By Samuel Wright
The O-Week Toga Party usually hosted by Burgmann College will not be running in 2020. Beck Long, President of the Burgmann Residents’ Association (BRA), cited financial risk as one of the reasons behind the decision.
In a statement to Observer, Long said that as the party is the first major event of the year run by the BRA, the “whole yearly budget really depends on it doing well”. She said this meant the event was “monetarily…risky”, particularly given the upfront costs involved. Long went on to say that recent Toga Parties have not had the same turnout, and that this means the financial risk is no longer sustainable.
Long suggested that the longer orientation period for residential halls may have played a role in declining attendance. With some residences moving in more than two weeks before the start of classes, many halls run many events before O-Week begins. According to Long, this has lessened the appeal of a large campus-wide O-Week event such as the Toga Party. An ANU spokesperson disputed this, saying, “There is no evidence that move-in dates of other residences have any bearing on attendance at o-week activities and the two are not related.”
“[Cancelling] was a tough decision as we’ve taken pride in how well-run and organised Toga has been,” Long said. However, she said, no one in the Burgmann community was “wedded” to the idea. The Burgmann Toga Party has been a significant event in the O-Week Calendar for decades, with Wikipedia calling it the “largest party held at a university residence in the Southern Hemisphere”. Long maintained that BRA is still “enthusiastic” about running an interhall event in O-Week 2020, just not “in the format it’s been [previously]”, and noting that that the event will be “probably smaller to minimise financial risk”.
The decision means that ANU students may have to go to the University of Canberra Toga Party if they are searching for a way to recycle old bed sheets. When asked if ANUSA would be running a replacement Toga Party or similar event, President Eden Lim said that next year’s O-week activities “will be up to the 2020 team and Social Officer”. A University spokesperson told Observer, “as far as the university is aware, there are no plans for an alternative Toga Party”. “ANU and its campus community have a dynamic and very active events calendar all year round,” they maintained.
The 2020 ANUSA Social Officer was contacted for comment.
Want to get involved? You can write articles, photograph, livestream or do web support. We’re also looking for someone to yell “extra!” outside Davey Lodge at 1AM. Apply today!