Big Event Committee sparks controversy over selection

Sonia Emmons

Lawrence students live a semi-charmed kind of life. We pay a pretty penny for our education here, no question. But in return, there are countless groups to join and an equal number of activities in which to participate. Sometimes it seems like we have too many meetings, and certain meetings are given the boot. It happens to everyone.
But if you choose not to attend a well-publicized meeting and a vote is taken, you cannot respond by accusing the group of not representing the student body. That is just not good sense.
During 10th-week of fall term, the members of the Big Event Committee, a division of SOUP, had a meeting during which they voted for four possible acts to bring to campus in early- to mid-April for SOUP’s annual Big Event. These acts came from an original list of about 60, narrowed down based on which acts would most appeal to Lawrence students. The four acts voted on were Third Eye Blind, CAKE, Girl Talk, and N*E*R*D. The students voting were asked to do so with the student body in mind.
According to Big Event Committee Co-Chair Chrissie Nelson, a senior, there were about 20 people at the meeting that week. The vote was close, but Third Eye Blind won by a 15-point margin.
After the results of the vote were publicized, Nelson received nasty messages and Facebook groups were started saying that the Big Event Committee decision did not represent the campus.
Nelson had a few things to say about it.
First of all, something that most people do not realize is that the vote does not guarantee anything is set in stone. As it stands right now, Third Eye Blind probably will not be able to come, and the decision is still up in the air. The booking process is complicated, and the vote is used “to get a feel for who people prefer.”
Second of all, the process was publicized all over campus. The Big Event Committee put up posters and surveyed students at Downer about their favorite music genres, rather than specific acts. Out of 12 musical genres, the top three were hip-hop, rock, and alternative. By doing it this way, the committee’s hope was to avoid students getting excited about a certain act and then disappointed or angry if the act did not end up coming. The committee members were hoping to avoid those nasty e-mails that seem to be unavoidable.
Third of all, students need to realize something that will apply out in the real world, too: “If you don’t want to participate, don’t complain.”
Nelson understands that 20 people are not representative of the entire student body. But those are the people who came. “We tried to get the entire campus involved,” she said. “If you’re interested in the process, come to our meetings!”
Nelson also explained a little bit of the booking process. The main factors are price, of course, and spring availability. The Big Event budget is $50,000, and groups’ prices are constantly changing. The same goes for availability. Groups stop touring, change tour dates or decide not to tour in the spring.
The Big Event Committee has an agent – along with Amy Uecke and LaDonna Hayden – to help them with the process of choosing an act. They hope to have someone chosen by the end of January, because then they will begin a new process of making flight reservations for the group and reserving sound equipment, etc. The meetings will restart once the decision is set.
“Come to our meetings on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. in the Hiett 3rd-floor lounge,” Nelson said.
Otherwise, come enjoy the show … and do not complain!