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Spring Fling 2010, Concert Credit: Maanvi Singh

Most students think a Spring Fling performer’s popularity should outweigh the performer’s message, a recent Social Planning and Events Committee survey showed.

SPEC conducts the all-school survey on artist selection annually, but added questions this year concerning a performer’s message in response to a Penn Consortium of Undergraduate Women petition demanding that SPEC revise its selection criteria.

The petition challenged SPEC to revise criteria because they felt the 2010 Spring Fling performers Snoop Dogg and Kid Cudi had misogynistic lyrics in several of their songs.

The survey asked students if they felt the Fling performers “should reflect the values of the Penn community” and if the message of an artist’s lyrics should outweigh music ratings and album sales. It also asked students to rate the importance of a Fling performer’s message and popularity.

Wharton senior and SPEC President Adam Thompson said the data showed that students were “overwhelmingly concerned with an artist’s popularity.” While about 23 percent responded that an artist’s message should be more important than his or her popularity, about 43 percent disagreed.

“They would much rather have an artist that’s more popular than an artist that has a great message,” he said.

However, Thompson said SPEC recognizes the students who feel strongly otherwise.

“We’re interested in being sensitive to the values of the Penn community,” he said. He added that SPEC was “really upset” to have disappointed a portion of the Penn community, and that a performer’s lyrics will be incorporated as another heuristic in their decisions.

“Enough students care about an artist’s message that we absolutely want to make it a big part of our selection process,” he said.

Roughly 1,000 students responded to the survey, which was sent to students through an all-school e-mail and various listservs.

Thompson presented the results to the Undergraduate Assembly Steering Committee Tuesday to open dialogue on what values SPEC should consider in selecting the 2011 Spring Fling artist.

SPEC Vice President and College senior Ferrell Townsend stressed that committee meetings are open to all, and that “the number one way to voice your opinion is to go to the meeting.”

College junior Shana Rusonis, a SPEC Concerts co-director, said the list of artist and agencies her committee contacts is “all-inclusive” and that they work hard to represent SPEC and Penn.

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