SPB responds to WILD backlash, outlines plans to reform processes

Aiden Blinn | Contributing Reporter

The Social Programming Board executive board responded to backlash over the fall WILD lineup, apologizing for the complains brought against the WILD selection process and outlining steps to improve the procedure in a statement released Thursday, Sept. 27.

SPB’s controversial decision to feature comedy rapper Lil Dicky in the Oct. 6 concert has been criticized by members of the Washington University community. Many students have taken to social media to point out Lil Dicky’s history of writing lyrics and making statements that they view as offensive and contradictory to the University’s values.

Rhythm and blues singer Jason Derulo performs his song “Wiggle” at spring WILD 2017, held in Brookings Quadrangle. In addition to securing Derulo as the headliner for the event, SPB brought in Dutch pop singer Natalie La Rose as an opener and Canadian DJ Vanic as a closer.Jordan Chow | Student Life

Rhythm and blues singer Jason Derulo performs his song “Wiggle” at spring WILD 2017, held in Brookings Quadrangle. In addition to securing Derulo as the headliner for the event, SPB brought in Dutch pop singer Natalie La Rose as an opener and Canadian DJ Vanic as a closer.

In an effort to address the community’s concerns, SPB listed initiatives to better the selection and screening processes for future performers.

“The Social Programming Board is proud of the collective work of our organization and the many wonderful programs that we have offered students. Nevertheless, we regret that our process has not been sufficiently inclusive and responsive to the preferences of our fellow students,” the statement read.

The statement alluded to Lil Dicky’s contentious track record in the media before disclosing that SPB has informed the upcoming artists—Lil Dicky and openers Lizzo and A R I Z O N A—about recent events in the community.

“On Oct. 6, we will host a diverse lineup on the WILD stage. However, we know that some of the artists may have made statements you do not agree with,” the statement read. “Please know that our team has worked with the artists to ensure that they are aware of the recent events that have impacted our city, campus and community over the past few weeks.”

To prevent further disputes about the WILD artist selection in the future, SPB aims to improve WILD by including the entire SPB executive board, instead of only the WILD director, in the initial phase of the selection process.

“By having more ideas and inputs from a larger group, problematic artists can be more easily identified and the artists on the survey will better represent student’s interests,” the statement read.

SPB will also host bimonthly forums, open to the entire student body, to further its goal of seeking input from more people.

“Students can pitch ideas and give feedback,” the statement read. “We hope that this will make SPB more transparent in our actions and will allow students to more easily engage with us in constructive dialogue.”

Additionally, the board will send the WILD artist options to both the Diversity Affairs Council and the Center of Diversity and Inclusion, which SPB president and junior Noah Truwit hopes will eliminate controversial artists.

“Our goal was to make sure that we never include another problematic artist on the survey and these changes lessen the opportunity for that to happen,” Truwit wrote in a statement to Student Life.

According to Truwit, SPB’s executive board planned the statement to address student complaints and create meaningful solutions to issues with the WILD selection process.

“We wanted to respond to student’s concerns and criticism in a way that let students know we are listening and that we are open to changing processes,” Truwit wrote. “The exec board spent a lot of time crafting this statement because it was important to us that we release a statement that included tangible changes in response to the criticism we received.”

SPB consulted with students and administration to incorporate a variety of perspectives in the changes to its procedures.

“We reached out to the Center for Diversity & Inclusion, as well as some of the students who voiced concerns at the open Senate session and other Campus Life administrators to ensure that the actions we are taking meet the expectations of the people that were hurt by our process” Truwit wrote.

Despite these changes, Truwit said SPB leadership will still be chosen through an interview process rather than elections, a convention students have challenged.

“The board continues to be selected based off of interviews because the nature of our jobs require a skillset and certain level of industry knowledge to effectively program on this campus. That can only be sussed out through our interview process, which works closely with elected officials in [Student Union],” Truwit wrote.

Sophomore Hiba Yousif was pleased to see SPB publicly respond to concerns with concrete actions.

“It was nice to see that the exec members of SPB were actually willing to speak to students and work through changes to constitution and the rules that they’ve been following,” Yousif said.

However, Yousif felt that SPB’s response did not adequately confront the issue of Lil Dicky’s selection, which she thinks contradicts the University’s values.

“It could have been a little bit more intentional. I think it honestly kind of glazed over the issue a little bit,” Yousif said. “The issue is the system that [Lil Dicky] works within and benefits from and sort of represents, and if Wash. U. is going to be a campus that prides itself on diversity and inclusion and creating safe spaces for students from all different backgrounds, it’s not a good look to bring a person like Lil Dicky onto campus. ”

There has also been an event organized on Facebook called “WalkOut/B-WILD,” described as “Black WILD.”

“Basically, everyone [who] thinks Lil Dicky is a racist piece of trash, will leave white WILD after Lizzo slays, and continue to turn up at a soon-to-be-disclosed location on campus,” the event description read.

According to Truwit, SPB’s efforts are meant to better the WILD experience, rather than meant solely as a response to complaints surrounding Lil Dicky’s selection.

“We hope that people accept the statement in the spirit in which it is delivered and that is with humility and a sincere desire for our process to reflect the wants of the students we serve. We were charged with listening and making changes, so we did just that,” Truwit said. “We are trying to better our process so more people feel included in the programming we bring to campus.”

Additional reporting by Sam Seekings.