Council Still Seeks Concert Headliner

Negotiations end for Alicia Keys AIDS benefit concert

Despite finalizing many details of an AIDS benefit concert planned for Oct. 2 in Harvard Stadium, Alicia Keys’s managers canceled the concert saying that a visit in October would hurt ticket sales for other Boston-area visits in the near future.

The Harvard Concert Commission (HCC) informed the Undergraduate Council last week that negotiations for the 30,000-person concert had failed, but HCC Chair Justin H Haan ’05 blamed Keys’s representatives, not the R&B; artist, for the decision.

“It wouldn’t be right to have this come out that Alicia Keys doesn’t care about this concert,” said Haan, who is also a Crimson editor. “It was more a management decision in terms of setting tour dates and such.”

All proceeds from the concert would have gone toward antiretroviral medications for people in Africa suffering from AIDS.

Following the cancellation of the Keys concert, the council’s executive board docketed a bill to authorize the HCC to bid on artists for a fall concert in Gordon Track to compensate for the cancelled concert.

The bill grants $20,000 to HCC to bid on artists from a list of 23 possibilities. The bill tentatively scheduled the concert for Nov. 13.

In addition to the concert bid bill, the executive board docketed a second bill that would authorize the council’s Campus Life Committee (CLC) to bid on a comedian for an October performance in Sanders Theatre with logistical advice from the HCC.

Council President Matthew W. Mahan ’05 tried to expedite the process by calling for an unprecedented e-mail vote on the bills during the final week of the summer.

“I think it’s important that we do this now rather than allow four more weeks to pass, at which point we will be hard-pressed to secure the kinds of acts we can get if we move right now,” Mahan wrote.

But after six days of debate on UC General about the constitutionality of holding such an e-mail vote over the summer without an actual meeting, Mahan postponed the vote until a meeting can be held this Friday.

“Waiting another week or so will hurt our chances of having a popular concert in the fall and will exacerbate the difficulties of this whole process for the HCC, but I am unwilling to risk dividing the Council and attracting negative press to the Council as we begin a new semester,” Mahan wrote.

Mahan’s e-mail came shortly after council parliamentarian E.E. Keenan ’07 told the council’s open list that the e-mail vote would violate the council’s bylaws and constitution.

Keenan and other council members highlighted the fact that a vote on a bill in the absence of a meeting would require a suspension of bylaws, but such a suspension would itself require a meeting in the first place.

“The bylaws already ban any meeting during the summer, and they also ban, in my opinion, passing legislation in the total absence of a meeting,” Keenan said.

Council members also debated the degree of similarity between the current concert authorization bill and the one passed by the council in May.

While some argued that the council had essentially already approved the bills in May, others pointed to differences: the proposed bill does not call for an AIDS benefit concert; the money will now be granted instead of loaned; and the HCC did not list the potential artists in order of preference as they did in the spring.