Lunar New Year Committee passes on SGA funding proposal for annual event

Last year the committee requested $4,598.90 from the Student Government Association for their Lunar New Year event, this year, they requested $0

The organizers of the annual Lunar New Year celebration are no strangers to encountering obstacles. Just last spring, they encountered difficulties with reserving a venue for their popular event after there were some discrepancies in their reservation. This year, the Lunar New Year Committee faced a new challenge: putting on the celebration remotely.

The LNY committee was composed of students from the Chinese Language Culture Association (CLCA), Vietnamese Student Association (VSA), Japanese Culture Club (JCC), Filipino Student Association (FSA), and International Club (IC). Most of these students had been past participants of Lunar New Year and were familiar with the celebration.

Senior committee member Sandra Nguyen said that she wasn’t even certain the Lunar New Year celebration would be put on because of the pandemic.

“I think it really hit me once people asked me ‘Is it happening this year,” “Is it virtual?” Once we got the event rolling and then saw the RSVPs, we had an RSVP list of more than eighty people. We just realized that this event has really made an impact on campus and that, especially in the context of last year with anti-Asian racism surrounding COVID-19 that, we wanted to hold this event to talk about these issues, as well as let students on campus know that there’s a safe space and a cultural space for you,” said Nguyen.

Last year the committee requested a whopping $4,598.90 for Lunar New Year from the Student Government Association (SGA) which was approved in full. Nguyen said that this year, the committee didn’t request a single dollar from SGA.

“We didn’t even go to SGA this year which is definitely a significant cut because we didn’t have to cater anything. The only thing we’re spending is using club money for the trivia prize. So it’s significantly less. That definitely helped us not get stressed about finance and it helped us focus more on making the show,” said Nguyen.

Senior and SGA President Jaelen Harris said that this academic year has seen less request proposals from student organizations.

“The requests for in-person events before the pandemic always included items like decorations, advertising costs, food and other things, for large groups that can drive a request amount up. Planning events in this new virtual environment is much different and frankly much cheaper, so the SGA has not seen many requests make it to the full senate meeting like the larger requests would in the past,” said Harris.

Nguyen said that though in-person practice was such a vital part of putting together the celebration, this year’s unconventional Lunar New Year allowed for more interactive activities.

“We knew that sitting in a Zoom meeting for a long time wasn’t going to be fun either so we wanted to embed other activities in between so that it would also be a learning experience. I think that’s one thing that we didn’t get to do in other Lunar New Year’s is that we don’t have as much of the hands-on cultural activities of Lunar New Year. I think that’s an added bonus with this online format,” said Nguyen.

One of the interactive activities was a step-by-step Korean Pop dance tutorial by junior Hannah Wolf. Wolf said that she had no prior dance experience before joining the Lunar New Year dance team.

“I became choreographer this year after our previous choreographers graduated, but I’ve been doing Lunar New Year (K-Pop act among others) since I was a freshman. I had been listening to some K-pop for about a year and a half before trying to dance to it, so I decided to do something out of my comfort zone and I ended up having a blast and making many new friends,” said Wolf.

The junior was the one who first suggested a step-by-step tutorial where the audience could dance along from their location.

“I actually suggested the idea myself. I thought that since we had to do the event differently than normal anyway, we might as well use the zoom format to our advantage so that people could learn the dance in the comfort of their rooms,” said Wolf.

Wolf taught the choreography to ZICO’s “Any Song” and said she didn’t anticipate so many people to show up.

“I think the webinar format helped a little, because I didn’t have to watch all their faces staring at me. The day leading up to the event, I kept going over the choreography in my mind so I was sure I wouldn’t make a mistake, and I found myself actually making some of the movements! I was making little foot movements in class, tapping my fingers while doing homework… But it was exciting to be able to share my interests and skills with so many people,” said Wolf.

Other interactive activities included making an origami water lily and a Kahoot game. Senior Grace Ling said that though Lunar New Year was different, she appreciated how interactive it was.

“My housemates and I attempted to fold lotuses, danced, and laughed together. I think my favorite activity was playing the Kahoot and seeing who could answer the questions both correctly and quickly. It was also really cool being featured during the “Any Song” dance (we had actually learned the dance when it started on TikTok),” said Ling.

Ling said that the event allowed for a virtual community to come together and celebrate the new year.

“I think in terms of allowing people to interact with others or even just a new culture is important given the circumstances that we are currently in. Being able to participate in this event, specifically, allowed us to remember the importance of friends and family in addition to ringing in the new year,” said Ling.

The committee also shed light on anti-Asian sentiment surrounding COVID-19.

“I appreciate the committee for also bringing to light the number of attacks on elder Asian Americans that have occurred around the country and providing different ways that people could learn more and help,” said Ling.

Nguyen echoed Ling’s sentiment and said that the committee collected resources for Asian students. The Google document can be found here.

To view the recording of the Lunar New Year Event, click here.

“We’re actually creating a Google doc of all of the resources related to just supporting Asain students on campus, just all the cultural organizations as well as Asain mental health resources.”