In an advertisement printed in today’s Campus Times, the Executive Board of Campus Activities Board announced that it has decided not to sponsor Dandelion Day this year. Though the student body has come to associate the annual spring celebration, commonly known as D-Day, with CAB’s concert and festivities, the board maintains that the tradition has broken from its roots.
They cited a number of contentious aspects of the day that led to annual murmurs about ending the tradition, such as risk management consideration, rising costs and the lack of sufficient volunteers – commonly attributed to irresponsible behavior caused by the overwhelming amount of students who engage in binge drinking.
The decision ultimately came down to finances and management: the $50,000 price tag was considered too much for an event that, according to the advertisement, left students feeling “increasingly disappointed,” and CAB was not able to maintain a staff of 30-50 sober volunteers.
“We didn’t feel we were getting a very good return on student satisfaction for the money we had to spend,” CAB President and senior Cait Ganley said.
Events Chairperson and senior Nazmia Alqadi elaborated, explaining that last year only 12 volunteers were available to run the events – all 12 were members of the CAB Executive Board.
Associate Director of Student Activities and CAB adviser Melissia Schmidt emphasized that this decision was well-considered.
“For the last few years, the CAB Executive Boards have tossed around the idea, ‘What if we don’t sponsor [D-Day] anymore?'” she said.
Acting Dean of Students Matthew Burns said that he supported the group’s decision and understood the reasoning behind it. He stressed that there were pressures, both on his office and on CAB, to deal with the issue of D-Day.
“I think it’s a courageous decision,” he said. “It’s one of the boldest decisions I’ve seen a student group make. It’s sure to fly in the face of their peers. On the other hand, it’s based on a sound rationale.”
Burns said that CAB’s announcement does not imply that Dandelion Day is cancelled. He called for a combined effort between students and administration to decide what will happen next to UR’s tradition.
However, he realized that any alternative will take a large amount of cooperation and planning.
“CAB is the only student organization with enough experience and resources to manage something like D-Day,” he said.
Students’ Association President and junior Alvin Lomibao agreed that immediate action was needed to look into organizing an alternative event. He felt that one of the problems had been that only one group was in charge of D-Day.
“With more groups, there is a sense of shared ownership,” he said. “I think we can get a band, food vendors. It’s just a matter of getting student groups together at this point.” Lomibao said that he would be interested in facilitating a discussion on how to proceed.
SA Vice President and junior Janna Gewirtz echoed his desire to continue the tradition.
“We understand that D-Day has a long history on this campus and we’ll make sure that we explore all the options that are available to make this happen,” she said
Ganley could not promise that CAB would partake in a joint effort.
“That would change the situation a lot,” she said. “I can’t say for the entire Executive Board what we would do, but that would change a lot.”
Dandelion Day has undergone numerous changes over the past few years, as CAB has worked with UR Security and the Rochester Police Department to make the day safer.
An effort to control intoxicated students by implementing beer gardens failed to attract interest. Also, it became clear that adding activities such as carnival rides did not deter drinking. In fact, the rides themselves became a liability.
Last year, CAB toned down D-Day, eliminating many events and focusing attention on the Wilson Quad concert so that resources could be used for monitoring the safety of students. Former Dean of Students Jody Asbury said at the time that the previous year’s D-Day had been the worst yet in regard to safety. In an effort to curtail hype, members of the administration told CAB not to print D-Day T-shirts, which had been popular in past years.
“They didn’t want to celebrate the day as much. They didn’t want to make it a whole grand thing,” CAB Event Chairperson and senior Jeremy Friedman said. The efforts, however, did not deter drinking.
Alqadi spoke about CAB’s plans for a future without D-Day. She said that this year’s CAB-sponsored events, such as scientist Bill Nye and comedian Demetri Martin, had gone over budget, but students had had a great time.
“If we could spend our money on larger events like [Nye and Martin]that would be better,” Alqadi said.
She laid out plans to focus on bigger names in addition to more programming off campus. CAB is currently looking into providing cheap tickets to comedian Jeff Dunham and a concert featuring rapper Little Wing, in addition to horseback riding and pottery day trips.
“If we can’t get entertainment on campus, we want to figure out a way to get students to entertainment,” she said.
Ganley concluded that CAB’s withdrawal of support does not mean the end of this tradition.
“We don’t want D-Day to be cancelled forever, but we don’t think it can go on as it has been. It is a huge safety concern.”
Lomibao supported the decision.
“I completely empathize with their decision,” he said, noting the sentiment annually surrounding D-Day. “They’ve been in talks for many years about this. This is the year that it eventually precipitated into them stopping.”
Wrobel is a member of the class of 2010.