“A Kendrick ticket alone at a normal concert is going to cost about twice this price, so it’s a good steal.”
In a move that has pissed off a few students and stunned no one, Spring Fling Committee has begun charging money for guest passes, which have been bumped from $0 to $20 faster than you can say “Cooper Union’s tuition.” The news matter-of-factly popped up on this blog last Tuesday, in a post by killofrights (who, I should disclose, is a member of Spring Fling Committee):
Guest passes for non-students are now on sale at the Usdan box office. Tickets cost $20, and there is a limit of one guest ticket per student. You can charge it right to your student account. Get ‘em while you can, because guest passes will sell out.
Readers were quick to point out that no one has ever had to pay for guest passes in previous years, a fact slyly obscured by the committee’s announcement, and besides, Spring Fling Committee is just a bunch of evil hipster goons who probably wear sunglasses indoors. Everyone knows that.
“The SBC gave us $80,000 in the fall,” Bostick explained in an email. “After we booked Kendrick and Ab-Soul as a package for 60k, we were left with 5k for talent (because 15k goes towards utilities). We knew we couldn’t get two openers that we thought were great and known to the larger Wesleyan population with 5k, so we went back to the SBC to get more money. As a condition of getting an extra 5k (with the total budget now 85k), we would sell guest passes at a reasonable cost, which we collectively decided would be $20. The money is going directly back to the SBC to pay for the extra 5k. ”
“Many other college concerts cost money and we certainly didn’t want to start charging students,” Bostick added, “so this seemed like a reasonable compromise.”
“A Kendrick Lamar ticket alone at a normal concert is going to cost about twice this guest price, so it’s still a good steal,” co-chair Will Feinstein ’13 weighed in. “Spring Fling will always be free for the students, and this was a good way to help our artist budget. We’re stoked.”
Is it worth it for the lineup? No matter how many hundreds of bitcoins Cornell is blowing on Avicii these days, I’m skeptical that you need more than $80,000 for an excellent show. Then again, it’s probably worth mentioning that this year’s lineup has been greeted with the most positive reaction of any lineup since 2010; it seems telling that the most vocal critiques have focused on the lack of female artists rather than the quality of the acts themselves.
Not everyone is down with the reasoning. One commenter moaned that this shift is making Wesleyan less of a “super chill place,” a trend that by most historical accounts seems to have been set in motion circa 1982:
Wesleyan, a few years ago, used to be a super chill place with cool/interesting/intelligent people. Things are changing for the worse and it makes me really sad. It seems like everything is about money now. Spring Fling is supposed to be a chill day to hang and listen to live music, even if the performers may not be your favorite. Now guests have to pay, why, so next year you can get someone more expensive? That’s not what it’s about, man.
By far the most passionate—and, I think, thoughtful—argument against charging money for guest passes comes from Bennett Kirschner ’13, who regards it as a means of exacerbating privilege and tension between Wes and Middletown. Kirschner’s comment is lengthy, but I’m including it in full:
For those of you who resent this decision but still want to buy a guest pass for someone:
It’s worth noting that buying a new WesCard costs $15 — it’s easy enough to buy one and give it to your visiting friend. You might as well buy one for your friends who want to see this show: save yourself $5, get a new WesCard, and avoid supporting this decision. Above all else, this is an exclusionary measure, regardless of whether or not that was the primary intention. Spring Fling should be open to all who are interested in joining us for this concert. We depend so much on the Middletown community, and it is events like this that should redeem our presence, that could offer something back to those who support us everyday. I know many Middletown residents who would love to see this show, and probably WILL end up paying the $20 — this will earn the Committee revenue, and this will probably get us more money for artists next year.
But this should not take precedence over trying to involve ourselves with the Middletown community at large, and trying to stop privileging ourselves over those around us. I think one of the biggest problems that this school is dealing with is the cultural tension between the residents of the surrounding community and our own. Making Middletown residents pay $20 when we do not have to pay anything, when we are already allowed to pay LESS at local businesses just by showing our WesCards, is a mark of unappreciative privilege, and I resent it. This should be an inclusive, celebratory event, and making Middletown residents pay for it only exacerbates this impression of Wesleyan students as over-privileged and unappreciative. People will come — especially the kids our age from Middletown who want to see Kendrick, I’m sure — but the fees they have to pay will mark a segregation of THEM from US.
I would reconsider supporting this decision if it was changed to include residents of Middlesex County among those who could enter the concert for free. It makes some sense to make visiting kids from other schools pay $20 — this is not what I am objecting to.
Kirschner’s pretty much right—this does place students on a pedestal of sorts above non-student visitors, but then so does pretty much every concert on campus every single weekend, which are typically closed off to non-students who aren’t the declared guest of a student. The recent WESU concert series was a refreshing break from this norm, but you have to jump through a shit-ton of bureaucratic hoops to make that a reality.
If you want to protest the Committee’s guest fee, Kirschner’s solution is ingenious: buy a new WesCard and save $5. But then if you’re going to go through that much trouble to make the point, you may as well also attend the Middletown-Wesleyan Relations Summit, which is conveniently happening tomorrow from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Attendance is free for students and Middletown residents.