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Game Room Quarters Add Up to Big Bucks for SCC Activities

By Matt Neimark
Staff Reporter

If you know someone who spends time playing video games in the basement of the Student Center, be sure to thank them the next time you see them.

MIT students and others who frequent the Game Room provide tens of thousands of dollars which the Student Center Committee spends on a range of social activities designed to appeal to all MIT students.

For example, the student-run SCC organizes the weekly Strat's Rat concerts held every Thursday night in Lobdell Court. The committee also runs the annual spring concert and free midnight movies, operates the 24-Hour Coffee House, and arranges for upbeat music on Kresge Oval on sunny days, said Cliff B. Schmidt '93, the SCC chairman and game room manager.

The Student Center Committee does not receive funds from the Institute and relies on the quarters of video game addicts to fund its programs. Last year, SCC earned $85,000 from operating the game room, and proceeds are expected to top $100,000 this year, Schmidt said. Money raised from the game room is used to fund SCC activities, which invariably lose money.

Concerts soak up money

The Spring Concert and Strat's Rat concerts are among the biggest money losers. For example, SCC spent $32,000 last year on the Violent Femmes concert for Spring Weekend, including $15,000 to book the popular alternative band. Ticket sales netted only $18,000, however.

In 1991, SCC spent about $7,500 to book the rock group Jesus Jones for the spring concert and another $1,000 for the band's hospitality expenses. The committee also paid for lighting, staging, publicity and an alcohol license, and at least 700 man-hours were volunteered in preparation for the concert, Schmidt said.

Running Strat's Rat is an even more expensive endeavor. SCC pays the participating bands a minimum of around $1,000 and spends an additional $500 on sound, lights, and alcohol licenses.

Bands which play at the beginning and end of the term are often more popular and command higher fees -- the Throwing Muses were booked for $2,000 and Cliffs of Dooneen played for $1,500. Since admission is only $1 for MIT students and the usual crowd size is between 75 and 100 people, SCC loses about $35,000 every year producing these concerts.

Other SCC money losers

The Student Center Committee also subsidizes the 24-Hour Coffee House to the tune of approximately $15,000 each year. The prices charged there are not high enough to pay the wages of coffee house staffers. SCC also operates the television room next to the coffee house.

SCC's "Midnight Movies" in Lobdell are another popular freebie. The committee selects "cultish and different" sixteen millimeter films for the early Sunday showings, Schmidt said.

The committee also budgets about $1,000 for an Independent Activities Period games tournament and contributes another $1,000 to the MIT College Bowl team. Committee members are also responsible running the information desk on the first floor of the student center.