Planning for 100 Days and Senior Gala changes
This year, the Office of Alumni Affairs will no longer be sponsoring the Senior Committee responsible for putting on events like 100 Days, an off-campus event which celebrates the last 100 days before commencement, and Senior Gala, an off-campus event for seniors to celebrate the end of the year, according to Director of Alumni Engagement Suzanne Boue.
In previous years, the Senior Committee has been in charge of fundraising for these events and acting as a liaison between seniors and alumni, according to Joey Capparella (Brown College '13), one of the members of the 2012-13 Senior Committee.
"[Those events] give [Alumni Affairs] an opportunity to reach out to seniors before they graduate and tell them about all the ways they ... connect with all the alumni networks," Capparella said.
Instead of the Senior Committee, Alumni Affairs will sponsor a Future Alumni Committee, which will be dedicated to connecting all current students, as opposed to only seniors, with Rice alumni, Boue said. The committee will be responsible for events like Families Weekend, the New Alumni Welcome Picnic, the Alumni Tent at Beer Bike and the Ring Ceremony, which occurs in the Alumni Tent during Homecoming. The committee was first publicized during Orientation Week when T-shirts were handed out to new students after the President's Barbecue, Boue said.
The decision to refocus the Office of Alumni Affairs occurred over the summer as a result of conversations between Boue, Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson, Student Association President Yoonjin Min and a representative of the college presidents, Boue said.
"[We thought] students in general did not connect 100 Days or Senior Gala with anything involving alumni," Boue said. "It seemed more appropriate that those events went back to being hosted and promoted through student groups as they have been in the past."
Min said that during these discussions, she and the college presidents wanted to ensure 100 Days and Senior Gala could still happen.
"We all felt that these senior events were really important to the senior class, and we obviously didn't want to see them just disappear," Min said.
Min said she and the college presidents are currently searching for other student organizations to host and plan 100 Days.
"It will not be the [Office of Alumni Affairs]," Min said. "We're trying to play with different ideas about possibly merging similar events, but we're treating Senior Gala as more of a priority."
Min said she and the presidents plan for members of the new Future Alumni Committee to take the reins on planning Senior Gala.
"The current plan of action is that the 11 seniors from [the Future Alumni Committee] will be planning Senior Gala with oversight from [Alumni Affairs], so they will help plan the event like in the past," Min said. "The seniors will plan most of the logistical aspects of the event, as well as marketing. A staff member from Alumni Affairs will work in an advisory capacity for the most part, and will also help with contracts and things of that nature. The impetus will really be on the students to plan the event to make sure that it happens."
The group recognized that a change needed to be made to the events so that they can happen again this year, Min said. One issue stemmed from funding for the events. Min said that in the past, ticket sales from 100 Days have gone toward funding Senior Gala, thereby offsetting the cost of the latter event. However, Min said she, the college presidents and Hutchinson decided this system was unfair to students who purchased tickets for 100 Days but were unable to attend Senior Gala because they were not seniors or were under 21.
To address this problem, Min said she and the presidents were planning to make 100 Days and Senior Gala two financially separate events.
"If we raise the ticket prices or invite young alumni who are over 21, Senior Gala can be completely financially sustainable," Min said.
Min and the presidents also said the use of alcohol has been a problem for 100 Days in the past and that the issue would have to be addressed moving forward.
"There's going to have to be compromises made based on the reputation of these events in the past," Min said. "They can't be as centered on alcohol as they have been."
Min also said Alumni Affairs' decision not to plan 100 Days and to work on Senior Gala in a different capacity was not because of the new alcohol policy.
"[Alumni Affairs not planning these events as they existed in the past] is something that has been talked about for more than one year, so the new alcohol policy didn't really play a role in their decision not to do it this particular year," Min said.
Sid Richardson College senior Rachel Tenney said she has enjoyed attending 100 Days in the past and would be disappointed to see it discontinued this year.
"I have always liked 100 Days because it's cool to go out to a bar with everyone you know," Tenney said. "It's kind of like going to a public party but in a different setting."
Tenney said she was upset to hear about potential changes to 100 Days.
"It's frustrating that it's changing for our senior year," Tenney said. "These are two big events that differentiate your senior year from every other year. All the changes feel like they're trying to take away all the things that make Rice what it is."
Ultimately, Min said she wanted to reassure students that 100 Days and Senior Gala would continue to happen.
"There's going to have to be compromises made based on the reputation of these events in the past," Min said. "They can't be as centered on alcohol as they have been, and Senior Gala will probably be more expensive [so that it can be financially independent]. But the biggest thing [for students to understand] is that it is a huge priority for the college presidents and for myself that these events happen in some form."
Descriptions for positions on the Future Alumni Committee will be released Monday, Sept. 16. Applications for those positions will be available the following day.