The Catch-22 Of UC San Diego’s Happiness: A Defense of Sun God

A year ago, I wrote an article called “Sun God is Dead” in which I denounced A. S. Concerts & Events for wasting its almost $1 million of student fees on a low-rent Coachella. It was a sentiment that was echoed throughout the student body, because we all saw the fundamental failings with an event that felt disconnected from students. Fortunately, it seems ASCE took notes for this year’s festival. The event did away with the unnecessary two-stage set up, featuring a single stage with bigger artists. In place of the second stage, they hosted different activities that aimed to create a more unique entertainment experience.

It was a pretty significant restructuring of the event which pretty clearly targeted the unhappiness people had with the event. In a school where administrative decisions take years to come to fruition, it demonstrates that they heard people’s complaints and tried to address them. Despite this, people still had things to say about the event, complaining about security measures and the lack of student involvement. Many felt that Sun God Festival was the social expenditure meant to placate our cries for a more lively campus. The festival this year, though, shows a clear and concerted effort from the students in ASCE to address these issues, and it is about time students make a more authentic effort to improve their own campus.

Given the complaints of over-policing on campus, there seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding as to what it means to be responsible for the well-being of thousands of people. Depending on the source, the national average of mass shootings since the beginning of the year has been one a day. On the day of Sun God, twenty minutes away from our campus, there was a shooting at a synagogue. If anything were to happen at an event on our campus, the number one question anyone would be asking is why there wasn’t more security or why they didn’t foresee this happening.

This rationale stops non-students from entering the festival. As a person of color, seeing police officers on campus is one of the worst parts of my day, on any given day, but as someone who acknowledges the national epidemic of gun violence we are currently experiencing, there comes a point where you compromise. To say it is triggering for people of color to see police officers seems like a gross minimization of how triggering it is to be marginalized on this campus on a general basis. Many are rightfully uncomfortable around the police officers on this campus, but when concerning an event the size and proportion of Sun God, it comes across more ignorant than “woke”.

The crucifiction of ASCE also needs some perspective. A.S. Council  is primarily made up of students who are often underpaid and overworked. There are inherent issues with it as a bloated bureaucratic organization that faces pressures from both its constituency and the administration and needs to balance the happiness of all parties. Stuck in this perpetual balancing act, they often seem to get less done than what they promised but there’s not that much they can do. That being said, if people were as invested in fixing Sun God as they are in complaining about it, maybe they should attend the town houses and meetings that they hold every single quarter regarding these events. They also take on student volunteers for their events and they have increased the number and visibility of their feedback sources. It is very clear that they apply student input when they can, given they did so this year with Sun God.

I am the first person to support students criticisms of ASCE and of the larger UC San Diego administrative body, especially when it concerns the use of student funds. That being said, beating the very dead horse of comparing our campus to our sister schools does not create solutions or change. It just breeds unhappiness. We get it, UCLA is more fun and UC Berkeley is more well-known, but the unfortunate reality is that you do not attend those schools. So, we should seek to improve our lot here as much as we can. Criticism is only effective when it is constructive and when it endeavors to see improvements, otherwise it is just wailing. This year’s festival may have not been the best concert I have ever attended but it demonstrated clear and focused efforts on the part of fellow students to create something better for all of us and to be responsive to student input.