In a tiebreaker decision, Student Association President and senior Haleema Murtaza opted not to allocate funding for a spring semester concert.
The reading, which failed Wednesday night, was proposing to allocate $61,694 of SA reserves to cover $14,000 in losses from the fall concert and fund a moderately priced performer. Tickets for the concert would have been free for Geneseo students, but the SA executive board was strongly considering requiring students to make a donation to Haiti relief in lieu of paying for a ticket. Junior Nick Kaasik, SA Vice President, had suggested that the donation be approximately $10.
Those present at the meeting voiced a range of opinions. Some felt that pulling money out of SA reserves would be a financially unwise decision, while others said that providing a concert to students was a worthy cause, especially with donations going to charities.
"The money [in the SA reserves] is there for emergencies; it's a last resort," said Tom Buneo, chair of the Undergraduate Student Association Elections Committee. "I just think it's frankly a waste of money."
Kaasik and others noted that SA concerts are never profitable; SA funds always subsidize part of the costs for performance fees and technical support. While ticket revenues typically offset these losses, the fall concert's switch to free admission meant that Activities Commission spent more than its entire annual budget on the Asher Roth and Gym Class Heroes concert, which did not sell out even after tickets were made free.
Several students said that canceling the spring concert based on one incidence of poor ticket sales was pre-emptive and that there is enough student interest in the concert to justify giving AC the chance to try to negotiate with performers - potentially including comedians instead of musical acts - to negotiate an affordable price.
After much deliberation, the SA executive board voted in a 3-3-1 tie, leaving Murtaza with the deciding vote. "It's $61,694 from reserves," she said. "It's fiscally irresponsible of me now, when I made the concert free in the fall."
Wednesday's decision does not permanently eliminate funding for concerts in the future. SA executive board, however, promised to critically examine the role of major concerts at this college. "We will definitely try to revamp the concert solution," said sophomore Hamza Murtaza, SA director of student affairs.