Formal budget in desperate need of spring cleaning

The price tag of this “big-ticket” event stands at $28,000-or at least that is the amount allotted by the Association of Amherst Students. Questions have been raised about the expense of the event, especially in light of two essential facts: last year’s Spring Formal cost $18,000, and all of the money in the rollover fund from last semester has been allocated to this one event. Granted, the money is surplus, but surely, a more equitable distribution can be designed to benefit a wider range of organizations and events.

This year’s estimated cost exceeds last year’s in part because there is a high concentration of events occurring that weekend. The College’s resources, such as catering, are not available, forcing the committee to search for more expensive outside services. In addition, the committee wants a bigger tent to accommodate more people, more food, a comparable band and giveaways. Note that the price does not include the $12,000 floor that was requested.

A committee, headed by Sarah Sorscher ’05, has been formed to protest costs and suggests that at most, $19,000 should be allocated for the event and that any appropriation that asks for more than 20 percent of the discretionary and programming funds should require a school-wide referendum. We agree that $28,000 is far too much to spend on a single dance, but we differ from the committee in that we do not believe that it is our place to name an “ideal” price. Rather, the event organizers should take serious steps to cut costs.

If the committee does need to look off-campus to fulfill its needs, it should conscientiously seek to keep costs low. Furthermore, it should inquire into whether a tent is absolutely necessary. Sure, the tent would inject novelty into an often over-familiar environment, but is it really worth the cost? Sacrificing some of the luxury, we could conceivably hold a formal in a well-decorated area with an already-existing floor.

Some may argue that one such event, which ostensibly is for the entire school, is worth the money. We merely ask that the formal’s committee be more diligent in reducing costs. There are better uses for the money, and in the future, such large allocations should be reviewed with a referendum, to address the greater student body’s opinions and prevent unnecessary misunderstandings.