If you’re on the E-board of an active org, you may be wondering why there are new fees for outdoor events. The barbecue pits across from IRT, Alumni Plaza, and basically anywhere that has grass now comes with a minimum $100 fee. You may be wondering, why the fee? Don’t we already pay that in our tuition?
At the beginning of the Spring 2020 semester, organizations were informed that there is now a price for the BBQ pits. This has caused multiple organizations to have to cancel their event last minute because the new fee and rules prohibited them from having their BBQ.
Many people feel that this new fee is targeted toward the black community.
Before the start of the Spring 2020 semester, the Alpha Beta Iota chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Incorporated and the Pi Eta chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated were hosting a Blu and White founder’s day BBQ on January 11th at the BBQ pits. However, the day before the BBQ, they announced that it would take place at Hughes Park.
Antonio Bell is a senior majoring in accounting and minoring in business law and serves as the chapter president of the Alpha Beta Iota chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Incorporated. Bell said the union notified them of the fee at the last minute, “We had emailed them months in advance about the BBQ so it was nothing on us…there was plenty of time and communication not only with the union but with facilities as well” said Bell.
The last-minute change of the event caused a lot of confusion and frantic Instagram posts were circulating with “LOCATION CHANGE” in all caps. “The main part is overall productivity. When you are hosting an event whether it be on-campus or off-campus you want to make sure your event is productive and things are going smoothly. Being notified at the last minute makes the event less productive” said Bell.
Bell said that he’s noticed an overall decline in the black organizations’ use of certain areas on campus due to the new rules and regulations that were put in place, “I have noticed that there is a sudden shift in the amount of people of color who are using the BBQ pits” Bell said.
He’s also noticed that areas that were used regularly for annual, staple events are no longer being used, “A lot of organizations used to utilize Diversity Way until we were banned from doing so. We used that area for fundraising such as “Ice or Pie an E-Board member”. It was mainly black organizations who were doing so” said Bell.
The Caribbean Students Association (CSA) also had a “Welcome Back BBQ” planned for January 28th. However, the afternoon of the event they announced via social media that it was canceled due to “unforeseen circumstances”. This was the second BBQ of the semester that had mysteriously gotten canceled.
Kimonie Campbell is a senior and serves as the Director of Activities for CSA. Campbell said that CSA put in their request for the BBQ during fall semester and it wasn’t until the day of that they found out about the new $100 fee, “We planned this BBQ far in advance and put in the request last semester and then we found out there was a $100 fee” said Campbell.
Furthermore, they were informed by the union that they could no longer cook raw food at the pits and that all food must come from Chartwells. While Chartwells has good food, they don’t have Caribbean food thus defeating the purpose of having a Caribbean themed BBQ.
The reason that Campbell was given for the new fee was because in the previous semester organizations destroyed the sprinklers. However, she feels that that reasoning is untrue given that none of the BBQ’s from first semester took place in the grass but rather under the pavilion, “I feel as if this new fee is targeting the black orgs because we are the main ones that use the pits” said Campbell.
On a positive note, the Blu and White founder’s day BBQ still took place. They were able to find a new location, “Ultimately the event did not get canceled but I don’t think we are going to be hosting another BBQ event on FAU’s campus just for the fact that they made it so cumbersome to do so” said Bell.
The issue with moving the BBQs off campus is that it hinders certain students who don’t drive from coming to the events. Also, students pay a “recreation and activities” fee at the beginning of every semester that is supposed to cover the maintenance for these areas. If that is the case why are organizations suddenly being charged to use the pits?
Many students have voiced that they feel as if this is yet another way for FAU to minimize our presence on campus. Not allowing students to grill food at a BBQ completely defeats the purpose of having the pits in the first place.
With there already being so many other costs that go into hosting an event (DJ, Food, Decor, Flyer Design, etc.) tacking on an additional $100 fee is enough to cause clubs to either move their event off-campus or not have the event at all.
On a personal note, my first interaction with the Black FAU community was at one of the BBQs from the fall semester. Seeing that they might never take place now because of the fee makes me upset for future students who will never have that experience and upsets me knowing that the fellowship and familiar atmosphere that an FAU BBQ brings may never return.
“It’s just strange to me that these annual events that we’ve been hosting for years now at Florida Atlantic University are now being charged” said Bell.
Kennedy McKinney is the Editor in Chief of the Paradigm Press. For more information regarding this or other stories, email firstname.lastname@example.org