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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Pyle File: Nas: Not worth seeing

Published: September 12, 2008
Section: Opinions

Student Events is bringing Nas to campus. His greatest years of fame are behind him, and arguably the only reason he has been able to maintain some degree of presence in the spotlight is because of his attempt to use a racial slur as the title of his most recent album. In 2007, Nas was blasted by civil rights leaders and media until commercial pressure eventually forced a title change. Is such a vile publicity stunt ample justification for cursing the Brandeis campus with his presence? I remember the campus reaction to a racially insensitive cartoon in Gravity a couple years ago. Hundreds upon hundreds of Brandeis students showed their solidarity in condemning the cartoon in the way they knew best, joining a Facebook group entitled “We do not tolerate hate speech on the Brandeis campus.” Simple logic would suggest that no one is on that side of the fence ( For the record I joined “Gravity magazine is a shameless Zionist ploy.” Isn’t it great when there are Facebook groups to express how we feel about stuff? They’re like bumper stickers with more words and pictures). Some might argue that it would be better to go to the concert and protest rather than simply not show up, but it is important to remember that at Brandeis, unlike at other schools that provide concerts with listenable acts, students pay not just once, but twice, first to the SAF and second for a ticket, and so attending to protest would be providing Student Events the financial support they seek to waste.

It is now my final semester at Brandeis, and I will graduate having not attended even one Students Events concert. They have failed us. It would be one thing if we elected these officials, but instead they gain access to at least several tens of thousands of dollars while annually allowing incompetence to replace incompetence. The top positions are appointed by an elite selection committee. Officers select their replacements. Not even every member of Student Events has a vote! This system of favoritism and inner-politicking provides no suggestion that this embarrassingly dysfunctional organization will ever be run by those who represent the students. Student Events received much praise after adding the positions of elected class representatives, but after a few bumps in the road they inexplicably scrapped the whole idea. Clearly, infrastructural reform is necessary if Student Events is ever to rise to respectability.

So what do we get for our SAF money and additional ticket money? Talib Kweli, the band that Bob Marley used to play with, a singer who yelled at the audience to quiet down during her performance, a band whose last album came out in 2003 and last commercial success came in 1999 (a more obscure reference… Third Eye Blind), and now an “artist” who uses racial epitaphs to gain attention. Nas is a bad choice because he does not have a significant audience here at Brandeis. He is a bad choice because his racial insensitivity is inconsistent with the Brandeis culture. He is a bad choice because he was selected by those appointed by cronies rather than elected by popular opinion. Send the message to Mr. Nasir Jones that we at Brandeis do not tolerate his language of hatred. Send the message to Student Events that we demand better. It should not be too much to ask to have a say in who gets to spend tens, even hundreds, thousands of dollars in student money. Come on Brandeis, we have protested over much, much less (police officers carrying guns- yes freshman, you read correctly, people were actually complaining about that), and the incompetence of Student Events knows no political boundaries. Join me in staying home on the night of the fall concert and sending a message that Brandeis students deserve better. I would suggest not attending any of those extremely lame dances Student Events puts on, but chances are you already do that anyway. Now bring on the hate mail…