By Emily Landgraf
The weeks before the holiday break will be a little less bright, as the Rider Student Government Association (SGA) and the Finance Board have decided to discontinue funding for the holiday lights this year.
Citing high costs, SGA and the Finance Board have decided not to fund the lights because they feel that using the Student Activities Fee (SAF) to pay for the decorations is unwarranted.
“I’m sure people are going to wonder why we’re not putting the lights up, but I think if students are more informed about how the lights work in terms of who’s paying for it, I think it’ll change their opinion about having the lights up or not,” said SGA president Brian Guzman.
Finance Board Chair Maria Ciccarelli said she supported SGA’s decision fully.
“This year, the lights would have cost $17,000, and we felt that the money should remain with the students,” she said. “The SAF goes towards a variety of great student-run events, programs and conferences. It would not be right to use such a huge chunk of students’ money for the cost of the holiday lights.”
According to Guzman, SGA and the Finance Board believe that the holiday lights should not come from the SAF.
“We from SGA and Finance Board believe that it is not fair for the students to use this money to pay for [the lights],” Guzman said. “We wouldn’t mind paying some of the costs, but we feel this is not the proper use of the fee.”
SGA and Finance Board will see how the absence of the holiday lights goes over with the student body through a survey.
“I think that when [students are] informed of the costs, we’ll get a better answer of how they truly feel about it,” Guzman said.
Guzman also said that the absence of the lights would help Rider to become more sustainable.
Some students, like junior Natalie Braun, believe “the cost of the lights is worth the holiday cheer, especially around finals when the lights get the campus excited for break.”
“I love the holiday lights,” Braun said. “It would be really sad if there wasn’t any recognition of the holidays.”
Senior Dennis Raymond disagrees on the subject of the holiday lights.
“It seems like an unnecessary expense that could be put to better use for more permanent matters,” Raymond said.
SGA students aren’t the only ones interested in the results of the survey.
“I’d love to hear what the students think of that,” said Dean of Students Anthony Campbell.
While many students feel the lights are lovely and brighten up an otherwise dark part of the year, Guzman feels there are advantages to saving the money spent on these decorations.
“Let’s be realistic about the costs,” Guzman said. “We would much rather have the money from the spontaneous funding pool go to [a conference for] an organization or and event put on by [the Residence Hall Association]
Junior Nicole Drickler feels that the lights are well worth the money.
“I think the holiday lights they put up around the library are gorgeous,” she said. “It is my favorite part of being on campus in the winter. It really makes everything look so nice in the dead of winter.”
Junior Kelly Gapinski agrees with Drickler.
“Even though something like that is expensive, it is a campus tradition and something that truly makes Rider feel like home,” she said. “We pay a lot of money, and I highly doubt we will see that unused money put toward something more productive, so they might as well put up the lights as usual.”
According to Guzman, the decision to forego the holiday lights for a year is because the lights are up for only a short time before students leave for winter break and because the students are paying to put the lights up.
“We just feel that it’s not a good use of the money,” Guzman said. “What we’re really doing is taking this as an opportunity to see how it pans out for the year. We’re just thinking about what we should really be using the SAF for.”
Guzman said that questions have been asked about another department picking up or sharing the cost, but an agreement could not be reached. SGA and Finance Board felt it would be best to save the money this year.
“Next year, if students really show interest and indicate support towards holiday lights we can try to find another way to fund them, but students shouldn’t automatically be responsible for $17,000,” Ciccarelli said.