University approves up to $200,000 for annual speaker

    The University Budget Committee approved an ASG proposal to have a major Winter Quarter speaker or concert each year, ASG officials announced Wednesday night.

    The event would be backed by up to $200,000 in university funding and could start as early as next year. That kind of money brings into range top-notch speakers such as Bill Clinton, who charges $150,000 or more per event.

    The university hopes that about 50 percent of expenses can be recovered through event revenue, Provost Daniel Linzer and Senior Vice President for Business and Finance Eugene Sunshine said in a letter on April 21 to former ASG president Jon Webber, among others. The letter responded to several proposals made by the Undergraduate Budget Proposal Committee in late February.

    Webber hopes the event will be a “unifying experience” for students that would tie them to Northwestern and give them strong memories to look back on, he said in a Wednesday night interview.

    Webber, former executive vice president Matt Bogusz and A&O Chairman Alex White proposed the idea in February. White described the event’s potential reach as similar to that of Dillo Day.

    “Dillo Day doesn’t overshadow anything, it’s a totally different experience than having a speaker in Harris and a speaker in Tech, or a concert in Cahn or Pick-Staiger,” he said. “It’s just the size that’s different.”

    For White, the event is an opportunity for student groups to work together.

    “We want it to be a complement to all the great programs student groups are already doing. So for instance, if the speaker is maybe an author, perhaps other student groups can do book readings,” White said.

    White said A&O Productions is not involved in the program by name, adding that “such an incredible amount of money is outside the realm of any student group.”

    UBPC chair Jon Kent said the group was “really thrilled” with the decision.

    “Especially because Winter Quarter is kind of dead, students are down a little bit,” he said. It’s a way to “encourage a greater sense of community in the school and just have something that students really look back to” when they reflect on their undergrad experience.

    Kent said the committee was very pleased with the administrators’ decisions, and with overall communication between students and administrators.

    “This has been probably the most-positive response that we’ve received ever as a committee,” he said. “For once, it’s kind of a good example of lobbying with the administration, and finding a happy medium of being realistic while also getting what students have been asking for.”

    ASG President Neal Sales-Griffin, who was sworn in tonight, said the administration’s response was “fantastic.”

    “It’s big news that we actually have things that are getting done,” he said. “UBPC did a fantastic job this past year, so I’m excited to help them keep that going.”

    Chloe Benoist contributed to this story.


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