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Problematic Solution


By Mark J. Sneider

TAKING the responsibility for allocating student performance space out of the hands of one man is unquestionably a step in the right direction. Despite all claims at objectivity, Dean Epps--as anyone in his position would do--brings his personal prejudices to the allocation process. The best work able solution would be a decentralized decision process which removes the slippery subjectivity of individual preferences.

Unfortunately, the staff's proposal does not live up to this goal. The proposed joint student-faculty committee would employ two criteria in assigning performance space: potential to draw crowds and "artistic merit." The first of these is valid--in fact, it is the only fair criterion. The second smacks of subjectivity and paternalism.

Who is to decide on the artistic worth of one group over another? Is the Glee Club more deserving than a reading of Anna Akhmatova's poetry? Will the Undergraduate Council's next comedian be censored by a prudish colloquy of students and administrators? Calling for a distribution of space on the basis of artistic merit, a proposal only Senator Helms could love, has no place in a liberal university.

The only fair solution is to judge student groups solely on their potential to draw crowds. While this standard may not be the most democratic--as it would exclude smaller and lesser-known groups from the large performance halls--it is certainly the most practical.

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