BY TIMOTHY YOUNG
Every spring semester, the Student Organization for Activity Planning (SOAP) hosts arguably one of Salisbury University’s biggest events of the year: Gullfest.
The massively hyped spring concert has seen the likes of artists spanning from the Plain White T’s, Calvin Harris, and even Taylor Swift. Usually the concert has three well-known artists take the stage, but this year was a bit different.
Facing budget cuts, SOAP was given access to less than half the concert funds they had last year which featured MKTO, Jessie J and Mac Miller as the headliner. This year featured Jason Derulo as the headliner with local Salisbury bands breakfast. and The Jesters as opening acts. Neither breakfast. or The Jesters were paid for performing.
By polling the students last semester, mentioning names like Chance the Rapper and Childish Gambino, students got their hopes up. Jason Derulo was not on the list so when he was announced, it felt like students had no power over who would be performing on their campus.
SOAP’s troubles didn’t just end with a disappointing concert lineup.
SOAP was unable to secure the intramural fields as a venue, which ended up being relocated to the lawn between Henson and Perdue. This was soon changed to Maggs Gymnasium, due to inclement weather concerns.
During Gullfest, which started in the mid-afternoon with Derulo scheduled to perform at 6:30 p.m., it was reported that his tour bus was experiencing trouble which resulted in him arriving over two hours late. Near the end of his set, the power to the audio systems went dead, resulting in a delay and Derulo had to kill time with one working microphone.
However, this all doesn’t get to be chalked up to just bad luck. SOAP had its own problems with the situation that in hindsight, could have been handled better.
The decision to bring in Derulo was ultimately made by SOAP with no outside input. This obviously upset members of the student body, leading one student to even start a petition against having Derulo come to Gullfest.
There is no use in sitting around and complaining about Gullfest because that won’t make a difference. Students spoke out by not coming. No one wants to see Gullfest fail, but SOAP needs to figure out that the current method of operating isn’t working as well as they might think.
SU students shouldn’t burn SOAP at the stake and move on because Gullfest has the opportunity to be one of the coolest things students can say about their school, and there is an opportunity to change that.
During the week of Gullfest, an open letter to the student body was posted on SOAP’s social media sites highlighting the main issues that went into the Gullfest decisions – everything from the approval of University Police and the reasoning behind choosing Derulo.
This is the kind of transparency that SOAP needed earlier. By keeping the student body in the loop, there would be much less backlash when/if matters go awry.
One of the biggest aspects to consider is that one of the main coordinators of Gullfest is SOAP’s concert chair: a college student. Putting the fate of one of SU’s biggest events in the hands of a student isn’t fair to her or to any other college kid. If the event goes wrong, even with no fault attributed to the student, they still have to help shoulder the blame of the student body being disappointed in their spring concert.
Giving students responsibility is what college is all about, but there are much better ways of giving them opportunities than having them handle the fiasco that is Gullfest. Perhaps it might be better to leave that job to more qualified staff that can better organize the event.