ACE: Revitalizing, simplifying social process

The students and administrators whose work has culminated in the creation of All Campus Entertainment (ACE) have done an excellent job and produced an exciting organization that we are confident will vastly improve social planning at Williams. As any student who has attempted social planning can attest, the current process is overly complicated, disjointed, difficult and unrewarding. With event funding spread amongst disparate groups, anyone interested in organizing a concert, party or performance must present his idea several times, often to groups who aren’t clear on their own budgets. If this person does manage to secure funding from one or more groups, they are still faced with the event planning itself. Considering the frequency of student-planned events on campus, it is reasonable to expect that the process would be clearly outlined, with any available assistance advertised and accessible. Reality has failed to meet this expectation.

ACE seeks to remedy all this. By consolidating the funding and membership of the old social planning organizations, ACE will likely become the most visible and powerful presence in campus life. The advantages of this approach are many and varied. First and foremost, it will streamline the entire social planning process. There will now be one organization which students can work with in order to put on events. Both funds and planning assistance will be easily and efficiently solicited. Further, ACE will have its budget for the year established before spring break of the previous year – an enormously important change. This will allow Williams to participate in programs like the National Association for Campus Activities’ cooperative buying process, which has saved peer schools over $10,000 per year.

It is also exciting to note the enthusiasm emanating from every corner of the campus to implement this proposal. The leadership of every existing social planning group supports the proposal as do the administrative offices that deal with social life on campus. The officers of CC have likewise shown great enthusiasm for the idea. The position paper in support of ACE, distributed by the architects of ACE, calls for the passage of a bylaw assuring ACE 38 percent of the Student Activities Tax (SAT) each year (38 percent being the amount CC spent on social programming this year). While we recognize the advantages of budget planning, we feel that such a provision is too strong. CC is given the tremendous responsibility of distributing over a quarter million dollars of the student body’s money; we vigorously oppose any attempt to force CC to spend that money in a specific way.

Setting the number in stone, or even recommending a specific number, will reduce the ability of CC to adequately adjust to changes that may be necessary in the future. ACE should not get too comfortable with their budget. Making the annual allotment flexible will force ACE to use its money effectively as College Council will be able to either increase of decrease ACE’s budget according to past performance. Once a number is stated explicitly or just recommended, we fear that College Council members will be too reluctant to stray far from that value. Fixing the value at 38 percent prevents increases or decreases desired by the student body. Some CC officers have written a bylaw, which will appear before the council this week, proposing that a number not appear in the ACE bylaw and that Council will decide the ACE budget based on historical figures. This bylaw is a much more attractive option for the reasons stated above. We acknowledge, but give little credence to, the fear that the budget will progressively slide up or down as the years pass. While campus social planners fear a slipping budget, College Council can effectively determine the amount of social activity it desires on campus and we trust that they will budget accordingly. Social planners show that 38 percent is appropriate for this year and the value should be given to ACE for next year. This will set the committee out with an adequate budget, thereby establishing the “historical figure” which can then be passed on from year to year.

In addition, beyond the financial allotments CC will give to ACE, CC will have little to do with social planning on campus. This will free time previously spent on funding and will allow CC to further shift its focus to advocacy.

As with any new structure, there will initially be challenges that ACE will have to overcome. The challenges facing ACE next year will be made worse by the loss of several invaluable members of our community who have done a large share of the social planning on campus over the last couple of years. There is no doubt that many new leaders of the campus social scene will emerge next year, particularly in the new structure that is being proposed. All students who are interested in the social life on campus must step up and take an active role in ACE. Join the concerts committee or the general entertainment committee, become a social chair or help with student center programming. The very premise behind ACE is that it will be accessible to every member of the student body – it is essential that the students embrace this exciting new structure now.