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Funding for New Student-Run Events Replaces Phling

Funding for New Student-Run Events Replaces Phling

By Marika Garland

One of Kenyon’s most popular events may have seen its final days. Philander’s Phebruary Phling, at least as students have come to know and love it, is no more, according to Associate Dean of Students Tacci Smith.

Since Phling’s inception in 1996, its goal has been to provide a student-run escape from the winter weather. In recent years, however, student volunteers have dwindled, leaving the Division of Student Affairs and the Student Activities Office to run it. The alum who donated the fund allocating $10,000 to Phling each year stipulated that the event be student-run, but student volunteers for this year remain nonexistent. “The student body wants it to happen, but doesn’t want to put in the time for it,” Smith said. “It’s sad because I think lots of people would enjoy Phling.”

As a solution to this problem, the College has decided to stop coordinating Phling and instead leave the $10,000 open to any student organizations with ideas for non-alcoholic, campus-wide events in February. A student organization could potentially plan a Phling-like event, or a new tradition could arise. Applications for these new “Phebruary Phunds” will be due by Friday, Nov. 18.

The History of Phling

Smith and Director of Student Activities and Greek Life Christina Mastrangelo announced the College’s decision at the Student Council meeting on Sunday, Oct. 23, but it has been a long time coming.

When Phling began, there were Friday and Saturday components, according to Smith. Friday’s events were more casual and planned by the Community Advisors (CAs), while Saturday was a “mini prom or homecoming” for which a committee of about 15 students would spend weeks on decorations, she said. Phling typically cost about $15,000: $10,000 from the alum donation and $5,000 from the Business and Finance Committee (BFC).

During Peirce Hall’s renovation, Phling spent two years in the Kenyon Athletic Center (KAC). The second year, the usual 15-person committee decreased to four sophomores, all of whom chose not to return the following year. “They felt like, ‘We did it, so now we want to enjoy it,'” Smith said.

Problems with Phling came not only from the disappearing committee but also from the lack of volunteers for the day of the event. “Everyone wants to hang out with their friends, get dressed up and just have a good time and not deal with all the not-fun stuff like the people throwing up in the bathroom,” Mastrangelo said.

Students Affairs employees and Social Board began helping to staff the event, but Social Board did not want to continue volunteering because Phling is one of the few campus events that the group does not run. For the next two years, the Student Affairs volunteers outnumbered the student volunteers, according to Smith. “This is really a student event, and we’re there to help, but I need to float around,” she said. “We said, ‘If we don’t get student help, we can’t continue this.'”

Student Affairs continued to run Phling for one more year until Student Council agreed to run it two years ago. “Last year, Phling was brought up again to Student Council and the members of the … 2009-2010 council did not believe it was the role of Student Council to plan this event,” Student Council President Ryan Motevalli-Oliner ’12 said in an email. “The purpose of Student Council is not to plan all-campus events. It would be like asking Campus Senate to plan Sendoff.”

“When we had a Phling committee, we had weekly meetings, but people never consistently showed up,” Mastrangelo said. “I was lucky if I had one student come. Last year there were meetings where I was there by myself.”

Last year, the Horn Gallery, Social Board and Student Council all helped Student Affairs with Phling, but on the night of the event, no student volunteers showed up to work their shifts, according to Smith. “When push came to shove, we were scrambling because we hadn’t gotten a full coverage of Student Affairs folks,” she said. “We’d anticipated those six or seven students at least to be in there as well and none of them showed up.”

At this year’s Activities Fair, Student Activities tried again to recruit Phling committee members, but no students signed up.”I don’t want anybody to get the impression that Student Affairs doesn’t want this event to happen. That’s not the case at all, but the way the grant was written is it needs to be a student-run event or events,” Smith said. “We can’t commit to doing more and more while students do less and less.”

Phebruary Phunds

After student involvement became too low to keep Phling running, Smith and Mastrangelo began considering new uses for the funds. “When students really wanted [Phling] to happen and took that money and ran with it, that’s great,” Smith said. “How can we get that energy back?” With input from Student Council, they eventually decided to create “Phebruary Phunds.”

“From my perspective, the really important thing is making sure people are aware that this funding is an option,” Mastrangelo said.

Any departmental student groups, student organizations or Greek organizations can apply for all or part of the $10,000 available, according to Smith. Multiple groups could also collaborate on one event.

The College decided to leave it open only to preexisting organizations rather than individual students to maintain structure and avoid Phling’s issues. Groups can access the application through an email that Mastrangelo plans to send to students this week.

“I like to look at it as the glass is half full,” Mastrangelo said. “This is really opening up a lot of opportunities for student programming, especially for groups that may not feel as though the funding was available to them to do a larger-scale program.”

A committee of eight or nine students, both from Student Council and the student body at large, will decide which group receives funding by Friday, Dec. 2, according to Mastrangelo.

Student Activities and Student Affairs will then work with accepted groups to ensure they follow through with their events. If no groups apply for funding, the money will remain for next year.

“There’s nothing that says we have to spend that money, [but] I don’t anticipate that being the case,” Smith said. The Nov. 18 deadline gives students only about three weeks to apply for funds, but she said this kind of timeline is necessary to give students time to plan the events and to ask for additional funding from the BFC if necessary. “It is kind of a tight turn around, but we’ve been talking to several groups and different people already,” she said.

Mastrangelo and Smith also wanted to have Student Council input before the application for funding was made available to students, but they could not attend a meeting until this past weekend. “Student Council was made aware at the time of Phling last year that because of the lack of student participation in the event, Phling would be reexamined,” Motevalli-Oliner said. “When I heard that the Phling we have had in years past might not happen, I was in support of the proposed Phebruary Phunds committee.”

Though Student Council heard about the state of Phling last year, many students have been unaware of the situation until recently. “We left that up to Student Council,” Smith said. “There was never the intention of not telling people – it’s just that we keep moving. Whether people are mad that they didn’t know earlier, sorry, but it’s been a conversation for at least three years.”

Several student groups have known about this issue for awhile as well. “I haven’t heard anything specific yet, but definitely there have been groups asking questions,” Mastrangelo said. “I can’t guarantee what’s going to get the funding, though, because that’s really the committee’s decision based on the applications that we receive and what seems to be the best way to utilize the funding.”

So far, many groups have discussed concerts as a way to use the funding, according to Mastrangelo. “I haven’t had anyone outright say, ‘We want to take [Phling] on” … but that doesn’t mean the conversation isn’t happening within their organizations,” she said. “There could be new traditions or reviving the Phing tradition or we could just have some great February programming.”

Alcohol at Phling

Many students saw Phling as a night for drinking as well as dancing, but the event was never meant to give that impression. “People see it as an alcohol event, and it’s not. It’s a non-alcohol event, and people pregame for it,” Smith said.

“We actually have a lot of issues on the night of Phling from alcohol, Good Samaritan calls, transport to the hospital and then just injury because it’s winter.”

Mastrangelo, however, said that alcohol use was not a motivating factor in the decision to move to Phebruary Phunds. “Obviously there have been risk management issues associated with Phling around alcohol use, but I want to make clear that that’s not why this decision was made,” she said. “The decision was made so that it became more of a student-run initiative.”

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