AEMC Helps Student Dollars Go Far

Posted: June 7, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Jennifer Mitchell

If you attended a men’s basketball game this year and participated in the buffalo wings party or snagged a free Patriot T-shirt at halftime, chances are your good time was due, in part, to the Auxiliary Enterprises Management Council (AEMC). From the outdoor benches on campus to the A-list movies showing in the Johnson Center Cinema, these and many other Mason extras are funded by annual student fees and organized by a group of department representatives who make up the AEMC.

Founded in 2001, the AEMC has delegated funding for various programs and services targeted toward improving student life. The council meets every two weeks to discuss proposals, new ideas, and budget issues. Members work closely with University Life, and Sandra Hubler, vice president for university life, cochairs the council with John Spaldo, assistant vice president of auxiliary services.

“It’s really important to us to create a sense of life on campus,” says Hubler, who notes the value of campus activities to resident students. “If the life is here, the students will come.”

Since its founding, the group has authorized payments for both small and large line items: a $108 fee for a Greek Life guest speaker as well as a $25,000 promotions budget for men’s basketball. With many other proposals on the table, council members diligently debate where the money should be spent while concentrating on student needs to make their decisions.

“The AEMC was originally founded to find money for things that were missing,” says Benn Crandall, senior facilities project officer. “It’s about being able to identify students’ needs and fund things that didn’t get through the budget or that we couldn’t afford.”

A large part of what AEMC provides is the opportunity for students to socialize on campus. For example, last year the council extended the dining hours of Ike’s and Ciao Hall, allowing resident students more choices when deciding where to hang out on the weekends. Chris Chisler, director of university services, says students are really excited about the round-the-clock hours.

“When we opened Ike’s in the spring last year, Ciao Hall closed at 8 p.m. and Ike’s opened at 9 p.m. Approximately 60 students were lined up every night waiting for Ike’s to open.” The changes in the hours made it possible to provide food service 21 hours a day during the week and 24 hours a day on weekends—one of the many ways the AEMC ensures that students’ needs are met.

Mason athletics programs also benefit from AEMC support, with this year’s record attendance for men’s basketball games as proof of success. Due in part to the promotional opportunity provided by AEMC, game attendance was the largest in 13 years.

Updating and buying equipment for student use is part of the budget, as are improvements to existing facilities. Equipment purchases help defray costs for user groups by eliminating rental fees. One example is the recent purchase of a panel van that is used to transport sound equipment. The van came in handy at this year’s rainy Mason Day: normally the live music would have had to stop during wet weather, but by keeping the electronic equipment inside the van, the band was able to continue.

AEMC has ambitious goals for student life enhancement through 2006, with plans to gather additional student input for the proposals and budget process. Students have already lobbied successfully for the installation of artificial turf on the Robinson Athletic Field, which will allow them to use it year-round. Also beginning this fall, the monthly First Fridays will change to a weekly event with “Every Freakin’ Friday,” giving students even more opportunities to socialize on campus.

“The purpose of this initiative is for students to actually see and experience firsthand the impact of their student fees,” says University Life Administrative Assistant Nancy Murphy, who takes the minutes for all of the council meetings. “It’s great for them to be able to come to campus and see just how much Mason cares about student life.”

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