Lights Go Out for What’s After Dark
Published: Friday, November 1, 2013
Updated: Friday, November 1, 2013 02:11
The Center for Student Engagement will discontinue the What’s After Dark program in response to university-wide budget cuts, resulting in a partial loss of funding for Relay for Life, the Georgetown Program Board and other groups.
What’s After Dark operates on a grant from the university and distributes funds to student organizations for late-night programming that do not involve alcohol. While the program will proceed with established commitments, it will no longer accept new applications for funding beginning today.
“There are some annual programs that we know we want to try to support, and we’re honoring the commitments that have been made so far but not actively soliciting new apps for funding. And there won’t be … What’s After Dark-generated programs in the spring,” Director of Student Engagement Erika Cohen Derr said.
What’s After Dark was axed in lieu of pay cuts for staff members, Cohen Derr said. Current program staff will stay on in student affairs.
“The university is going through a cost-cutting exercise across the board, so when we looked at the programs that we could potentially cut, obviously we didn’t want to cut staff positions,” Cohen Derr said.
The funding from What’s After Dark will go toward future initiatives, like the Healey Family Student Center, set to open in fall 2014. What’s After Dark’s exact budget was not available at press time.
“I think one of the reasons What’s After Dark was where we took the cut was we’re preparing to open the HFSC. We want to make sure that that space has funding and support to provide an active social life for students,” Cohen Derr said. “HFSC will need programming, staffing and maintenance money. Right now we’re in the process of making those plans for next year. If we have to both cut costs and also plan to open a new space in the future, all of that’s being taken into consideration.”
What’s After Dark is a large contributor to the Georgetown Program Board, in addition to Relay for Life and — for the first time last year — Georgetown Day, for which the group funded the 2AM Club concert.
“We’ll have to start earlier with seeking our donations [but] there’s more than enough time to salvage,” said Georgetown Day Chair Andi DeBellis (MSB ’14), who also works in marketing and programming for the Center for Student Engagement.
Midnight Breakfast, offered during finals week, will likely be limited to offering free food, as What’s After Dark funded the night’s additional programming, such as prizes and giveaways.
Relay for Life, whose annual event has a budget of $25,000, traditionally received $5,000 to $8,000 from What’s After Dark since the event’s establishment in 2007. Last year, the organization saw reduced funding and anticipates even less this year. 2013 Relay for Life Chair Dan Silkman (COL ’15) said that his group did not yet know if it would receive leftover funds from What’s After Dark.
“This year, apparently, they’re still staking out the funding, so we got an email that there was still an opportunity for student programs … to secure funds for second semester,” he said.
Relay for Life typically runs from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and What’s After Dark’s money goes to nighttime entertainment, which has previously included bouncy castles, food and caricaturists. Silkman is primarily concerned with attracting funds for next year’s event.
“This year, if we get less funding, and next year if we don’t get funding at all, we’ll have to rethink our activities,” he said, adding that Relay would consider apply for money from the GUSA Fund.
The Black Student Association received $10,000 in grants from What’s After Dark last year, including $6,000 for its Visions of Excellence ball.
“It’s going to be very difficult moving forward,” BSA President Erika Nedwell (COL ’14) said. “A lot of the board members are really upset, and we are not sure if we will have to cancel some of the events that we usually do.”
These events include the popular Hoya Late Skate night, which brought an ice skating rink to Red Square. Board members are currently brainstorming ideas but have thus far failed to conceive a way to completely recoup lost funding.
GPB receives funding from multiple groups, and one of its main priorities is the Spring Kickoff Concert, which was not included in this year’s What’s After Dark budget.
“Any remaining funds from What’s After Dark — we’ll look at programs that have been historically funded in the spring and allocate them as needed,” Cohen Derr said.
GPB also has the potential to fulfill the alcohol-free late-night programming that has traditionally been the purview of What’s After Dark. Beside cosponsoring events like Club Lau and Midnight Madness, What’s After Dark held its own events, like finals study breaks, the foam pit and Ladies’ Night In.
“I feel like GPB Late Night will start to step up their late-night efforts, and there’s always room for individual student organizations to pick it up,” DeBellis said. “It’s sad, but I feel like the student body will be able to make up and start programming more at night. We’ll find new, creative ways to seek funding for those events, as well.”
While student leaders are ultimately disappointed with the demise of a source of funding, the necessity of budget cuts draws understanding.
“I am very, very close with the staff members of CSE, and I know that they’re always short on money, so I totally understand that this was a necessary decision,” Silkman said. “I think that its unfortunate that student groups won’t benefit, and I wish there was a way to keep it.”