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The SU sponsored event will charge $25 for students at the door.
Paul Baker/the Gauntlet

Black history condensed to one evening

Only one special event has been planned for the month so far

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The lack of planning for events celebrating this year's Black History Month is causing concern about vice-president events Luke Valentine among a few Students' Union members. As of yet, there is one major event planned that will cost students $25 at the door.

"Usually we try to throw as many events for free for students as possible," said Valentine, who is campaigning to keep his VP events position for another year.

The event, hosted by off-campus group Collectively Eclectic, is SU sponsored in the form of free space and equipment. Valentine quoted the usual cost of rent for both at about $7,000.

"I think it's absolutely outrageous," said academic commissioner Megan Martin. "I don't think it's okay and I'm pretty upset that it's been glossed over. This doesn't go with precedence."

Martin said executive cabinet, where all SU sponsorship deals get passed, usually places importance on precedence when it comes to funding events.

She explained that by sponsoring this private group and still allowing it to charge students, other groups would have a basis to expect similar services.

"As far as we know, this is the only event and the event costs money," said VP external and executive cabinet member Alastair MacKinnon. "It's important to note that the event costs roughly the same as last year."

Last year, the events commission spent a budget of $2,000 on documentaries, DJ performances and graffiti demonstrations. The Collectively Eclectic event was a private function run without SU support.

MacKinnon said that the executives were concerned after they received this year's budget from Collectively Eclectic, which totaled roughly $35,000.

Valentine and SU president Dalmy Baez said this may have been because the group was not given specific cost limitations.

"They weren't sure what contribution the SU would make," said Baez.

The VPs reworked the budget into its current form, lead by Baez, cutting out alcohol and other costly extras. All proceeds from the event will go to the African Culture Club on campus, who is partnering with Collectively Eclectic.

The executive cabinet reports weekly to the Student Legislative Council, the highest governing body of the SU, which has the power to overturn any of its decisions.

MacKinnon said that their decision may have missed SLC because sponsorship deals like this were common.

Events commissioner Kat Lord, currently running against Valentine for VP events, brought this information to the Gauntlet. She served on the cabinet when the budget went through.

"In theory, commissioners are supposed to keep executives accountable to the governing body, but that doesn't always happen," she said. "There was an implication that I should be quiet."

MacKinnon acknowledged that commissioners questioning the actions of their bosses would be a "ballsy move."

"We never counseled commissioners to say or not say anything," he said.

Baez said commissioners choose what to report on or leave out.

"There are a lot of external factors that come into play," she said.

Events commissioner Andrea Llewellyn argued that $25 is too expensive for many students.

Valentine said it would have been "impossible" to provide more support to bring down ticket prices.

Llewellyn added that Valentine does not communicate well with his commissioners during planning stages and only asks for help when it comes time to market events.

The only charged event she could recall was Sex With Sue, which cost students $5.

Collectively Eclectic operations director Ify Chiwetelu said almost 400 people attended last year's event, a "good chunk" of which were students.

"Initially the idea to work together came from Dalmy Baez, but then Luke came on board with this as well," said Chiwetelu.

The event will showcase different dance styles, gospel music, spoken word poetry and a fashion show.

"I fully support the event, I just don't support students being charged to attend it," said Lord. "This is an outside event supported by the SU because there was no other option."

Baez agreed, saying the SU was "running out of time" to put an event together.

One week of Cinemania and That Empty Space will also be themed for Black History Month.

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