Arts, On Campus, Column

A Defense Of UGBC’s Failed Concert Legacy

After officials from the Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC) shut down the presses-stating no contract had been signed with rapper Hoodie Allen for Modstock-the undergraduate community was left in a strange place. After Allen himself had personally responded to students’ tweets last Thursday, confirming he would headline Modstock, it felt odd for UGBC to issue a statement that nothing had been confirmed.

Admittedly, UGBC has never tried particularly hard to appear as a source of information. When last semester’s Fall Concert Fact Finding Committee issued a final report applauding the work of the organizers of an O.A.R. concert that had lost BC undergraduates $112,000-a report that excluded any real data on the concert’s losses-it was almost expected.

So when later that semester it was announced that UGBC would break off the larger part of its programming branch, there was virtually no protest. This spring’s Modstock is the last major concert at BC ever to be planned by UGBC, and still weeks away, it already stinks of the kind of back-room politicking that is much of the reason students have been so complacent with the changes to programming.

I’m sure most of us have heard these criticisms before, and at some point, it seems more useful to shy away from these more obvious complaints surrounding UGBC. Upon this ending of its maligned legacy of concert planning, it’s worth appreciating the fact that for so many years, the students of this University have managed to keep relative control of these events, despite strong opposition from the BC administration.

In the case of failed concerts, students have long been afforded the opportunity to elect new representatives. Of course, this system is flawed-instrumental in its failing was the fact that UGBC’s leadership would graduate before being held accountable. Next semester, the responsibility of having these concerts will move away entirely from elected representatives, becoming the work of a programming board to be formed under the Student Programming Office (SPO).

The decision to section off these concert-planning activities seems reasonable enough, at least looking through a lens narrowly limited last semester’s failures. But those quick to point to the failure of the O.A.R. concert as reason to shift this responsibility away from UGBC have likely forgotten the moratorium placed on concerts in 2011 by the very same office they just willingly allowed to take total control over them. It was this moratorium that effectively ended BC’s spring concert tradition, and has been used as leverage to get the University more involved in the planning-and respective limitation-of UGBC’s last few concerts.

Disgusted with UGBC, we have effectively handed over the total planning of our concerts to SPO, which has demonstrably proven, that when given a choice, it wouldn’t have these concerts happen at all.

It comes as no surprise to me that the organizational planning of this new programming board is already running far behind-that students have heard remarkably little about how the allocation of the vast majority of their student activities fee will work next year. Nor is it surprising that the constitutional amendment which allowed UGBC to break off near the entirety of its programming branch without bringing it to a vote with the student body only required it  to receive the approval of SPO.

The truth is, however much UGBC has been guilty of pulling the wool over the eyes of the student body when it comes to these concerts, it at least has consistently exhibited the will to have them continue, in spite of strong opposition from BC administrators.

When thinking back to the night of last fall’s O.A.R. concert-the financial failure almost exclusively responsible for schism within UGBC-I remember the concert quite differently than most. I was a reporter at the event, sitting in the press box with a dozen or so members of UGBC. When an aggressive member of Team Ops confronted me, insisting that the press had to leave after three of the band’s songs, Tim Koch, one of the events coordinators, stood up to the man. When arguing failed, Koch placed an event staff lanyard around my neck, allowing me to stay at the event on a technicality.

Next year, if put in the same situation, I don’t imagine anyone will be there to stand up for me, nor am I convinced the fall concert will happen at all. It was a sobering experience, the first time I realized that if given the choice, the powers that be at this University would run roughshod over the authority of students when it comes to these concerts-they would be no more. It’s a dark reality of the UGBC split that soon, we might just find ourselves left to accept.

April 2, 2014