The third annual Everybody’s Formal, which is hosted by the Associated Student Body, is being sponsored primarily by Greek life organizations. ASB was still reaching out to potential sponsors the day before the formal.
The official sponsors for the event listed on ASB’s Facebook page are College Panhellenic Council, Fraternal Leadership & Learning, Kappa Sigma fraternity, Ole Miss Men’s Basketball, Special Projects coordinator Linda Spargo, the Office of the Chancellor, the Division of Administration and Finance and the Division of Student Affairs. ASB President Elam Miller is a member of Ole Miss’ Delta Xi chapter of Kappa Sigma fraternity.
Miller said ASB doesn’t have a list of everyone who was asked to be a sponsor and that the organization brought in other people to collect sponsorships who normally wouldn’t be helping find sponsors because ASB was “short of money” for the formal.
“I think really it’s been pretty hodgepodge, like we didn’t reach out to (sponsors), so they reached out to us,” Miller said. “We reached out to Fraternal Leadership and Learning, IFC and Panhellenic to get all the money that we can get for this in the hopes that they would be reaching out to individual chapters.”
Miller said he approached people in class and in passing to ask about sponsoring the event.
“(I approached) U Club of Oxford,” Miller said. “I think I reached out to (Vice Chancellor of Development) Charlotte Parks … I reached out to Chauncey Mullins. I think I saw him in passing and was like, ‘You want to help out with Everybody’s Formal, Mr. Ole Miss?’”
Mullins is the president of Beta Theta Pi fraternity.
The planning committee for Everybody’s Formal was led by initiative director Kelsea White. White, who is a member of Ole Miss Alpha Mu chapter of Kappa Delta sorority, appointed a team of associate directors that was made up of Danielle Foster, Georgia Summer and Sally Rychlak, all of whom are members of Ole Miss’ Alpha Delta chapter of Phi Mu sorority.
White said this was her first year being a part of ASB and that she took on the position when Miller approached her in August. She said Miller wanted to create a different management structure for Everybody’s Formal, so there wasn’t a formal application process for the directors of the event.
“Informally, we reached out to everybody because it was so late,” White said. “I didn’t reach out to anyone. I would say most of the people were also here this summer. Elam tried to create an application (process) for future years.”
Miller said the event is being sponsored by organizations and businesses for the first time so that ASB doesn’t have to pay for the event out of its own budget with the student activities fee. He said now that ASB isn’t spending money out of its budget, more funds will be available to underfunded “minority student organizations.”
College Panhellenic Council President Ann Weston Sistrunk said Miller reached out in September to ask if the group would like to help sponsor the event and that “as a council who advocates for student experience and leadership on this campus,” the council agreed.
Minutes from the latest ASB Executive Council meeting indicate that planning and acquiring sponsors for the formal happened last-minute.
“We have Everybody’s Formal in about a week, and not much has been planned for it,” the minutes read. “(We’re) trying to put together a crisis team, since there is a lot that still hasn’t been done.”
Miller told his cabinet that the week had become busy with “Ed Meek issues” and that being an executive officer is “more than just basic tasks.”
On Tuesday afternoon, two days before Everybody’s Formal, some presidents of Interfraternity Council fraternities and National Pan-Hellenic Council sororities said they had not been contacted by ASB with the option to sponsor the event.
“No one contacted us about sponsoring it, but we did get a message to attend,” Delta Psi President Will Tribble said.
Phi Kappa Tau President Jay Vaughn also said his fraternity chapter was not contacted about sponsoring the event on Tuesday.
On Wednesday morning, ASB Executive assistant Barker Fowler emailed IFC, Panhellenic and NPHC chapters to offer them the opportunity to sponsor Everybody’s Formal. Fowler wrote that organization leaders would have to respond within an hour if they wanted their group’s name on the official event banner.
“We were contacted (Wednesday) for the first time, and it said respond within an hour. And by the time I saw it, it was too late,” said Cellas Hayes, the president of the Ole Miss Eta Beta chapter of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity.
President of the Ole Miss Lambda Sigma chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, Kaylyndzeyia Gray, also confirmed that her sorority received an email about sponsoring Everybody’s Formal and was given an hour-long deadline to respond on Wednesday.
“I think that it’s better to have an event sponsored by student groups and be able to have an event that’s an inclusive event for all students,” Miller said. “I don’t think it’s a conflict of interest because these events are for everybody, and we want to make these events happen in the most inclusive way.”