Staff Editorial: CAB, Do Your Homework

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Staff Editorial: CAB, Do Your Homework

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Spring Weekend, the annual concert hosted by the Rose Hill Campus Activities Board (CAB) a week before finals, is arguably Fordham’s biggest social event of the year. So why was it such a train wreck this time?

Performers were leaked far ahead of schedule. CAB removed the first headliner, Soulja Boy, from the lineup a month before the concert because his arrest violated his contract with the university. A performer who has faced allegations of gang rape, Sean Kingston, was slated to perform until Dean of Students at Rose Hill Christopher Rogers overruled CAB less than a week before the event.

When students brought up their issues about Kingston in the weeks leading up to the concert, CAB dismissed those concerns, offering a flurry of excuses justifying their actions.

Sean Kingston was accused in 2013 of gang-raping a 19-year-old. When an accuser filed a lawsuit, Kingston settled the charge outside of court. Whether or not he is guilty, the accusation is deserving of serious concern, and CAB, as the organizers for this event, had the responsibility to assess that information before they hired him.

The fact that the victim was 19 years old at the time causes the allegations to sting in a unique way, and only entrenches CAB’s responsibility to have vetted Kingston before booking him for Spring Weekend.

When pressed, CAB first said that they had not been aware of the allegations against Kingston when they booked him in the fall.

The Ram reported that CAB President Kathryn Teaney, Fordham College at Rose Hill ’19, said that past controversies are taken into account in the choice of performers, but that CAB did not find any information on Kingston’s sexual assault claims before they had booked him.

According to the paper, an alternative college newspaper at Rose Hill, CAB’s original search consisted of examining the first five pages of the query “Sean Kingston controversy.”

The choice of a featured performer for a concert as big as Spring Weekend warrants more than a cursory scan of preliminary search results, but CAB was careless in the initial process of selecting Kingston and gave it only a shameful approximation of the diligence it deserved. However, even CAB’s negligent approach should have revealed the allegations — which are included on his Wikipedia page.

This lack of knowledge is even more alarming considering the precedent for universities canceling Kingston’s performances due to the allegations, at schools including Western University, Seattle University and University of Connecticut.

CAB’s next excuse was that they had no additional information on the charges other than from “tabloid news reports.”

According to Kingston, the intercourse between himself and the victim was consensual, but the victim stated in 2013 that she had “smoked marijuana and took 7 to 10 shots of vodka.” Whether or not he forced her, intoxicated sex is nonconsensual.

Spring Weekend this year should have been business as usual, but it was marred by poor planning, little communication and a stunning lack of care for students’ concerns.

There should have been a thorough and comprehensive background check on all potential candidates, and CAB should have paid proper attention to artists’ prior conduct in accordance with their own professed values. If CAB had put the necessary effort in, they would have eliminated Kingston from the running in the first place and saved at least $25,000 dollars in wasted booking fees.

Furthermore, it would have been a strong statement of support for sexual assault survivors — whose experiences CAB claims to take seriously — if they had canceled Kingston’s performance in spite of the financial loss, rather than allow the situation to reach a point in which a dean had to step in at the last minute. With other performances already planned, Spring Weekend promised to be a fun time without him.

This is an important lesson for all student groups going forward.

We should all be very careful when deciding who will represent our university when they come to campus. The contracting of the speakers and performers we invite into our spaces warrants significant vetting and needs to be taken seriously.

CAB failed the test this time, but hopefully, all student groups will learn from the smoldering embers of the two Spring Weekend performances that went up in smoke and do their homework going forward.