OSL Asks Yardfest Organizers To Reconsider Tyga Choice

College Will Not Force CEB and HCC To Cancel Rapper's Performance

Doreen Xu

Yardfest attendees tune in to Das Racist, the three-man band that performed alongside the Cataracts at Harvard’s annual musical concert held last April in Tercentenary Theater.

The Office of Student Life has requested that the student groups organizing Yardfest reconsider their choice of Tyga as the headliner for the spring concert, following student outcry and an online petition claiming that the rapper’s lyrics promote sexism and violence.

Jeff Neal, a spokesperson for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, wrote in an email to The Crimson Monday night that administrators will not force the student organizations to withdraw their invitation to the artist.

“The College’s Office of Student Life has asked the College Events Board and Concert Commission to re-evaluate the invitation to Tyga in light of the concerns raised by students that the performer’s lyrics are offensive and hurtful to many in our community,” Neal wrote. “Although the College Administration shares those concerns, overruling a decision made by student leaders would not be in keeping either with our commitment as a College to free expression, however offensive, or to student governance.”

If CEB and HCC leaders choose not to rescind their invitation to Tyga, administrators will ask campus organizations—the Women’s Center, the Office of BGLTQ Student Life, the Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations, and the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response—to promote dialog among students about the messages in Tyga’s lyrics.

Late Monday night, an email message signed by the HCC and the CEB circulated over House and student organization lists, asking students to fill out a feedback survey. The online questionnaire asks students to write paragraph expressing their thoughts on the selection of Tyga and to indicate whether they believe the CEB and the HCC should reconsider the choice.

CEB and HCC leaders declined or could not immediately be reached for comment late Monday night.

Last Wednesday, CEB and HCC organizers officially announced that they had chosen Tyga to perform at the April 13 concert in Harvard Yard. In response to the pick, a student launched an online petition on Change.org late Sunday night urging administrators to cancel the performance. As of late Monday night, the petition had gained more than 1,700 signatures.

Leah Reis-Dennis ‘13, the student who created the petition, said she has already submitted the signatures the petition has garnered so far to the OSL, and will continue to submit signatures as they come in.

“I commend the OSL for asking the College Events Board to reconsider,” Reis-Dennis said. “I hope that the CEB will take this seriously and will listen to the people who are asking for change.”

In an email to The Crimson late Monday night, Interim Associate Dean of Student Life David R. Friedrich acknowledged that the reaction to this year’s Tyga pick has been “stronger” than in years past.

“It is worthwhile to have robust dialog about who should perform at the event,” Friedrich wrote. “The reaction this year raises the important question of how in future years the student organizers can best capture broad student input in advance of the final decision.”

—Staff writer Laya Anasu can be reached at layaanasu@college.harvard.edu. Follow her on Twitter @layaanasu.

—Staff writer Elizabeth S. Auritt can be reached at eauritt@college.harvard.edu. Follow her on Twitter @eauritt.

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