just ahead of social justice, ‘various campus populations,’ and parent/family resources (the latter two of which were certainly not supported due to their representing of a minority group, i.e. “I’m not a parent, so why should I pay for such services?”). As the survey’s executive summary put it,

• The three following initiatives were rated as particularly unimportant to students, with over half of respondents indicating that this initiative was slightly important or not important:
o Increased Faculty-Student programs and opportunities (52.03%)

Yet even if providing students who like their parties dry as the desert is an essential student priority, there’s the elided fact that CSIL has already found funds to host a late-night event with no fee money involved, a fact they alluded to in their proposal. CSIL could also move funds from the ever-unpopular “social justice” programs to these apparently more necessary ones. But even if they love their dear social justice too much to part ways, they could fund FNL with a “cover charge” – think of it as a “user fee” for a good time. There are five scheduled events, leading to a per-event cost of $25,600. In its descriptive proposal [PDF], CSIL said,

The number of students impacted will vary.  The hope is to begin with having 200-300 individuals participate on a regular basis.  In December we hosted a late night event and had approximately 200 students in attendance, with 75-100 staying until at least 1:00am.  If given the opportunity to grow the program, we foresee an increase in the number of participants.  Some institutions have over 1000 students attend each late night event and we hope to create such a community at The University of Arizona.

So let’s say that such a community is established, and 1,000 students attend. That’s a $6 cover charge – hardly out of line. “But Evan, that’s pretty rosy. If only 200 students show up, they’d have to each pay $128.” Exactly – which means that, in typical bureaucratic fashion, way too much money is being thrown at this program. If this turns out to be the case, students at the UA are forking over $128 in services to each and every student who feels that they are entitled to a party with no alcohol allowed. Meanwhile, the rest of us have gotten along just fine paying our $5 cover charge at the door.

* – Of course, Science sez that such benefits only can be accrued the exact moment that one turns 21 years of age (except that the citizens in some states are so genetically composed that the effects do not take place until 3:00 AM, or even later. Ask your doctor). Up until then, the Demon Likker can only rot your liver out and give you sarcomas.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Tam Sadek

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