UCSD A.S. Concerts and Events announced last Wednesday that they will postpone their Nov. 23 screening of “Straight Outta Compton” until the upcoming winter quarter. ASCE explained that the delay will allow enough time to properly add an educational dimension to the screening.
In their Nov. 18 statement on Facebook, ASCE said that they wanted to create a safe and welcoming place for students who come to their events, and thus felt that the postponement will allow them to do so.
ASCE’s decision to postpone the screening originated from a thread on their Facebook event page on which a student proposed adding an educational discussion portion to the event. This sparked a heated debate over whether or not ASCE should implement the idea.
Opponents of the proposition think that adding a discussion portion to an event meant originally for entertainment is superfluous and that students should be capable of digesting the cultural significance and impact of the film on their own.
However, supporters of the idea think that adding a discussion will help students examine perspectives they may not have considered before and will bring awareness to the struggles minorities and marginalized communities face today.
After considering the feedback from that thread, ASCE decided that a dialogue discussing the various issues and cultural significance the film touched upon would improve the viewing experience.
“The issues presented in this film are complex, and we want to ensure that we deal with them justly by investing time and energy to bring them to light,” ASCE wrote. “We believe that investing time and energy into planning this event in an educational format is a tangible way for us to work toward that goal.”
Associate Vice President of Concerts and Events Christian Walker explained to the UCSD Guardian how this decision was partly influenced by students and faculty members.
“The decision was made after receiving feedback from several members of our campus community, including administrators, staff members and student leaders,” Walker said. “Some were worried that placing these educational components in a rushed manner would nullify our efforts to truly create a strong discussion and education element.”
Additionally, Walker emphasized that ASCE’s decision was made independently and took all opposing arguments into account.
“In these conversations, we were never told that we must cancel our event,” Walker said. “It was always left up to us as our decision to make, and in weighing the concerns on both sides, we felt that it was right to invest extra time and energy to improve upon the event.”
Since the event is being postponed, organizers discussed some possible changes to the event that may include making it indoors, adding guest speakers at the beginning of the film and creating small group discussions at the end.
Although the discussions are not mandatory, Walker encourages students to attend because of the learning opportunities these discussions will provide.
“While we are strongly encouraging students to take part in the discussion, we also do not intend to force anyone to do so,” Walker said. “We would really value a diversity of perspectives and responses to the film; it’s a good opportunity for us to learn from each other.”
In response to criticisms that the postponement was a form of censorship, Walker said that the decision was motivated primarily by an interest in improving the event.
“I think a lot of this frustration is misguided — people are quick to assume that this is an issue of censorship,” Walker said. “We’ve realized that there is greater potential for this event if we invest time in reformatting it.”
Walker also said that ASCE will explain the reasoning behind their decision to anyone who would like to know more.
“Any students who have reached out to us through email or messaged our Facebook page expressing concerns with the event’s changes can expect to receive a thoughtful response explaining our decision,” Walker said.
The Guardian reached out to UCSD’s Black Student Union and the Black Resource Center for comments but they did not respond by press time.