November 15, 2012

‘Slope Week:’ New Plan Considered for Cornell Tradition

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A Cornell tradition may look very different, very soon. As a result of the University’s recently-approved calendar changes, the last day of classes — and thus Slope Day — will fall on a Wednesday starting in Spring 2014. The shift, which condenses the last week of classes to three days, may give rise to “Slope Week,” according to members of the Slope Day Programming Board.“We … thought it would’ve been nice to make [Slope Day] more of a week-long celebration where there’s a build up,” SDPB President Yang Zhao ’12 said. “Slope Day on a Wednesday makes that more of a possibility.”Slope Week would occur during the few days leading up to the last day of classes and culminate with Slope Day, which will continue to be a day of climactic, end-of-year partying, SDPB said.During the few days leading up to Slope Day, smaller events such as carnival-style celebrations would be held on Ho Plaza, West and North Campuses and in campus dining halls, according to Joe Scaffido, assistant dean of students for student activities and the SDPB’s advisor. He said these smaller events would be used to generate excitement for Slope Day.Zhao said SDPB hopes that the creation of Slope Week would also encourage other student groups to hold their own events that are relative to the celebration — particularly organizations that promote safety, such as Cornell EMS and Environmental Health & Safety.“We wanted to popularize the idea of Slope Day and give other groups and organizations the chance to participate as well,” he said.SDPB Vice President Graham Chapman ’13 said the board hopes to hold two or three events this spring as a trial run for 2014, when the schedule changes go into effect. If  implemented, the Slope Week events this spring would take place during the two or three days leading up to Slope Day, which falls in 2012 for the last time, on Friday, May 3.“We’ve always taken baby steps [with Slope Day],” Scaffido said. “We’re not going to jump right into it in 2013 and go from one day of Slope Day to five days of major programming.”Both Chapman and Scaffido said the development of Slope Week will occur as a gradual progression over several years.The administration will work with SDPB to ensure that Slope Week events are sustainable — reasonably priced and staffed to avoid draining the human and financial resources required on Slope Day, according to Scaffido. Slope Day requires hundreds of faculty, staff and student volunteers, he said.SDPB receives about $240,000 each year from the Student Assembly, with some additional revenue generated from the sales of guest tickets, Scaffido said. The programming board will want to avoid planning Slope Week events that spend too much of its budget, he said.“You can only use so many resources at a time. If you start draining those resources early in the week, by the time [Slope Day] rolls around, there’s a good chance there won’t be many left,” he added. “We don’t want that, especially if you talk about maintaining Slope Day as the climax of the entire week.” SDPB emphasized that it is the board’s goal to keep Slope Day as exciting as possible. Chapman noted that the University, which enforces strict noise ordinances for outdoor concerts, lifts those requirements only one day each year: Slope Day.“[The University] definitely wouldn’t [lift restrictions] for many days throughout the week — that’s the reason we’re looking into other types of events that aren’t necessarily concerts,” he added.Additionally, students have expressed that they favor a large, one-day celebration over several days of large-scale festivities, according to Scaffido, who said that those sentiments give further incentive to make Slope Week events more low-key. “The surveys that we have seen reflect that the students want one major event, one major concert, one huge headliner,” he said. In addition to adding Slope Week events, having Slope Day on a Wednesday could also benefit the selection of a musician, Chapman said.“Wednesday would probably allow us to have more availability” to bring desirable artists to campus since performers are less likely to have major commitments during the week, Chapman said.Still, Scaffido, noted that it is the limited sound check time available to the artist on Slope Day — since classes are still in session throughout the day — that is the primary obstacle to attracting performers to Cornell for Slope Day, he said.Scaffido and SDPB leaders said they were excited about the prospect of Slope Week — and expressed confidence that the move to Wednesday will not have negative consequences for the time-honored tradition of Slope Day.“For the most part, Slope Day’s a pretty well-oiled machine — it’s pretty hard to shake it up,” Zhao said.

Original Author: Sarah Sassoon