This piece was submitted by Junior Reece Ellis.
It is time to bring accountability to the Student Activities Board and its $300,000 annual budget. This isn’t meant to be an attack on any particular member of SAB: many of them are friends, although those friendships might be tested somewhat by the conclusion of this article. After the Hunter Hayes fiasco, where a reportedly egregious amount of money was spent on an event that recorded the second lowest ticket sales in four years, there was a lot of discussion about what went wrong. A different voting system was suggested in light of the fact that only about 20% of students participated and 35% of those students selected Hunter Hayes. SAB could have consulted with KTRM, the student media organization that specializes in radio and has booked a number of successful concerts, to gain a better understanding of what constitutes popular music.
At a minimum, SAB might’ve considered a different event structure prioritizing several smaller concerts with less expensive talent as opposed to a few big ones. It’s unclear if these pleas fell on deaf ears, but the event “An Evening of Conversation with Josh Peck” suggests that they might have — which begs the question: how do you get on SAB anyway? The barrier to entry is lower than you might expect, unlike with the Funds Allotment Council. There is no election, but rather one need only apply to be considered for one of 33-38 board positions. Becoming a member of the executive committee does require being elected, but only by the members of the Board. So we are presented with a situation where a handful of unelected bureaucrats elect a chief bureaucrat who then is in charge of a colossal budget funded by us, the students. Furthermore, the less-than-transparent process routinely produces results that are, with some regularity, underwhelming. SAB has done a lot of good, but it could be better.