By MOLLY SCHINELLER ’18
On Mar. 18, Barnyard Entertainment Committee announced Action Bronson and Kehlani as the featured performers of this year’s Spring Weekend concert. Almost immediately, students took to social media to state their opinions about the performers. While only a few people voiced complaints about Kehlani as an opening act, the campus erupted in concerns over the choice of Action Bronson as a headliner.
To verbalize these complaints, created a petition on Change.org requesting the removal of Action Bronson from the Spring Weekend concert. The petition made many crucial points regarding the College’s commitment to student’s safety. While some students voiced the sentiment that if people do not like Action Bronson, they can simply not attend the concert, the petition responded gracefully: “We want to make clear that this is not about choosing not to go to a concert, rather, this is about having some say in how Trinity spends our money, and the campus climate we want to create.”
The petition used statistics to further support its point. The writers state that ignorance of Action Bronson’s violent and absurd lyrics, “means absolutely nothing in a country where 1 in 5 women are victims of rape or attempted rape at some point in their lives, and over 40% of women experience sexual violence other than rape.” Placing due focus on some stunning issues at Trinity, the petition also mentions that, “Trinity College is ranked the 17th most homophobic college in the nation by the Princeton Review as of 2014. Trinity also has the 3rd highest rate of reported sexual assaults in the nation, according to the US Department of Education.” For these reasons, and for many more stated in the lengthy body of the petition, the writers request a rescindment of the Spring Weekend decision.
In under 24 hours, the petition garnered signatures from over 1,000 students, faculty and staff members, concerned families of the Trinity community, and others who live in the Hartford area. Many people wrote well-worded and heartfelt responses to the petition in the comments below it. Griffin Hunt ‘17 made his voice heard from abroad in stating that, “Students are right to expect artists at their Spring Weekend who produce work within the contours of Trinity’s mission and guiding principles…Part of college is learning to grapple with our differences with confidence and poise. That should not mean, however, that a community must sponsor an individual who contradicts that community’s values through his consistent reliance on hate and violence.”
After receipt of the petition, staff and student members of the administration took the signatories and comments into great consideration, and were ultimately able to remove Bronson from the Spring Weekend lineup. Representatives from Barnyard’s executive board, including Rose Carroll ‘16 and Ben Chait ‘16, released an eloquent response to the petition, offering a comprehensive explanation of the cancellation. In this response, it was explained that the removal of Action Bronson from Spring Weekend at George Washington University originally prompted a movement within Barnyard, directed at the College’s administration, to repeat this cancellation at Trinity. The committee voted for Bronson’s removal back on Mar. 31, but the College’s legal counsel “could not find a way out of [its] binding contract without losing the full amount of money that was promised in the contract.
Through communication with the administration, it was decided that bringing Action Bronson to campus was the best option at the time.” This prompt response to the petition was incredibly well-received by the student body and the other supporters who signed it. People seemed thrilled to have had their voices heard.
Although what happened with Action Bronson created an unprecedented upset within the Trinity community, the controversy sparked a productive and necessary campus conversation regarding the issues of violence and sexual assault which many colleges currently face. In addition to this campus conversation, another thread was launched regarding the importance of the student body speaking out against the decisions made by its administration. Ben Chait ‘17 says, “This whole issue has given us the opportunity to set a precedent that students can stand up against the administration and have their own voice. We can, and we should, stand up unclouded by our advisors.”
Alumna Christina Williams ‘13 said in her comment on the petition, “I’m signing because as a student I was far too silent.” While this comment may regard either silence about sexual assault, silence about unfavorable administrative decisions, or silence about both issues, it is clear that this incident has prompted a vocal response in both regards.
This upcoming Saturday, the main Spring Weekend concert will proceed with Kehlani as its main act. The removal of Action Bronson from this concert, alongside the performer’s recent removals from the GWU Spring Fling and Toronto’s NXNE music festival, makes a bold and important statement that misogynistic and violent behavior will no longer be tolerated by this generation.