Hip hop has become a multi-million dollar industry since its beginnings in New York streets in the late 1970s.
Everywhere, from sporting events to televisions shows, hip hop influences can be heard through the media loud and clear.
But at the University of La Verne, there is a disconnect between the outside world and what the University allows as far as this popular musical genre is concerned.
Hip hop artists have been banned from performing on campus for more than six years, and many students have been asking why.
“I thought it was stupid, personally,” Ashley Joseph, a senior psychology major, said.
Joseph believes that excluding a specific type of music from performing on campus limits the diversity.
The University’s insurance policy, however, views hip hop concerts as too much of a liability to cover, said Clark Hitt, the University’s director of risk management.
For every event at the University that carries a potential risk, insurance must cover it. The amount of risk perceived by the insurance company determines the cost for insuring the event.
Hitt explained in an e-mailed statement that the only way to host a hip hop concert on campus would be for some other organization or person to pay the extra insurance fee.
Also, they would have to pay for extra security and make sure the venue follows the University’s guidelines.
“As long as the insurance community sees hip hop as being a risk greater than they are willing to insure (at a reasonable cost), we will not be able to have hip hop events,” Hitt said in an email.
Hitt has been the director of risk management since 2001. He said the policy was already in effect when he started.
Students have been questioning this policy.
Many cannot believe such “risky” effects of hosting hip hop artists and see the ban as a form of censorship.
Several students see hip hop as a culturally relevant type of music that can help teach students about diversity.
“I guess my initial reaction is disappointment because hip hop has evolved into a culture,” said senior Jonathan Fitzhugh, president of the Associated Students of the University of La Verne.
The Campus Activities Board plays the same music at all of its events, which does not allow students to be exposed to different genres, Joseph said.
Also several students pointed out that there is something of a double standard, as prerecorded hip hop is apparently allowed for campus dances and events such as Greek Week Lip Sync.
“Any type of music has been allowed that is covered by our insurance,” Hitt said. “If it is not covered, we cannot allow it.”
Fitzhugh believes the rule should change, and hopes with proper communication it will.
Campus Activities Board concert chairman Dylan Haro explained that bringing hip hop artists could be expensive.
“There was one artist, but he was just way out of our range,” Haro said.
Haro also expressed that it is hard to figure out what people are interested in the most.
“Most of the time when you ask students what music they listen to, people want to say they liked everything,” Haro said.
While the concerns are there, Hitt does not want students to misinterpret the guidelines of the insurance policy.
“I do not know that being fair is the issue, it is the liabilities and exposures that any activity brings that will affect the decision for that event to take place or not,” Hitt said.
Many students may want to seek out further answers, but for now it looks like hip hop artist, like Common and Talib Kweli, will not be performing their latest lyrics in Founders Auditorium. But the decision does not have to be final.
“The absence of hip hop will last as long as the exclusions are still in our policies,” Hitt said.
“We are the students, our voices should be heard,” Fitzhugh said.
“Honestly, (with) something of this nature, someone really has to find out what guidelines hinders this from happening,” Fitzhugh said.
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