The budget for the 2020 Founders Week and Ball remains the highest budget ever for the event.
The budget for this year’s event totals $135,000 – which is $5,000 more than last year. The increase in the budget came as a way to allocate more money for the events during Founders Week, while the overall budget for the ball has stayed the same as last year.
As The Eagle reported in March 2019, the budget for Founders has continued to grow, causing concern among the student body. However, student leaders, such as Student Government Vice President Mulan Burgess, remain unfazed, despite promises for change.
“Are we going to tell the University that if they are not willing to pay half or give some type of money, we’re not going to have $130,000 of student money go to this event?” Burgess said during his campaign last spring, in reference to how the University does not give Student Government money to pay for the event. “So looking at the creation of what Founders is going to be next year … I’m here to hopefully provide an experience that is worth $65,000 for students to attend this University.”
Founders Day was a central issue during last year's SG elections. Many leaders were enthusiastic about making changes to the budget, but now, they see that as unrealistic.
“That issue, while it still is an important platform issue, is not something that can happen within a year,” Burgess said, in regards to this year’s event. “It is definitely going to be a conversation starter piece that happens for a few years down the road.”
Colin Colchamiro, the director of Founders, emphasized the priority of the planning committee to make improvements from last year's Ball, notably making the venue Metro accessible and accommodating students with dietary restrictions.
“It wasn't always a conversation of how can we transform this event or how can we cancel this event and do something new,” Colchamiro said.
The budget for Founders is determined in the Budget Advisory Committee, where the sum of the student activity fees is divided among Student Media, SG and AU Club Council.
Jacob Robbins, former Chairman of the Finance Committee, was present in the committee meeting that determined the budget for this year's Founders Week. According to Robbins, the SG officials were prepared to take less money for Founders, but were confronted with an unexpectedly large amount of available funds.
“We had we ended up having more money than we thought,” Robbins said. “We had a million dollars to split between the three groups, and it was quickly apparent amongst everybody in the room that we were going to probably spend the exact same amount of money on Founders.”
The question remains as to whether students would prefer the money be directed to other areas.
“We have to really think about how we're spending student money and if we're actually taking away the ability for students to access services and clubs and things like that,” Robbins said.
Bobby Zitzmann, the SG comptroller, predicts that if expectations for the Ball continue as they are, the price will continue to rise.
“Students should decide whether they want such a large event and if they decide that they want such a large event that cost will keep going up,” Zitzmann said. “If they decide that they would prefer a smaller event that would allow costs to go down.”