Palm Court Parties (PCPs) have been a staple of New College since the early years of the school. These campus-wide parties are, unlike most campus events, not substance-free and entirely funded by the New College Student Alliance (NCSA). The NCSA, however, is facing a tighter budget this year, with the NCSA’s budget dropping from $230,000 to $150,000. Because of this, the NCSA was willing to investigate potential alternatives to the traditional Graduation PCP, including presenting a suggestion from the Office of Student Activities and Campus Engagement (SA[u]CE) to hold a substance-free, paint-filled party in PCP’s stead.
“I heard from my friend that they were going to spend $5,000 on a finger paint party or something like that,” Jack Brickhouse, Equipment Teaching Assistant (EQTA) since 2016 and thesis student, said. “I see this come up online, and it’s both stupid, for a number of reasons, and hurtful to me as an EQTA.”
Paint University (Paint[u]) is one of the campus parties that the business Degy Dance is hired to throw at colleges and universities across the country. Paint[u] is a campus adaptation of the nightclub service GlowRage, which offers “DJ’s, Lasers, Girls and PAINT,” according to its website.
“I looked up videos and [their DJs] are on stage fucking around with fleshlights,” Brickhouse said. “I don’t want this big, nasty dude waving a fleshlight around, especially when it’s costing so much.”
The idea first entered New College through a promotional email sent to the SA[u]CE office. On Apr. 2, SA[u]CE approached the NCSA with the idea of holding a Paint[u] party. The most appealing aspect of the event was its affordability.
“It was saving money by diversifying funds,” Tara Centeno, SA[u]CE director, said. “We were able to pull money from different budget areas. It wasn’t just going to be NCSA. It’s also a reallocation of the funds. Typically for PCP, $3,200 goes to security alone, and we were going to be able to drop security costs.”
SA[u]CE’s active role in Paint[u] meant that the party would be able to receive some funding from the school, not just the NCSA. However, this would mean that the party would need to adhere to the rules of administration-run events, like being substance-free. After the $3,200 allocated for security costs, this graduation PCP will have a budget of less than $1,100, smaller than the Valentines PCP held earlier this year. Additionally, Paint[u] would not require as much of a security presence as PCP typically does.
“The area was going to be smaller and confined,” Centeno said. “Versus a more campus-wide event. The area was going to be confined to Z-green, and then after the Z-green portion ended, we would have set up an after event in Palm Court.”
This smaller, denser area, farther away from the campus’s perimeter, would have meant a smaller security presence would be required. Additionally, some of the duties normally handled by security would have been done by SA[u]CE staff.
A poll was sent on Apr. 11 to the Forum, announcing the proposal. By Apr. 12, of the 130 votes, only 17 were in favor of the event. NCSA Chief of Staff and thesis student Eleni Spanolios, who had announced the event, had received 164 emails regarding Paint[u].
“The results of the poll were shared with us and that was really helpful,” Centeno said. “It really helped us get a baseline that this was something they were not in favor of. But there were some people who went beyond providing feedback, and attacked people for this. That was a little hard to hear about, because these are people, and it’s scary to think that people can’t come forward with different ideas.”
Several students were upset about the sudden proposal. For many thesis students, the Graduation PCP has been something to look forward to, and this would have been a radical departure from their expectations.
“This is the first PCP I don’t have to work on,” Brickhouse said. “It’s like a stab in the back. Even if there isn’t as many people showing up, it’s for the graduating students, and they deserve to have something that they’ve been looking forward to.”
Paint[u] is no longer being considered as a replacement to Graduation PCP, and potential sponsors of PCP will be able to submit their themes in the upcoming weeks.