I recently wrote an article in the Bullsheet (Denison University’s daily newsletter) in which I criticized the D-Day selection process and the D-Day planning committee. For those of you that are not familiar, D-Day is a concert held every fall, and it is significant because the school pays to bring a big-name artist to perform at Denison (with free admission to students). In the article, I complained that the artists that have been brought in the past few years (notably Jay Sean and Mike Posner) have been…bad. As a result of the artist selections, enthusiasm for D-Day has been low and attendance has dropped. As a solution, I proposed that, in choosing the artist, the D-Day selection committee should appeal to a passionate subset of the Denison population, instead of trying to find an artist that they think the entire student body likes.
A few days after my article came out, I read in the Bullsheet a response by D-Day committee members Deniz and Paige. The article was levelheaded, cogent, and respectful, and for this I was deeply disappointed. I was really hoping for an angry, irrational tirade. Were that they case, I would have written this article you are reading much earlier. But, the lack of vitriol in Deniz and Paige’s rebuttal reduced the urgency of my response. Though, as I read their article, which essentially argued that this year will make up for the mistakes of the past, I began to think more about some very fundamental flaws in the way D-Day is run. And here I present my final thoughts on the subject.
Instead of giving the D-Day selection committee – a small, unelected body of (generally) type-A personalities – full and final say on the selection of the artist, I propose that the process be made democratic. During the very beginning of first semester, or at the end of second semester the previous year, the d-day committee should compile a list of potential D-Day artists. The committee should factor in the artist’s cost, as well as the artist’s availability on the selected date of the concert. This is would be the extent of the committee’s responsibilities.
The committee would then make public the list of potential artists. Denison students would then be able to cast their vote on which artist/s they would prefer. The artist with the most votes would then be chosen. If that artist becomes unavailable, the artist with the second most votes would be chosen.
To ease the concerns of those who think I’m just pulling this plan out of my ass, I can assure you a very similar policy exists at other schools with similar budgets and number of students. At SUNY New Paltz, for example, which my old friend Chacho has attended for the past three and a half years, they have a policy remarkably similar to the one I’ve proposed. For their yearly Rock Against Racism concert, students are able to rank from a list of about 4 or 5 artists which artist they want to see.
D-day will improve tremendously if Denison institutes this policy. Because the student body has a say in the selection of the artist: a) students be more excited about the concert, b) attendance will increase, and c) the atmosphere of the concert will improve. Furthermore, the process will be made easier for the selection committee. They will not only have less work to do, but, because they will not have the burden of keeping the selection process a secret until the last minute, they will be able to begin the process much earlier. In fact, we can maintain the secret of the artist by not announcing which of the proposed artists has been elected.
I am not disappointed with the D-Day committee’s selection this year. I am confident that Hoodie Allen and Matt and Kim will put on a good show. And students seem to approve of the choice. However, my first concern is not with the artists themselves. I am concerned with the process of selecting the artist. As a point of principle, every decision involving groups of people should be made democratically. There is no reason why the student body should not have a say in who they want to see.