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Harvard student committee retains Tyga for Yardfest, despite protests from students, administration

Posted by Your Town  April 10, 2013 12:02 PM

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The Harvard Concert Commission and the College Events Board announced they will retain the hip-hop artist Tyga for the college’s spring concert, despite opposition from students and the administration who have condemned him for his “misogynistic” lyrics.

In a joint statement Monday, the Commission and Events Board said it appreciated the wide variety of input but it would keep Tyga as the performer for Yardfest.

“Based on the feedback we have received, and after much discussion and consideration, we have decided to move forward with Tyga as the Yardfest 2013 headliner,” the statement said. “However, we recognize that some of Tyga’s music includes offensive content, and we understand that some of our peers are feeling hurt by this artist choice.”

The Commission and Events Board said it carefully considered the feedback, and apologized that it was unable to “put on an inclusive event.”

“The CEB and the HCC have spent much time reflecting and processing the tremendous amount of feedback that we have heard from all of you, our peers,” the statement said. “Our goal for Yardfest every year is to put on an inclusive event where the entire Harvard College community feels welcome, and it is clear from the past few days that we have not lived up to this expectation. As such, we would like to apologize for not meeting this standard of inclusivity.”

Last week, Harvard officials confirmed that the Office of Student Life requested the CEB and HCC to reconsider their decision, following an online petition calling on Harvard to cancel the hip-hop artist for his misogynistic lyrics.

Jeff Neal, a spokesman for the college, wrote in an e-mailed statement that “the College's Office of Student Life has asked the College Events Board and Concert Commission to re-evaluate the invitation to Tyga in light of the concerns raised by students that the performer's lyrics are offensive and hurtful to many in our community.”

An online petition calling on Harvard to cancel the performance has garnered more than 2,000 signatures to date.

The petition condemns the college for inviting the performer, saying he is "notorious for his explicitly and violently misogynistic lyrics.”

“We believe that a Yardfest without a headliner would be better than a Yardfest that amplifies misogyny and violence,” the petition says. “We demand that Harvard rescind its offer to Tyga, because we believe that Harvard should not perform a platform for music that promotes sexism and rape culture.”

Neal said in the statement last week that if the students decide to retain Tyga, the College would not overrule that decision.

He said that the administration shares the concerns about the artist, but that “overruling a decision made by student leaders would not be in keeping either with our commitment as a College to free expression, however offensive, or to student governance.”

But Neal wrote that if Tyga does perform at Yardfest, “we then would ask the Women's Center, the Office of BGLTQ Student Life, the Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations, the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, and others to work with students to foster a learning opportunity across campus about the types of messages contained in Tyga's lyrics and how they are perceived by many members of our community.”

Katherine Landergan can be reached at klandergan@globe.com. For campus news updates, follow her on Twitter @klandergan.

Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

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