By Hope Chookazian
It's finally the time students have been waiting for! After a three-year hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic, Culture Shock returns, stirring up some controversy along with it.
From the delay in announcing the two-day line ups to the weather forecast forcing the event to move into the Stood, fitting only a maximum of 800 people in at a time causing guest pass requests to be closed early, this event seems to have hit hitch after hitch.
These issues have wreaked havoc on the Facebook group “SUNY Purchase Open Forum” where students have held no punches when expressing their frustration. “Is anyone else pissed af [as fuck] that they are changing the fact students aren’t allowed to have two guests?” Madiha Aziz, a junior psychology student said.
Originally, students were allowed two guests for Culture Shock and had until Wednesday, May 4 to register them. However, guest passes were closed abruptly in a statement sent out by the Dean of Student Affairs.
“Culture Shock is moving inside of the Stood due to the forecasted rain on both Friday and Saturday,” the email said, “For this reason, we have stopped approving guest passes.”
The email also said that if students submitted a request before the closure of the guest passes, they would still be approved.
“I submitted a guest pass the night before the deadline, and while the page said successfully saved, nothing came up under upcoming guest passes,” Lauren Melendez, a senior liberal studies major said. “When I emailed OCE [Office of Community Engagements] they mentioned how they saw nothing on their end and there's nothing they can do since its past deadline now.”
A majority of students have had this similar issue, as it appears their guest passes were never actually sent in, therefore they could not register, even when they say they sent their requests on time. However, this was caused by a frustrating system feature that was in place prior to the changes made to the guest passes on Wednesday.
The process for guest passes includes three steps: the guest registers in the system, then the guest has to go to Pantherlink to update their COVID information, from there they will be approved or denied based on the validity of the uploaded information, and finally, the student hosting the guest would go into the system and search the guest by phone number to submit the request.
“If the host tries to adjust the times of the pass or enters anything incorrectly it won't save in the system,” John Byrnes of the Office of Community Engagements said, “That's what students are having an issue with, they tried to alter the guest pass and it knocked it out.”
The rainy day change came as a "shock” to students since the first email regarding Culture Shock didn’t include any information about a possible guest policy change or the alternate venue of choice.
“We’re doing the best we possibly could, we are doing as much work as we can,” Mik Grendze, a senior art management major and general programming coordinator for the Stood said, “The pressure was super high for this and still is.”
Students also took to the Open Forum to ask why will the event be at the Stood and not the Performing Arts Center [PAC] on campus since it would fit more people allowing more guests to be approved.
“Why not move Culture Shock to the PAC? A lot more space than the Stood and a bigger parking lot,” Aziz commented.
There have been rumors circulating throughout the Open Forum that the PAC is a separately owned entity that just happens to be on the campus. However, Mara Rupners, the director of marketing for the PAC, said that is not the case. “The PAC is part of Purchase College, and not owned by an outside entity,” she said,
Rupners explained that pre-COVID the PAC usually would’ve been booked with events starting in May through June, which could possibly explain why it was not considered in previous years, but is not sure as to why it wasn’t considered this year.
According to the PAC website, event booking opened in March for May events. The cost of renting the PAC for Culture Shock is unknown at this time.
“Culture Shock is student-run, the Stood is student-run, I don’t know that many people who prefer the PAC over the Stood,” Grendze said. “I don’t know why people want the PAC, it doesn’t fit that kind of concert.”
Through all the trials and tribulations, the PSGA and programing coordinator have been working diligently into making this event memorable for students.
“In the end, I think people will love it.” Grendze said, “I think we will have so much fun and people are going to be satisfied with the show.”