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The Brown Concert Agency faces a lot of criticism. Spring at Brown is marked not only by warmer weather and more lounging on the Main Green but also by the noticeable increase in complaints directed at this one student-run organization. Some students are unhappy with the selection of musical acts for the Spring Weekend concerts. Others vent their frustration with a ticket-purchasing process that frequently presents problems. It often seems as if the BCA can only do wrong in the eyes of many students. But it should be evident that they do provide valuable services, such as promoting the music of Brown students through its Speakeasy Sessions and dealing with the many logistics involved in putting on the Spring Weekend concerts.

Last week, the BCA announced the lineup for its Fall Concert, which will take place this Saturday. While some students might not approve of BCA's selection of Starkey and Real Estate, they have little reason to complain since admission to the concert is free. It will cost them nothing to go check out the performers on Lincoln Field — or in the Rhode Island School of Design Auditorium in the case of rain — and see if these two acts put on a good live show, excite the crowd and convince the skeptical ear. It's difficult to complain about free live music, especially on a Saturday night.

But what students can disapprove of is the way in which the BCA decided on which acts it would bring for its Fall Concert. It started out reasonably well. Over the summer, they, in collaboration with BlogDailyHerald, put out an online poll in which students could vote for their preferred act from a list of nine that were "available and affordable."

So far so good. Only 616 students voted in the poll, which means that roughly only one in 10 undergraduates expressed an opinion. The student body therefore has very little room to complain about any selection because there were so few voters. Of course, it must be pointed out that the poll was conducted during the first week of August, which is hardly a time when many of us are religiously checking BlogDailyHerald.

The BCA even said at the time of the poll that they had already secured one act. But the problem is they gave no indication of who it might be. Why would that be important? For the simple reason that I, along with the other 615 voters, might have voted differently had I known that the already booked act was Starkey, a dubstep artist.

Maybe the terms of Starkey's contract prevented any announcement. But that would not preclude the BCA from saying in its poll announcement that the already booked act was from the dubstep genre — an action that would have been sufficient for voters in the poll to make a more informed decision. To put it briefly, you don't pair a wine with the meal when you have no idea what you're eating.

Another problem arose when Gillian Brassil '12, BCA's booking chair, said in a Sept. 21 Herald article that the acts that finished above Starkey, who finished seventh, were "either already booked or unable to make it to the concert."

While there was a disclaimer stating that booking the poll's winner was in no way guaranteed, there was also no indication that the seventh out of nine options would be chosen. Granted, Curren$y broke his ankle, but the claim in the original BlogDailyHerald poll post that the acts were "available" seems a little too strong.

It's a comment that's been made before, but it's one worth making again: A little more transparency wouldn't hurt the BCA. Other student groups with comparable influence on the Brown community are more open. And while polls are good, without a full slate of information it's hard to be an informed voter in them. Even looking at the BCA's website, there's no "About" section — only calendar, gallery and contact sections.

There's no doubt that transparency can be taken to an extreme. And with the many details involved in putting on concerts, it would be unfair for us to expect complete transparency from the BCA. But I think it would be fair to ask for a little more.

Sam Carter '12 is a philosophy and Hispanic studies concentrator who voted for Atlas Sound. He can be reached at



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