ACE inks Ben Folds, plans diverse lineup for autumn

All Campus Entertainment (ACE), the College’s new social planning organization, has a surprise in store for those expecting a washed up act for this year’s homecoming concert. Three weeks after the release of his latest album, Ben Folds is scheduled to come to Williams on Oct. 31 to kick off homecoming. Approval from College lawyers, expected shortly, is the only barrier left.

According to members of ACE’s executive committee, the finalization of the contract with Ben Folds was made possible by the new social planning structure put in place last spring. This structure gave ACE a sense of what its budget would be before the summer started rather than in early October as was formerly the case, when social planners received money through the College Council (CC) allocations process.

“We were able to begin negotiations with Ben Folds at the beginning of September and consequently book him at a decent price,” said CJ Bak ’05, ACE treasurer. Bak said ACE would have missed out on Ben Folds if it had been forced to wait for CC allocations to go through.

ACE’s planning goes well beyond homecoming: the organization has already organized a number of social events this year. The semester kicked off with the band Lucky Boys Confusion playing an outdoor concert on Sawyer Lawn. ACE also organized a trip to the Red Sox-Orioles game on Sept. 14 and an outdoor screening of “Animal House” last Friday.

“I am very excited about ACE’s early success,” ACE General Counsel Drew Newman ’04 said. “After working very hard to develop ACE during the last nine months, it is really thrilling to see our ‘baby’ producing successful, fun social and entertainment events at Williams.”

While ACE has simplified the social planning system at Williams in some respects, there are problems that remain. Most pressing among these problems is the collection of house dues. Newman said ACE has still not found a way to collect dues, which are used to pay for alcohol. The issue is complicated by the fact that alcohol funds cannot go through the College in any way. ACE President Rob Sica ’03 said ACE does not anticipate any problems collecting house dues. “We ask House Coordinators and Junior Advisors to aid in the collection process. As they are busy students themselves, all dues have not been turned in yet. I am sure they will be soon enough,” he said.

Newman said ACE is also having difficulty finding houses and students that are willing to host all-campus parties, a problem has faced house presidents in past years. According to Sica, ACE is looking at ways to solve this annual problem.

Despite these difficulties, Newman said ACE has made a number of important improvements already. There are currently over 70 students participating in one or more of ACE’s subgroups, a significant increase on the past average of about 25 students involved in social planning. ACE’s four subgroups are each responsible for one aspect of social planning on campus, ranging from concerts to weekly activities at the Log or Goodrich.

The volume of events organized by ACE this year is another testament to the success of the organization, according to Newman. He said there have already been more events planned this year than in the similar timeframe last year.

In addition to the concerts and field trips, ACE has put together a number of new weekly events at the Log and Goodrich. Staples like the “Thursday Night Dance Party” have been supplemented by other activities such as “Fairly Formal Fridays” and “Stress Busting Wednesdays,” a weekly event at Goodrich featuring screenings of classic movies, food and, on a trial basis, a masseuse.

While much of ACE’s success up to this point can be attributed to the enthusiasm of the organization’s leaders – despite spending the year at Oxford, for example, Newman is still planning on coming back to campus to help out with homecoming, the start of Winter Study and ACE’s Montreal trip – the new, streamlined structure behind ACE has facilitated the success of its events, according to Sica.

“Not only do we have students dedicated to social programming on this campus, but we also have a structure in place for them to communicate better,” he said. Sica emphasized that the organization wants all students on campus to be involved in planning and any interested student should come to ACE with ideas.