UPC trims Crimson Nights budget

By Katie Valentine, Staff Writer

Bitter financial times won’t stop the late-night alcohol-free parties thrown by the Union Programming Council.

However, party planners are tightening their belts a little.

This year, the council cut $4,000 from its budget, and instead of holding six Crimson Nights events next year, it will hold four. The UPC assistant director positions have also been consolidated into fewer positions, said Michelle Brown, assistant director for programming and business affairs for the Union.

However, UPC is in a good place financially, said Cory Headley, graduate assistant for the Union.

To pay for Crimson Nights, the council relies heavily on sponsors and donations, but with the financial crisis, fewer people are willing to assist.

“It’s more of a fear factor, people know the recession is out there,” Headley said. “They’re scared to give.”

The development board for UPC creates a list at the beginning of the year of potential sponsors at the local and corporate levels. Erica Sellers, director of the development board, said her board meets with each potential sponsor.

At Friday’s “Battle Royale” themed Crimson Nights Fuze Beverages donated drinks. Companies such as Fuze could have been sponsors, but many companies choose to donate goods instead because it is cheaper for the company, said Crimson Nights Director Ashley Swapp.

Jake Zimmerli, a junior in finance, said he enjoys going to Crimson Nights with his friends.

“It’s a free party,” Zimmerli said. “It’s getting more expensive to go to school8212;it’s great to have something free.”

The Alcohol and Drug Education Center gave UPC a $7,500 grant, which made it a sponsor to the parties in 2005 and 2006. As a sponsor, it was able to have a table at events and provide information about its center. The center’s grant is no longer available, but similar grants are currently being looked for, Brown said.

The Associated Students of the University of Utah, gave more money to Crimson Nights when the program was first getting started in 2003. Until 2007, ASUU gave Crimson Nights $42,050 for the parties, but the student government cut funding when it began recognizing UPC as a student group. Because of this designation, UPC can only receive $5,000 each school year from ASUU.

It was a hard hit, but not the worst thing that could have happened, Brown said. It forced students in UPC to become more creative, she said.

UPC will continue to become more creative, because sponsors say no faster than they used to, Swapp said.

“They won’t even let us in the door, they just automatically say no,” she said.

Crimson Nights should be a fiscal and financially trustworthy event, said Swapp, who has been involved with UPC for three years.

Headley comes with programming experience that helps UPC know when it is getting a good deal, Swapp said.

The UPC director for next year is Rob Crosbie. The assistant directors have not been chosen yet, so the plan for how the parties will run next year is not yet set in stone.
When there are sponsors from campus, such as the Student Affairs office, it helps promote their groups to students, Brown said.

The Residence Hall Association helps with the cost of keeping the shuttles running until the event is finished at 2 a.m. The amount of sponsorship varies depending on the decision of the association’s executive board. This semester, the association donated $500.

Another way sponsors on campus contribute to Crimson Nights is by co-sponsoring an event. In February, the International Center teamed up with Crimson Nights to put on a Mardi Gras party. The Battle Royale event was co-sponsored by the Student Alumni Board.

UPC spends about $10,000 for each party, but events carry larger price tags when they have bigger activities such as comedian Daniel Tosh, who came to Crimson Nights last year. Tosh’s travel, hotel and performance cost $13,500.

The event last year was also coupled with the Grand Kerfuffle music festival. The Crimson Nights held after the concert was sponsored by ASUU and the Student Alumni Board.
Justin Kredible, a magician, performed Friday. His travel, hotel stay and performance cost about $3,200. For the event, tickets for U students were free and tickets for non-U students were $20.

Although Crimson Nights is free to students, non-U students can attend for $5. UPC makes an average $2,000 from non-U students’ ticket sales.

“I love Crimson Nights, it’s so great to see where it’s going,” Swapp said.

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Erik Daenitz

Students dance behind the Union on Friday night during Crimson Nights, which is put on by the Union Programming Council. Budget cuts will cause the UPC to hold four Crimson Nights next year instead of six.