Alternative WILD to be held due to criticisms of Lil Dicky
In response to the divisive politics of this year’s WILD headliner, rapper Lil Dicky, an “Alternative WILD” will take place after a walk-out following the opening performance of hip-hop artist Lizzo.
The event, organized by seven students, will feature various speakers and artists in hopes of creating a space where marginalized students will not feel targeted.
Since the announcement of Lil Dicky as the main performer for this fall’s WILD, several complaints have been lodged with the Student Programming Board, directed at the racist and misogynistic content of the artist’s songs. Along with the direct complaints about Lil Dicky, students also complained about SPB’s selection process regarding which artists are on the survey sent out to all undergraduate students at Washington University.
One host of the event, junior Clayton Covington, said the decision to host an alternative event to WILD is intended as a way for those not attending to still have fun.
“By taking agency for ourselves, it is a form of protest, but we are not trying to deprive ourselves of having a good time like everyone else,” Covington said. “I don’t think [the choice was] solely on SPB. I think ultimately they have the power to mediate the decision, but this is on the student body at large.”
SPB executives made a statement announcing their awareness of concerns from the student body and made future plans to vet performers prior to the voting process—a decision made after a Senate session that WILD Director and junior Zach Alter and Assistant Director for Student Involvement and Programming Josh Gruenke. SPB chose not to comment on the alternative event.
Senator and junior Joey Vettiankal believes that by being elected to Senate, it is his, and other SU members’, responsibility to listen and protect those who are hurt by the choice.
“I think part of being an SU senator is that we’re the advocacy branch of the government, and I think if we see that people are being hurt by something, they’re the ones who elected us and we have a responsibility to listen,” Vettiankal said. “In their document, SPB said that they were going to use the [Center for Diversity and Inclusion] as a resource for these performers, and I think that’s certainly a step in the right direction.”
Given the recent, tense political climate in St. Louis, the seven hosts of “Alternative WILD” hoped that SPB would amend their decision to host Lil Dicky this weekend.
“It’s necessary [to host another event] because as constituents of this community, we’re not seeing a return on our investment. So, we are providing an alternative,” Covington said. “I don’t think we’ve seen this level of direct attack because there are quotes in [Lil Dicky’s] songs that expresses his antagonism.”
Each semester, students are charged $254 as an activity fee (approximately 1 percent of tuition), and a part of this goes to fund WILD, so Vettiankal thinks that students should have more say.
“This is [the students’] activities money that’s going to this stuff, so I think they should definitely have a voice,” Vettiankal said. “I also think that it’s also important to weigh the considerations of what impacts these artists might have on people.”
While the logistics of the alternative WILD event are still being finalized, the hosts are hoping to create a space where marginalized voices can be not only recognized, but also celebrated through guest speakers and culturally inclusive music.
“I think there can be a level of separation [between artists and what they produce]. However, in this specific case that separation is definitely not present, especially because he literally puts himself in the situation as a white rapper in predominately black art form,” Covington said. “He puts himself as a white man who likes to have sex with black women and fetishize them, so I don’t think separation is possible because he makes it impossible.”
The location of the event will be disclosed on the evening of Thursday, Oct. 5.