New funds to Rec Services for Late Night events

After holding half the normal Late Nights last year, Recreational (Rec) Services is entering a transition period back to the twice-a-month Saturday night activities that always include food, games and fun.

Rec Services held just nine Late Nights in the 2020-2021 school year, but the department has added two more events to this year’s schedule.

According to Mark Hecht, director of Rec Services, for at least four years it held two Late Night events every month, totalling 18 a year. Due to the pandemic, however, this number was cut in half, with just one Late Night a month.

The Rec Services department began last year with a $35,000 budget deficit, which Hecht said was caused by the loss of two Learn to Swim sessions in spring and summer 2020. According to Hecht, the Learn to Swim program, which is run by Rec Services, provides 90% of its annual budget. This loss in revenue led to cuts in the department, such as decreasing the number of Late Nights and working with a smaller staff.

At the end of last school year, however, students involved in both Rec Services and the Augustana Student Association (ASA) devised a solution to increase the number of Late Nights.

Senior Brayden Harris, who worked at the Elmen Center as a team leader, said the proposal to ASA was devised when Rec Services learned it could take two to three years to get back to the original 18 Late Nights.

“Because everything was reduced last year, ASA had some dollars that had not been allocated,” Hecht said. “Some students put together a resolution to request from ASA $10,000 from last year’s money to be allocated to Rec Services that we could then use for this year’s Late Nights.”

Hecht, who brought the proposal to ASA with Harris, then-President Cole Tessendorf, Noah Hovorka and Cooper Benning, described their proposal as two-fold.

“One, we would be able to add two more Late Nights,” Hecht said. “So instead of having nine, […] we have 11. The second thing was, from that $10,000 we would be able to split up some of that money for the other nine Late Nights, so that we could enhance them.”

According to Harris, this proposal was met with some opposition.

“One of the issues we were commonly coming into conflict with people about was that departments had come and asked for money before from ASA, but it’s student money,” Harris said. “The whole point of ASA is that it’s student money going to student organizations. So a department such as Rec Services asking for money was an issue.”

Although there were a few ASA members who initially opposed the proposal, the group ultimately approved it. Harris said most senators believed funding Late Nights was something that would benefit the campus community as a whole.

The 11 Late Nights this year include events that have been held before, as well as one brand new event: a Late Night Formal. Rec Services was planning to hold Late Night Formal in spring 2020, but it was canceled due to COVID-19.

As for the enhancements that the $10,000 from ASA allowed for, Hecht said students who have attended Late Nights before will notice a difference, as Rec Services will have a bigger budget for things like food and prizes.

Hecht said Rec Services hopes to return to the full 18-a-year Late Night schedule soon, but he imagines a transition period in the meantime with 13 to 15 Late Nights next year.

“There’s always food; there’s always fun; there’s always a lot of people; and there’s the opportunity to do activities or just sit and hang out,” Hecht said. “That’s what I think is so good about them.”