AU hosted its 120th annual Founders’ Day Ball on Feb. 23 at the National Museum of American History. This week, the Quick Take writers share their appreciations and criticisms of this annual yearly celebration for the student body.
By Emma Gray
On Feb. 23, AU’s Student Government hosted the 120th annual Founders’ Day Ball. Set at the National Museum of American History, the affair was full of extravagance.
I cannot dispute that the chosen venue was awesome. It’s an experience unique to D.C. However, the exclusivity and hype of an event that should be centered around the students who are currently becoming a part of AU history does not sit well with me.
All AU students should be able to attend the annual event. It is ridiculous that SG touts it as an “exclusive event.” This is the only large event that AU hosts for its students, so why are most still left out?
This year SG released 12,00 tickets, enough for about ten percent of AU’s 12,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students. Students arrived three or more hours early to patiently wait for a small number of tickets. Some efforts were in vain.
Also, only AU students can attend. This restriction is more understandable, but it’s still not ideal. It’s usually customary that people bring their significant others to dances and balls. With more than five universities in D.C., in addition to several just outside of the District, the likelihood of one’s partner being an AU student is diminished.
There are several ways that these issues could be fixed. I presume that the number of attendees is limited by the venue that is chosen. While not as glamorous, there are several spaces in D.C. that could accommodate AU’s student population. For example, D.C.‘s Walter E. Washington Convention Center has 703,000 square feet of space and can host events for up to 42,000 attendees.
Furthermore, if money is an issue, SG could certainly charge a small fee for the tickets rather than giving them out for free. To be fair, they could charge more for a non-AU student attending with an AU student. Paying a reasonable charge is still more ideal than taking three hours out of the day to wait in a stagnant line.
Although these changes would inevitably compromise the spectacular locations that AU students have come to expect of the Founders’ Day Ball, I think it would be more successful. Students want to be with their friends at social outings, and AU wants to create a sense of community on its campus. SG’s Founders’ Day Ball does not currently support either of these goals. With a few adjustments, it could create a major change at AU.
Emma Gray is a junior in the School of Communication.
By Marshall Bornemann
Undergraduate and postgraduate students at AU have a reason to be proud. On Feb. 23, University faculty gave students, professors, as well as other university affiliates an exciting event to look forward to at the National Museum of American History
Giddiness reflected the feelings and attitudes of the 1,000-plus students in attendance. Having a DJ has become the standard for celebratory events for major universities. It makes dancing a little easier for those who may not care for it and much better for those who are generally prone to hip swaying.
The majority of AU students schedules are booked 24/7, except for the occasional coffee break shared between acquaintances. With that in mind, a close location was essential for officials’ efforts in attracting so many of them.
Many who attended feel that this event in particular is the university’s most important. Held once a year, like most events, it is hailed as the largest in both size and decor. Arguably it was, and hundreds of party goers lined up to purchase tickets even after 1,200 had already been freely disposed.
More impressive was University Center Coordinator Katie Junot’s recollection of the event. She unhesitatingly declared it “the biggest Founders’ Day in recent history,” which holds true in the reaction evoked by another important guest.
President Neil Kerwin flattered the entire room with compliments, from dancers to volunteers huddled in secluded corners. Of course, such an exceptional presentation by Kerwin, who has consistently spoken at past Founders’ Day Ball events, will be expected to remain as powerful as this year’s ball.
Surely students, professors and other guests were surprised by the sophistication, organization and excitement of the event. Congratulations to AU for 120 years of educational excellence!
Marshall Bornemann is a junior in the School of International Service.
By Reza Lustig
Admittedly, I know precious little about the annual Founders’ Day Ball. My accumulated knowledge of the event can be summed up in the explanation of Founder’s Day provided on the AU website.
Nothing at all objectionable here; every university should be able to set aside a day to for interested students to celebrate the founding of their alma mater. The event itself has been described briefly on the page as bringing students together for the purpose of “celebrating the great institution we all know and love,” by gathering to “mingle and feast on some birthday cake.” Thus, my attitude toward the event can be best described as one of indulgent indifference. I couldn’t have been less interested, but if you went I hope you had fun. I myself was forced to stay in and work.
It would be nice, however, if AU’s Student Government and press developed interest in matters of a somewhat more pressing nature. For instance, there’s the fresh round of tuition hikes that kicked off last semester; good luck enjoying “birthday cake” and “mingling and feasting” while you’re working an extra shift to cover your costs.
Or perhaps the students who represent the rest of the student body could develop a sudden interest in the sacking of MGC workers, for the unbelievably impudent act of trying to organize in defense of their wages and rights as workers. I would, for instance, propose a conference of some sort, for mass dialogue between the student body and AU employees, including those contracted from outside companies. Not only would such an event raise the level of consciousness among students to the very real difficulties facing those who work to make their time here as comfortable as possible, but the press could also be involved.
Similarly, the matter of sky-high tuition could also use a bit of publicity beyond CASJ and CAUS circles. While student clubs and organizations dedicated to these issues are is a positive first step, it would be nice to know that our duly elected SG representatives are just as interested. While I enjoyed “Casino Night” in the MGC, I can’t help but feel that the resources and time expended upon organizing and promoting it could maybe have gone to better use.
It is far from me to rain on anyone’s parade here. I’m just offering some suggestions. Like my dad tells me, have your head in the clouds all you want, just keep your feet planted firmly on planet Earth.
Reza Lustig is a senior in the School of Communication.