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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Student Events’ concert problem

Published: February 15, 2008
Section: Opinions

Third Eye Blind is coming to Brandeis… wicked awesome. Just allow me to put on my pre-ripped jeans, and my plaid button-up shirt, and snap my favorite Oasis cassette into my Walkman. True, Third Eye Blind was not a particularly bad band. They could have done much worse (Nickelback, anyone?). Also, I’ll admit to listening to the very occasional song on Pandora. They were a fairly above average poppish alternative rock band… ten years ago. When we were in middle school and America’s president was receiving favors from his interns, they were playing Saturday Night Live and had songs in the top ten. However, it is no longer 1998. Could Student Events have picked a less relevant choice? Were Chumbawamba and Ugly Kid Joe booked solid?

As I admitted, the choice could have been worse, but I suppose that after unjustifiably stealing student funds, my expectations rose. With conspiracy theories abound, I even wonder whether the semi-disastrous choice of Regina Spektor was little more than a clever attempt by Student Events to mess things up so badly that they could excuse any spring concert, regardless of the degree of its mediocrity, with “Hey, at least we’re improving.” One of the few comments still left uncensored (truly pathetic that they were so self-conscious of their poor programming that they censored student feedback… I guess we can see how well they are representing the students) on Student Events’ Facebook event for the concert exhibits joy at the discovery that none of the band members are dead. Yes, Third Eye Blind (all alive) resides in the same category of relevance as Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas (deceased) and Senator from West Virginia Robert Byrd (still kicking).

Well, at least it’s cheap. Except that it isn’t. I consider my brother’s alma mater University of Buffalo, and all the great, very current concerts he was able to attend for only a few dollars. Then I consider the great concerts Skidmore College, with approximately 2500 total undergraduates, put on for a relatively low price while I was a high school student in the area. Yet Brandeis Student Events, after seizing student funds which were to be allotted to students by students, has the chutzpah (I have been told Yiddish is one of the best ways to help a struggling column) to charge ten additional dollars to Brandeis students for a band worthy of a free summer concert in the park. Ten dollars for Third Eye Blind? This is like getting mugged on the street then getting mailed another bill because you weren’t carrying enough money on the fateful day.

Senior Vice President Jean Eddy, according to Union officials, has at times justified the thievery by arguing that the social scene needed to improve. Most students will agree that improvements were needed, but when a car has a flat tire simply fixing the brakes is not going to help anything. Or in a way that might actually make sense, there are problems, but using these problems as an excuse to pass irrelevant policies is absolutely shameful. Student oversight over student money allows for programming that people will become excited about, rather than dances where you can hear yourself getting lamer just from being there, or concerts by has-beens or, like in the past, never-will-be’s. Instead, after just one year, Student Events ditched the idea of directly elected student representatives, and has returned to a system of favoritism and inner politics, with a small committee appointing the critical leadership positions. Even if we assume this painfully undemocratic infrastructure is not going anywhere, Student Events could run surveys where students could vote for the musical acts they would most like to see. There are general ideas forums once a semester, but more direct and accessible student feedback avenues are clearly necessary.

A few times I have been accused of being on the side of Student Union throughout this debacle. Those who know me recognize how absurd that sounds. When I am asked if I am a member of Union, I typically answer “only by technicality.” I am, without a doubt, one of the organization’s most consistent critics. Thus, this is hardly a partisan pro-Union rant against Student Events. It is instead the frustrations of a student who has a handful of friends who are involved with Student Events and believes the group ought to do better work.

I was skeptical when the student representatives were eliminated and fired up when our money was taken, but remained truly hopeful that Student Events would begin to do good work and offer a really great concert–maybe even some day approach the effectiveness of the Punk, Rock N’ Roll Club, which operates on a fraction of the budget.

Unfortunately, my suspicions that a group with no accountability to the student body would fail to engage a significant percentage of students were ultimately, and unfortunately, spot on. Third Eye Blind? Really? Come on, Student Events. We deserve better.