Girl Talk, the stage name of mash-up artist Gregg Gillis, will perform at the Bacon Field House this Saturday, in a combined campus effort to raise money for financial aid. The proceeds for the event, for which tickets are $5 apiece, will be quadrupled, raising approximately $30,000 toward financial aid.
“This concert is the product of a bunch of people—students, staff and alumni—who absolutely love Wesleyan and wanted to bring the student body together at the end of the fall semester,” said Vice President of Student Affairs Mike Whaley.
Whaley stressed that no single person is responsible for Girl Talk coming to the University.
“A small group of students had the idea for Girl Talk to come to Wesleyan, and contacted me in order to get support for a project of this magnitude,” he said.
Whaley was enthusiastic about the idea and contacted Tim Shiner, director of Student Activities and Leadership Development, to figure out the logistics.
“Dean Mike Whaley got in touch with me and said, ’Make this event happen,’” Shiner said. “It’s been no small effort.”
Shiner estimated that he spent upwards of 30 hours over the past few weeks finalizing the details of the project, in conjunction with University Relations, Whaley, the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) and the Student Budget Committee (SBC).
Shiner explained that staff will be working under pressure to transform the Field House into a suitable performance arena, since preparations cannot begin until 6 p.m. on Saturday due to a lacrosse game in the Field House. Additionally, the space will need to be back to normal by 8 a.m. Sunday morning for another sporting event.
“We are pushing a very tight schedule to set up the field in four hours,” Shiner said.
A campus-wide e-mail informed students that the ticket revenue from the concert will be quadrupled and given to financial aid. This quadrupling, however, will not be the work of one donor alone. The money raised from the tickets—approximately $7,500—will first be matched by the WSA, and then the donor will double that sum.
WSA President Mike Pernick ’10 noted that the WSA was happy to donate its own funds toward financial aid and stressed that it would not decrease funds for student groups.
“These funds aren’t coming from the SBC, so student groups won’t be impacted,” he said. “But we will still be able to help make it affordable for students to afford a Wesleyan education.”
In total, University Financial Aid will receive at least $30,000 as a result of the concert: $7,500 from ticket sales, $7,500 from the WSA and $15,000 from the outside donor.
While this may seem like a substantial gain in money, the University will spend almost two-thirds of this amount to make the event happen—the SBC will pay the $15,000 fee to bring Girl Talk to campus and the University will pay an additional cost of about $5,000 to set the concert up.
SBC Chair Chris Goy ’09 explained that the event is still a great gain for the University, even though some University money will have to be used to make the concert happen.
“Although technically all of this money falls under the category of ’University money,’ in fact, the financial aid fund and SBC funds are two separate entities—they never touch each other,” he said.
Goy also noted that while funding for student activities stays relatively constant from year to year, the financial aid fund is dependent on alumni donations and as such is likely to be hurt by the current economic crisis.
“I’m not sure students realize how much the University is hurting right now,” Goy said. “It seems incumbent on us students to help.”
Tess Crain ’12 was understanding of the logic behind this and boiled it down to an issue of priorities.
“Ordinarily I don’t like the idea of taking money from the student body and putting it into other areas of the University,” she said. “In this case, though, it seems that financial aid needs help, and let’s face it, if people can’t come to Wesleyan because they aren’t receiving financial aid, then they won’t be able to benefit from the SBC funds anyway.”
Whaley concurred, noting that the point to be emphasized is not the amount of money raised for financial aid, but the concept of one element of the community supporting another element that is in need. He suggested that the idea behind quadrupling every dollar that a student donates emphasizes the idea that every small action helps, encouraging students to support the community in any way they can.
Director of Financial Aid Jennifer Lawton confirmed that times are hard for funding financial aid, but she also expressed her confidence that students would continue to receive the financial aid they need.
“While it is true that budgets are tight due to the current economic downturn, our commitment to helping keep Wesleyan affordable is strong,” she wrote in an e-mail to The Argus. “Our current grant aid budget is about $35 million and no cuts are planned. I anticipate that we will be able to continue funding students to meet their demonstrated need in the coming months as we weather the financial storm.”
Perhaps as a testament to this concert’s significance as a community event, its promotion symbol is the Douglas Cannon, which belongs not to any individual, but to the University as a whole.
In any case, the student body seems to be supportive of the initiative to support financial aid as well as excited to see Girl Talk.
“It’s definitely good to see that, for a popular event such as this, they are going to have the proceeds go towards something good,” said Patrick O’Brien ’12.