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Gala to be held on campus this year

The annual Gala organized by the Key Society will be held on Pembroke Field and not off campus this spring.

The decision to move the event, was a financial one, said Rebecca Ruscito '09, president of the Key Society. In response to President Ruth Simmons' call for the University to conserve funds, the society "decided to try to reduce costs by bringing it back to campus," Ruscito said, adding that she hopes doing so "will encourage attendance."

The Gala, scheduled for April 3, is traditionally held at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet, a banquet hall in

Cranston. In past years, 15 buses were used to shuttle students to and from the event.

Besides reducing cost, holding Gala on campus will result in several other benefits, according to Phil O'Hara, director of student activities and adviser to the Key Society.

"Managing costs more effectively will enable the Key to hold ticket prices down to attract more students," he wrote in an e-mail to The Herald.

Having the Gala on campus will also improve safety management of the event, because the society will have greater access to the Department of Public Safety, Emergency Medical Services and Green Horn Management, O'Hara wrote.

The society is planning to set up a tent and wooden floor on Pembroke Field for the event.

Though the exact capacity of the tent is uncertain at this point, the Key Society estimates that it can accommodate about 800 people, said Lindsay Houle '09, special events planner for the society. If good weather is forecast for April 3, the organizers will sell more tickets and extend the Gala to outside the tent.

Last year, the Key Society sold around 1,200 tickets for the Gala.

Planning the event on campus this year has also given Key Society members more freedom with decorations since they are not constrained by the layout of the Rhodes, Houle said.

"I think it will be really, really beautiful," she said, adding that it will make the event more intimate and encourage more dancing.

"Rhodes was really overwhelming," House said. "We had a lot of students alone upstairs."

For Ruscito, the Gala brings a certain degree of excitement to Brown. "It is the only black-tie event and there is such a strong tradition in Gala, it just seems to inspire everyone," she said.

One of the oldest student groups on campus, the Key Society started in the 1930s as an alternative to an honors society but gradually became a group that organized events. It currently has 10 members. Besides organizing Gala, the society is responsible for planning College Hill Kick -off in the fall. It has, in the past, also organized another formal dance, Fall Ball, but did not this year because "it is difficult to get kids dressed up these days," Ruscito said.

Though the Gala will be on campus, Houle said she hopes "it still has the fairy-tale quality."



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