Members of the Stony Brook campus chapter of I-CON are in dismay over extra costs that were added to the event on March 11, nearly seven months after the finalization of the budget was complete.
‘What we find shocking is that we’#146;ve done this for so many years and they’#146;ve never charged us,’ said I-CON campus chapter Vice President Anne Mao. Mao was referring to the additional costs student activities charged I-Con with for the use of the Student Activities Center and the Student Union.
I-CON organizes and orchestrates their annual Science Fiction three-day convention, which features actors, authors, and comic and and screenplay writers from the genre. Approximately 6,000 people attend the festival.
Mao said I-CON has always paid for the use of the Sports Complex, which totals to $20,000, but said they never had to pay for the use of student buildings.
I-CON consists of two entities, the campus chapter, which is run by students, and the incorporated chapter, which is run by alumni, faculty and staff. Student
Activities Director Carmen Vazquez said this seperation is one of the reasons for the extra charges.
‘In 1998, polity decided to no longer fund the convention because of I-CON’#146;s large deficit,’ Vazquez said of I-CON’#146;s incorporation. ‘I-CON
became I-CON, Inc. I-CON students are not the sole sponsors of the event. The convention is an extraordinary event, which is determined by the level of sponsorship, scope and use of campus facilities.’
Those at I-CON said they do not understand the new rationale.
‘I see it as just another club-oriented event,’ Mao said. ‘We are very student-oriented. I-CON Inc. can’#146;t finalize anything without the
chapter’#146;s approval. The chapter chooses the board of directors that sits on I-CON Inc., and they can’#146;t pass any laws without our approval. I don’#146;t understand why we have to pay.’
From an official draft documenting the use of campus facilities, Vazquez sites ‘extensive use of campus services’ and ‘large public media involvement’ as reasons for categorizing the I-CON convention as an extraordinary event.
Along with being an extraordinary event comes charges for the use of all facilities, which totals to $9,550 for the convention, according to an official estimate from the department of the student union and activities dated March 11.
‘I don’#146;t understand why we are suddenly considered an extraordinary event,’ said I-CON Inc.’#146;s marketing executive, Jennifer Adams.
‘We’#146;ve consistently drawn the same amount of people over the years, and we’#146;ve been incorporated since 1993. There’#146;s no reason why we should be getting notice about this, especially this late.We don’#146;t make a profit off this. If they had told us sooner, we probably would’#146;ve been able to handle the extra costs.’
Mao agreed, and said booking for the convention was finished in August.
‘We could’#146;ve paid for the charges if they told us in advance, but
we didn’#146;t budget for it this year,’ Mao said. ‘All the basics
were done in August.’
Vazquez said the activities center is willing to work with the students towards a compromise.
‘We’#146;re willing to go down to a pro-rated fee of $2,100,’ Vazquez
said of the fees. ‘We’#146;re willing to work with the students on this.’
As for why the activities staff has waited so long to notify I-CON, Vazquez attributed it to a ‘transition of new staff in student activities.’
‘We’#146;re accepting responsibility for not communicating with them up front,’ Vazquez said. ‘I’#146;m more than glad to speak to the students about it. No one comes to me, my door’#146;s always open.’
In response, I-CON noted that they were composing a letter to Vazquez. Mao said she is concerned with future relations with those who work in activities.
‘There might be some hostility,’ Mao said. ‘It might feel like we’#146;re on probation. They may feel we’#146;re causing a problem, when we haven’#146;t done anything wrong.’
Mao still feels the event will go well, despite the costs.
Despite their differences, Vazquez expressed the univiersity’#146;s support of the I-CON convention.
‘The University highly supports the convention and wants it to continue
to happen,’ Vazquez said.