Sun God and Hullabaloo, two of UCSD’s most popular school-sanctioned events, have recently sparked significant controversy among students about the artists, activities, and recent changes. But who puts on these events? And who chooses the artists?
Housed under our student government, Associated Students Concerts and Events (ASCE) plans and orchestrates campus-wide events including Fall Y’all, Hullabaloo, Sun God, and Bear Garden. In other words, ASCE works to reflect student desires for event-life on campus. ASCE is the one link between the students attending and the artists performing at UCSD. With that said, it is our job as students to be more informed of ASCE’s intentions, our own involvement, and to spread the word to our peers about what we can do to influence ASCE’s actions.
Michelle Luong, Senior Associate Vice President of ASCE, and Carol Tang, ASCE Director and Luong’s Chief of Staff, have appointed positions separate from that of AS Cabinet and Senators. Instead of being elected by the students, they were involved in an application and interview process run by their predecessors. Composed of 14 paid staff members and a select group of interns, the ASCE Board holds weekly public meetings on the fourth floor of Price Center. This is an opportunity for students to both suggest and also critique any ASCE-related business. For example, if Childish Gambino’s new album “Awaken, My Love” reinforced your love for him and you want him to perform at UCSD, you can attend these meetings to personally suggest it to the ASCE Board.
Apart from receiving personal recommendations, ASCE uses an entertainment survey along with other online data which, according to Luong, is “anything from Spotify listens, Facebook likes, peer opinions, anything that is trending.” As students, we often think of our voices as whispers because of how large our UCSD population is (33,735 students as of 2015). However, these surveys are the primary way ASCE chooses artists for events and ASCE has made it clear that they want as many students as possible to complete this survey.
Apart from online data, the choice of artists is also heavily dependent on whether or not they are on tour. If the artist is not on tour, it is more difficult to bring the artist to UCSD. Because artists are based in multiple different areas of the world, distance also plays a huge role in booking artists. Therefore, we must remember that our Spotify listens and survey responses are important, but only to an extent. Sometimes, artists are just not touring at the time and are therefore unwilling to perform anywhere.
Another important aspect of ASCE’s job as student event planners is keeping track of money. ASCE’s budget, available online, comes from the quarterly student activity fee that every undergraduate pays. Because of this, it is ASCE’s job to provide the highest quality entertainment for students with their set amount of funds. Tang explained:
“Our budget is currently over a million dollars for the entire office, [which is] allocated in different ways. For example, Sun God festival has its own allocation of […] $730,000. The thing about that is that not all that money can go to the artists. You have to consider a bunch of other factors, like building a stage and hiring security.”
Knowing that our personal funds are in ASCE’s hands should be even more of an incentive for us, students, to reach out to ASCE with suggestions, ideas, and even advice for upcoming campus-wide events.
Taking the student surveys and general ASCE meetings into consideration, UCSD students are in a lot more control of campus-wide events than they often perceive. With the heavy criticism of the 2016 Sun God lineup, it is crucial for students to have their voice heard by the people that make these choices.
“We’re not booking for ourselves,” Luong said. “We’re booking for the student body because we use their student fees to fund this.”
In order to have complete faith in those words, we must bridge the gap between students and ASCE by getting to know the ASCE Board. We must take advantage of every opportunity given to us — that is, we must take the entertainment survey, participate in the general ASCE meetings, and most importantly, encourage our fellow students to do the same.
Ana Magallanes is the Arts and Entertainment editor for Arts & Entertainment for The Triton. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org