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Learn by don’t-ing 

Cal Poly’s “Learn by Doing� motto was put to the test this past weekend and earned a big fat F.
 
Cal Poly journalism senior/music minor and former New Times Calendar Editor Stacey Anderson, 21, had planned to mount the “KCPR Garden Party,� a day-long music festival at Downtown Brew last Saturday. The event was both her senior project—a requirement for graduation—as well as a fund-raiser for the college radio station where she’s been General Manager for the past year.
 
Despite having begun the planning process last August; and a successful publicity campaign; and pre-sale of tickets via Vallitix; and signing contracts with several bands, the university, citing lack of proper insurance, disavowed the event less than 24-hours before its scheduled start. How’s that for a lesson?
 
What Anderson seems to have learned best is that bureaucratic red tape comes in industrial-sized rolls at this university that prides itself on encouraging students to take an active role in their education.
 
Anderson, for her part, seems to have done what was required of her, okaying the project through KCPR advisor John Soares, turning in senior project documents to her advisor Teresa Allen, filing an ePlan for the event through Cal Poly’s ASI (Assoociated Students Incorporated} back in March, creating and having Soares sign contracts with the headlining bands and Downtown Brew (which donated the venue, security, and free insurance of their own), and mounting a successful media campaign to publicize the event. Even so, she was told the night before the festival that Cal Poly couldn’t be associated with it, that Soares had called the two headlining bands and told them not to come, and that KCPR’s name couldn’t be used nor KCPR merchandise sold.
 
“I feel I’ve been lied to in this process and don’t know what to believe,� says a clearly frustrated Anderson. “If this stuff was a concern, it should have been brought to us well before the night before the event.�
 
Soares, a lawyer by trade, didn’t learn of the insurance problem until “a week ago last Thursday,� when he received a message from the Office of Contracts and Procurements, which also informed him that he was not supposed to have signed contracts himself. Oops! After learning of the need for special insurance, Soares called Joe Risser from Cal Poly’s Risk Assessment Office, who attempted to find insurance for the event.
 
“They came to me at the last possible minute and asked if I could get insurance,� said Risser. “I couldn’t get it in the necessary amount. Maybe if I had 90 days I could have arranged something.�
 
Hmm. Ninety days. The ePlan was filled in March, the event held in May. That’s about three months. No one at Cal Poly seems to know why the event info was so late in coming to the Office of Contracts, and Greg Melnyk of that office didn’t return calls before deadline.
 
Soares calls Anderson “diligent� in her duties, while Journalism Department Chair George Ramos suggests that the event’s student organizers—Anderson included—should have done more research: “The students should have done a lot more groundwork way before we got to this point.�
 
Anderson takes umbrage at that idea: “I can’t believe I’m literally paying these people for this kind of ‘education.’�
 
Despite the snafu, the show did go on, albeit in a stripped-down incarnation. Instead of five bands, there were three that Anderson paid out of her own pocket. Pre-sold $25 tickets were refunded at Boo Boo’s and attendees—a scant 120—bought $12 tickets at the door.
 
“My position is, as with any senior project, it’s a learning experience,� says Soares philosophically. “I wouldn’t necessarily call it a failing on Stacey’s part. She brought all the energy to this project.�
 
Because Soares signed contracts with the headlining bands, the Journalism Department will have to honor those contracts: “We’re on the hook for better than $2000 here,� he says. The department has refused to pay the nearly $1,000 out-of-pocket expense accrued by Anderson.
 
This is the second time in three months that Cal Poly has pulled the rug out from under a student event at the last minute. A fraternity-sponsored “Fight Night,� scheduled to take place in Cal Poly’s Mott Gym, was forced to remove any Cal Poly association from it and was held at an off campus venue. Apparently the university learned that students would be punching each other during the event.
 
“It’s been a fight from beginning to end with all these people who are just so fearful of a new idea,� laments Anderson. “I’ve really enjoyed college, got everything I could get out of it and more, but the best education I received was going against what I’ve been told here. I graduate in three weeks unless they expel me for this story, then I’m out of here, moving to New York.�


 

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