A few weeks ago, the Program Board sent out an email stating that they were unable to book any of the artists that we had voted for and that we were “left with the option of booking a select group of lesser known artists including the Cataracs or Karmin for Spring Concert.” The email was accompanied with a poll that asked “considering the circumstances above, do you want to have a spring concert this year?” meaning that if we had a spring concert it would be with less-known artists whom we didn’t vote for. Holding a Spring Concert for $65,000 with artists who are not well-known and who we did not vote for seemed, to me, a major waste of money. Therefore, I voted “No” in the survey, voicing that I would rather have no concert than one by an artist who wasn’t in line with the desires of the students. I was not alone in this belief. The survey, which was administered by the Program Board, showed that about 70 percent of students, like me, believed that we should not have a concert under those circumstances. If the circumstances were normal, however, the majority of the student body wanted a concert. In the fall, the AAS sent out a survey asking if students would like a concert with well-known artists. The results showed that 94 percent of the student body wanted such a concert. So we found ourselves in a situation where students overwhelmingly didn’t want a spring concert with unknown artists, yet, 94 percent of the student body wanted a concert with well-known artists.
Members of the AAS and the Program Board met to discuss the situation in an open forum during one of our Senate meetings. Seeking as much student input as possible, we made a Facebook event urging students to come and sent out an all-school email as well. After discussing the situation at this forum, the Senate made a recommendation to the Program Board: Cancel the Spring Concert if we cannot book someone well-known. This would completely respect the beliefs of the 70 percent of students who voted for no spring concert performed by “lesser known artists.” But that fact remained that 94 percent of the student body wanted a concert with well-known artists. So I, along with other students and members of the AAS, voiced that we would be letting over 90 percent of the student body down if we did not continue to try and book a well-known artist.
At this point, which was a week after the Program Board’s initial email went out, members of the Program Board stated that the situation portrayed in the email was not necessarily the case anymore; there was now hope of booking a well-known artist. While they would not disclose the artist’s name, they stated that he or she had multiple Grammy nominations, was very well-known and liked, and was, therefore, nearly $10,000 out of our price range. So a vote regarding the allocation of these funds went before the Senate. The vote was contingent: If the Program Board was unable to book a high-caliber artist using the additional funds, then they would give the money back and we would cancel the concert. With the exception of a single Senator who abstained from voting, the Senate unanimously voted in favor of approving these funds. While I personally did not get to vote (not a duty that I am entitled to as President), I strongly supported the allocation. With the exception of the Roots concert in 2010, students have generally complained that we are constantly unable to book a high-caliber artist even though there is a strong desire for one, so it made sense that we spend the extra amount necessary to book a good artist if we are going to spend $65,000 in the first place. I will reiterate that 94 percent of students voted in favor of a spring concert with a high-caliber artist.
So that’s where we stand with Spring Concert. To my knowledge, the Program Board has not officially booked anyone yet, though they are still in negotiations. So if they can book someone good, who is in line with the artists that students voted on, then we will have a spring concert. If they are only able to get “lesser known artists,” then the concert will be cancelled in accordance with the beliefs of 70 percent of the student body. In Program Board’s email, they stated the possibility of holding a number of smaller events like a winter formal or Groove Boston. I want to make it clear to the student body that we do not have to choose between a concert and these smaller events. The AAS has sufficient funds for such events and as long as students or student groups are willing to organize them, we strongly support holding them. For any event requiring less than $10,000, the Senate will vote directly on its allocation and any amount greater will go to a school-wide referendum (as specified in the AAS Constitution). While there has clearly been some amount of miscommunication this spring, I assure you that I and the rest of the AAS are committed to hosting activities that the student body genuinely wants. To do so, we want as much feedback as possible, so please come to our forums, shoot us emails and chat with us in Val. Thank you.