Students behind Mallard Madness set sights higher

Tonight, months of work are poised to pay off for the six students who organized Mallard Madness, as RJD2 — one of the main acts funded by an approximately $72,000 allocation from ASUO and $6,000 from the Residence Hall Association — will be performing on the main stage of the weekend, at the EMU Amphitheater.

The large amount of time students spent bringing RJD2 and other artists to campus this weekend is typical for setting up big-name artists who must be booked months in advance. But the students have gone through the added trouble of going through various ASUO groups in the process of setting up the week’s worth of events.

Noah Wolf-Prusan, director of Jewish Student Union, where the idea for the concert originated, said the biggest problem with organizing and finding funds for the Mallard Madness event has been the fact that Mallard Madness, the overarching group planning the series of events this week, is not, in itself, an ASUO-recognized group.

“There are a lot of things we need to make official, rather than (having) an amalgam of students,” Wolf-Prusan said.

When appearing before the ASUO Senate and other bodies seeking money, the group has to explain its situation through other channels and confusing budgets — an issue that came to a head at the last Senate meeting. At that meeting, Sen. Kerry Snodgrass and others were upset with the state of the line-item budget the group had by that point.

“We (seem) disorganized from an outward perspective,” Wolf-Prusan said. “Internally, we are organized and we know what we’re dealing with.”

This year, the concert got a lucky break, receiving an earmark from ASUO over-realized funds early on, long before a process was developed. This was the $65,000 the group originally received from the ASUO.

Sen. Evan Thomas, chair of the now-defunct Senate Over-realized Fund Committee, said that, had the Mallard Madness group gone through the process all the other groups did, it probably wouldn’t have gotten the entire $65,000 request — because the fund had less money this year (just more that $260,000) than it has in years past.

“Basically, I’m very in favor of the event. I think it’s going to be a big deal for campus,” Thomas said. “That being said, as the chair person for the over-realized committee, we might not have given them nearly as much money as we did.

“I definitely think that if the budget for over-realized was upward of $900,000, there is certainly room in that budget for Mallard Madness.”

Thomas also said organizing a large-scale event is going to be difficult no matter what they do.

“I’m up for any situation to minimize their headache, but if they want to put on an upward of $60,000 concert, there’s going to be a headache,” Thomas said.

The Mallard Madness group will start discussions next week within their group of students and also with administrators, looking to next year and beyond. Wolf-Prusan said the hope is actually to make planning huge events more available for students. One hypothetical goal would be to create a more flexible “student ‘big-program’ fund” for putting on concerts of this magnitude more often.

“There’s really no group on campus dedicated to programming for students; no group of students that do large-scale programs,” Wolf-Prusan said.

“It wouldn’t (be called) Mallard Madness. We’re looking into making a group of students oversee programs such as Mallard Madness. Talking about things every quarter, rather than year. Learning how to plan events, concerts, things like that is the education you don’t get in the classroom.”

“It’s pretty awesome to know that we can do this. Every administrator has told us we should not have been able to do this,” Wolf-Prusan said. “We are students dealing with things far beyond our capacity. It is amazing that we’ve been able to pull this off so far.”

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