On Saturday Nov. 2, USG posted a link to a survey asking students if they’d like to attend a smaller more intimate show in the SAC ballroom. Attached were a list of artists and a comment thread where students could request additional artists for consideration.
It’s unclear if the choice for a smaller venue was made due to scheduling difficulties (this has been a problem for USG in the past, notably with Bill Nye in the spring of 2013) or if it was done solely to create a more intimate atmosphere.
If the latter, it’s a poor choice for USG. A common complaint amongst students is that every student pays a Student Activity Fee (which funds such performances) so every student should be allowed admittance to a performance. Now that’s a pretty absurd request. The reasoning is sound, but the practicality of such a thing is not. Given the fact that SBU has nearly 15,000 undergraduate students who pay a student activity fee, the only plausible venue would be LaValle Stadium, which is difficult logistically to secure.
With that information, USG should make a valid attempt to secure a venue that can seat as many students as possible. I’m not naive, I understand that it’s difficult to make something like that work out, especially when dealing with a talent’s schedule and a venue’s schedule. The attempt to make something like that work should be something that USG should be transparent about.
It most likely would’ve extinguished a lot of outrage over Bill Nye last spring if the previous administration had initially came out and said they tried to secure a larger venue but were unable to, instead of waiting for students to get angry about the lack of available seating first.
If a smaller venue is only available due to scheduling difficulties that I commend USG on a few things. The first being the choice of smaller, lesser-known performers. It’s far less likely that a massive amount of students will want to attend a concert by an artist they haven’t heard of. Also, if this choice is because of scheduling difficulties, USG should include that in an announcement. It may sound like passing the buck, but it’s at least being honest about the situation.
I think it’s also important to point out the amount of student feedback this current administration has been requesting. Panda bear twerking incidents aside, it’s nice to see an administration want to bring artists to campus that students actually want to see perform. It wasn’t all that long ago when students weren’t offered any say what-so-ever in the process. Previous USG administrations when asked about the possibility of surveys always said they were too complicated and wouldn’t have any real effect.
That’s where they were always wrong, and this administration is right. It doesn’t necessarily matter how much of an effect student input has on the process, but rather that students are being given the chance to voice their opinions. For example: If the entire campus wanted Justin Timberlake to come perform and all of the surveys indicated that desire, it’s not absurd for USG to not consider such a large performer due to budget concerns.
All students really want is a chance to participate in what decisions are made here. Whether that’s through surveys ranging from transportation changes to performances on campus, giving students a chance to give feedback on what student government is doing is important. It makes what happens here more of a democratic process, as it should be.
TL;DR USG asking for student input and utilizing surveys is a great method, while not considering an artist because you don’t like their style of music isn’t. Tip of the hat to the current USG administration for this.