Counterpoint: No WILD, no tradition, no transparency
Come fall of 2016, students will congregate on Kingsbury Avenue, in South 40 common rooms, at various other quasi-contained arenas, hoping in vain for the electric WILD atmosphere. Yeah, the concert series is pretty overrated, but, honestly, who cares? It’s a fun day to hang out and pretend our lives don’t revolve around academics. And one other thing: WILD is the only tradition that our 162-year-old school lays claim to.
To cancel WILD destroys any culture our school has. What are the tour guides going to talk about during their walk through Brookings Quadrangle? How will we make witty Instagram caption puns? What will they do with the inflatable couches?
Without WILD, Washington University will never make a BuzzFeed party school list ever again. Without WILD, we are nothing.
On the less melodramatic side, the cancellation of WILD actually indicates a much larger problem. The student activities fee—the funds that pay for WILD—are drawn directly from each student’s tuition. As such, every student is supposed to have a say in how his or her money is used. We are each a shareholder in the Social Programming Board company, and the organization should be held accountable accordingly.
In the process of eliminating next semester’s WILD, the students were not consulted and, at best, blindsided by the news. While hosting the debate is a great honor for our University, how fair is it to determine, without evidence, that hosting the debate will be more appealing to students than hosting a concert? Add on that the debate attendance will be chosen via a lottery system and that the vast majority of the student body will not even have the option of attending, and you get an undemocratic decision that eliminates a communal event.
Yes, SPB is attempting to appease the student body by claiming that the excess funds will be spent on spring WILD, but that won’t make a huge difference. Artist booking fees fluctuate with each new album and promotion, making the supposed caliber impossible to determine. Where we could afford Childish Gambino and Chance the Rapper two years ago, that possibility is highly unlikely now.
Yes, SPB will program other events around the debate, but outside of political science majors (full disclosure: I am one), who is going to maintain interest in an event they’re barred from? Excuse my cynicism, but a rousing debate between two professional liars, happening in your general proximity, isn’t usually cause for a day full of “darty’s.”
And yes, SPB will spin this news like they had no choice, like it was the fault of the Secret Service, like Hillary Clinton is the best thing since double-breasted suits, but all that shows is a lack of creativity. We’ve known about the debate since late September, leaving a full year to work out logistics and hurdle obstacles. I’m not saying I know the thought process behind the decision to cancel WILD, but was an earlier event date really so unfeasible? Why not start the semester off with a party and then devote all the energy toward programing around the debate? Or, at the very least, why not consult us?
We go to a school filled with some of the greatest minds in the nation—minds that not only fund SPB, but keep it relevant. Sending out a call for suggestions as to best work around the debate logistics and to then take a vote is not that unreasonable a request. Sure the politicians are coming to town, but that doesn’t mean that we have to act like them.