Mar 092010
Authors: Johnathan Kastner

The CSU Spring Concert seems to have caused a bit of a stir among the student body. To some, it seems as if, during a massive funding shortfall, the Association for Student Activity Programming is spending $100,000 on a concert most of us won’t attend and didn’t want to see in the first place.

I’d like to write, with my usual sincerity and straightforwardness in favor of this decision. After all, this isn’t the full story –– they also want us to pay for each ticket.

Let’s explain how this works. The $100,000 came out of a single delicious pie –– student fees funding various events throughout the year. Each student, meaning you reading this in class and everyone else around you chatting on their smartphones, paid around $7.50 each to fund this concert and wherever else your money ends up going this year.

Sounds awesome so far, right? It’s just a few bucks to fund someone else having a good time at your expense. Like buying a total stranger a dessert for no reason other than you have to.

Here’s where things get even better. The bands with the most votes were not the one that we were able to acquire.

So, continuing our food metaphor, the dessert isn’t what the stranger ordered. They wanted a slice of tasty chocolate pie. But that cost like $9 and you only had $7.50, so you asked what else they might want. And they listed a number of other pies and cakes, and you nodded along until just saying, “Nuts to you, everyone gets a steaming slice of soy-pudding.”

Sure, not everyone likes soy-pudding, but it’s technically a dessert. And it was cheap. Not cheap as in “reasonably priced,” but cheap as in “less of a financial impossibility.” And if I’ve learned anything about our economic policy during the last decade or so, it’s that those two are the same thing.

So far, I think I’ve argued this case pretty well, though to really sell my point I may change “steaming slice” to “steaming pile.” In reference to the soy-pudding, of course, because “pile” sounds like it’s more.

This steaming pile may seem appetizing, but there’s one thing that’s been neglected so far: the cost of setup. So another fee is necessary; the actual $12 that it costs to attend this concert. It’s like charging for a fork or spoon to eat the dessert you didn’t want, and it makes an equal or greater amount of sense.

The main thing to keep in mind here is the reason we have concerts in the first place. It’s like why a businessman has to buy a suit –– it’s expected. Sure, technically other clothing would cost less and keep all naughty bits out of sight, but no one will hire a man without a nice business suit. Same for a university, it must have events to maintain its prestige.

Of course, if said businessman is in the middle of a budget shortfall, he should probably not spend $100,000 on a suit. That would look silly and make subsequent ploys for money seem shortsighted and dishonest. But please keep in mind that this was a concert, not a business suit. You can’t even wear a concert.

CSU funds many things that not everyone uses. We have cheap legal counseling because we share the expense. Printing is free in some labs because the actual cost is distributed cheaply and not everyone needs to print all the time. Concerts may not seem as necessary as legal protection and the printed word, but this is only because they are not.

Since we’re in the habit of spending money on things that not everyone wants and are frivolous, I have a proposal for ASAP: buy me chocolate-flavored liquors. I promise no visible yield to the university, but instead an opportunity to highlight the thinking that goes into the budgeting process during a recession.

Because after all, it’s not just what mistakes you make, it’s when and where you make them.

Johnathan Kastner is a senior computer science major. His column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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