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Cuts forcing campus clubs to collaborate

By Dana Crudo
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
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Smaller amounts of money for campus organizations are forcing the collaboration board to actually collaborate for the first time.

The collaboration board is a project that started years ago, but hasn't done anything until this year.

"It's been in the making, off and on, with successes and failures for six to 10 years," said Greg Billings, University Activities Board president.

Sara Birnbaum, an ASUA senator who is in charge of the project, said it has been able to succeed this year because recent budget cuts have forced organizations to combine their funds.

Less money makes it easier to motivate people because, if organizations combine, there is more money for larger projects, Birnbaum said.

"We all came to an understanding that we needed the function," Billings said.

The board includes representatives from the UAB, ASUA, Panhellenic Association, Interfraternity Council, Residence Housing Association and Student Media.

Billings said the board has prevented the different organizations from stepping on one another's toes, a problem that has created tension in the past.

"The collaboration board takes certain events and makes them so much bigger by adding resources from all the organizations," Billings said.

Now the organizations can work on one big project rather than each putting on similar programs, he said.

This year, the board has planned to start up two projects: UA Latenight and Dance 'Til Dawn.

UA Latenight, which will provide an alternative to drinking on campus, will begin Dec. 10. The weekly event, which will be held at Wilbur's Underground in the Student Union Memorial Center, will feature various activities like concerts, sumo wrestling, video game tournaments and casino night from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.

"It's reaching the night crowd that might go to bars," Billings said. "UA Latenight is an example of what the collaboration board should be in its function."

The Dance 'Til Dawn won't start until next year, but it will be an all-night dance-a-thon to raise money for cancer research.

Former board members felt like there was no need for the board, Billings said.

But this year's members are different because they are moving in with the idea of what will best serve the campus, he said.

"We're lucky this year to have everyone on board, collaborating and asking what they can add to the event. We're all thinking on a larger scale, meaning that no one is having a selfish mentality toward an event," Billings said.

Birnbaum said that this year, the board's members have done more than just report on what is happening in their organizations.

"If it's just reporting, it's no good. We need to work together on things we can't do alone because, together, we can do whatever we want," she said.

She also said the board has been successful because the members are willing to make an effort.

Billings said the board is about more than just organizing events: It also allows for an open line of communication.

"What's important is having a line of communication and a relationship so that, if there is a conflict, members can talk openly about it," he said.

Members of the board plan on making the board a tradition by explaining its importance to future members.

Birnbaum said she hopes to see future members expand student programming because it should be the university's responsibility to provide students with activities that replace off-campus parties.

She said the hardest part in keeping the board maintained is the fact that the greek system, which has several members on the board, has their turnover in December. The other groups don't have a change in leadership until the end of the year.

Birnbaum said the members would work to make the transition strong so the board can continue to succeed.

"I am very happy with it this year, and I hope it continues to be a success," she said.

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