AxeComm requests special fees increase

March 14, 2012, 2:47 a.m.

Two student groups, the Stanford Axe Committee and the Viennese Ball Committee, have requested significantly different amounts in special fees this year compared to their past budgets. The Axe Committee’s (AxeComm) request increased by 319 percent from $9,161.19 to $38,400, and the Viennese Ball Committee’s request decreased 60 percent from $25,000 to $10,000.


Petitions were due Friday, March 9 at 5 p.m. The ASSU Elections Commission will validate the petition signatures by Sunday, March 15.



According to AxeComm Chairman Brad Moylan ’13, the student group is requesting more funding than it received for the 2011-12 school year because it plans on adding to its programming and has lost substantial funding from other sources.


“We are completely revamping Big Game Rally and adding a lot of components to it, which unfortunately costs more money,” Moylan said. “We’re adding a big pyrotechnic element in tribute to the Big Game bonfires of the past.”


The Big Game bonfire tradition at Lake Lagunita dates back to 1898. The University ended the tradition in 1994 to protect the habitat of the California tiger salamander. Next year, AxeComm hopes to revive bonfire memories through a fireworks spectacular costing $12,000, according to the group’s requested budget.


Moylan said that additional increased expenses for next year include more spirit programming and viewing parties for every road football game.


This past year, AxeComm lost the considerable financial support of two alumni, one who moved out of the area and one who passed away.


“AxeComm is on a big upswing in the last couple years as far as how active we’ve been on campus and expanding our role, so that’s why we’re needing an increase in resources,” Moylan said. “As far as recent memory is concerned, the request is a high.”


Concerning spending adjustments for next year, Moylan said that AxeComm has reduced its budget for some operational aspects of Big Game Week but is mainly focused on expanding its impact on campus. The spending increases therefore greatly outweigh any cutbacks, he said. If the student body does not approve AxeComm’s request on the spring ballot, the group will struggle to support the level of programming it has had in the past, and most new plans will not be fulfilled, he added.


Viennese Ball

The Viennese Ball Committee reduced its 2012 fees request by $15,000 because last year’s request was not approved.


“We’re not in a dire position,” said Viennese Ball Committee Treasury Chair JJ Liu ’14. “We’re still able to get revenue from the ticket sales and different merchandise, but we hope to reduce prices if our petition is approved. That will be up to next year’s committee.”


Annually, the largest part of the Viennese Ball Committee’s budget is dedicated to renting facilities and equipment and hiring live bands. Next year’s budget will include additional expenses for new elements being added to the ball.


“We’re trying to make the ball better for everyone. We created a new ‘History of the Ball’ exhibit and hired a photographer,” Liu said. “We hope to be able to continue those for future balls.”


The Committee currently receives financial support from general ASSU funds and The Stanford Fund (TSF). The group annually partners with SwingKids to fund the swing room at the ball.


Other groups

Other student groups, including Stanford Dil Se, a Bollywood dance group, and Sixth Man Club, are requesting fees, though they did not do so last year.


“Last year we didn’t apply for special fees because we didn’t get into any competitions, but this year we got into some of the best competitions, so we want to continue that competitive nature of Dil Se,” said Stanford Dil Se Financial Officer Kathy Zabrocka ’13. “Part of [the cost] is travel, but we also have to pay for putting on the production with the costumes, set – the whole Bollywood production. In order to be competitive with other college teams, we have to be as professional as they are.”


Dil Se, which receives funding from TSF, is requesting $29,550. The group was granted around $9,000 in Special Fees in 2010 and paid for its expenses this year through TSF and group reserves.


“If we don’t get special fees, it will put a big strain on the budget,” Zbrocka said. “We might be able to go to one local competition unless there are some team members who want to contribute a lot of money to the team, which is what happens at a lot of other colleges, but we don’t want to kick people out because they can’t contribute a certain amount.”


If Dil Se receives special fees, the group plans to participate in four competitions, the same amount as this year. The group has budgeted to spend $14,000 on travel fares, $5,000 on accommodations and $2,000 each on honoraria fees and equipment rentals.


Similarly, Sixth Man Club, the men’s basketball fan club, is petitioning for $27,355 in special fees. According to Sixth Man CFO Max Wernecke ’13, this is the first time the group has requested special fees. He said that Sixth Man is doing so because student section admission was lowered to no cost for students beginning with the 2010-11 season. Johnny Dawkins, head coach of men’s basketball, made this decision with the goal of increasing attendance at games.


For the 2009-10 season, students were charged $65 to be part of Sixth Man, which included season access to home games. The Stanford Athletic Department’s marketing budget sustained the group’s operating costs last year and this year since the special fees deadline had already passed when the group stopped charging students. However, promotions and food giveaways at games decreased as a consequence.


“We’re trying to bring it back to how it once was,” Wernecke said. “The marketing budget is very tight, so we need to look at other sources of funding.”


If the group does not receive special fees, giveaways will likely decrease even more, but the section will remain free to students.


“We want to keep the student section strong with a lot of people attending,” Wernecke said. “We want to keep the enthusiasm there, and we’re trying to get a bit of funding so we can keep all our traditions intact.”


In order to receive special fees funding, student groups must receive at least 50 percent of all votes cast, with at least 15 percent of the relevant student body voting. Students will vote on special fee requests, along with other election items, on April 13 and 14.

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