By Torey Ellis, Staff Contributor
Although DSU president Chris Saulnier says that the homecoming celebration this year was a “mixed success,” the student union potentially lost thousands of dollars on the events.
Saturday’s LMFAO concert in the McInnes room was sold out days before it happened, but a revenue of $29,375 from ticket sales for the LMFAO and Sloan concerts was not enough for the DSU to break even on their spending.
The DSU’s budget for a Fall Fest was approved before the university decided to host a Homecoming weekend. That money, combined with the headliner budget earmarked for bringing big bands to Dal, added up to around $20,000.
However, on organizing and producing the concerts (paying for staffing, promotions and security), Saulnier says that the student union spent well over $50,000. With sponsorship coming only from the President’s Office, this resulted in a net loss.
If the executive spend more than $10,000 of student union money on anything, the expenditure needs to be approved by council.
When challenged by senate representative and DSU councillor Ben Wedge at the Oct. 27 council meeting about shortfalls in Homecoming revenue, the student union executive said that the loss would be paid partially by the Frosh headliner budget. The rest would need to come out of the DSU’s savings, or the university will need to help out.
Saulnier says that it is too early to figure out the exact losses, although he does say that “a portion of our sponsorship funding for the events fell through.” However, he will not disclose the details of sponsorship agreements.
The DSU was in charge of planning the Sloan and LMFAO concerts, but encouraged students to attend the Alumni Association-organized tailgate party and football game.
“It was okay,” says second-year student Emily Murrell, who attended the party and football game. The party was sparsely attended. The footbal game was sold out, the revenue of which went to Dal Football.
Even the sold-out DSU-hosted LMFAO concert hit major snags.
One of the members of the band, Zedfoo, was stopped at the Canadian border by passport issues, and couldn’t play Saturday night.
Nevertheless, Hannah Dahn, VP Student Life, says that the show was “really successful.” At the council meeting, Dahn said the union is looking into paying the band a reduced rate for their performance.
The rest of the Homecoming events, Saulnier said in council, were planned by the Dalhousie Alumni Association.
He feels that the association disengaged the student body by hiring Zed Events, an event planning company owned by Robert G. Zed, a member of the Alumni Association, to plan the weekend.
Although, Saulnier says, the planning corporation created an event that would appeal to alumni, the campus environment needed a different approach.
“We weren’t really plugged in,” says Dahn. “If students don’t have a good homecoming while they’re students, they won’t be involved as alumni.”
Jim Wilson, incoming president of the Alumni Association agrees with Dahn: “Engaged students create engaged alumni,” he says.
He was surprised that the DSU felt alienated from the planning of Homecoming. “I certainly hope they didn’t,” he says. “We simply needed more horsepower and expertise. The DSU certainly were involved.”
Wilson also agrees with Saulnier in classifying the long weekend as a mixed success. “We did very very well in certain events, and other events could have been better attended,” he says.
“We have to try to re-engage alumni,” he continues. “Sometimes it’s hard to get people out for the first one.”
“It’s a building year. The fact that we even did it—I mean, you build it, and they will come.”
Wilson adds that he has received no negative feedback from those who attended any of the events, although he acknowledges that any “naysayers” likely wouldn’t have gone to the events in the first place.
For next year, he says, the focus is on getting more sports teams and societies involved in Homecoming to bring in larger student participation, and organizing it for earlier in the year, to take advantage of milder weather.