GRAVER: Spring Fling needs country

Gravely Mistaken

Like the vast majority of us, I was thrilled to hear the news that Macklemore will be headlining Spring Fling this year. But, by my count, that leaves at least two spots yet to be filled. Amidst these vacancies, the Spring Fling Committee has the critical opportunity — if not obligation — to do the right thing. As we have distracted ourselves, on these pages, with columns about Yale’s next president or the fate of the nation, our moral burden has been deleteriously looked over.

It’s about time to bring a country act to Spring Fling.

Around one-tenth of the Yale student body hails from the South. Yet, this regional demographic — the same group whom we expect to endure feet of snow, adjust to the New England aesthetic and embrace our Yankee mores — has received 0 percent of the Spring Fling guests of recent memory. Alas, in lieu of providing a cherished token of life back home to these valuable students, we have filled those moments of opportunity with Big Gigantic’s “instrumental livetronica” and bands from our childhood likely now working for hot meals.

What’s more, I’d wager the interest for a country act extends well beyond “the 10 percent.” As a longstanding resident of the Upper West Side of Manhattan, I am absolutely in love with country music. I have it playing on iHeart Radio while writing this column. And I know that I’m far from alone in this affection.

There is a strong undercurrent on this campus longing for a country act to come here. We are afforded glimpses into this phenomenon all the time, whether at our tailgates or in the American flags draping our suites. Just last semester, when Toby Keith came to Connecticut, droves of students packed cars to travel to see the star.

Moreover, beyond the issues of underrepresentation, a country act would have some reparative qualities as well, particularly noting the controversies of Spring Flings past. In 2010, students left early en masse to protest against the Ying Yang Twins and their questionable uses of poetic license. Last year, similar complaints were levied at T-Pain. Two years ago, Lupe Fiasco made the interesting decision that Spring Fling definitely needed a mini-diatribe about investment banking and the state of Israel.

You would be hard pressed to find the same pitfalls in country music — even if you’re one of those who chortle at the lyrics of “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” or “Somethin’ ‘Bout a Truck.” It’s a genre where you know what you’re getting. And sometimes the heart just aches for some good ol’ songs about chivalry, small towns, Friday night football and drinking beers in the heartland. I challenge anyone to listen to Darius Rucker’s cover of “Wagon Wheel” and still hold that bringing country to Yale is not an imperative for our campus culture. Or at least a thousand times better than T-Pain.

Additionally, we have the chance to really set ourselves apart from our Ivy brethren. On one hand, we can choose stay the course and continue to jockey with schools like Brown to play host to the year’s best watered-down version of Coachella. Or, perhaps, we can embrace a Spring Fling that plays into the best possible spectrum of the Yale student body.

The mission statement of this University reads: “The aim of this education is the cultivation of citizens with a rich awareness of our heritage to lead and serve in every sphere of human activity.” For a school that exceedingly prides itself on her commitment to diversity and multiculturalism, we seem to have forgotten at least one certain sphere — a rowdy, wonderful, musical, springtime sphere. Let’s make this year different.

Harry Graver is a junior in Davenport College. His column runs on alternate Wednesdays. Contact him at harry.graver@yale.edu .

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