AS Concerts and Events (ASCE) spent $252,088, 31 percent of the $811,953 total expenses for Sun God Festival 2018, on safety and security.
In addition, ASCE spent $125,000 (15 percent) for Main and North stage performers, $225,529 (27 percent) for stage production, and $84,546 (10 percent) for infrastructure and festival amenities. Associated Students of UCSD allocated $730,000 for Sun God Festival, almost double the budget of UC Riverside Associated Students Program Board’s Spring Splash ($381,400) and Block Party ($392,600).
This year, the UCSD Police Department reported four cases of disorderly conduct due to alcohol consumption, 14 cases of public intoxication, and one case of excessive alcohol use during the festival.
Sun God Festival, held annually since 1983, has been criticized for its recurring student intoxication and casualties, including one student drug overdose death in 2014.
In 2013, a total of 146 attendees were arrested, an increase of 54 percent from the prior year’s total arrest count of 48. Chancellor Pradeep Khosla commissioned a special task force in response to intoxicated students overcrowding local hospitals.
The task force proposed a no-guest policy for North Campus (area of The Village and Eleanor Roosevelt College) and also suggested discontinuing guest access sales, as non-affiliate attendees made up one-third of detox admits. The Interim Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs at the time, Alan Houston, agreed to backfill lost revenue and additional security measures in North Campus, which cost $165,000 in 2014.
In 2014, the task force reportedly allocated $30,000 for security infrastructure to enforce the no-guest policy.
“In comparison with 2013, the overall number of student conduct violations during Sun God weekend decreased in absolute numbers, but remained constant when calculated per 1,000 attendees,” the 2014 report stated.
The Council of Deans and Council of Residential Deans both endorsed a moratorium on hosting the annual festival in 2015. However, the endorsement was withdrawn after a mutual agreement to enforce stricter security.
Although some students acknowledge the importance of student safety, they question the administrators’ approach.
“It’s apparent that UCSD administration prioritizes security over student health and experience,” said third year Marshall College student Brandon Doan, “as evident in how heavy fencing and security presence was compared to how little was done to help students party safe with lack of shade, resting area, and water.”
Sylvia O is a Staff Writer for The Triton. You can follow her @Sylvia_MJ_O