Taking Back Promises?

With Student Association Production’s (SAP) announcement that hip-hop artist Wale will be gracing the stage of Elting Gym this May, SUNY New Paltz’s main act for this semester’s spring concert is no longer a mystery; however, this announcement raises concerns about the effectiveness of the artist selection process for this annual event.

We at The New Paltz Oracle applauded SAP’s efforts last semester to gather student’s input in order to bring about an act that the campus as a whole voted to see. Their devotion to gaining the opinions and desires of the student body seemed like a breath of fresh air.  However, the recent revelation that Wale finished fifth in the response count, as pointed out in SAP’s survey, has us questioning the method in which the rapper was chosen.

Recent comments from Student Association (SA) Vice President of Programming Laneesha Bacchus indicate the survey sent out last semester yielded a large amount of results, but the accuracy of those results was brought into question.

Students were able to vote multiple times and on different computers, skewing the outcome and leaving SAP scrambling to interpret them in a fashion they saw fit and also did not give the board the true opinion of what SUNY New Paltz really wanted.

While Wale was announced as this year’s main act, other artists came out on top, according to the survey. We hope SAP was diligent in exploring every available option to stick to their promise of delivering what students want.

The fact that Taking Back Sunday finished above Wale in the total amount of votes received for an artist and according to Student Activities and Union Director Mike Patterson would have cost $40,000 — identical to the amount that Wale will cost, according to Bacchus — could indicate that SAP was not entirely dedicated to championing the importance of student opinion as they said last semester.

Of course, we acknowledge the difficult task Bacchus and her still-not-filled SAP board had in choosing an artist. Artists can book other shows, cost incredible sums of money to book and keeping every student pleased with the final outcome is next to impossible.

Despite this, the board’s responsibility to “see what the students want,” as Bacchus said last semester, still must be respected. While Wale might not have been the highest vote-getter, we hope the rapper was chosen after every artist above him on the list — such as Taking Back Sunday and Big Sean — had been completely been exhausted as a possible main act.

While flawed, the survey was still the only way the SA had to get direct input from the students they are tasked with serving. Over 2,000 students participated in the survey, and despite its confusing percentages, it is the concrete evidence of what the board supposedly wanted to gain — student input.

It is also important to recognize that SA Executive board members had difficulties filling positions that were in charge of choosing this year’s act. Without a full board, how can students who are not pleased with the outcome complain? Without an active and participating board running at its fullest potential, how can we expect the SAP board to produce an act that would please everyone? We encourage students who wish to be involved with various productions on campus to attend the next Council of Organizations meeting on Monday, March 12 at 7:30 p.m to fill the remaining three seats.

Bacchus said a supporting act is still being explored and no announcement is on the imminent horizon. We believe it would be wise of SAP to administer another, more easily interpretable, survey to students after the board is able to secure options in their price range. This would offer the board a chance to allow students to voice their opinion on who they want to see — something that was supposed to be a hallmark of this semester’s main act voting — while still learning from the mishaps encountered in the main act survey.

Another easy option would be to host the artist
selection process on my.newpaltz.edu, in a format similar to the SA elections each semester. This would eliminate the possibility of multiple voting and would give an incredibly decisive answer as to which artist the student body would like to entertain them.