My big fat Greek fashion show

by Editorial Board / Beacon Staff • February 14, 2013

At issue: Ribbons on the Runway granted over $8,000

Our take: The SGA should not promote style over substance

A cannoli at Mike’s Pastry: $2.50. A four inch Dark Chocolate Decadence cake at Finale: $12. A half dozen red velvet cupcakes at Georgetown: $15.

A “miniature dessert” at Alpha Epsilon Phi’s annual Ribbons on the Runway fashion show? That’ll cost the sorority—courtesy of the student activities fee we each must contribute to — $16.15. For the $2,826.25 it paid, it’ll get 175 portions.

These treats surely come garnished with pure gold jewelry.

The Student Government Association recently granted $8,095.24 to Alpha Epsilon Phi for its Ribbons on the Runway event. The majority of the funds will go toward hosting the event at the Ritz Carlton, including the venues — a studio, ballroom, and Avery room — food, and coat check.

Raising money for Sharsheret, a national nonprofit that supports Jewish women affected with breast cancer, is an important and worthy cause — but $5.10 baked artichoke hearts give little incentive for further donations.

The location has twice the capacity of the Bill Bordy Theater, where the event has previously been held, so Alpha Epsilon Phi will potentially be able to raise more money. But the sorority’s track record raises doubts about whether they can reach that potential. In 2011, the show raised $5,000 on an allocation of $5,362. The group should show that it can raise more money for the nonprofit than it spends to throw the party.

Imagine what can be accomplished with a grant of over $8,000 to raise funds for a charitable cause. But when more than a third of that funding is sunk into a dessert display, it’s hard to believe that money was spent in a way to best benefit the nonprofit. If a lump sum that large is taken from the student activities fund, it must be invested wisely — and the SGA should not have approved it without considering how prudently the allotted funds would be used.

Incredibly, the SGA lauded the sorority for finding good bargains. According to its minutes, the SGA did not even ask the Alpha Epsilon Phi representative about the event’s projected fundraising total. SGA President Tau Zaman only inquired what the sorority had raised in the previous two years before class of 2013 president Jenna McPadden motioned to allocate the funds.

“The amount of things they are fitting in with this budget are incredible. They got amazing deals, and this is an astonishingly low budget,” said McPadden.

But for every reduced price, additional money has been sunk into a trifle.

Last year, with the event held in Emerson’s own Bill Bordy Theater, the sorority raised $3,500 for Sharsheret and in 2011, they reached a $5,000 fundraising goal with the same venue. 2010’s Ribbons on the Runway event garnered $4,500 for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Although it may be enticing to allocate funds for the event, with its multiple photo shoots and mouth-watering hors d’oeuvres, the SGA must not forget that there are other organizations with equally worthy causes.

When it comes to using student funds for charity, you shouldn’t save room for dessert.