In a discussion with Student Government Association thursday night, the Student Union Board addressed concerns about the $10 ticket fee for the Homecoming concert in Schar Center featuring rap artist T-Pain.
Erin Eady, performance chair of SUB, said because SUB gets funding from the Office of Student Life and is no longer under SGA's new budget model, it can’t make special requests for funding. These special requests — called special allocations — pulled money from student government's roll-over fund.
After student government changed its budget model, SUB stopped receiving funds through student government. It now is funded through the Office of Student Life. According to SUB representatives at the meeting, Vice President of Student Life Jon Dooley is one of the main administrators most involved in managing the Office of Student Life budget. SUB President Ryan O'Leary said the office did not give them enough funding to cover the cost of a concert in Schar Center with a big-name artist without students paying an additional fee.
Elon students pay a yearly $292 activity fee that goes to SGA and the Office of Student Life which would ideally cover all costs of programming on campus. The homecoming concert has traditionally been covered by this fee — with funding from SUB's budget and special requests, according to SUB representatives.
In April last year, SUB used $130,00 of its own budget and was funded an additional $65,000 by SGA to have Sean Kingston, Jesse McCartney and Quinn XCII perform in the Schar Center. But this year, SUB cannot request the same special funding to host one artist in the same center since they are under a new budget with the Office of Student Life.
O'Leary said he does not know the exact cost of this year's performer, but believes it is a similar amount. O'Leary said that, for the most part, working with the Office of Student Life for their budget has been beneficial to the organization and believes that moving to the Office of Student Life is best for the organization as a whole. The concert was "the exception" to how the organization has benefitted, according to O'Leary.
Student government was not involved in choosing to make students pay for the concert. Executive Vice President Louisa Sholar asked SUB why student government was not in discussion with SUB on the $10 activity fee, and Eady said the decision was made internally and not by students.
Before Schar Center was built, some homecoming concerts were outside in the Colonades parking lot. Eady and O'Leary recognized this was an option for SUB this year and if it was done, would reduce production costs. However, the board did a survey after the concert in Schar last year and found that a huge part of the "student experience" was the concert being held in the new center.
Some senators brought up the concern that if students are paying $10, then the artist featured should have more name recognition.
But Eady said that when selecting an artist, SUB has to consider the university's values. In the survey SUB did after the last concert, Eady said they found that rap and pop were the desired genres. This made it a harder for SUB to pick an artist.
"A lot of those rappers and some pop artists that are relevant today and our favorite types of musicians have a lot of content and a lot of language that doesn't fly here at Elon," she said.
Kyra Letsinger, the class of 2021 secretary, was concerned about the security of the event.
"Security was really crazy to be in Schar," Letsinger said. "It was insane last year because I was sitting in lower bowl."
Last year, Sean Kingston jumped into the audience in the floor seats, and concert-goers from the lower bowl rushed the floor. Additional security was called and guests were asked to leave and return to their seats. T-Pain's contract prevents him from leaving stage, according to Eady. O'Leary said increased security and barricades would cost more money.
O'Leary said the Office of Student Life has made available need-based tickets to students. Students will have to ask the Office of Student Involvement to have the fee waived.