Students will have the opportunity to attend an alternative festival to the Mifflin Street Block Party on May 4, leaders from the Wisconsin Union and the Associated Students of Madison told The Badger Herald tonight.
David Gardner, spokesperson for the Associated Students of Madison, said the event is still in planning phases to ensure cooperation between the city and campus government interests. Although the event’s location has not been finalized, he mentioned the area on Randall Court between Union South and Engineering Hall as a possible venue.
The possible event was discussed heavily among student government last semester, but has consistently been the subject of speculation because of variables in municipal government. At a closed meeting last Wednesday with Mayor Paul Soglin and several city alders, the plan was granted a “green light.”
Sarah Mathews, the President of the Wisconsin Union, said the event has a budget which would allow them to draw a nationally known musical act. She added the event will be held the Saturday before the week before finals and be a vibrant music and arts festival.
ASM Chair Andrew Bulovsky gave a “ballpark” estimate of $160,000 as the event’s total cost. In a tweet late Tuesday night, Mathews said Bulovsky’s estimate was likely too high; ASM Vice Chair Maria Giannopolous said the number will also be “significantly lower” than $160,000.
“It will be memorable and allow campus to come together in camaraderie and community,” Mathews said. “We’re not going to say don’t go to Mifflin. We’re students we’re not against students having fun. We’re not trying to stomp out or control Mifflin.”
The decision to hold an alternative event comes after months of speculation about Mifflin’s future. Last year, Mayor Paul Soglin and the Madison Police Department announced the party would not continue, with serious consequences for violators of the new policy.
But within the last several months, police began to say they would staff Mifflin with the same resources and enforce the same policies they did at the 2012 event, which saw low attendance compared to recent events.
Mathews said that the Wisconsin Union had been discussing putting on a large end of the semester event for months, but knew they needed to recruit Associated Students of Madison and other student groups to make the event a success.
She had the festival will embody the University of Wisconsin’s “play-hard work-hard ethic.” Mathews also said that the event will sell beer, but in a responsible, legal way to attendants who are of age.
Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said the Madison Police Department will treat Mifflin the same as they did in 2012. This means there will be a similar number of cops, a similar low tolerance for any ordinance offenses, and the police will not look the other way if someone has an open beer on the street or sidewalk.
Giannopoulos said the event will be partially sponsored by ASM, the University of Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin Union, but will also rely on ticketing a portion of the event and corporate sponsors.
“This is an event that needed to happen for a long time at the University of Wisconsin,” she said. “We don’t have an event that culminates at the end of the year where Badgers can unwind and celebrate the end of the year last. It’s a last hurrah before finals.”