Ferg's SMC visit cancelled, A$AP
SMC was recently approached with the opportunity to host an album preview for rising Harlem rapper A$AP Ferg’s new release “Always Strive and Prosper,” which would include an appearance from the rapper. It was to be held in a room at the Cayton Center on the afternoon of Monday, March 22. The proposed event would have involved between 50 and 70 students at a time listening through headphones, and would have been free for students.
The event also would have been free for the college, saving the possible cost of police overtime, as Sony was covering the costs of the headphones and any other organizational aspects needed.
As you may have noticed though, this event did not happen.
Despite AS Director of Publicity Kishore Athreya working around the clock along with AS President Jesse Randel, the event was ultimately declined by administration, based largely on concerns about lack of security planning. “We had potential workarounds, we even planned out extra money to pay for security," said Athreya. "The alumni was willing to sponsor it. We were trying to plan out if we could host it in one of their rooms. Effectively the final word was given by Mike Tuitasi. His reasoning was that we couldn’t plan out security for the event,”
In an email to Athreya, Tuitasi explained his decision: “Due to the nature of the activity, we would need to develop an Ops Plan that included additional security and crowd control. Since the event is scheduled for Monday, it doesn't allow much time for planning.”
SMC police chief Johnnie Adams expressed some concern over being able to bring in extra officers on short notice for overtime, but had not yet been approached for an Ops Plan when the event was shut down.
“There wasn’t an issue with an Ops Plan. It was a decision by the university not to do it on such short notice,” said Adams. “We didn’t even ask anybody to come in. We were just saying it required x amount of bodies. If no one was on vacation and they were able to come in, yes, it would have been possible.”
Adams also explained that an Ops Plan where overtime is necessary usually requires about a week and a half to two weeks of planning, depending on the nature of the event.
Athreya’s initial email to a Sony representative and SMC administration was sent on March 16, and Tuitasi’s email declining the event was sent March 17. In the day between these emails, Athreya, the representative from Sony, and Dean of Student Life Dr. Nancy Grass had worked out a number of the event details.
Another concern brought up throughout the process was Women’s empowerment Month. “Because of the fact that some of [Ferg’s] music is controversial, and we’re having women’s empowerment month going on currently, and we didn’t want to send a mixed message,” said Athreya.
“In this case there were specific students, not administration, who thought, ‘Aren’t some of his lyrics misogynistic?’” said Randel. In Athreya’s initial email, he voiced this concern. It is ultimately unclear whether this played a role in Tuitasi’s decision.