In the past five years, Binghamton University has not chosen a female headliner for either Spring Fling or fall concert.
This year’s Spring Fling, like the many that have come before it, is being headlined by two male performers: GoldLink and Playboi Carti. The last time a woman was part of a headlining act was when Matt and Kim headlined Spring Fling in 2014. So we must ask: Where are the women?
Christopher Wright, concerts chair for the Student Association Programming Board (SAPB) and a junior majoring in political science, wrote in an email that the SAPB uses its student survey to determine what performer will headline Spring Fling. Wright wrote that the SAPB has actively sought female performers, but their schedules do not align with the dates provided by the SAPB. However, he highlighted that the SAPB has brought a diversity of performers this semester, including Combo Chimbita, Jamila Woods, Tig Notaro and DeAnne Smith.
While this is true, the Editorial Board would like to point out that the people who spearheaded the selection of these diverse performers were Mika Itkin-Weinstein, the Binghamton Underground Music Presents (BUMP) chair and a senior majoring in English, and Jillian Pizzuto, comedy chair of the SAPB and a junior majoring in Spanish. We find this noteworthy for two reasons. It appears that the people prioritizing diversity in campus programming are women, and even with diversity in BUMP and comedy shows, it remains true that the largest student events of the year lack that diversity. Itkin-Weinstein said she tries using her position to change that.
“[The SA] asks our opinions, and I always advocate for non-men artists with everything I do,” Itkin-Weinstein said. “That’s why with BUMP, I’m using that as a platform to boost all different kinds of artists of all different genres and all different genders and sexualities because I think it’s important that we do that.”
Beyond the all-male issue, the Editorial Board also wonders why the SAPB invites headliners who have had domestic violence charges weighed against them, including Playboi Carti. When Fetty Wap was announced as the 2016 fall concert headliner, students protested his performance because he too had domestic charges on his record. Wright acknowledged that the SAPB was aware of the allegations against Playboi Carti, but, since he was cleared of the charges two years ago, he is still welcome at BU. If the SAPB knows that students do not want accused domestic abusers to perform, and claims to take these types of charges seriously, why would the SAPB so willingly choose another for this year’s concert?
It’s no secret that students desire representation. Token female performances in comedy and BUMP shows will not and cannot make up for the lack of representation in Spring Fling and fall concert. Even in the instance of Overcoats, the female pop duo that’s opening Spring Fling, the Editorial Board notices a lack of promotion by the SAPB and little awareness among students. Itkin-Weinstein said there seems to be a general lack of acknowledgement that diversity in programming is an issue.
“The only people talking about this issue in the music scene in Binghamton in general is women,” Itkin-Weinstein said. “We’re the only people who realize it and whenever we talk about it, people are like, ‘You’re overreacting,’ and it’s like, it’s because you’re not experiencing this.”
Spring Fling is touted as the biggest event of the spring semester, but the glaring lack of diversity coupled with the willingness to invite accused abusers leaves us wondering where the priorities of the SAPB lie. The Editorial Board urges the SAPB to take a hard look at itself and recognize that diversity is not just a word to throw around. There is no shortage of engaging performers of different genders, races and sexualities — we can do better.