Family Weekend Festival Funded by Student Fee
Freshman at the 2017 Bigger Better Bash with Wilbur Wildcat.
With hundreds of families descending upon the University of Arizona for Family Weekend, the Family Weekend steering committee has orchestrated a careful budget-balancing act to keep its events affordable and to cover all its costs.
The estimated $25,000 to put on the weekend does not come from a line item in UA’s budget but rather from the committee securing funding from a variety of sources.
“Family Weekend is a zero base event, meaning we start with nothing and procure sponsorships and grants to fund our events,” said Taylor Chambers, executive director for Family Weekend and neuroscience and cognitive science and physiology undergraduate.
For the first time, Family Weekend received a part of the freshman fee, amounting to $3,500, according to Kathy Riester, director of Parent and Family Programs.
This funding allowed for the event to expand, providing a free meet and greet with new UA President Robert Robbins and a shuttle from Highland Garage to the Student Union Memorial Center on Friday.
This year, the budget was also supplemented with $1,500 in sponsorships, from La Quinta and Homes & Land among others. Alongside past family donations and t-shirt sales, the Parent and Family Programs will provide $2,000 of their budget to cover costs, Riester said.
Even with external funding, some Family Weekend events, like the Bear Down Barbecue and Family Fun Zone, charge an admission to cover their catering and real estate costs.
Parents and students planning to attend the Bear Down Barbecue will pay $20 per person and $18 per student. Chambers expects around 1,300 students and family members to attend the event Friday at 6:30.
The Family Fun Zone, which will cost $5 per person, will have inflatables, games and prizes.
“We don’t charge more than the event costs,” Riester said. “We don’t make any money.”
While in the past, the committee has had to scramble for last-minute funds, Riester is confident that this year’s budget will break even. Any extra funding would be set aside to fund the events next year.
Some profits, though, will not go toward a future Family Weekend but rather a good cause. All the $5 registration fees for the Family Fun Run will be donated to the Campus Pantry, a campus food bank fighting food insecurity among students, Riester said.
According to Chambers, around 300 students and parents are expected to attend the event sponsored by the Associated Students of the University of Arizona and Parents and Family Association.
Any profits from the Family Barbecue will also be donated to the Campus Pantry according to Chambers.
Families and students can buy the Wildcat Experience Package to save on costs and obtain access to Bear Down Barbecue, Wilbur and Wilma’s Playground, the Family Fun Run and Walk and also to receive a t-shirt.
This year, Family Weekend has expanded its partnerships on campus and put all related college, sorority or fraternity specific events on their schedule.
Some of these events may have an associated cost with them that does not directly fund or go through the Family Weekend committee according to Riester.
“Family Weekend gives the families of our students the opportunity to see the wonderful university their children are attending, see what the culture is like, experience the academics and meet their student’s friends,” Riester said.
The goal of Family Weekend committee is to provide an experience of the Wildcat spirit that is affordable, memorable and allows future events to be unburdened by past costs or constrained by past revenue sources.
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