Just three weeks after California State University, Stanislaus’ Warrior Day was cancelled, the annual festival has been reinstated.
“Stop the presses: Warrior Day is happening again,” said Associated Students Inc. president Mehran Khodabandeh.
The ASI Board of Directors unanimously voted to bring back Warrior Day on Tuesday, after a student petition forced the board to reconsider their March 27 decision to cancel the event. The petition, calling for the return of the 50-year tradition, gathered 1,091 student signatures in just three days.
That outpouring of pro-Warrior Day sentiment ultimately drove ASI directors’ decision, the board said.
“I would vote to have Warrior Day because that’s what students want,” said ASI representative Danielle Fletcher. “I just want to make sure we don’t forget about the problems we have.”
Though the event’s return is guaranteed, many details regarding the new Warrior Day remain to be resolved. The date will likely be changed from May 11 to May 19, the location may be moved across campus from the amphitheatre to the pergola area, and non-student guests will likely be barred.
The event will likely be smaller than in years past, with a budget nearer to $20,000 rather than the $45,000 made possible by ticket sales to non-student guests. Warrior Day will likely go without a big-name headlining musician, and a year-end concert, which could have featured rapper Snoop Dogg, will be cancelled to make the festival possible.
That concert had been planned in response to the cancellation of Warrior Day, but students said they would prefer the festival’s return.
“You guys would rather have a festival type day than a concert with a big headliner, that’s what we’re understanding?” asked ASI representative Marvin Hooker.
“Yes,” responded the audience in unison.
The scaled-back Warrior Day will still have some form of musical entertainment – likely a local band or DJ. Food will be served, goodies will be given away, and bounce houses, obstacle courses, and henna tattoos will likely be on offer.
The absolute details of the Warrior Day will be up to ASI’s programming group, which acts independently of the board. But the basic tenants of Warrior Day – a festival atmosphere, where students can spend the day hanging out with different groups of people – will remain intact.
Booze still banned
Perhaps most importantly, no alcohol will be served at the reimagined Warrior Day. But that’s okay with students Amanda Punzalan and Perla Guerrero, who drafted the petition to save the event.
“We came up with a plan to try to make it work,” Punzalan said. “We know we can’t have Warrior Day how we used to have it, so we have to find a compromise.”
ASI initially decided to cancel Warrior Day for one year after university administrators barred the sale of alcohol at the event in response to rising arrest rates. ASI directors felt that eliminating on-site sales would only drive students to drink more before attending, potentially creating even more arrests and unsafe situations. After a year spent educating the student body, ASI hoped to return with a better, alcohol-free Warrior Day in 2013.
More directly leading to the cancellation, though, was ASI directors’ feeling that they were being set up for failure, and that if a single incident occurred following the ban on alcohol, Warrior Day would likely be banned forever. The majority of ASI directors said they felt as though they had been given that impression by Vice President for Enrollment and Student Affairs Suzanne Espinoza, though Espinoza denied directly making such an ultimatum.
Espinoza said the issue was never with Warrior Day, but with binge drinking. Espinoza pointed to a President Hamid Shirvani letter endorsing the future of Warrior Day as proof of the administration’s backing, but students noted Shirvani will depart the university in three months; Espinoza did not herself make a strong statement supporting the future of Warrior Day.
Even as directors approved Warrior Day’s return, many expressed reservations about the threat administrators pose to the event’s long-term success.
“The fear I have is still going to be there,” Khodabandeh said. “I say let’s have it, but we have to put in some work”
That work will include a marketing blitz in attempts to convince students to drink safely – or not at all – in the days leading up to the event. That comes on top of the tremendous amounts of planning which goes into Warrior Day any year – and must be undertaken in just a month.
But the work is worth it, ASI representative Taylor Buhler-Scott said, if all goes well and the tradition of Warrior Day can live on long into the future.
“I’m a senior? Why would I not want a freakin’ warrior day?” Buhler-Scott said.