Last issue, we reported on the powerful rage that overcame the student body after the announcement of the Fall Fest lineup. We felt that the huge backlash warranted immediate investigation, and that our immediate reaction and opinion on the matter should be known.
SA was not made available for comment before the Oct. 3 issue, but the organization did sit down for an interview on Monday to speak out and try to clear some misconceptions.
It should be noted that this is the first time SA has even done a survey to gauge what bands the students would want, and it does deserve credit for trying to put the ball in our court. We would never try to suggest that the SA is not working hard, but they do need to take this as a learning lesson.
One of the major concerns that students voiced was the fact that they didn't think their opinions were fairly taken into account. According to Entertainment Director Monique Mattes, The Fray ranked eight of 19 on their survey for possible acts. Hip-hop star Drake turned out to be first in the survey, and his price range was within what the SA was willing to pay.
The SA said the major problem with booking Drake was with the rain location. Alumni Arena is the alternate location for Fall Fest, and can only hold 6,000 people. SA felt that it only having that many people go to the concert would not make it worth the money to bring Drake, and would not be fair to all the students turned away at the door.
This issue split our editorial board nearly in half. On one side, we felt like it doesn't matter how many people would have been able to attend. If Drake was available and had a reasonable price tag, then the fact that he was voted as the top choice for Fall Fest should have been enough. Does this render Fall Fest an impotent festival that has to have bands that aren't that popular?
On the other side, we recognized SA's point and accepted it. We noted that if more students were going to be turned away by bringing Drake than would be turned away by bringing The Fray, then that might be the more fair decision.
Alumni Arena also was a problem because it is under construction. It was impossible to organize a concert early in the semester when the place needed for a rainout was unusable.
All this became a moot point when the date had to be changed to a Thursday. Many students expressed anger about Fall Fest being held on a school night where some students would have class or have to get up in the morning.
Chalk that up to the University Police Department. They told the SA that they wouldn't provide security for the event on a Friday because the next day they would have to provide security for the football game.
This threw a wrench in the entire process. Bands that would have been available for a Friday were rendered unavailable for a Thursday show. This changed the availability of the opening acts and forced SA to book different acts, 2AM Club and The White Panda.
This really shouldn't have been a last minute issue. UPD obviously knew that there was going to be a football game, and SA was planning on having the event on a Friday, so why wasn't there more communication early in the process?
UB needs to be more accommodating to events like this. You can't simultaneously tout the school as being a school for the students and then blackball our attempts to host our events on a reasonable day of the week for a big name concert.
Maybe it's time for UB to consider building a large arts center for performances and bands like this. It would give SA more leeway when it is planning for events, so that you wouldn't have any worry about the venue seating too few people.
It also provides the university with a potential income source. Opening a new venue up to bands could bring in money for the school and generate more interest in the school to draw new students.
Our publication and we as students share some of the blame. We waited until we received news of the act, and then became angry. We should be more proactive in the process and demand more transparency from SA; something that SA is now offering.
Even though it's not possible to release the names of bands that they're in negotiations with, we should have been at the forefront demanding as much information from SA as we could possibly get before this occurred.
Communication is the key. SA should communicate to us what exactly is going on with the money we give them. If you decide to release a big piece of news to the general public, you should be ready with facts to release to the campus showing exactly what happened.
According to SA, the contracts to play at Fall Fest came in around 2 or 3 p.m. on Friday, and they released the final lineup as soon as possible that same day. If the entire organization was not going to be available for comment for the entire weekend after, they should have released it on Monday instead, so that representatives could be immediately available for comment.
This is our money we are handing to SA, and we all need to ensure that it's spent in a way that's transparent and fair. Spring Fest will be here before we know it, and we will work diligently to ensure the information gets out, but you need to help us demand better from UB and SA. Without your help, things will never change.