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Friday October 27, 2000

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Logic won out in Fall Ball decision

By The Wildcat Opinions Board

Put away the vodka and rum bottles, everybody, there won't be any spiking of the Fall Ball punch this year. And while the ASUA Senate's vote of support for President Ben Graff's decision to cancel next Saturday's formal might break a few hearts, it was absolutely the right thing to do.

Discussion about the dance, which was proposed by Sen. Matt Bailey, dominated Wednesday night's weekly Senate meeting. Whether strongly supporting or opposing the event, talk from senators and members of the audience was almost always passionate. Joining Bailey in the plea to save Fall Ball were four of his fellow senators, while four other senators and both vice presidents agreed with Graff's opinion that the dance was a financial liability for the Senate.

"Every time somebody talks, I change my mind," said Sen. Michele Lee, reflecting on some of the senators' uncertain opinions.

In the end, thankfully, logic won out. Ironically, it was Bailey's own addition to the Fall Ball plan that caused its cancellation. Bailey introduced - and the Senate approved - a plan to "pull the plug" on Fall Ball if 350 tickets had not been sold by last Friday. Bailey said last night that he arrived at that number because it was the point at which the Senate "wouldn't incur a huge debt." Well, as of last Friday, 105 tickets had been sold. At Wednesday's meeting, no one faulted Bailey's enthusiasm for the dance or his dedication to seeing it become a reality - many, in fact, praised him for often staying at his office late to work on the event.

Had the Senate voted against Graff and canceled the "pull the plug" plan, Bailey would have gotten the go-ahead to spend about $5,000 in revenue collected through sponsorships (including non-monetary donations, such as tuxedo rental donations) and an undisclosed amount in revenue taken in from ticket sales. This would have been disastrous.

Sure, at least 105 students - and maybe even as many as 200 or 250, including last-minute sales - would have had a grand time, but they would have done so on our money, the student body's money. This was one of our biggest concerns. Sen. Geoff Spencer said at the meeting that he would favor spending $14,000 on a dance attended by 1 percent -about 350 students - of the university's population. He mentioned the support Students Against Sweatshops receives with a membership of only about 15 people.

"And that's about people being beaten, or whatever, in factories," Spencer said.

The difference here, however, is that SAS isn't wanting to spend a hefty chunk of student money for a dance, or whatever.

Another reason we support the decision to cancel the dance is the potential to discourage future sponsors of student-related events. Bailey said he told each sponsor that his goal was to have about 750 people at Fall Ball. Had only 250 showed up, the contributing sponsors would likely have thought twice about pumping money into future events.

Having a campus-wide formal for the benefit of students was a good idea. Hell, it was a great idea - primarily because of the "pull the plug" clause that assured the Senate wouldn't lose a bundle if students were cold to the idea. Well, students were cold to the idea. When all the Fall Ball dust has settled, students should realize that not much harm was done. A total of $1,200 was spent on advertising costs and promotional activities, but that money would be made up for should Bailey and ASUA plan a spring formal, because students now know that having a formal is a consideration.

Bailey made a commendable effort in trying to bring students something that he believed they wanted. Ultimately, though, the full Senate made a better effort in realizing that students, in fact, didn't want the dance.