A ‘mild WILD,’ but a safer environment and smooth run

| Editor-in-Chief

Despite a chance of rain and a no-show opener, the biannual Walk In Lay Down concert ran smoothly and made strides toward addressing student concerns.

Rapper Mac Miller performs in Brookings Quad for this year’s spring WILD. The biannual concert resulted in fewer safety incidents than at previous WILDs.Justin Ho | Student Life

Rapper Mac Miller performs in Brookings Quad for this year’s spring WILD. The biannual concert resulted in fewer safety incidents than at previous WILDs.

By introducing bystander intervention training to Social Programming Board members and offering a variety of dietary options for concertgoers, SPB’s WILD committee took concrete steps toward making Brookings Quadrangle a safer space for students.

SPB officials also reported fewer “safety incidents” than previous WILDs, but past and current leaders said the group has more work to do to manage the drinking culture that often surrounds WILD.

While planned opener Choo Jackson did not show up due to undisclosed reasons, freshman WILD director Nick Koutrakis said it was hardly an issue.

“Honestly, I found out the same time we released [the news] to the students,” Koutrakis said. “Mac [Miller] was also traveling with Clockworkdj, and we just talked quickly with the tour manager and we put Clockworkdj for that opening spot. I don’t think students really noticed that there was anything different in the lineup. It was still three artists.”

Koutrakis said that SPB would not pursue the matter further.

“There’s no reason to get angry about something you can’t control,” Koutrakis said. “At that point, WILD was in full force, and there was no reason to freak out about anything.”

WILD as a whole may have been safer than usual, according to junior and current SPB president Jessie Bluedorn. She could not give specific numbers, but she noted that there were fewer safety incidents at WILD.

“Overall, people frame it in this negative way, like it was a ‘mild WILD,’ but I think it was a very high-energy event, just nothing unfortunate happened, and that’s a positive aspect,” Bluedorn said. “I don’t think that’s a negative at all—we don’t like people getting hurt at the event. That’s very sad.”

Koutrakis also said that the committee is actively working to make WILD a comfortable environment for Washington University students.

“No one should ever have to avoid people because they think they’re going to be unsafe,” Koutrakis said. “Starting last year, along with our WILD posters, we put up those messages that kind of remind people, you know, keep it safe, respect yourself, respect your neighbors,” Koutrakis said. “And this year we also partnered with S.A.R.A.H. and Green Dot and did a [bystander intervention] training…It was kind of a modified version of the program specifically for WILD.”

Chan Kwon, vice president of Public Relations for SU and previously promotions director for SPB, said that campus messaging about the dangers of WILD serves to protect students but also accepts reckless behavior.

“There’s those meetings on freshman floors about it, acknowledging it as a drinking thing and kind of encouraging it subconsciously, whereas if you don’t do that anymore…it’s just a catch-22,” Kwon said.

“SPB is at a really critical point right now,” Emma Tyler, senior and former SPB and SU president said. “It’s been a fast-changing culture, but they definitely still have a lot more to be working on.”

Jordan Finkelstein, who served as the 2014 president of SPB and recently took over as president of Student Union, said that the WILD committee members should consider both student interest and quality of performance when choosing artists.

“An indicator of a good WILD is how many people are there when the artist is done,” Finkelstein said. “I would always encourage exec to make sure it’s who the students want, but it’s also going to be a good performance.”

Tyler said that everyone involved with WILD should be examining its overall intention to keep it from becoming “a drink fest.”

“It’s great that we have fun and we’re in college and party, but I think kind of the mission and vision of WILD is lost in that people don’t enjoy it for what it really is, which is a concert…And SPB needs to think about the programming that they’re putting out the day of WILD, the week before WILD, so people really have a fun, engaging day as opposed to what it currently is, [which] is a day when people get drunk to the point of being sick—which is not what we should be doing,” Tyler said.

Finkelstein also said that the artist choice could play into the level of alcohol consumption to some extent.

“I think if you brought an artist that people would want to experience and really remember, I think you would see a decline in the number of students that are drinking to the point of being sick if it’s an artist that they really want to see and remember for the whole time,” Finkelstein said.

Tyler disagreed, stating that in her experience attending and planning WILD, the artist has not had a measurable impact.

“The numbers of medical transports and EST visits are pretty consistent,” Tyler said. “I would say there is an argument to be made that the artist selection doesn’t make a difference. It’s just this culture that’s been built around the day and the concert.”

Botnek opened the show with a variety of EDM and dance music. WILD was slated to have two openers performing before headliner Mac Miller. Miller’s DJ, Clockworkdj, replaced Choo Jackson, who did not show up.

Botnek opened the show with a variety of EDM and dance music. WILD was slated to have two openers performing before headliner Mac Miller. Miller’s DJ, Clockworkdj, replaced Choo Jackson, who did not show up.

Koutrakis said that the team was already making plans for next WILD, with the survey for artists coming out within the next few days. Bluedorn noted that the surveys were an important way for SPB to use the student voice to make their decisions.

“In my opinion, it is one of the best prefs lists that I’ve ever seen on my time on SPB, so I hope that students will know that even if they didn’t love the headliner this year, they do have a chance to affect what next semester brings, and if you’re not happy, get on there. Tell us, vote. Don’t just be like, ‘Well, I hope they get someone good.’ It could be someone you hate again. Put your vote down,” she said.

She noted that, though the past several WILDs have featured rap artists as headliners, SPB is “in no way married to rap,” and the interest survey includes a wide variety of genres and artists. Bluedorn noted that the size of WILD’s audience is likely what has contributed to any dissatisfaction, compared to SPB’s recent successes with comedy shows and Gargoyle concerts.

“I think just because it’s a big student body…you can’t book one artist and have 5,000 people be happy, whereas if you have a comedy show or a concert with a smaller demographic, it self-selects,” Bluedorn said. “The 500 students who are trying to see STRFKR show up to see STRFKR, and that’s that…versus pretty much a majority of the student body population will go to WILD because of what it is and the event that it is, and not all 5,000, disappointingly, will love the artist. My hope is just that we can do our best to make a large part of the student body happy by listening to their voice.”

When asked about goals for the fall concert, Koutrakis was quick to answer.

“Phone-charging stations,” Koutrakis said. “That’s something I picked up at LouFest. I thought like, wow, that kind of allows you to have a festival atmosphere with allowing you to hang out in the quad and you don’t have to go charge your phone. If your phone dies, you’re not panicking.”

Overall, Koutrakis was pleased with the outcome of this year’s event.

“Everything that was SPB-related, we worked great at. I wouldn’t say perfectly, but we worked great…nothing went wrong that we had control over,” Koutrakis said.

With additional reporting by Emily Schienvar.

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