All of the Lights, All of the Money

Richard McGuire

Last weekend, hundreds of students eagerly lined up on North Quad for a one of a kind event. It was a rare sight to see students gathering at the Science Center on a Saturday night for a party.

The event was put on by Solarity, a new student organization founded by College sophomores Eli Clark-Davis and Daniel Cook, whose goal is to unify the student body through large-scale, high- quality social events. “We had no large draws that everyone felt comfortable and people could unite around. We decided that could be done by hosting large-scale parties in unique places that reach out to different social strata,” said Clark-Davis — and they did just that. The atrium was transformed into a Neon Garden where students were able to enjoy black lights, glow sticks, interactive displays, glowing fish, Go-Go dancers and hours of music (including four DJs).

Even though Neon Garden seemed like a great idea to unify the campus, their mission was unsuccessful. In my opinion, the atmosphere was a bit awkward and even though the event drew in a large crowd, in the end, it was not very integrated. It almost seemed like one of those forgettable high school dances held in the school gym.

Over $5,000 was allocated toward expenses ranging from decorations to security staff for the event. Solarity was able to do a tremendous amount of fundraising from organizations and businesses in Oberlin — the group was given over $2,000 from the Student Financial Committee and the Oberlin Mock Trial organization to fund the event. Personally, I think any amount over a couple hundred dollars is an outrageous amount of money to spend on “uniting” a student body. Wouldn’t the ’Sco have sufficed?

This school year, SFC also made cuts to the Review, limiting staff salaries and minimizing printing, and cut funding for French House, among other organizations. Because of this, many students have become angered at SFC for funding the event. “It’s not fair that a brand-new student organization whose mission is to throw parties is given large amounts of money, while other organizations are struggling to find the funds to organize programs with better causes,” said an anonymous first-year resident in Spanish House. This semester, Spanish House lost all of the funds it had previously receive from the SFC. “Now we are struggling to find the money to bring guest speakers to La Casa and host special programs for the campus,” she also said. To me, this raises the question: What are SFC’s priorities? Extravagant parties?

In the end, SFC needs to stop allocating money to student organizations like Solarity and focus on organizations with worthwhile causes. Although Neon Garden was an opportunity for me and my friends to take our minds off of schoolwork, there was nothing special about it other than the free glow stick at the entrance. Money wasted on social events like these could instead be spent on things that are more academic or at least educational. We can leave unifying the campus to Splitchers night at the ’Sco.