As it stands, there is no shortage of demand to obtain grants from the the Undergraduate Council’s (UC) “party fund.” Troublingly, anecdotal reports of widespread abuse indicate that this might not be the best measure of their success. Hosts failing to publicize their parties, restricting their guest lists, and misrepresenting themselves to obtain funding for their student groups’ get-togethers, leave us worried that public student funds are being misallocated.
Because there are regularly more applicants for these grants than grants available, the UC should act on the inclinations of its leadership to make these parties more accountable to, and in service of, its entire constituency; that means, most significantly, that the UC should publicize UC-funded parties on its website.
Parties funded by the UC should not, as UC President John S. Haddock ’07 noted, be “private birthday parties,” nor should UC party grant money be distributed for the parties of student clubs. As it stands, there is no mechanism to ensure that parties are properly publicized, open to the student body at large, and unaffiliated with any particular student group. The public listing of these parties on the UC website would be one such mechanism. Moreover, we hope the UC would also develop an internal system of spot-checking parties to ensure that student hosts do not turn away or discourage everyone but their closest friends from attending.
The argument that many have made against widespread publication of the times and locations of the UC parties—namely, that the parties will rapidly become overcrowded, sweaty, and unpleasant to host—is ultimately unconvincing.
Under the current system, even those party-throwers who, in good faith, want to publicize their party widely are discouraged from doing so. Any single party rightly fears that should it be one of the few well-publicized parties, it will be overburdened relative to the rest. This collective action problem will only be solved when all parties are equally well-publicized. Only then will attendance naturally equilibrate to the point at which the most students draw benefit from them.
More fundamentally, public parties thrown with public money should be crowded. Hosts and their friends should learn to enjoy their parties in the midst of “random freshmen.” If not to the Currier Ten Man, where is a freshman to go? That party hosts are often openly dismissive of this constituency who pays its share to fund parties is disturbing. By accepting funding that is derived from the student activities fee that every student on campus pays, hosts of UC-funded parties are implicitly accepting the responsibility to entertain the student body at large, especially those in so-called,“super party suites,” which obtain double funding each time they apply.