An online petition urging administrators to cancel Tyga’s performance at Yardfest garnered more than one thousand signatures on Change.org late Sunday night, circulating via Facebook and email.
The petition, which describes Tyga’s song lyrics as “explicitly and violently misogynistic,” comes days after the College Events Board announced that the rapper would headline this year’s spring music festival and is addressed to the Office of Student Life, the administrative body that oversees the CEB.
Leah Reis-Dennis ’13, who launched the petition, said she decided to protest Tyga’s selection after discussing the issue with friends.
“We were outraged that someone who promotes sexism and violence against women so explicitly would be selected to perform at our college, and we thought that was wrong so we decided to start a petition,” she said. “Tyga has a right to sing and to write whatever he wants, but that doesn’t mean Harvard should give him a platform at our biggest concert of the year to promote that kind of sexism and violence.”
More than 400 people signed the petition in its first hour online. By press time early Monday morning, it had received more than 1,100 signatures, including those of signers identifying themselves as students and alumni. Many signers identified their location as Cambridge, but others hailed from locations across the country.
“I agree with this petition because I don’t think that Harvard as an institution or as an undergraduate body should support an artist that routinely has lyrics that are misogynistic,” said Danielle M. Goatley ’14, who signed the petition. “I know [the CEB] has funding constraints, but you do have to weigh your moral choice when you’re picking an artist.”
Blake A. Wilkey ’13, who said that many of his friends were rappers, also signed the petition, though citing different reasons.
“It’s offensive to me whenever I feel like the cheapest and most commercialized version of that [rap] culture which is pretty rich and full of actual content is chosen as its representative in the public sphere, especially in a place like this,” Wilkey said.
Reis-Dennis said she believes the petition has gained enough attention that OSL will have no choice but to acknowledge student opinion.
“I think [the Office of Student Life] will have to listen because we received over 400 signatures in an hour, which is an undeniable student voice,” Reis-Dennis said. “I would be shocked and outraged if the OSL were to ignore such a strong student voice for change.”
—Staff writer Laya Anasu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @layaanasu.