Students may recognize one of the bands listed as an opening act for Wednesday’s Less Than Jake concert behind Greek Village. The band? Classified -featuring student body President Maxon Victor.
The arrangement has caused concern among many students because the concert came about due to co-sponsorship with Activity and Service Fee money being channeled through the executive branch of Student Government, which Victor heads. A&S money comes from students’ tuition.
According to Victor, he did not request to play at the show.
“It was in no fashion or form or request on my part to be a part of the show,” Victor said. “We were asked by the coordinators of the concert to perform. It wasn’t something that I initiated.”
Even though the opening acts aren’t getting paid, Classified stands to benefit from opening for the nationally recognized Less Than Jake because approximately 5,000 students are expected to attend, which has troubled some students.
“The money should be used to benefit the students, not the president,” freshman Vanessa Salazar said.
Victor, who said he has been a member of Classified longer than he has been a member of SG, said the opportunity to play at the concert was too good to pass up.
“If a hand is extended for me to promote my group, I’m going to do it,” Victor said. “It’s not for me, it’s more so for (my bandmates) and the hard work they put in.”
Some have expressed concern that the band playing could be at odds with the SG Code of Ethics, which states, “No officer or employee of Student Government shall: … take advantage of the official capacity of their office for their own personal gain or advantage, including any act beneficial to any person in whose welfare he or she is interested.”
Victor enthusiastically supported the concert and pushed heavily for it to be funded when the matter was in front of the senate.
On Jan. 24, the senate originally denied the executive branch’s request for $30,000 to co-sponsor a concert being organized by the Greek Week Committee. The close vote was 17 nays to 16 yeas and 3 abstentions.
After that vote, an angry Victor told the Oracle, “The senate needs to evaluate whether or not they have personal interests in mind or interests for the student body. If they had the interest of the student body in mind, they would have supported this. I felt overall this was a shameful display of Student Government leadership.”
Victor said he was passionate about the concert happening then because he saw it as an opportunity for Greek leadership to put on an event that could benefit the whole campus.
The senate reversed its decision at its next meeting and approved the $30,000 allocation by a vote of 24 yeas to 17 nays and 2 abstentions.
According to SG Director of Administrative Services David Armstrong, $18,000 of that went toward signing the headliner, Less Than Jake, and approximately $6,500 went to Marshall Center Reservations for extraneous expenses such as security and technical costs. The remaining funds – approximately $5,500 – will go back to SG for use by the senate elsewhere.
The Greek Week Committee projected a turnout of around 5,000 students at the show when requesting the funds from the senate.
“At least the fact that (Classified) is getting the publicity I think really does suggest a degree of corruption and back scratching,” senior Seth Ascher said. “I would, in fact, say it reeks of corruption.”
However, some students don’t see it as an issue as long as Victor’s band is not paid.
“If he’s not getting paid, I think its fine,” sophomore Rodel Beredo said. He added that he thinks Classified should be afforded the same opportunity to play as other local bands.
According to Victor, the reason that Classified, an R&B group, was chosen as an opening act for ska band Less Than Jake was to diversify the concert and make it more inclusive to the student body as a whole.
Victor added that no students have approached him personally with concerns about the possibility of a conflict of interest existing.
“We’ve been performing on this campus for three years now, and we’ll keep performing on this campus because USF students are receptive to us,” Victor said. “It’s no different now.”
On Point, Rems, Amberly Drive and Worth Fighting For will also be opening for Less Than Jake on Wednesday night. The concert will begin at 7 and is free to all USF students with a valid ID. Concertgoers can make donations of canned goods, school supplies or money at the entrance for the benefit of the University Community Center.