I am not saying that everyone here is a boring, stay-at-home, early-to-bed party pooper, but there does seem to be a lot of party fatigue going around.
Why is it so hard to have a party at HBS? Well, actually throwing a normal party is fairly easy-you pick a day, e-mail your friends, buy a few handles and a bag of Doritos and open your front door. Ironically, in my experience, the hardest place to be if you want to throw a party is on the SA Social Committee, closely followed by being part of any official Student Club of HBS. I’ve spent some time trying to understand why this is the case and I’ve come up with a variety of reasons, which I will use the rest of this article to rant about.
Lack of support from the student body for SA Events
Cost is one source of contention here. Everybody thinks that SA Social events make money (they often don’t), so they begin with negative impressions of SA events. Add to this the fact that previous generations of HBS-ers have been thrown out of nearly every venue in Boston. This results in a completely BATNA-less financial agreement with the Sheraton is the only venue that will take us. This in turn leads to sky-high tickets prices for events like Hollidazzle and even more complaints.
Another problem is that everyone at HBS is notoriously noncommittal until the last minute, leading to weeks of nail-biting as the organizers survey the pitifully low ticket sales and think about how much cash they have guaranteed the venue/DJ*, followed by a last minute rush and swathes of people trying to get into a packed party on the door at midnight. However, this problem may also be a symptom of the second problem I want to talk about…
Too many parties
Yes, it’s sad to have to say this but there are just too many parties. Just looking at a random week I find: Pre-Ski party from the Canadian Club, Lunar New Year, European Club’s Carnivale and an AASU party. That’s just over three days!
The problem here is that there are innumerable student clubs holding two parties per semester each, plus private events, charity events and of course the notorious and mysterious Graduate Schools Council. On top of this, there are the official Student Association events, of which there are at least four per semester. My question is-does anyone stop and think when they plan a party, or is it the all too common case of ‘we did one last year, let’s do it again’?
To an extent this is true-during my time on the SA Social Committee we would sit in a meeting at the beginning of the semester looking at a nice clear calendar, and conclude that if people seemed to enjoy a Valentine’s Party/Boat Trip/St Patrick’s Day celebration last year then it would be a fine idea to repeat the experience. Unfortunately, at the same time every society on campus is looking at the same nice clear calendar (occasionally checking that they don’t plan a party the night before a midterm) and no-one actually has a chance to cross check until the parties are publicised, which is too late. This brings me to my next point…
Lack of a central social calendar
Why is there no clear, accessible central calendar of events that is reliably updated and available to all in advance (i.e. when parties are in the planning stage, not when venues are booked, confirmed etc)? The hbsocial site, beautiful though it is, is just not widely referred to enough, and I find it hard to bring myself to mention the utter incomprehensibility, uselessness and irrelevance of the daily MBA Event Digest, which I will confidently hypothesise is the single most rapidly-deleted e-mail every single day of the semester. Trying to get an off-campus event listed on this calendar is only marginally easier than paying a surprise visit to George Bush by climbing through a window of the White House wearing a fake beard.
I have heard two stories about this which concern me greatly: one, heard from an SA insider, is that a very sophisticated central planning calendar was developed at great expense for all on-and-off-campus events, and then at the last minute off-campus social events (the ones that really need it!) were excluded because they had no impact on room bookings. The other story from a reliable source is that a separate project was proposed by the SA Social Committee to set up a social planning calendar in conjunction with an outside IT developer, but that the project was turned down due to the cost-of less than $2000! Which leads me to the conclusion that either the faculty or the SA are not willing to pay to get this problem solved.
Lack of central support for the SA Social team
Another problem is a lack of central support for the SA Social Committee, who (for example) are not allowed to e-mail the whole student body due to spam prevention rules, despite the fact that SA Ventures, random Graduate Council people and occasional individuals continually do. Although the social chairs are happy to pass on e-mails, this adds an unnecessary layer and is another clear symptom of the lack of SA and faculty support for the SA Social Team. As is..
Too many regulations
I’m not certain how many of the rules I’ve heard are actual hard and fast ones from the SA, but both on the SA Social Committee and as a Social Director for the European Club I have heard everything from how you must not restrict ticket sales to any one group, it is not possible to serve alcohol without food, it is not permitted to imply in any promotional material that people at the party may want to either get drunk or have sex, and it is certainly not appropriate to use student funds to encourage either of these activities. Whether or not any of these restrictions are actually enforced I am not certain, but having to deal with a Kafka-esque mountain of bureaucracy when all one is trying to do is allow ones fellow students to have a good time is off-putting to say the least.
So, now that I’ve had a chance to air my grievances, I suppose I should actually try and help find a solution. So here it is-my request to the new SA team!
-Please, please sort out some form of central social planning calendar that everyone actually uses! Including the bloody Graduate Schools Council…
-Please show the SA Social team your support by allowing them to e-mail the entire student body about events they are putting on (on behalf of the entire student body).
-Please continue the good work from last year of trying to foster closer links between the SA and the SA social committee-you’re on the same side!
Lastly, my request to each and every student out there-support the SA Social Events, and don’t leave it until the day before to buy your tickets, otherwise they might cancel the strippers…
*Only joking. I’m sure the rumors about the European Carnivale Party are not true…