In light of the decisions made by Scott Backer and the SJB, and the subsequent appeal that was denied by Michael Roth (read here: wesleying.blogspot.com/2009/03/sjb-shuts-down-all-eclectic-events-for.html), I have decided that the Wesleyan Sound Cooperative will cease functioning as of Sunday March 29th until the Eclectic event-hosting ban is repealed or a satisfactory settlement is made between the school and the Society allowing for access to the venue. This means that all events currently scheduled are considered canceled until further notice. Shows this week (23rd – 28th) will still be happening, as there is obviously not enough time for organizers to plan around the shutdown. If you currently have a show planned later than this week, you will or already have received an email from a WSC member. Please do not contact me or any other co-op members regarding this decision, as there will be no special exceptions made and no questions to be answered except, ‘has the school overturned the decision?’ As soon as the answer to this question is ‘yes,’ the cooperative will run again as usual. We are still taking event requests on our website (wesleyan.edu/wsa/wsc) in the hopes that this situation is resolved quickly. If you are disappointed or concerned by the turn of events, I ask that you politely email either Scott Backer (sbacker01@wes) or Michael Roth (mroth@wes) to explain how the shutdown affects you and ask that they reconsider their actions so that an amplified and vibrant campus culture may continue at Wesleyan.
Members of the Eclectic Society founded the sound cooperative almost 20 years ago in order to facilitate musical events that would otherwise be impossible to fund using professional audio companies. The co-op allows anyone who is interested the opportunity to learn life long skills in technical audio production and event planning. As a result of its creation, and in spite of the fact that to this day Wesleyan refuses to create a viable administration-organized free event space, the Sound Co-op saves Wesleyan students somewhere on the order of $30,000 – 60,000 a year in professional audio service fees. This allows for many more events to be funded, which in turn means that the co-op runs slightly over one hundred shows every year. By this count, I have organized sound for over 300 shows during my time here at Wesleyan and am fortunate to have many talented people transitioning into control as I will be graduating this semester. The co-op has expanded during my tenure to include many events not related to live music, which I see as a great development.
Unfortunately, the decision rendered by Scott Backer and the SJB aims to discriminate between where and what type of event is allowable on campus, thus dictating the realms of campus culture. I personally find this detestable and am of the opinion that the full ramifications of the punishment levied have not been thoroughly considered. The shutdown of the co-op aims to help rectify this oversight.
I am basing my decision around the argument that if the Wesleyan administration wants to define campus culture and what is or is not allowable based on how ‘problematic’ or how much of a ‘liability’ they perceive an event to be for them then it is folly to have a student-run and student-funded business continue to facilitate a culture we ourselves are not in control of. The ethos of the co-op is one of absolute indiscrimination, as long as we have the equipment and someone signs up to work, we will work an event. Despite the fact that the shutdown will result in lost wages for co-op workers including myself, I feel that this is the only acceptably principled response to an unprincipled and poorly considered punishment.
Historically, the administration has been happy to allow students to organize and pay for their own shows and events because student-run and student-funded events increase Wesleyan’s social capital at essentially no cost to the school. Utilizing the WSA, SBC, and SALD for assistance allows for an incredible number of student-run events to take place every week. However, with the Eclectic shutdown, the administration is asserting that they do indeed have a say in how student funds are to be distributed and thus what events may or may not take place on campus. Eclectic is the only free student-run venue on campus that has a seating capacity of over 100. Therefore, unless the SBC has the funds to pay for pro audio services at other venues, I will consider the school to be the party responsible for funding and organizing sound services for student events. I do not report to any school administrator, I help run a club funded by the SBC in order to make campus life more exciting and vibrant. The co-op works in direct service to the student body but will not be coerced into accepting fluxuating social ethics determined ad hoc by the administration.
I’m sure you can surmise that the school has neither the resources nor the desire to take up the slack left over by the co-op (except perhaps regarding WesFest), so I will preemptively make the assertion that it is now YOUR job to organize and fund sound services for events you would like to have or plan to have on campus. Again, please understand that I am not doing this to punish the student body, but instead to force those who utilize the co-op and those that directly benefit from it’s existence to make their displeasure known to the administration. I know this decision will be incredibly unpopular but I ask that you fully reflect on the historical and ongoing relationship the co-op has to events held at Eclectic and consider this a sign of solidarity and not a dismissal of individual student groups or events. Regardless of your personal opinions concerning the Eclectic Society or the events held there, I urge you to consider that the series of decisions made by the administration are of a discriminatory nature regarding what types of events the school implicitly condones. The fact that the administration is now trying to dictate how students should spend their own money is nothing short of insulting. The more you make your displeasure known to administrators, the faster we can move on from this terrible decision and get back to having great amplified events across campus.
Yale Yng-Wong ’09, President of the Wesleyan Sound Cooperative,
Amanda Contrada ‘10, Co-President of the Wesleyan Sound Cooperative, and Max Krafft ’09, Ben Bernstein ‘10, Tom Brewer ‘12, Adam Gunther ‘11, Bill Kirstein ‘10, Sam Long ‘12, Mary Longley ‘10, Sam Lyons ‘12, Dana Matthiessen ‘09, Howe Pearson ‘12, Jeff Rovinelli ‘10, Fareed Sajan ‘09, and Harrison Schaaf ‘11