The Reel Big Fish concert held in Gorham two weeks ago was expensive and under attended. Now the Student Government Association is asking students on Facebook if they are in favor of holding another concert that would be “bigger and better.” Even considering holding another event of that magnitude is brash and lacks the acumen that the student body should expect from its governing body. The SGA, and the staff advisors who oversee their activities should scrutinize more closely the allocation of large sums of students’ money and must not allow more funds to be wasted on pursuits that have repeatedly failed.
Last spring, after $27,000 dollars had been allocated for a concert, the Gorham Events Board and staff adviser, Dan Welter, failed to deliver citing inadequate time to prepare. It was decided that the event would be held in the fall to allow for more time, but on Friday, Sept. 21— eight days before the concert — not a single ticket had been sold and none were even available on the Portland campus for sale. Promotion of the concert was limited to a few small posters scattered around the Gorham and Portland campuses and a smattering of posts on Facebook urging students to attend the show.
Those in charge of organizing the postponed event were given ample additional time to prepare, yet it attracted only 202 paying attendees. If Mr. Welter and the GEB did their best to make the Reel Big Fish concert a success, then this university is not the place to hold such an event. The record is not good: Mighty Mighty Bosstones in 2000, Ani DiFranco in 2003, and now Reel Big Fish in 2012 all suffered from low turnout or ticket sales. It is clear based on these results that USM should not remain in the concert business — but this is stuff of the past. Now the university is presented with an opportunity to learn, which is our business.
As of Sunday, Oct. 14 a poll on the SGA Facebook page had registered 62 votes in favor to 22 against holding another concert. We urge the SGA and the student body to refrain from entertaining this notion any further. There are better, cheaper, and proven ways to create a diverse cultural experience for students on campus, including holding smaller concerts that are free and accessible to all students — not just to those who can afford another fifteen dollars. Student organizations like the Portland Events Board provide free tickets to movies and sporting events, and the Multicultural Student Center sponsors trips to museums in Boston — at a cost of only five dollars per student. Last spring, the Philosophy Symposium and The Free Press sponsored a concert in the Woodbury Campus Center that was free and open to all students and attracted over 50 attendees.
The large concert model does not work at USM, especially in Gorham. Every student who attended surely enjoyed it, however at a cost to the SGA of nearly $135 per paid attendee. Investing in a “bigger and better” concert will only succeed in proving that the students and staff who command the activity fee are unable to learn from past mistakes. With service cuts to Campus Health Services, reductions in faculty development funding and a general budget crunch across the university system, student government should set an example of prudence and fiscal responsibility.
Editorials reflect the opinion of The Free Press editorial board: Kirsten Sylvain, Editor-in-Chief; Alex Greenlee, Multimedia Editor; Andrew Henry, Perspectives Editor.