The USC announced its plan for the money that would have been spent on A$AP Rocky's Purple Fest appearance, a problem they've been trying to solve since the rapper cancelled his sold out show — without any refunds offered.
The University Students’ Council estimates it will have a $150,000 surplus after receiving a partial refund from the rapper.
USC president Bardia Jalayer announced that the surplus will be split between two initiatives: a $100,000 fund to be spread across programs for mental health, equity and gender-based violence; and between $30,000 to $50,000 toward student programming this year.
The USC said they don’t have enough funds to host a replacement concert to the same scale as Rocky’s, and so instead are putting funding towards enhancing existing student programs that will benefit those impacted by line-up changes at the festival.
The decision comes after outcry over Rocky’s cancellation, prompting students to demand refunds and threaten to boycott the event. Although 13,000 people, of the 14,000 tickets sold, participated in the festival, many were left questioning where their money was going.
The student council cannot disclose the amount paid to Rocky for contractual reasons, but said they were refunded the majority of the price, losing only the costs incurred by Rocky’s team before the cancellation.
Considering the magnitude of the Purple Fest event, the USC predicts it will take a number of weeks to determine the final surplus from the refund.
Of the surplus, $100,000 will finance the Community Impact Fund — a grant-based program that provides funding to individual students and clubs taking on initiatives that impact mental health, equity and gender-based violence on campus. Projects will not be limited to USC-ratified clubs, but some of the amount will also fund internal initiatives for the students’ council.
Projects will be determined by the USC Grants Committee, headed by the USC’s president. Jalayer said more information about the selection process will be announced during November’s council meeting.
This fund will extend past this academic school year.
The remaining surplus — in the ballpark of $30,000 to $50,000 — will be allocated towards enhancing this years’ programming budget, meant to benefit students currently on campus who lost out on Rocky’s cancellation.
This money will be under the direction of Student Programs Officer Cecilia Liu.
“We thought that with this Community Impact Fund we are sort of achieving similar goals [to Purple Fest] and providing a positive impact on the community,” Jalayer said. “And by allowing our students to sort of contribute to the process, it builds more of a community feel.”
Jalayer made the announcement during October's council meeting, and while most councilors seemed to be on-board with the agreement, some raised concerns about the money’s allocation away from Fake Homecoming.
The USC executives suggested that while the money would not be given directly to mitigating costs incurred by illicit partying on Broughdale Avenue, some of the initiatives financed by the Community Impact Fund could be put towards projects involving the street party, like a gender-based violence inquiry into the controversial bed sheet signs hung around the avenue.
“In bolstering our programming budget, again students did pay for a concert, we felt that it was important to really provide the best that we can,” he added.
Rocky’s performance was unexpectedly cancelled at 11 p.m. the night before his Saturday afternoon show, with the rapper posting his apologies on Twitter. Despite assurance from Rocky’s management team, the rapper was stopped at the Canadian border due to his overseas assault conviction this summer.
But, Purple Fest carried on — without a headlining act who had been hired to distract students from illicit street parties on Fake Homecoming — with extended time from the three other scheduled acts. And 13,000 students were present at the height of the day, with 14,000 tickets purchased for the sold out event.
The USC answered students' questions in a social media post, clarifying that as per their event policy, they would not be issuing refunds. They clarified earlier this month, the money would be allocated to student programming, before announcing the exact distribution of the money this week.
“I completely understand that students might be disappointed that A$AP Rocky didn’t come, we were disappointed as well,” the USC president said. “We just hope that students understand that we tried our best, this was completely out of our control.”