The Ivory Soapbox: CS40 ruined WUStock

“We’re sorry,” a loudspeaker-toting Council of the South 40 representative blasted into my ear on Friday, “but this is just the way it needs to be.” The representative was referring to CS40’s decision to have students wait in line to collect one of 2,000 tickets that were necessary to see Macklemore perform after WUStock was moved to the Pageant due to inclement weather, and she couldn’t have been more wrong. Rather, this was just the latest in a series of bungles that bear witness to the hair-wrenching ineptitude of those responsible for planning WUStock this year and which suggest that new leadership, or at least better oversight, is needed on CS40.

The mistakes began in mid-February, when CS40 announced that the concert was being moved from Saturday, April 6 to Sunday, March 24 in compliance with a request from Macklemore’s agent. The decision was reached because, according to CS40 Swamp Chair and sophomore Yuwen Memon, CS40 “didn’t want to jeopardize possibly losing him if he chose the other gig instead of us.”

There are two things wrong with this. First, CS40 was unwilling to play hardball with Macklemore. Instead of holding out until it was explicitly told Wash. U. would be skipped, CS40 leadership opted immediately to cave to Macklemore’s request, the detrimental effects of which are now obvious to all. Additionally, and even more frustrating, the move reveals that the contract CS40 and Macklemore signed was so flimsy as to allow the artist not to fulfill what should have been his legal obligation. Perhaps CS40 was pressured into agreeing to a clause saying that Macklemore could cancel the show whenever he wished and for whatever reason, and perhaps this is standard practice, but if so, it indicates a certain spinelessness on the part of CS40. If artists do insist on such clauses, then they should not be booked.

The day chosen was similarly poorly thought-out. Obviously, CS40 could not have known what the weather would be like a month down the road, but this is St. Louis, and CS40 should have been aware of the fact that our early springs can be temperamental. Indeed, when this publication broke the date change, it quotes students who expressed trepidation—rightly—about what the weather would be.

When the worst-case scenario happened and, as a result of CS40’s lack of foresight and generally subpar decisions, WUStock had to be moved indoors, CS40 promptly botched the ticket distribution process in a way that defies belief. Given that WUStock is a for-students production, and given that it is funded with activity fees students are forced to pay, CS40’s first move should have been to regretfully inform outside guests that they would no longer be able to attend and offer them a refund, rather than reassuring them that “prior tickets purchased will be honored.” Additionally, the move indoors was not effectively communicated; many students didn’t get the memo, which wouldn’t have been a problem if the ticket giveaway hadn’t started a mere three hours later.

Further, as anyone who stood in line can attest, rampant cutting took place, and little to no attempt was made to stop it. CS40 could at the very least have thrown up some fences to force people into a line and reduced cutting, but such fences failed to materialize. Enforcement was so terrible that multiple students, after receiving tickets, jumped a few spaces back and collected more—there was no checklist. And of course, students didn’t even need to stand in line for tickets; it was advertised as a bonus by CS40 that you could give your ID to a friend—a move that may be in violation of the school’s judicial code—who could pick up a ticket for you, though the number of IDs a single person could hold seemed to fluctuate. As a consequence, students standing just beyond the Residential Life key kiosk, to say nothing of the hundreds behind them, were left in the cold.

From start to finish, WUStock’s execution this year has been an unmitigated disaster. Even after the event was snowed out, CS40 could have requested that students line up outside The Pageant, set up some railings and allowed admittance to the first 2,000 students. What it did instead was unfair, disorderly and potentially warrants investigation and punishment from the University. If nothing else, those responsible for this fiasco need to be sacked, their tickets should have been redistributed to deserving students—it hardly seems fair to reward those who screwed the pooch—and mechanisms need to be put into place to ensure that something like this does not happen again.

  • WashU Student

    StudLife continues to unimpress — my high school newspaper was better than this. This sounds like an op-ed? If it is, persuade your reader with compelling argument, instead of venting (rather incoherently at times) and writing to the abilities of a prepubescent.

  • Student

    your an idiot

  • Laura

    1. CS40 is not spineless for “caving”… they made a smart decision given tough circumstances. Do you realize how much more power a money/fame machine like Macklemore & RL has than the CS40? It was wonderful and awesome that they were able to contract them, and they didn’t want to lose them. You’d have complained if they had, I bet. Which is what would likely have happened if they had “held out.”

    2. “If artists do insist on such clauses, then they should not be booked.”
    Well, you might as well call off WUStock altogether, right? What kind of artist do you think you’re booking without the kind of contract you’re talking about here? Maybe a high school band who can’t pay for legal advice or something. I don’t know.

    3. The weather rant?! Are you kidding me? St. Louis weather is temperamental every day, and WUStock is always held in early spring. No one can predict that two weeks are going to make the difference between a snowstorm and beach weather. I think CS40 made the right decision in changing the show date to keep Macklemore & RL, and if they’d made it later, it would have run into exams and rain season, and there’d be just as much upset among students.

    Man, for a community that has as much as it does, Wash. U. really does know how to make a petty complaint out of literally everything.

  • Anonymous

    1) I don’t know what WUStock’s exact budget is, but guest tickets contributed several thousand dollars to the fund. It is reasonable to believe that contribution was necessary for the event’s move. Refunding the tickets may not have even been an option.

    2) Our erratic weather doesn’t stop being erratic any later in the year. In the past few years, more outdoor events have been canceled or cut short from April tornadoes than March storms. It is completely off base to criticize them for having the event this early.

    2) The original contract wasn’t flimsy. It included strict fees for if Macklemore backed out. The issue is that since Macklemore was oringally booked, his music got so big that he could have backed out, paid all fees, and still made profit by playing elsewhere. That’s business. It’s the same reason Nate Silver’s agent held off giving a contract until after the election. CS40 did a fantastic job making sure Macklemore came at all.

    While I agree the distribution of tickets could have been handled better, the majority of this opinion is ill-informed or neglectful of reality.

  • Anony-moose

    Get over yourself. Any contract signed would have cancellation clauses in favor of the artist. That’s just how these things work, even the ones for the assembly series are the same. Even if the contract he had with CS40 had a massive late fee, his relatively recent fame would allow him to cancel this show and hold another one and still come out ahead financially. Contracts exist to protect the artist, not the clients. Do a little research and maybe you’d know that.

    I hate CS40, but aside from the ticket distribution issue I don’t think they did anything wrong here. CS40 did NOT immediately cave. CS40 worked to arrive at an acceptable solution with the artist so that they wouldn’t have to cancel the show.