On Friday, March 15, CSB/SJU officially disinvited Sammy Adams to perform at ’13 Pines.
JEC announced the selection of Sammy Adams as their ’13 Pines performer on March 7. JEC chose Adams after an extensive survey process in attempts to determine the genre of music most students wanted. The two most popular choices were country and hip-hop. JEC Concerts Chair and CSB senior Lindsey Elhert stated that the executive board discussed what was best for students, what performers were available and narrowed down their options. In the past, JEC has not been in collaboration with the administration regarding the selection of event artists.
“It hasn’t been a thing to check with administration,” Elhert said. “It’s something that maybe should have been considered but has never been a problem.”
According to JEC members, the level of secrecy surrounding ’13 Pines creates the potential for issues such as this to occur. SJU Vice President of Student Development Fr. Doug Mullin, OSB and CSB Vice President of Student Development Mary Geller ultimately made the choice to cancel Adams’ performance.
Mullin and Geller learned of JEC’s decision on March 8, after the announcement was made via Twitter and Facebook. Mullin had initial concerns regarding Adams after viewing the music video for “All Night Longer.” His concerns surrounded the ongoing sexual assault allegations, the promotion of binge drinking and the objectification of women in Adams’ lyrics.
“One of the most difficult problems we have to deal with is sexual assaults. Every case of sexual assault on CSB/SJU involved alcohol that I know of,” Mullin said. “We could not do our job with due dilligence and let this (concert) go on.”
Mullin, Geller, SJU Dean of Students Mike Connolly, CSB Dean of Students Jody Terhaar and JEC Advisor Faith Dammann met on March 11 to discuss their concerns.
“It was at that meeting that we made the decision to disinvite Sammy Adams and seek legal counsel regarding options we may have with the contract,” Mullin said.
Many student concerns centered around the amount of money spent on Adams. Because of legally binding contracts, CSB/SJU may not be refunded. According to online sources, Adams’ concerts in the past have cost anywhere from $25,000 to $37,000. The JEC would not comment on the price that CSB/SJU paid due to legal reasons. By using the above range, this equates to between $6.42-$9.50 per student.
“It’s upsetting that an alleged $30,000 of our student activiy fee was spent before fully relecting on the decision to bring Sammy Adams to campus,” CSB senior Alivia Tison said.
This year, JEC received $101,135.14 of the total activity dollars after the student account withdrawal from the CSB student acvtivity fee and $90,906.87 from the SJU student activity fee. This amounts to $49.33 out of $202 of the total fees per student.
“Because JEC is the programming board on campus that provides the majority of student activities, these activities are funded through student fees,” CSB Senate President Riley Johnson said.
Although Mullin recognizes that this is a concern, he believes they made the correct decision.
“I stand by the decisions. I hear the concerns about censorship and wasting money. Those are important issues not to be taken lightly,” Mullin said. “But when you put censorship, wasting money and sexual assault together, there is no comparison.”
Mullin believes social media has amplified the situation because students rapidly spread news without obtaining the information first.
A Facebook group entitled #FreeStJoe shows student agreement that the cancellation of Adams was the final straw for many students following the off-campus policy change and the new city ordinances. SJU senior Kevin Wenner created a group for basketball fans to coordinate group cheers for games this semester. He believed a similar group would be beneficial for this cause.
“I think the Sammy Adams concert was just the tipping point for all of us. Students at this school have been upset with the way things have been going on for quite some time now,” Wenner said. “That is why over 1,000 people joined this Facebook page in less than three days.”
SJU senior Shane Schiavo agrees with Wenner that it has been a culmination of these events.
“Every time we turn around, the administration is doing something that is not in the students’ best interests,” Schiavo said.
Schiavo believes this was “the last straw” for many. He contacted the St. Cloud Times on March 15 with the story suggestion. He believes that Sammy Adams’ performance would bring a sense of community and acknowledgment to CSB/SJU.
“He’s not stereotypical, and would have appealed to a large group of people. They could have turned it into a good event; it could have put us on the map,” Schiavo said.
Wenner also believes students should have the choice to attend the concert, and song lyrics should not define how an artist is enjoyed.
“Lyrics are just lyrics. We are all adults here and are very aware of what his lyrics are. As college students, we are all smart enough to realize what they mean and to not follow them,” Wenner said. “If we are offended by them, we can simply just not go to the concert. Instead, administration decides to take the opportunity to enjoy his music away from everyone.”
Some students believe the Facebook approach has not been the most productive tactic. SJU senior Stephen Gross believes that live music is impactful and important, however, this creates a mob mentality and the wording used in the group is harmful.
“I love live music and the way it can bring people together and connect people,” Gross said. “However, I think it’s an overgeneralization to say the entire student body was euphoric about Sammy Adams.”
Gross and SJU senior Joey Hamburger agree that there are more important issues to discuss.
“It bothers me that students are now standing up for change in our institution and culture was sparked by the cancellation of a mediocre rapper, with material about getting drunk, getting laid and new drinking laws,” Hamburger said. “Not the fact that we’ve had a huge increase in sexual assaults this year among that same culture.”
JEC members, as students themselves, understand the disappointment surrounding the cancellation and are planning an alternative event for that day.
“There is a lot of backlash but it is a healthy way for students to express their anger,” SJU senior and Co-Chair Justin Woodruff said.
JEC also acknowledges that the senior class is most affected by this decision and apologizes for overlooking possible implications.
“We want to apologize for this happening. We are a student-run student board and wanted to do what is best for students,” Elhert said.
JEC plans not to make this mistake next year and encourages student participation and feedback.
“We love having more feedback, getting more people involved. We are trying to bring students what they want,” CSB junior and JEC Contest and Competitions Chair Dawn Williams said.