A semiformal ball this Saturday designed to celebrate diversity and Greek-letter life on campus will cost more than $50,000, with at least $20,000 coming from student fee allocations, according to Student Association documents and event planners.
The Unity Ball will be held at the Capital Hilton Hotel with the dual goal of commemorating the 150th anniversary of Greek-letter life at GW and encouraging multicultural groups and other student organizations to interact. Tickets will be available to 1,000 students for $20 each, and organizers said they expect most of the attendees to be members of Greek-letter organizations.
The Unity Ball has been held in the past, but was much smaller and focused solely on multicultural student organizations.
“It’s the first collaboration between the Student Association, Panhellenic Association, Inter-fraternity Council and the Multicultural Greek Council, and we are all extremely excited about it,” said junior Hilary Peltz, vice president of programming for the Panhellenic Association.
Four organizations – the SA, Panhellenic Association, Inter-Fraternity Council and the Multicultural Greek Council – are each contributing $5,000, said two members of the Panhellenic Association’s executive board. The rest of the $52,000 will be funded by ticket sales and co-sponsorships from other student organizations, including $300 from the Indian Student Association and $40 from the Black Student Union, according to documents submitted to the SA finance committee by SA President Vishal Aswani, a senior.
Despite the dozens of co-sponsors, event planners acknowledged that a disproportionate number of sorority and fraternity members have purchased the limited number of tickets. Peltz said she had been planning an all-Greek event when Aswani approached her about combining the two events.
Members of Greek-letter life make up 20 percent of the student body, but they account for more than half of the current Unity Ball ticket sales, co-sponsors and SA members said. Peltz said that since the Unity Ball will be used to kick off this year’s Greek Week, sororities and fraternities would get team points based on the percentage of members that buy tickets and attend.
“There are a lot more resources for spreading the word about the gala within the Greek community, and so I do think there will be a disproportionate number,” Peltz said. “However, this will not effect our non-Greek intentions of the gala: to celebrate multicultural organizations and to unify the spirit of the school.”
Aswani said he hoped the Unity Ball would someday replace individual semiformals hosted by student organizations.
“During the course of my campaign students asked me what I was going to do to make sure that we diverse groups don’t just coexist on campus, but interact,” Aswani wrote in an e-mail. “This ball is my end of the bargain.”
SA Sen. Logan Dobson (CCAS-U), who asked Aswani about the Unity Ball’s budget at Tuesday’s senate meeting, said the SA president would have had a hard time selling out tickets without associating the ball with Greek-letter life.
“Of course it will be disproportionately Greek. And of course that defeats the purpose of unity,” Dobson, a sophomore, said. “Vishal was faced with a bad choice. If he didn’t link it to Greek Week, he won’t get tons of people. If he does, it’s not a true unity event.”
Dobson, a member of Sigma Chi fraternity, said he would be attending the event despite his objections to the overall cost.