REFLECTIONS ON SATURDAY'S CONCERT
It's over. After several weeks of anticipation, AU was put on the map by the appearance of the Grateful Dead Saturday night. It was quite an evening, and I doubt if it will ever be forgotten. Who can forget the $30,000 it cost? Who can forget the aggravation it caused? Who can forget those who spent two sleepless days and nights on dorm security duty? Who can forget the 25 OD's? Who can forget the way Jan Goldsmith played God with the students' [ -- ] and kept the identity of the band away from those who paid for it?
Granted, AU students need and deserve good concerts and other diversions; after all, how often can one go to the Tavern? However, a band like the Dead simply have no business being at AU. We simply do not have the staff, facilities or physical [ -- ] that are necessary to run the concert properly and ensure the safety of all. True, nothing happened - except 25 OD's - but I feel that we were just lucky this time. Who can say how much longer our luck can hold out? Can we afford to find out?
Even if facilities were not a problem, the cost certainly would be. The Student Union and Goldsmith have a yearly concert budget of $80,000. The Dead cost $30,000. Next month, Chicago is scheduled to appear here for a mere $18,000. That leaves about $32,000 for the seven remaining months of the academic year. To make matters worse, each one of us ended up paying for about 3 outsiders at the Dead concert, since several sources estimate that about 75% of Saturday's crowd were not from AU! I doubt that many of us are willing to foot the bill for the entertainment of the entire metropolitan area. What's more, there is not one good reason why we should.
The people who ran the medical station and provided extra dorm security deserve much more praise than the Dead's uninspired and boring performance. These people, who all served without pay, treated 25 drug overdoses and numerous minor medical problems. It is impossible to tell just how much we owe those who provided extra security in the dorms. Who knows how many rip-offs were averted by their presence? Those of us who were here during [ -- ] know what a living hell those dorms can be when invaded by mobs of outsiders, with little or no extra security on duty.
Most students resent Goldsmith's childish attempts to conceal the band's identity. Our money paid for the group, and we had a right to know who it was immediately after the contract was signed. Of course, Goldsmith will say that this was done for security reasons. If that is true, he and his cohorts had no business bringing a band on campus whose presence might cause security problems of such a magnitude that secrecy was felt necessary.
What is the solution then? Obviously, it is not to cancel all future concerts - we need and enjoy them. However, we were lucky this time because our hastily arranged medical and security facilities somehow worked. We can't take such a chance next time. If "Greatspender" Goldsmith likes to throw around 18 or 30 thousand dollars, let him throw in another thousand for decent security, better medical services, and pay for those who help out. If he continues to be so callous of those who live on campus (he doesn't), and so careless with our thousands of dollars, he should be brought to task by either recall or impeachment.
The creation of the Student Union Board has enabled the students to place the blame for poorly-planned and overpriced concerts right where it belongs. If the Chicago concert is handled in a similar manner, we'll all know where the blame should go.
(by Gary Lipkin, from the American Eagle, 6 October 1972)
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The same issue had a letter to the Eagle from the Washington Free Clinic, explaining why they were not at the concert. An excerpt:
Recently the Washington Free Clinic was asked to handle medical emergencies at the Grateful Dead concert this last Saturday night. We feel that our position warrants an explanation to the community.
For the past three [years] the Washington Free Clinic has continually seen to the health needs of the community; community meaning many things to many people, those interested in alternative health services, students, and so called "freaks." The administration of AU, unlike other area universities, has consistently failed to meet the health needs of its students, whether it be a full time MD, birth control education and prescription, or a 24 hour infirmary. Many of the problems encountered by AU students, such as VD, pregnancies and birth control, have been dealt with here at the Washington Free Clinic. While other schools in DC, such as Howard and GW, have responded to their students' needs, we at the Washington Free Clinic have carried the burden for AU, while our requests for support have only met with strain and struggle from the Student Union Board (SUB). . . .
The SUB concert budget for this year is $80,000. We understand that $30,000 of this went to this concert. $20,000 directly to the Dead, approximately $2500 for security (to protect buildings and grounds) and the rest for miscellaneous items such as a mobile house for the group's comfort (dressing rooms at AU were not adequate), [ -- ] drinks for the Dead at their hotel, special T-shirts for "staff," two limousines with drivers and special treatment for 50 of the Dead's friends. It seems strange that the SUB and the administration had the foresight to budget for all of the above items, while not considering health care until the last minute.
Meanwhile, the health needs of the people were basically ignored. If AU cannot accept the responsibilities accompanying a concert, they should not even attempt it. To do so is irresponsible.
We felt that under the circumstances we could not respond to AU's last minute request. The administration and the SUB knew for at least a week that the concert was definite, yet failed to tell anyone until last Tuesday.
At this point they dumped all health problems on [ -- ], who called us. For the Washington Free Clinic to adequately equip the concert with people and supplies, we would have had to work close to 24 hours a day through Saturday. We felt that our request for a $500 donation was not out of line. Once more, AU expected the Washington Free Clinic to assume responsibility. . . .
See also: http://www.american.edu/americanmagazine/in-closing/fall2007.cfm
Thanks to jgmf.blogspot.com