MSA grant might help a big band come to U

by Bryce Haugen

When Grant Schwartz works as a peer adviser in the College of Liberal Arts honors office, a Guster album is usually playing in the background.

A co-worker said Schwartz – a fourth-year English student who has exchanged personal e-mails with the band – is a Guster “fanatic.”

Schwartz said he prefers to be called a Guster ‘enthusiast’. ‘Fanatic’ sounds a little stalker-ish,” he said.

If the Minnesota Programs and Activities Council succeeds in negotiating a contract with Guster, Schwartz will get to see his favorite band live at this year’s Spring Jam, “Stayin’ Alive in 2005.”

Each spring, University students can attend a free concert at the activities council’s Spring Jam block party. But this year, with a donation from the Minnesota Student Association, the Spring Jam Executive Committee has the money to draw a big name act – like Guster.

“In our price range, Guster’s probably the best we’ve got,” Spring Jam co-coordinator Travis Fischer said.

If the contract doesn’t go through, the committee will consider other similarly priced bands for Spring Jam.

At Tuesday’s Forum meeting, MSA agreed to co-sponsor Spring Jam with a $13,500 donation to the activities council.

Forum member Emily Serafy Cox initially motioned to donate $7,000. She said she did not feel comfortable funding the entire amount because MSA could use the money for a different project.

“It doesn’t seem it would reduce the fun factor,” she said.

But Forum member Gil Patterson said he was excited by the idea of bringing a famous band.

“I can’t think of where else the money would go,” he said.

An amendment to fund the entire $13,500 passed with strong support.

The big-name band would not have been possible without MSA’s financial backing, Fischer said.

Because Guster costs upwards of $30,000, “we needed the money,” he said.

MSA President Tom Zearley said the group had the extra funds because a “Rock the Vote” concert fell through. The Spring Jam concert will help students fight spring fever, he said.

“(It’s) a chance for students to come together and create campus spirit,” Zearley said.

The Spring Jam Committee will also apply for a $1,000 grant from the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly in the coming weeks.

Karen Buhr, GAPSA vice president and Grants Committee member, said though Spring Jam is usually dominated by undergraduates, it still meets GAPSA’s grant requirements.

“We’re not all old,” she said. “There are some graduate students who will definitely attend.”

Starting April 23, Spring Jam week will feature a variety of activities, from a dance competition to ultimate Frisbee matches. The week will culminate with the Spring Jam block party and concert April 30.

“We don’t just gear it for certain students, we gear it to all University students,” said CLA student and Spring Jam co-coordinator Corey Coonen.

The weekend before Spring Jam week, the band Cake is tentatively scheduled to perform, Fischer said. He said the activities council is working to negotiate reduced student rates for that concert, which is not affiliated with Spring Jam.