On Sept. 19, Binghamton University’s Student Association Programming Board (SAPB) posted an Instagram reel announcing Willow Smith, known by her stage name WILLOW, would be headlining BU’s annual fall concert. This marks the first in-person fall concert in nearly two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Daniyel, a 19-year-old rapper who kickstarted his career in 2020, was announced as the concert’s opener.

Tickets for the fall concert went on sale Sunday, Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. at $40 per floor ticket and $25 plus fees for general admission. Tickets are only open to BU students, faculty and staff exclusively at bingtickets.com with a limit of one ticket per person. The doors of the Events Center will open at 6:30 p.m. A mass amount of website traffic caused it to crash within five minutes, but when it came back up, floor tickets sold out within the day — the first time a fall concert has sold out of floor tickets at BU in at least four years.

There are so many things to commend about this concert, with the first being the SAPB’s commitment to student safety. All attendees are required to wear masks for the entirety of the concert, and any refusal to obey the mask mandate will result in a student’s removal from the concert. Additionally, a large majority of our student body is already vaccinated due to the University mandate. COVID-19 restrictions have also led the SAPB to sell floor tickets in “floor pods,” or reserved floor areas with the capacity for either four students in a “small pod” or eight students in the “large pod.” Though pods are shared by multiple students, they must be purchased by one person as a whole, making the cost of large pods $320 and small pods $160 at the same floor price of $40 per person. The sole ticket holder will then be contacted to provide the SAPB a list of the other pod members by a certain deadline. These pods will allow for social distancing between groups of concert attendees, and any congregating outside these designated areas is not allowed.

Next, the Editorial Board wants to recognize the SAPB for booking such a large star, giving special thanks to Lucas Bianculli, SA vice president for programming (VPP), and Olivia Le, SAPB concerts chair. Though WILLOW is the daughter of celebrity actor-musicians Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, her music speaks for herself. WILLOW first gained fame in for her 2010 single, “Whip My Hair.” After a long break in her music career, she had a strong comeback, largely due to her music going viral on TikTok. Some of her most viral songs on the app include her 2015 release, “Wait a Minute!” as well as her more recent hits, “Meet Me At Our Spot” and “t r a n s p a r e n t s o u l.” TIME magazine also named WILLOW one of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2021.

In booking WILLOW, the SAPB maintains BU’s tradition of booking artists right around or before they gain extreme fame in the music industry. Pipe Dream’s Arts & Culture section has even reported on this trend, mentioning previous headliners like Doja Cat, Post Malone and Childish Gambino. Not only is the SAPB building upon this impressive tradition, but they are also appealing to different musical tastes than before. Whereas previous fall concerts have been dominated by rappers, WILLOW offers a refreshing alternative sound that is becoming popular among young students especially. This difference in genre, combined with student excitement for one of the very first in-person concerts since 2019, could also have contributed to tickets selling out at such fast rates.

Beyond the anticipated success of the fall concert, the SAPB’s Sept. 28 second-annual fall fest was a huge hit. The festival, which ran from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on the Peace Quad, featured a picnic and outdoor movie event open to all. There were multiple fall-themed food stations offering everything from donuts from The Cider Mill in Endicott and desserts to entrees like nachos or mac and cheese. Attendees could also participate in a multitude of giveaways, raffles or artistic activities before the 7:30 p.m. screening of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” The considerable student turnout is largely the work of SAPB’s festivals committee, led by Katrina Chan.

Having planned two significantly successful events already, the SAPB is demonstrating a remarkably strong comeback to campus life after COVID-19 shutdowns. It is obvious that everyone on the programming board cares about what they do, and their passion is reflected in the overwhelmingly positive response from students. As students ourselves, we want to thank you all for your dedication to the University, and we can’t wait to see what you do next!