The homecoming concert that struck a nerve with so many students is now history.
As predicted, tickets sales indicate that the show was a flop. With Lawson Gym at only 35 percent capacity on the night of the concert (2,800 tickets sold and 8,000 seats), hopefully SGA learned its lesson on how important student input is when coordinating costly events like this one. The grassroots effort by a substantial number of students and alumni to alter the concert line up should be commended. Sadly, those efforts went unnoticed by many and were even shunned by one administrator.
According to an Oct. 15 Famuan report, on Thursday Oct. 15, Double Trouble concert promoter Willie McKenzie walked into WANM 90.5 FM unannounced to confront a radio personality who was allegedly cautioning listeners that some of the concert acts might not show. Luckily FAMU P.D. intervened before emotions erupted. The next morning, associate vice president of student affairs, Henry Kirby, sent an e-mail to Dean James Hawkins of the School of Journalism & Graphic Communication pertaining to the incident the night before. One would think that the email voiced Kirby’s concern for student safety after a non-student was caught trespassing.
However, that was hardly the case. In his e-mail, Kirby seemed to play into the ‘goon’ mentality of the promoters as he suggested that Hawkins caution the radio station about playing with the schools money. “I am sure that no reasonable person or entity –including 90.5, who receives $80,000 of A&S funds, would want the SGA concert to fail,” Kirby wrote. Kirby’s sentiments would have been noteworthy if he hadn’t failed to show empathy toward students in opposition to the concert as would be expected by a university administrator.
Still, the words of Kirby are disheartening not only because he seemed to be siding with the promoters, but because the gravity of the situation was reduced to money. The radio was completely justified in informing its listeners and potential patrons of the concert. After all, that is one of the purposes.
What’s more important, is how free speech, which is way less tangible than the $150,000 poured into this joke of a concert, could be so easily placed on the back burner by those who are expected to appreciate it the most.
It’s our money and our concert, so it should come as no surprise that students would be vocal about where their money goes. Kirby’s shameless attempt to get 90.5 to ‘put a sock in it,’ is deplorable. His use of money as means of dissuasion is an example of how the student voices are deterred here and at other schools, by those in power.
Jason Lawrence is a junior political science student from Tallahassee. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.