Vol. CLIII, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Students express frustration over Sunday programming

“The whole Sunday thing was not some big programming plan that I had,” said Ellie Klein, this year’s public events director. “The fact that the two biggest bands this semester happened to be on Sundays was completely random.”

On Sunday, Nov. 4, Ben Lee and Cary Brothers played Cordiner Hall, marking the second major concert event of the year and the second Sunday night show. Earlier in the semester, the popular mash-up artist Girl Talk performed to sold-out crowds at the Reid Ballroom, also on a Sunday night.

Students have noticed the pattern, which Klein called incidental, and many have expressed frustration or even outright confusion about the scheduling of events. Sunday nights are often inconvenient for students attempting to finish homework or study for exams on Monday.

“Sunday nights aren’t major nights, and so it’s probably cheaper and more advantageous for bands to come,” first-year Ari Frink said, when asked why he thought ASWC was scheduling shows on Sundays.

Klein described the process through which ASWC recruits bands to play on campus, saying, “We choose dates based on a band’s touring dates and what venues we, Whitman College, have available,” she said. “For the case of Girl Talk, Gregg Gillis was available Saturday and Sunday, but Reid was booked Saturday and thus we either had to have the concert in Cordiner on Saturday, in Reid on Sunday or not at all. As for Ben Lee, Sunday was the day that happened to work in his tour.”

Klein said that the bigger the band, the harder it is to schedule a show, but emphasized that two Sunday night concerts are not what she would consider a trend. “It just so happened that way this semester,” she said. “We also had many smaller concerts, such as Brazz Tree, M.Bison and Blitzen Trapper on Fridays and Saturdays. Last year Guster was on a Tuesday before exams. It’s just the way it goes: bigger bands have busier schedules and require bigger venues and thus we cannot always have them on Fridays and Saturdays.”

While some students begrudge the loss of study time, others say it is worth it to plan their weekend around a really exciting band, Sunday night shows not excluded. “I’d say generally they are [inconvenient], but I think it’s pretty easy to just do some homework on Saturday in anticipation of an awesome Sunday,” Frink said.

Brittan Borland, a sophomore, added, “There are fewer conflicts on a Sunday evening, because nobody schedules their classes, rehearsals, club events and parties for a Sunday evening. It might be a bit inconvenient to lose that valuable studying time, but I’d rather study on Saturday than miss a concert because I was sitting in an exam.”

Klein said much gets decided based on the bands’ agendas, especially if they are based somewhere farther away. The fact that Whitman is located in a relatively remote town like Walla Walla is not the primary concern.

“It’s not so much that [bands] would rather play in big cities: it is more that we look at their current tour dates and then book them from there,” Klein said. “If a band from New York is going to be playing in Seattle or Portland then that is around the time we try to have them to Whitman. This increases the likelihood of them saying ‘yes’ and then decreases the cost of travel.”

Klein said that low turnout was not an issue at the Girl Talk concert, which reached full capacity for the Ballroom, but admitted that the Sunday night timing might have influenced smaller crowds at Ben Lee. “I think having it on a Sunday did affect the turnout to some extent. Again, I wish it could have been on a Friday or Saturday, but it couldn’t. And I can’t just keep turning down bands hoping that I will find out that fits perfectly into our schedule and is something that the campus would like.”

Despite scheduling, Klein said student feedback about the bands themselves has been positive. “Personally, I am really happy with how this year has gone,” she said. “I think we have had a good diversity of concerts, which is my goal, and hopefully will continue to do the same next semester. The only concern I have heard was the whole Sunday thing.”

Students who are interested in programming for next year are encouraged to contact ASWC Nominations Chair John Stewart and apply for ASWC Public Events Chair. Applications are due after Thanksgiving break.

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