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Case Western Reserve University's independent student news source

The Observer

Case Western Reserve University's independent student news source

The Observer

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Editorial: Programming with student interests in mind

University Program Board (UPB) hosts a wide variety of events on campus, from weekly Thwing Tuesdays and Spot Nights to yearly concerts. While most of these events are well-attended and highly successful, students have complained that the artists UPB brings to campus are not aligned with their musical tastes. It’s impossible to please everyone, but we agree that UPB could be doing more to gauge student interest.

In UPB’s defense, students take for granted the big-name bands like the Goo Goo Dolls that UPB has brought to campus for its free winter concerts. Some complain that with all its funding, UPB should be able to do better. What they don’t realize is just how much money it takes – often upwards of $40,000 – to sign a band for a gig like this. Really big names like Taylor Swift would be simply out of the question, if students expect their tickets to be free.

There are also other factors in determining who plays at a UPB concert: the artist has to be available and willing to accept the offer. CWRU isn’t exactly a big school, so some artists are likely to go elsewhere in hopes of getting more exposure. Considering this, UPB does an admirable job.

But the fact remains that not a single survey or poll has been seen from UPB. Sure, a suggestions box of sorts would be useless – students would be inclined to suggest impossibly big names, only to be disappointed. But maybe UPB should consider getting a couple of feasible options, then asking students which they would prefer.

In contrast to its yearly concerts, UPB’s Spot Night features lesser-known, local musicians in a smaller, bar-like setting. The great thing about Spot Night is that it often hosts very talented artists before they get big (and expensive). Cleveland’s music scene is full of up-and-coming musicians in all genres, and it’s great to see UPB take advantage of this – it gives the musicians a chance to get their name out there, and gives students access to live music they’ve likely never heard before.

In the past, UPB seems to have made an effort to represent a variety of music genres at Spot Night – including rap, metal, indie rock, and even Celtic – and has found a number of unique, little-known bands that turned out to be really cool.

This variation is a good thing. UPB doesn’t need to survey students about their genre preferences for Spot Night, because they don’t want to feature only the genres that the majority of students listen to. But if UPB were to ask students for suggestions, they might get some excellent ideas for other local bands to bring to CWRU.

Some students wonder if, despite its large amount of funding, UPB has spread itself too thin. Perhaps UPB should sponsor a few shows each year with big-name bands, rather than a small band at Spot Night every week. But is this what students want? UPB should be polling students to find out.

While UPB has some pretty cool programming, it’s lacking when it comes to getting student input. UPB should consider conducting surveys in the dining halls or attaching polls to the UPB newsletter to gauge student opinion – not just for music preferences, but for other events as well. It certainly has the money to do so, and it would be an easy way to improve student attendance at the many fun events UPB has to offer.

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