The Midnight Buffet — Is It Worth It?

At their last meeting, the Union Senate passed SMR S09-14, which provided funding for this semester’s Midnight Buffet, which will be held on April 29th.  The resolution called for $3650.10, and that total was apparently amended upwards to $3750 during the meeting.

The resolution itself is noteworthy for being over a thousand dollars lower than the traditional $5000 granted from the Senate’s operating budget for the Midnight Buffet.  The decrease was made in deference to the cap on the Union Activities Fee, and I’m pretty sure the additional money was or will be transferred to the F-Board to distribute to clubs during emergency request meetings.  This is a good gesture on the Union’s part to ease the substantial decrease in programming forced upon many clubs, but it’s still less than many people wanted.  While $1250 helps a little bit, the full $5000 would have helped even more.  Should the Midnight Buffet have been canceled in light of the F-Board’s decreased funds?

Those who have argued for cancellation point not only to the SAF but also to the economy in general, claiming that it’s irresponsible to spend so much money on a frivolous event (the Justice editorial page endorsed this perspective).  Clubs could use the money for more substantial events than what North Quad Senator Alex Norris calls the Union’s “Bread and Circus” event.  Giving the whole $5000 to the F-Board would open more of the SAF to the entire student body and take away from the amount that only the Senate has discretion over.

Proponents of the Midnight Buffet point to the event’s universal appeal and long tradition as a campus-wide celebration before finals.  Students deserve a reward after a semester’s worth of work and need something to alleviate the stress of finals.  I’ve heard many people describe the Midnight Buffet as one of their favorite events at Brandeis, and it always draws a huge crowd.  $3750 wouldn’t amount to much money when you consider how many clubs would be asking for a piece of it.   In addition, the Midnight Buffet is mandated by the Union bylaws, and changing the bylaw would make canceling the event a more complicated process than merely not funding it.

While I’ve always enjoyed the Midnight Buffet in the past, I think sacrificing it would be a small price to pay for the benefits of opening more money to the cash-starved clubs.  However, I accept that mine may be the minority opinion, and I ultimately think the event should be funded at the discretion of the student body as a whole.  In the future, I’d like to see the Midnight Buffet removed as a requirement from the bylaw; instead, I think the Senate should engage in more outreach and polling to determine on a semester-by-semester basis if the event is something the community truly wants.  The money being used comes from everyone — it’s only fair that everyone should have a voice.