The high price of GM Week
With only seven members listed in the Union Annual Report, the 2019 GM Week Committee was given about $52,000 to prepare for events; this is budgeted from a pool of money that includes student activity fees and income from Union vendors. While Grand Marshal Week—which took place in March 2019—was an important week with elections that determined the fate of last year’s Student Government, it seems incredible that so much can be spent within the span of a few short days.
Announced only a week in advance, events included various pop-ups, like free ice cream and bumper sticker making, as well as bigger events like the GM Week Finale. The cost for these few larger events and pop-ups totaled to about $30,000. The rest of the budget was allocated to the logistics behind GM Week, like $14,400 set aside for the purchase of 4,000 mugs given away to those who vote.
GM Week was planned so students could have attended events whenever they’re free. However, many of the events that would have attracted the most students were at inconvenient times. For example, all the food pop-up events were scheduled for the middle of weekdays when many students had class. One member of our Editorial Board couldn’t make a single event featuring free food. Additionally, multiple events happened at overlapping times, which further limited attendance. With so many events on the schedule with inconvenient timing, the amount spent on these events may not be fully justified.
It is our understanding that attendance to GM Week events in the past years has been lackluster. Despite having spent multiple years on campus, the senior members of the Editorial Board haven’t attended many of the previous years’ GM events. We feel these events are not advertised well, and often times students don’t know what events are happening when, ultimately creating a sense of disinterest, which the GM Week Committee might not be aware of.
Additionally, we are unsure of how the GM Week Committee determined the GM theme and corresponding events. We are unaware of outreach attempts, if any, the GM Week Committee made last year to students. We have seen posters around campus soliciting people to plan, but the posters may be vague to most students who likely don’t know what the GM Week Committee even is. It also requires people to attend a meeting to voice their thoughts, which few people will probably do; we think a widely distributed, informative survey would be a better option for garnering student input on how their money is being spent.
The amount of money spent on GM Week is questionable and students might prefer that the money be spent elsewhere. However, this dialogue isn’t happening; money is thrown at these GM Week events without much regard for what many students want. While we’re sure the GM Week Committee planned these events with good intent, they needed to announce the GM Week schedule among students in a better way. Facebook isn’t the only way to promote the events, and the GM Week website should be regularly updated.
We hope that more thought is given to the spending behind this year’s GM Week; the cost of GM Week should be proportional to student attendance. If not as many students attend, perhaps the budget of the GM Week Committee should be smaller. We wish that more appealing events were planned for Wednesday when we have no classes. Finally, money should be spent on events that more students appreciate or can attend.