Since last week, when rapper Tyga was announced as a Spring Fling concert opener, developments on and off campus have altered the dialogue about his upcoming performance.
One week ago, Harvard University announced that Tyga would perform at Yardfest, its version of Penn’s Spring Fling. On Monday, Harvard’s Office of Student Life asked student Yardfest organizers to reconsider Tyga as the concert’s headliner, though administrators are not forcing them to disinvite the artist.
Similar to what has played out at Penn, a number of student editorials and an online petition at Harvard have questioned the misogyny and racist themes in Tyga’s lyrics and whether he should perform.
Penn’s Social Planning and Events Committee declined to comment on Tyga’s further controversy at Harvard.
College senior Emily Goshey, who wrote the first guest column deriding the choice of Tyga in The Daily Pennsylvanian last week, and started the discussion on campus about his lyrics, has been in contact with Harvard protesters. Students at Harvard created an advocacy group modeled after Goshey’s own We Can Do Better.
In an email, Goshey said the Harvard students “aim to ask administration to cancel the performance on the grounds that it is offensive and at odds with Harvard’s image as an institution.”
Penn’s We Can Do Better campaign has different goals. “We at Penn realize this is not a problem of administration. It’s a student body concern. If the provost’s office or OSA has to come in and tell us we can’t have Tyga, that will mean nothing except that they want to protect our university from bad publicity,” Goshey said in an email.
Since Goshey and her supporters first put up posters featuring Tyga’s lyrics all over campus, the group has met with SPEC to discuss their concerns with the artist selection.
A post on We Can Do Better’s Facebook page said today, “A big thank-you to SPEC leadership for their concern about this issue.”
Goshey said there are plans in the future for an event about the process of artist selection.
Wharton senior Morgan Humphrey, who is the chair of Abuse and Sexual Assault Prevention, noted the importance of the protest this year.
Humphrey compared the reactions now to the reactions to Wiz Khalifa as the SPEC-TRUM artist and Snoop Dogg as Fling artist in 2010. “I think the reason it [the protest] was so big this year was that it was very student-led. With Snoop and Wiz, the way I found out about it was through the Women’s Center, not through students. It was more the Women’s Center saying, ‘you should be offended by these lyrics’.”
Humphrey also discussed the recent controversy over Tyga’s selection. “I don’t protest Tyga specifically,” she said. “To me, I’m against misogynistic lyrics regardless of who’s delivering them. He’s not the first Fling artist to feature misogynistic lyrics, and he won’t be the last, unless we change the way we select Fling artists.”
“We need to have a conversation about what the artists we bring to Fling say about us at Penn,” she added.
A previous version of this article stated that SPEC declined to comment on their meeting with Emily Goshey. In fact, they only declined to comment on Tyga’s controversy at Harvard.