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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Costs may prevent Bonfire 2002

Texas A&M’s next Bonfire could cost $1.5 million because of heightened design and security measures, and may be too expensive to build, said A&M President Dr. Ray M. Bowen last week.
“It’s probably more than we want to pay,” Bowen told The Bryan-College Station Eagle. “The question is, `Does this community really want to spend $1.5 million to have that first Bonfire?’ ”
Bonfire has been on hold since Nov. 18, 1999, when 12 Aggies were killed and 27 others were injured when the stack collapsed.
Last year, Bowen put Bonfire on a hiatus that would last until the Fall 2002, at the earliest.
He said the University would have to dip into budget reserves to pay for the event, and added that Bonfire planners could only afford the event in ensuing years if the price were cut in half.
Bowen said using cash reserves would be a short-term solution, and suggested combining student fees and private donations to establish a permanent source of funds.
The Student Services Fee, which generates $11.6 million and is allocated to student activities and programs, has produced a $1.1-million surplus, which Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. J. Malon Southerland said may be spent on a student leadership retreat center.
“I think a lot of students would support using some of that fee money for Bonfire,” said Jack Long, speaker of the Student Senate and a senior political science major. “We have to ask ourselves what do we want more, a Bonfire with student participation or a retreat center that a lot of students say we really don’t need.”
Previously, Aggie Bonfire has cost between $50,000 and $70,000, Bowen said.
The higher cost estimates reflect the need for professional engineers to develop new construction and safety measures, Bowen said, adding that fees for building and design plans could reach $500,000.
Before planning for Bonfire proceeds, the University must hire a safety firm. The first two firms considering the project backed out of negotiations, citing liability concerns and a lack of student involvement.
Negotiations are underway wth another safety firm, said Bonfire 2002 steering committee facilitator Bryan Cole. A decision on the final design is expected Dec. 15, and Bowen is expected to decide in January whether Bonfire 2002 will burn.
“If students say this is not Bonfire, that’s a reason to say `no,’ ” Southerland told The Eagle. “If there’s a scintilla of a notion there is a safety issue, that’s a reason to say `no.’ There can be zero doubt.”

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