You’re the Best, Loft — But We’re Broke Too

    Zachary Watson/Guardian

    God knows we love the Loft. But we’re not ready for this kind of commitment.

    Last year, one too many A.S. Council meetings dragged crankily to 2 a.m., until the council finally voted against letting the Price Center music venue the Loft ask students for $2.67 per quarter. (Or at least against putting it on the spring A.S. ballot. But that’s really the only ballot at UCSD famous enough to drag a mandatory 20 percent of the student body through a series of TritonLink checkmarks.)

    This winter, after another few quarters of camping and seesawing, it looked like councilmembers had finally agreed the Loft’s fate should go before students on their 2010 ballot. Last week, they approved legislation for a $4.47 Loft item on the spring ballot. However, when the graduate student government decided it wasn’t on board at the last minute, A.S. councilmembers apparently got cold feet.

    Enemy lines were drawn at last night’s meeting. Fifteen Loft-lovers argued that students should be able to choose the (by now almost doubled) $4.47-per-quarter fee — one that would ensure at least 80 percent of all events at the Loft be “pay as you can” for undergraduates — for themselves. However, 10 dissenters came out of the woodwork to shoot down AVP of Academic Affairs Jordan Taylor’s long-toiled legislation at the last minute.

    As hard as it is to watch the Loft referendum burn after such a strung-out battle, our enthusiasm for the venue as a student-funded operation has faded. “Pay as you can” is awesome, but more line items on our eBills are not. The arts must stay alive during the economic squeeze, but no one should be obligated to pay for them if they have no interest.

    Programming choices at the chic ArtPower venue are generally to be commended — we would go to see at least a few Loft artists a quarter even if they weren’t one staircase up from our afternoon cheesy tots — but the majority do tend to fall in the same vein of pretty indie-rock or “educational” snoozers.

    The editorial board prides itself on being pretty involved campus citizens — and still, we don’t remember to stop by the Loft more than once a quarter. So when we do, we would feel better paying $10 out of our own pockets (and visible budgets) than demanding $4.47 from every last secluded engineering major on campus.

    Not only do we already pay for the Loft in registration and University Centers fees — misleading for tuned-out students who will only see a new line on their bill labeled “Loft,” and think it a $5 steal — but we’re bound to feel too guilty not to throw a few bills in the pitiful “pay as you can” bucket as well.

    It starts adding up, and not seeming so free-for-all, in a cliquish environment that only holds 235 students a night (and often reaches max capacity).

    The Loft was purposefully built on a model relying on noncontinued funds (aka, administrators expected students to fall in love with the space, then shell out when its cool factor was at risk). We’ve gotten an inside look into the kind of “emergency funds” and “donations” that seem to magically appear when students aren’t such pushovers; it’s the same reason we’ve taken a more conservative stance on the (much more expensive, and impacting) transportation referendum.

    It’s the right time for the A.S. Council to test University Centers’ bluff. Without our extra funds, the Loft won’t lose its space nor its sound system — so dance parties are still a possibility, as are org-sponsored events.

    Plus, the Loft is gaining credibility around San Diego for being a groovy live spot. The university has already put so much into its beautiful art baby that there’s no risk of it fading away completely —so let’s fight the fee, get in line and fund our fun the old-fashioned way.

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