Discussion about changing the face of the event began after last years concert. St. Olaf Dean of Students Greg Kneser talked on several occasions with Carletons Dean of Students, Marc Govoni, and Carleton Student Activities Director Robin Hart. These talks focused on whether or not the collaborative effort between the schools would continue to exist as it had in the past.
"Carleton had concerns, we had concerns, and there was not a likely conclusion between the two," said Kneser of these talks. The result, according to Govoni, was "a strong leaning to split from St. Olaf." While the two schools never came to a decision, they did come to a mutual understanding.
"Spring Concert is changing in character," said Govoni. "The collaboration, unless I am told otherwise, is as good as done."
According to Kneser, Spring Concert, commonly known on the St. Olaf campus as "Arbstock", has evolved from "a nice, mellow, relaxed day in the sun" to an event ridden with major problems.
"Nobody paid any attention at all to underage drinking, there was pretty rampant drug use, and a lot of high school kids were consuming alcohol," Kneser said about last years concert. Kneser said that there were problems related to drunken driving and a large amount of littering along St. Olaf Avenue. Bon Appétit complained about disorderly and unruly students returning to Stav Hall after the concert. Additionally, Kneser said, "St. Olaf students caused a disproportionate amount of incidents at the event which Carleton had to take care of."
Govoni mentioned some of the same issues when talking about the concert. "We feel pretty good about our control over Carleton students and less confident about our control of St. Olaf students," Govoni said. "I have no investment in improving the lives of St. Olaf students by allowing them to come over here and drink alcohol," he continued. In Govonis mind, Carleton has little to gain and much to lose by continuing to collaborate with St. Olaf on Spring Concert. "This event is a huge production," Govoni said. "[It] falls largely on Carleton and we accept most of the liability and responsibility."
Liability is a major issue for Kneser as well. The "Amber Alert Bill," which went into effect this past spring, contains a clause that holds concert promoters civilly and criminally liable for any illegal activities of the event. According to Kneser, liability would fall on him and the college, Student Government officials like the president and the vice-president and Pause executives responsible for planning Spring Concert. The issue of liability, Kneser said, makes it impossible for the event to continue to be sponsored by St. Olaf unless drastic changes are made.
Before deciding to end the collaboration, several compromises were discussed. Possible alternatives to St. Olaf being excluded from Spring Concert included fencing in the concert area, increasing security, and requiring wristbands for those over 21. According to Kneser, "Carleton didnt want to make changes for our sake."
Govoni echoed these sentiments, stating that Carleton had no desire to change the face of Spring Concert to suit St. Olafs needs, especially considering the disturbances involving St. Olaf students.
Because the concert is being planned without St. Olafs needs in mind, Govoni said that Carleton could pick a date that better suits their schedule. According to the Dean, "The concert would move deeper into May a better weekend for us would be the eighth week in the term." That date would coincide with St. Olafs commencement weekend, meaning that St. Olaf underclassmen would have already left school. Because of the timing of the event Govoni said, whether St. Olaf students would be let into the concert on an individual basis would be "a moot point."
Another issue at stake for St. Olaf is that of Fall Concert. The event, which is usually cosponsored by St. Olaf and Carleton, will be funded entirely by St. Olaf this year. Carleton withdrew its funds for the event, an amount close to $9,500 last year, after it was apparent that Spring Concert would no longer be a joint effort between the schools.
The issue of Spring Concert was taken up at Tuesday nights Student Government Association(SGA) Executive Council meeting. "There are a number of concerns that were raised that if [Spring Concert] was to continue [for St. Olaf], it would be drastically changed," said SGA President Christie Larson 04. Changing the way that Spring Concert is run, in the mind of SGA Vice-President Seth Heringer 05, would not necessarily be a bad idea.
"Do we want to put on an event that says were going to make it as easy as possible for underage kids to drink?" Heringer asked the Council. "What is our mission, and what is our goal in these events?"
Far from accepting the dissolution of the collaborative concert, the Executive Council began thinking about what could be done for St. Olaf to remain a part of Spring Concert. Larson said that SGAs first goal "is to get students informed and up to speed with whats going on being honest with them and letting them know where the situation stands." The next step, according to Heringer, "is to find out where Carleton stands," from the standpoint of the administration and of the students.
SGA is currently considering ways that Spring Concert could be modified so that it could remain a joint concert between St. Olaf and Carleton. With such changes, according to Kneser, "It would take some convincing for Carleton to say This is something we would want to do."
"Is the door closed?" Kneser asked. "Probably not. But there are a lot of issues to figure out issues that might not be solvable."