Section: archive

Summer Sendoff Moved to Friday

By Lili Martinez

Student members of Social Board made the unprecedented decision to move the College’s annual Summer Sendoff event from a Saturday to a Friday this year, which provoked a mixed reaction from the student body when the Board announced it last week.

Sendoff’s date change comes after weeks of Social Board meetings, during which members expressed frustration at hosting a day-long event on a purely volunteer basis and at the frequently low turnout at the final performance of the day, according to Director of Student Activities and Greek Life Christina Mastrangelo.

“The decision to go to Friday was entirely Social Board’s,” she said. “From their perspective, this allowed them to put more money into the band, which is really the highlight of the evening. What everyone got frustrated about in years past in terms of the quality of the event was the performer, and so from their perspective this would allow them to … make the event more manageable on their end.”

Assistant Director of Student Activities Anne Vleck emphasized that Social Board members felt, considering their small size, they could use their time and resources better by focusing on the band. “The money piece was big, and being able to allocate more money towards the band. But other things we talked about were the Social Board members’ time and whether they felt like they could really put on an excellent event for 12 hours when there are only 20 members,” she said. “Can we really make this event good if it’s that big and that long, or do we do something where we make it a little bit more of a condensed time frame but still try to have all the elements that we’ve had in the past?”

Vleck said some members were concerned about their own participation in the event. “Another big factor is that those Social Board members who work that day don’t get to enjoy [Sendoff] like the rest of the student body, so moving their event to Friday allows them to participate in whatever happens the rest of the weekend.”

Social Board also emphasized its wish to dedicate more time and resources to booking a big-name band rather than on carnival games and treats, many of which were under-utilized in past years. Social Board Co-Chair Sarah Schiller ’14 said, “Previously, we’ve had [Sendoff] on Saturday, which meant that we had to serve lunch and dinner and we had to serve snacks and pay AVI fees for all of this stuff, so by putting it on Friday night, we were able to cut down a lot of those costs and redirect that money to a big-name [band].”

Schiller said the decision made sense when thinking about student attendance at the concert itself. “For us, it was a good business decision, but we also think it makes a lot more sense for the student body. And what we want is a really good turnout for our concert,” she said. “Last year one of our biggest problems was that people were so drunk that they would just nap during the concert. So moving it to Friday night will hopefully save us some of that long, drawn-out drinking.”

During their initial budget hearing this semester, Social Board members informed the Business and Finance Committee that they wanted to dedicate more money and effort to booking a big band, according to Vleck. The Board didn’t finalize its decision to move the concert to Friday until later, however. Leland Holcomb ’14, sophomore class president, said Student Council gave the group the money “assuming they would do [Sendoff] on Saturday, but we went back and had a look and saw there was nothing [in the policy] that said that.”

Members of the administration and Social Board made it clear that for them, Sendoff events and activities will be occurring on Friday, April 27. Saturday’s activities are not under their purview. “People are concerned about what’s going to happen on Saturday. It’s not my concern. It’s not Social Board’s concern. It’s an administrative thing,” Schiller said. “But we are trying to get this discussion to move along so that everyone will know what’s going to happen with the weekend.”

The administration has not yet fully discussed possibilities for events on Saturday, but both Mastrangelo and Vleck said they would be willing to work with students who wanted to continue Saturday festivities, although they will not be involved with the Social Board event on Friday.

“It was kind of unclear what [Saturday] would look like, but I think the administration left the conversation open for what happens with Saturday. I can say that Social Board will not be doing any programming on Saturday,” Vleck said.

After Student Council learned of Social Board’s decision, representatives on the body worked to form a subcommittee to address creating events for Saturday, according to Junior Class President Ryan Liegner ’13. “Though this type of issue usually rests outside of Student Council’s jurisdiction, the Council thought it was worthwhile to form a subcommittee last Sunday [Feb. 12] to address the particularities of Sendoff this year,” he said. “Officially, Saturday, April 28 is up to the student body to organize under current party policy. So a few members of Student Council felt that with our legislative experience, we would be well-equipped to navigate this issue.”

The change has had unforeseen consequences for Student Council, according to Holcomb. “We’re having big issues talking about bigger policy for Sendoff because we wanted to know beforehand that it was on Friday,” he said. “The only problem was that now we’re going to have to [make policy] a lot quicker.”

Sendoff party policy is specifically tailored for a Sendoff on Saturday, but Jon Green ’13, communications director for Student Council, said the policy could conceivably be altered to fit a Friday Sendoff as well. “It could easily be within the administration’s rights to reinterpret [the policy] because it’s written under the assumption that the event is on a Saturday and it’s not this year,” he said. “It’s probably too late for them to write a new policy. It’s a question of the letter and the spirit of the law. The letter of the law says [Sendoff] is Saturday, [but] the spirit of the law is assuming the concert is also on Saturday, so it would not be that big of a stretch for [the administration] to re-interpret that and re-interpret the time frame so it can be on Friday.”

Because the party policy specific to Sendoff assumes a Saturday date, policy for Friday is still in the works, according to Dean of Students Hank Toutain. “There was an assumption, and it was ill-advisedly made, that Sendoff would always be on a specific day, and so as for what part of the policy applies to Friday, I think it would be the part that is specific to Sendoff from last year,” he said. “But we have to take a careful look at the policies we have in place and follow the ones that are most applicable under the circumstances.”

As of now, Friday’s portion could include the band and carnival activities as well as elements from south quad’s Sendoff. Tentatively, “Sendoff … would be the same as last year where the south quad would be fenced with volunteers working the entrances,” Mastrangelo said in an email.”The only difference would be the time frame because they cannot begin parties on Friday before 4:00 p.m.”

Saturday’s party policy may be more complicated. Some students want to host parties on south quad that begin at 10:00 a.m., when last year’s Sendoff began. Under the current policy, however, parties cannot begin until 1:00 p.m. on Saturday. “Saturday would be like any other Saturday, in which case the outdoor party policy and general party policy as described in the student handbook would be in effect,” Mastrangelo said.

Schiller said Social Board is considering setting up a small stage on south quad for student bands to perform on Saturday. On Friday, popular carnival attractions from last year, including funnel cakes, a photo booth, a henna tattoo artist and a caricature artist, will be present, in addition to an AVI-catered dinner and snacks.

It remains to be seen what effects the move to Friday will have on class attendance. “We don’t want this to conflict with academics, obviously,” Mastrangelo said. “We want people to be going to class on Friday as they would on any other Friday and then really hitting the ground running as soon as class is over and having a good time.”

The administration does have some concerns that students will choose to miss class and begin Sendoff early, but Mastrangelo said there is no way to predict how prevalent this problem will be. “There are some legitimate concerns with that, but honestly it’s hard to gauge at this point. I think that is the individual’s choice,” Mastrangelo said. “I don’t recommend it. An event from 4:00 or 5:00 to almost 11:00 at night is a reasonable amount of time to be socializing, but … I hope they choose to go to class if they have a class; if they don’t have class that day, what they do is up to them.”

James Dennin ’13, a member of Alpha Delta Pi, said changing Sendoff events to Friday harms the integrity of what Sendoff represents to Kenyon. “I think it’s bad to divide the event up into two because the whole point of Sendoff is that it’s this one day that concludes the semester,” Dennin said. But he added, “I don’t think that that spirit of Sendoff will ever be changed. Sendoff is great because it’s the one day of the year when we once again awake early and of our own volition, knowing that the upcoming day will bring nothing but the fulfillment of our most trivial and whimsical desires.”

Mastrangelo thinks the spirit of Sendoff will be preserved, even with the move. “I do think it’s important to highlight the fact that that isn’t really changing – there’s still that opportunity to have that feeling of community, to be hanging out on south quad and having a good time with your friends and then having a great concert after,” she said. “I think [students] will find that Sendoff, in terms of Social Board’s definition [of it], is going to be pretty consistent, if not better, than years past, even though it’s on a Friday.”

Dennin was less optimistic. “Will [Sendoff] be the same if the event is spread out, if instead of being the culmination, the concert is just on an ordinary Friday? The answer is no, it won’t be the same, and in doing so, we’ll lose a lot of the absolutely-deserved catharsis and social cohesion which is supposed to be the point of Sendoff in the first place,” he said.

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