To say that students at CSU and other public universities across the country are mad about skyrocketing education costs is a massive understatement. The large student protests over tuition, fee hikes and slashed government funding over the last couple of weeks are more than understandable.
Closing wide budget gaps via such increases is a tough but necessary measure to keep schools like ours afloat and affordable in the long-term. Yet, one would be naÃ¯ve to think that these alone solve this crisis. How CSU spends revenue collected from student fees significantly impacts the student body, and must be scrutinized accordingly. Itâ€™s for this reason that the circumstances surrounding this yearâ€™s spring concert should irritate students the way tuition hikes and budget cuts do.
Since last Monday, this concert has been a headache for ASAP. First, the announcement of the bands that are performing â€“â€“ Pepper and The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus â€“â€“ was generally met with either apathy or confusion from the students. Like Lupe Fiasco and Three 6 Mafia last year, this yearâ€™s acts have small enough fan bases to compel some students to wonder whether these selections actually reflected their will.
This skepticism was further fueled by ASAPâ€™s initial hesitancy to release the results of a RamWeb poll question asking students to vote for one of ten bands. It has since been revealed that neither band placed first in the poll (that honor went to Rise Against) or even in the top three (Pepper and RJA finished 4th and 8th, respectively).
Then came word of the price tag for landing these bands. ASAP is spending $30,000 to pay Pepper, $20,000 to pay The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, and $50,000 to set up the show at a venue (Moby Arena) not designed to host concerts. Thatâ€™s $100,000 â€“â€“ mostly from student fees â€“â€“ devoted to a concert that a majority of students wonâ€™t even attend and whose acts werenâ€™t even their preferred choices.
The money being paid to bands of Pepperâ€™s and RJAâ€™s prestige doesnâ€™t seem to reflect their current market value, but rather that of higher profile acts.
Now, to be fair, ASAP could have just picked this yearâ€™s acts without any student input like they did last year, via an 11-person board. That said, letting students vote implied that whoever won would, guess what, come to Fort Collins. If there were a chance that the winner of the poll would raise its price above ASAPâ€™s budget (Rise Against), not be touring at the time of the concert (runner-up Snow Patrol), or not be accepting college gigs (third place finisher Jimmy Eat World), then why even include them in the survey?
Yet, the thing that sparked the biggest collective â€œwhat?â€ from the student body was the announcement that students would be further charged for tickets. Thatâ€™s right, not only are these bands being paid with our student fees, but now ASAP has the nerve to charge $12 to $17 for student tickets, and $28 for the general public.
Whatâ€™s ruffling studentsâ€™ feathers is the idea that concertgoers would essentially be paying twice for the show. At a time when higher education is increasingly less affordable for students, non-tenured instructors lose sleep worrying about their jobs, services are cut and public schools are considering privatization, itâ€™s disheartening that ASAP wants to put on a completely unnecessary concert so badly that they are willing to dip twice into studentsâ€™ pockets to pay for it.
Between this and last weekâ€™s guest speaker gig by the producer of Crash, in which his $12,000 appearance fee was reciprocated with a pathetic attendance of around 30 people, ASAP is developing a reputation of organizing overpriced events that students donâ€™t care or even know about. This is small change compared to the tuition and budget woes, but the message being sent here deserves similar student scorn.
Kevin Hollinshead is a junior political science major. His column appears Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.