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The Scarlet & Black

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Feven Getachew
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Films moved under ACE

On Monday, March 3, Victor Kyerematen ’14 resigned from his position as SGA Films Chair. Kyerematen has declined to comment, but his resignation has brought significant changes to the structure of SGA Films. Films programming has been reassigned to the All Campus Events Committee (ACE), and SGA has decided to abolish the position of Films Chair for the remainder of the semester and next year.

Kyerematen’s resignation was for personal reasons, according to Vice President for Student Affairs and President-elect Opeyemi Awe ’15, and Awe insisted that there have been conversations about abolishing the Films Chair position for a number of years.

“This is not new,” Awe said. “This conversation didn’t start with me, it didn’t start with Thomas [Neil ’14], nor did it start with Colleen [Osborne ’13]. It’s been many, many years coming.”

The switch to DVDs from old film reels and the increase in popularity of streaming movies online has led to a change in the nature of the position and its subsequent evaluation.

“In the past you needed a person there actually screening [the film] … now it’s down to just a DVD,” said ACE Coordinator Natalie Richardson Gentil ’14. “The nature of the job has changed a lot and you don’t need someone devoting that many hours to it just because technology has changed.”

The dissolution of Films Committee is also inevitably tied to financial concerns and a lack of student participation.

In the past, Films Committee has operated with a budget of around 25,000 dollars to provide programming for students. In more recent years, the budget has significantly declined to its current range of 15,000-19,000 dollars per year. Still, because so few students have been participating in Films programming, even the reduced budgets are not financially viable.

“Rights for movies are incredibly expensive, and there have been some showings where Harris had two or three people,” Richardson Gentil said. “The cost per head was over 200 dollars, which is really unsustainable.”

Even before the recent restructuring, students have displayed interest in alternate programming outside of screenings in Harris Cinema.

“[Students have been more interested in] showing a film as part of a symposium or showing a film with a meal and a discussion or a panel,” Richardson Gentil said. “We are very interested in maintaining that. So Films from here on out, at least until the end of the semester … will maintain that type of programming.”

Richardson Gentil also spoke of hosting more events at the Strand Theatre, which is much more financially feasible.

“Viewings at the Strand [are] at lot more cost beneficial to us,” she said. “If a big blockbuster comes out hopefully we can have rooms in the Strand bought out for the night and give those tickets to the students.”

A complete comprehensive plan for the future of Films is still in the works, but Awe expressed that it will most likely include significant budget cuts and a continuation of the ACE/Films fusion at least for the time being.

“I can’t talk for many years down the line, but we’re working with the new ACE co-coordinators [Abby Goreham ’15 and Ryan Hautzinger ’15] to find out how best they want to continue,” Awe said. “I can say going on that we’re still going to have maybe 5,000 dollars of ACE money that is exclusively for Films programming.”

While ACE will most likely continue to control Films programming, and the position of Films Chair is not likely to reappear, a new version of Films Committee may be in store for the future.

“Different ideas have been thrown around [such as] keeping a Films Committee and having them decide how to spend X amount of ACE money,” Awe said.

Student involvement in the restructuring of Films is also encouraged.

“I’m here if students have any questions or concerns, or want to help us craft what Films should look like going on,” Awe said. “That’s what we’re here for. We don’t have an agenda or a plan. If you want to talk about it, let’s talk about it.”

Some students have already been in contact with SGA and are working in conjunction with Awe to best serve their interests. Still, Awe urged students to think of the financial liability of reinstating and maintaining a large Films Committee.

“The students who have shared a particular interest have been in touch with me, and I’ve tried to work with them, and I’m going to continue to work with them on how we can incorporate their ideas, but I also think it’s important to be realistic,” Awe said.

Both Awe and Richardson Gentil expressed that Films programming is still of the utmost importance to SGA, and will continue to be available to students.

“We’re not so much assessing the value of Films,” Richardson Gentil said. “We are still committed to Films programming, it’s just how it looks is going to be very different.”

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