SU Treasury reallocates fall WILD funding, increasing spring WILD budget to unprecedented $340,000

| Senior News Editor
A man in a dark green jumpsuit raises his hands and closes his eyes as he holds a microphone against a red backgroundCurran Neenan | Student Life

A$AP Ferg performs at fall WILD in 2019

Student Union Treasury voted unanimously Tuesday evening to increase the spring WILD budget by $145,000, bringing the concert’s total budget to $340,000. 

Social Programming Board (SPB) had appealed Treasury to double the spring WILD talent budget — bringing it from $110,000 to $220,000 — and to increase the production budget from $85,000 to $120,000 by transferring funding originally designated for fall WILD. 

Spring WILD is scheduled for April 29 and will be Washington University’s first WILD after four consecutive semesters without the concert due to COVID-19.

“​​Washington University students have been deprived of what is considered the most iconic experience of attending this university for two and a half years,” SPB director of concerts senior Ben Higgins told Treasury representatives Tuesday evening. “This is something that was promised to you, this is something that we deserve and I think that it would be a great gesture to the WashU community to bring us all together and just provide the best experience that we have ever given.”

The University had decided not to host fall WILD earlier this semester, citing COVID-19 precautions.

“During the early summer of 2021, it was unclear whether we would have the final fall COVID-19 campus guidelines in time to plan a successful event, so the joint decision was made between students and the University to cancel fall 2021 WILD,” Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Rob Wild wrote in a statement to Student Life. “We are planning for a spring WILD that will take place in April as long as we are able to host a safe event under the University’s COVID event guidelines.”

Higgins said in his presentation to Treasury that doubling the talent budget will allow for a much higher caliber of artists, and increasing the production budget will allow $7,000 for a longer stage, $20,000 for lighting and $8,000 for fireworks. He added that the doubled talent budget will allow for not only a more exciting main performance but a better opening act as well. 

“A lot of these artists that could potentially win might only be asking for $150K, which should give us $70K for an opener, which is a lot, a lot, a lot more money than we typically get for an opening act,” Higgins told Student Life after the budget appeal passed. “The actual event of WILD itself usually kind of struggles to get this full attendance until the actual performance. So it will be a longer event that people want to spend more time at… It’s really going to feel more like a festival than any other WILD ever has.” 

In addition to more exciting artists, Higgins said that the $35,000 added to SPB’s production budget will allow for a more enhanced performance — from a longer stage that extends out into the crowd to more “visually appealing” lighting and video walls to using “the roof of the stage to create a synchronized firework display.”

Higgins emphasized to Treasury representatives that fireworks would be safe and pointed to recent examples of the University putting on fireworks over Brookings, from Chancellor Andrew Martin’s inauguration to the Physics Awards last May.

Treasury representatives also discussed safety concerns about the concert itself, but Higgins assured them that security would be taken seriously.

“We have a previous budget for security, and generally the security and WUPD is very, very strict on what’s allowed,” Higgins said. “The A$AP Ferg concert was almost shut down many times because of moshing, and that’s something that I’m greatly taking into account when looking at artists — I do not want an artist that is going to start a riot.”

Treasury representatives also discussed whether the proposed $145,000 for the spring WILD budget might be better spent elsewhere, noting that the Treasury sometimes runs out of money for other initiatives such as the student emergency mental health fund. (Student Union Vice President of Finance senior Fadel Alkilani clarified in a Nov. 16 interview with Student Life that the Student Union Mental Health Fund has never run out of money.) 

Senior Emma Storer, the finance director for SPB, told Student Life that “​​that money was originally budgeted to [SPB], so it’s not like we are taking money out of anything.” 

Storer added that some money from fall WILD — including $50,000 leftover from the production budget and $15,000 from the talent budget — will not go towards spring WILD and will instead go towards other important initiatives. 

Although fall WILD was not feasible this semester, SU did take steps to ensure that some students would still have access to a concert experience. On Monday, SPB released tickets to a Nov. 14 Surfaces concert at the Pageant to 150 students. SPB had originally requested 300 tickets using their $7,500 concerts budget — which is separate from the WILD budget — but the SU executive council only approved half of the funding. 

SU VP of Programming and president of SPB junior Miri Goodman said that within about 15 minutes of releasing the form, more than 800 students had signed up. “I think we would have loved to be able to provide this experience for more students — at least another 150 students would be able to be off the waitlist rather than having to sit there in limbo wondering if people are going to show up to take their tickets,” Goodman said. “And we just hope that this is a signal for future programming events that we’re not going to be wasting money or wasting time.”

“I think it goes to show that people want concerts,” Higgins said. “It’s been so long since we’ve been able to have live shows — it’s literally been since 2020 that [attending concerts] has been a thing that people can do while feeling safe. That’s something that’s really exciting and it’s something that I think students are craving.”

After the Treasury unanimously approved SPB’s budget appeal, Goodman said that she was excited for the concert. 

“We’ve been getting a lot of questions like, ‘Are we getting four WILD’s worth of a WILD?’ and we’re at least getting two,” Goodman said. “I’m so excited for [SPB] to be able to plan something that everyone is excited for.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the total amount of money now allocated for spring WILD. We have updated this story as of 1:31 a.m. on Nov. 11 to include the correct amount of $340,000, not $330,000. 

We have updated this story as of 12:40 p.m. on Nov. 19 to include further information about the Student Union Mental Health Fund. 

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