Author: Justin Young
Somewhere in the depths of your OxyConnect inbox, probably nestled comfortably between an un-read issue of the Oxy Digest and an e-mail (or five) from Emmons making sure you remember that the clinic is open on Saturday mornings (!), is an unassuming e-mail from Assistant Dean of Student Development and Director of Student Life Tamara Rice sent to the entire student body on Dec. 4. I would encourage you to pause your perusal of this lovely publication to find the e-mail in question, titled, “[Oxy-students-announcements-l] FW: PB Spring Concert Survey.” The meat of this otherwise bland e-mail sandwich is a request by Rice to take a short survey to tell Programming Board what kind of musical acts you as a student would be interested in seeing perform on campus next semester.
The survey is a modest three pages. The first asks the student to rate, on a scale of one to five, what genre of music he or she would like to see represented at the Spring concert. The second page essentially asks the student how famous they would like the headliner to be (“Underground artist with local appeal” and “A big name who has longer range appeal but may not get a lot of current air time” being two noteworthy categories). Finally, the student is asked to suggest a few artists that he or she would like to see perform on campus.
For the first time, in my memory at least, an organization is asking for direct student input in determining which musical acts should appear at Oxy. To be fair, we have been pretty lucky in the past when it comes to selection of musical acts. The Black Student Alliance’s “Exploration of Blackness” brought us the phenomenal Talib Kweli; the under-rated and over-panned Lupe Fiasco performance gave the student body the chance to see one of hip-hop’s most talented rising stars (who cares if it was only three-and-a-half songs when you consider that you didn’t even have to change out of your pajamas to see it); and the performances by Murs, Zion I and Dead Prez, to name a few, were choice picks.
However, the selection of Gym Class Heroes earlier this semester definitely raised some eyebrows around campus, especially when some more popular (or dare I say “talented”) acts could probably be booked for the same price. While the concert itself turned out to be a great success, it raised a few questions, the most important being, “Who chose them to perform at Oxy?” In organizing something as large and expensive as a concert with a marginally-famous headliner, I would expect that its organizers would want to receive as much student input as possible before signing that check. After all, the students’ fickle tastes in music can make or break an on-campus concert.
Complaints that students are apathetic (see: last week’s Opinion Article on Quad Sitting) and that the administration fails to consider student input in, well, anything (see: every article bemoaning an administrative decision) are repeated so often between students that they have become rote. But now we have an opportunity to combat these ills that seemingly plague our institution. By taking the survey, you can take an active part in on-campus decision-making and, more importantly, you can help determine who will be headlining our Spring concert. If you had a chance to get your favorite band to play on campus, why wouldn’t you take the survey?
It’s not like the process is particularly painful. Rice, in her Dec. 4 e-mail, said, “It will literally take you 2 minutes to do this survey.” To be fair, this is an exaggeration on her part. It actually takes, like, 30 seconds (45 if you have an especially long list of musical acts you’d like to see on campus). Think about it: These thirty seconds will save Occidental students from hearing countless peers whining about how “lame” the musical act is or how they’ve really only heard that one song that uses that Supertramp sample that they saw on MTV a few times. If there’s one thing students are not apathetic about, it’s complaining about something they could change through student mobilization.
I’ll be the first to admit that I completely overlooked Rice’s e-mail. Luckily, though, she sent out another one on Monday, Dec. 7. In it, she noted that 310 students had responded to the survey and followed with the important question, “Where are the remaining 1600 of ya??” For the 1600 out there, I implore you to do your civic duty and take action to get your favorite act on the bill. This is literally the easiest form of civic engagement that you can take part in. And, in the end, it’s for a purely fun cause.
Perhaps students really are apathetic and we really would just prefer that the “powers that be” make our decisions for us. If you choose to just ignore the survey and hope for the best, all I can say is you’d better hope that those 310 proactive students aren’t Nickelback fans.
Justin Young is a senior UEP major. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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