Students unhappy with representation in USG programming

Anthony Dominic

As the Undergraduate Student Government director of programming, Jeff Hammond is in the business of pleasing his constituents. However, as he has discovered over the past year, his constituents aren’t always receptive.

Hammond and the USG programming board have been on the receiving end of both praise and criticism from the student body since announcing the lineup for FlashFest 2011.

However, new statistics suggest that those dissenting voices don’t always play a role in the collegiate democracy.

USG advisor Donna Carlton said that of the 20,377 undergraduate students currently enrolled at Kent State’s main campus, only 2,235, or 10 percent, voted in this year’s USG election. Only the incumbents ran as the sole candidates for several positions, including Hammond’s position as director of programming.

Alex Tucker, programming board member, said students are very quick to complain about programming decisions but do little themselves to get involved.

“People complain, but they don’t come to the programming board with their concerns,” Tucker said.

“Personally, I don’t ever hear any suggestions, like, ‘Hey, you guy should bring this band,’ and if I do, it’s unrealistic requests, like Lil Wayne and Lady Gaga, that would cost millions.”

Tucker said the programming board holds open meetings every Monday where students can voice their concerns and opinions.

The lack of a major rock act has been a common complaint from students about FlashFest.

Hammond said USG took a risk with rock band 30 Second to Mars in October. But they only sold around 2,000 tickets, compared to 4,000 tickets sold for Drake last spring and Kid Cudi in November.

“I hate to say it, but Kent State is a pop-oriented campus,” Hammond said. “I know there’s still a large number of hipster-types looking for indie music, but it’s not financially possible for us to book a small band in a huge venue if they won’t sell tickets.”

Hammond also said the police play a role in determining who can and cannot perform at Kent State.

“Campus police contact other venues and colleges where the band has performed to determine if they feel a concert would be safe or not,” Hammond said. “They don’t want rowdiness and moshing, especially in the M.A.C., and also, no one who has ever been to prison is allowed to perform on campus.”

Hammond hinted that USG is looking at a major rock act for Welcome Weekend’s Blastoff 2011.

“I’ve accepted that you can’t please everyone, so it’s my mission to please the majority,” Hammond said.

“It’s not my campus; it’s the students’ campus, and seven people trying to please almost 30,000 students is almost impossible, especially without suggestions and student involvement.”

Hammond said USG plans on administering online polls next year to find out who students want to see perform. He also said USG programming will be launching its own website where students can find out information on upcoming events and voice their opinions.

“If you’re not happy with the way things are, get on the board yourself and make changes,” Tucker said. “All the resources are available; you just have to take the initiative.”

Contact Anthony Dominic at [email protected].