USC should invest in student organizations

KXSC Fest, a free music and arts festival put on by the student volunteers at KXSC Radio, was this past Saturday, March 29th and was a spectacular event. Few know that KXSC receives no funding from USC or USG.

Instead, KXSC paid the University more than $6,300 in required fees to host KXSC Fest, almost doubling our usual budget.

Though this annual festival has occurred each year without any major incident, changes in university policy following a certain on-campus incident in the fall of 2012 forced the event to an indoor venue and added a huge amount of required security personnel with a stifling price tag.

We also had to exclude non-university members from this indoor “festival.” The community was devastated and the event lacked the vibrancy and atmosphere of past years.

Since the chaos of the shooting has died down, we were back outside again this year, but with the same additional security costs. With no allocated budget and no supportive funds, we have to dig deep into our shallow pockets of savings, which come from weeks and months of fundraising and minimal station dues.

The cost for security for KXSC Fest in 2012 was zero dollars. The outdoor event ran smoothly and was held without incident. Two years later, this Saturday, the security costs for KXSC Fest are upwards of $6,300 in the same location, which includes DPS, CSC and fencing. The booking of 11 artists to perform costs roughly the same amount.

This burgeoning, healthy and necessary alternative community — cultivated and built by students — is now threatened by the very enterprise that is supposed to nurture it. Even highly visible and well-funded organizations like Program Board (who host SpringFest and Conquest) have seen their events threatened by these new security measures, yet the university has done nothing to lessen these additional internal costs.

Don’t get me wrong. I value the safety of my peers and myself, but the burden of these unexpected security costs has fallen completely on the student-run and non-funded organizations, as well as the funded ones. For anyone that has organized an event, they know that the costs add up — and these university-mandated costs are crippling events all across campus.

The financial burden is magnified because the framework of the security measures is vague. If you have an event that is open to the public, you need to check IDs. If its only open to USC students, you still need to check IDs. If you need to check IDs at an event then you need security and fencing. How much security is enough? Depends on the event’s “threat levels” determined by DPS on a case-by-case basis. Right, we’re confused too. These costs are unavoidable.

With no changes in the security policies, KXSC will be forced to move in a different direction, pulling away from the university. Other student-run organizations that make USC a welcoming place for many students will most likely follow suit. These necessary alternative communities, which the university ostensibly supports and advertises in their brochures, are now threatened by a bureaucratic labyrinth that should be an enterprise of support — not a headache.

KXSC would like to extend our most sincere thanks to USC Spectrum, Graduate Student Government, Trojan Events and Ground Zero for giving us the much needed and deserved support. If the administration really wants a diverse and culturally vibrant campus, an institution that empowers students and equips them with the tools to enrich not only their university but also the world — then they need to step up as well — and not suppress the groups with auxiliary costs, but rather cover those costs, or at least ease the burden.

Anya Lehr

General Manager, KXSC Radio