ANGLES: UBG Big Event: is it worth the time and money?

Money should be spent on more productive activities.


Imagine putting 17 dollars down to see a country band named something along the lines of “palm leaves” or “parmesan cheese” on a stressed Sunday night, ten days before finals. Sound pleasing? Welcome to the 2018 Union Board of Governor’s idea of a “Big Event.” 

But wait—maybe this is just a one year fluke. Let’s check last year. Do you remember putting 20 dollars down to listen to a grown man ruin those rose-colored memories of a retired Disney Channel heartthrob, while surrounded by crop tops and Birkenstocks. Again, on a Sunday ten days before finals. I don’t.

Now, to be fair, UBG does work hard to plan and host magicians, comedians and other artists each Friday night for our enjoyment. Even if they are mediocre, they give students—well, freshmen—a night where they can forget about the foreboding homework clouds hanging over their heads and socialize with the Augie community. 

Plus, there is always free food and we all know Augie students are suckers for free food. Buffalo Wild Wings and Coldstone, anyone?

And had I gone back in time five years, we’d find that the 2013 Big Event lived up to its name when Augustana had not just one, but three impressive artists in a single year. We had a visit from Phillip Phillips, the Plain White T’s and best of all—Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (even if we only had them because they hadn’t gone thrift shopping yet).

But that was the past. These days, the big event is no longer a big event. To call Parmalee a “big” event is like trying to pass the dining hall for fine dining or the Towers for skyscrapers. 

Maybe I’m being too harsh or too cynical, but when we’re talking about the use of thousands of student dollars, it must not go without scrutiny. 

Those are thousands of dollars that could be put towards arguably more important matters, such as providing more scholarships, funding for student research, renovating Old Main or growing the bike rental program which international students rely on for quick errands.

After all, since UBG receives 45 percent of all student organization funding from the ASA, it might not hurt to divy the funds up among other student organizations such as Augie Green, which has been improving campus sustainability, Better Together, which has been promoting interfaith discussion or the new group H.A.P.P.Y, which has been supplying menstrual hygiene products for students on campus. 

This is funding that would be benefiting the Augustana community exclusively, rather than providing a portion of Augustana students and Sioux Falls residents a mediocre concert for one Sunday night.

To be fair, there is still an argument to be made for the Big Event. It can serve as a bridge between Sioux Falls residents and Augie students, it can put a brief spotlight on the university and it can provide a few hours of stress relief.

But if we want a Big Event that lives up to the hype, it might be best if students had more of a say in who to invite. 

Maybe that way, we could avoid watching funds go towards a quartet of cloned men in denim and gelled-back hair, singing “Oh yeah that girl is like a first class high dollar ticket on the chattanooga choo-choo / Can I get a woo woo (woo woo).”

Jessica Ruf is a junior English and journalism major from Sioux Falls, S.D.

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