The Arizona Desert Lamp

ASUA is thinking about going into the music business. It’s thinking about producing.

Posted in Campus, Media, Politics by Evan Lisull on 4 May 2009

Chili PalmerShain Bergan should get a medal for all the great quotes he’s managed to get this year (here you go, Shain!). Take this doozy from his must-read Bash basher:

The lead up to such a large-scale concert began four years ago, with ASUA slowly building up its reputation through smaller shows until they had proven they could handle a big-time concert, Bruce said.

You have to prove yourself in the industry,” he said. “There’s a lot to be learned about what we’ve done.” [emphasis added – EML]

Despite the financial losses, Bruce still called the concert a success, as it can be used as a retention and recruitment tool for the university, Bruce said.

The music industry is tough – which is why a student government should have no business attempting to move up the ranks or establish itself within it. Tucson already has the Rialto Theatre and the Club Congress, which bring in well-renowned acts at far more affordable rates; for those who like their music at the margins, the bars along Fourth Ave. – especially Plush – offer a variety of options. Nearby Phoenix has even more offerings. Yet even if the UA were as isolated a desert community as it were in the 1890s, on what basis has its student government determined establishment in the music business as a top priority? The preamble to the government’s constitution states the following as ASUA’s goals:

the articulation of student opinions and interests both in the governance of the university and to the community at large; the encouragement of the greatest level of cooperation and communication between students and student organizations; the assurance that students have full access to quality higher education at The University of Arizona; the provision for programs and services of
benefit to students; and the encouragement of the highest level of excellence in education at The University of Arizona.

Arguing that a concert of this magnitude was done for “retention” purposes is disingenous at best (as an Eller student, Bruce should know about cost-benefit analysis by this point), and one must openly wonder if the UA even wants to retain students who stay in school only for the concerts. Yet the broader issue is this: neglecting basic democratic principles while working tirelessly on music industry outreach is bad government.

Such a concept is incomprehensible – literally – to President Bruce and EVP Anderson, who are both prizewinning marketing majors. In the course of three years (stretching back to Hertzog), ASUA has been effectively turned from a combative elected body, into a quasi-corporate firm. It is this mindset that pervades the organization currently, and goes a long way in explaining its seemingly bizarro nature. Naturally, a marketeer has no interest in transparency – for why should they reveal the company’s secrets? And what are national elections and climate threats, if not excuses to expand market awareness of ASUA through sponsored parties? So what if the Student Services Fee and the Elections Code subverted the democratic process – look at those awesome signs!

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3 Responses

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  1. Stephen Bieda III said, on 5 May 2009 at 11:56 am

    The sad part in this whole event is that Former ASUA President Bruce is moving to New York once he graduates later this month. Hopefully his successor will be able to recoup the losses, as there are a lot of angry students out there.

  2. Robert Mayer said, on 6 May 2009 at 12:50 am

    Announcement that Bruce will now be working for Jay-Z in 3, 2, 1….

  3. […] In spite of such a historical trend, administrators up to this point have yet to look at underlying factors that may contribute to its persistence. Instead, even more new programs are offered, including festival-style concerts. […]


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