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.


6 thoughts on “The Midnight Buffet — Is It Worth It?”

  1. Well, the people have spoken, and it’s pretty clear the midnight buffet should stay. I never really realized that people got so much out of it, particularly the sense of tradition it inspires. It makes me sad that I’m going to miss it this year. I think I would have appreciated it more now that I know how much it means to everyone else (not that I didn’t enjoy it in the first place).

    I still think there’s some merit to removing it as a bylaw requirement, just in case opinions change in the future or our financial situation somehow becomes even worse than this year.

    I’ve also never gone to the Messiah singalong, even though the Messiah is probably my all-time favorite choral work. I can’t imagine how the four-part harmonies or the taxing Baroque legato hold up in a group of 300 untrained singers (do they include all the arias? that would be… uh… interesting to hear). It sounds like a whole lot of fun though, and I’m definitely planning on making it in the future.

  2. This post means well, Adam, and I commend your effort in cost-cutting, which is usually a valiant effort. however, in light of teh *relatively* minute sum at a hand, a handful of thousands of dollars (literally like a 1.50/student), we ought to value benefit to cost. The Midnight Buffet is certainly no requisite to university function, or its express goal of education, but makes our campus life, for those 2 hours, all the better and yummier. It’s worth the money in so far as it doesn’t cost a lot of it and lets students say,”Yeah, my student union does stuff I like”, and thats worth a hell of a lot.

  3. I like the Midnight Buffet personally. I don’t think we should get rid of it and I think it may even be worth a few thousand dollars to put it on.

    With that said, I don’t think the Midnight Buffet has to be one way or another, and I commend Akash Vadalia for figuring out ways to make the event cost less.

  4. Just one adjustment to Doug’s point. I’ve now thought about what school traditions Brandeis has for closing in on four semesters here. The Midnight Buffet didn’t occur to me, though I do think the pros of having it outweigh the cons and complications of not. What I came up with was the Messiah Singalong and caroling that’s usually held during winter semester finals. It’s ironic, but I certainly enjoy it. It’s the only event I can think of that a) brings all kinds of students to hear student performenrs; b) makes people leave their holes during “diamond” period; and c) is attended by administrators as well as students. That’s a tradition, and even though only 300 people come to it, I think it’s the best we have.

  5. Brandeis does not have a division one sports team to unite itself. It also has no annual traditions that I am aware of. It is one of my only gripes for coming here, there is not a single event that involves all of the student body. Midnight Buffet is one of the only functions that even comes close to that. I think that it is a necessary part of the Student Activities Fee that gets the school pumped up, given the way everyone gets about finals here (to quote Ferris Bueller losely, “if you shoved a lump of coal up a Brandeis Student’s ass during Finals, at the end of the week you’d have diamond”). I’m aware that everyone’s hurting from the capping of the SAF, but eliminating midnight buffet will kill the event altogether. A cut should be all that is necessary.

  6. An important point that is constantly overlooked in this debate is that the Union cannot simply take the money that would go to the Midnight Buffet and give it to the Finance Board. Under the Student Union Constitution, the Student Union Government Operations Fund and the F-Board Allocations Fund are separate. Only after the semester ends can unspent funds from the Union Government Fund go to F-Board. This means that the Finance Board would not get the extra money till the Fall semester.

    I appreciate Midnight Buffet more now that I have graduated than I did when I was at Brandeis (even though I enjoyed it then). It really did get people out of their rooms and it created a relaxing atmosphere which is important considering the stress of finals.

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