It’s in the University’s best interests to help establish the ReUnion Street Festival as a new Homecoming tradition.
The inaugural festival — held in October — proved to be a great success, with roughly 5,000-6,000 people attending. 94.3 per cent of students who participated in the AMS fall referendum responded “yes” to a plebiscite question asking if they wished to see the festival established as an annual Homecoming event.
The 2014 festival cost $250,000 and was paid for primarily by the AMS. For future Homecomings, the AMS is lobbying the University to provide at least $75,000 to fund the festival.
Despite the AMS’s efforts and Principal Daniel Woolf’s verbal support for the festival, the University is refusing to cover any costs.
Queen’s administration set a precedent of paying for Homecoming when they agreed in 2013 to pay the City of Kingston $100,000 annually for three years for extra police costs. The University should also be investing in an event that directly benefits alumni and students.
The best way for Queen’s to deter students and other revelers from attending Homecoming street parties is to support proactive initiatives like the ReUnion festival, which will draw crowds away from Aberdeen St. and promote responsible drinking.
Alumni should have a space to mingle with current students during Homecoming weekend, and the festival fits the bill. Improving the Homecoming experience could encourage alumni to donate to the University.
The AMS covered the majority of the inaugural festival’s costs. While the University provided a significant amount of in-kind support — such as staffing and security — it should also cast its financial support behind this venture.
AMS President Allison Williams said the festival could become self-financing in five years through sponsorship, meaning Queen’s support could only be needed for the short-term.
The University hasn’t given a clear reason why they’re refusing. If it’s due to financial constraints, they could run an advancement campaign to garner funds.
The University has run successful campaigns for capital projects that alumni might never directly benefit from, including the Isabel Bader Centre and the new Richardson Stadium. It shouldn’t be difficult to raise $75,000 for something alumni can directly enjoy.
The AMS has done their due diligence. While they would still be paying for the majority of the festival, they shouldn’t be the only ones to shoulder the responsibility.
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