Last Saturday’s Fall Fest was supposed to be a day of wholesome fun. Inflatable obstacle courses and jousting rings occupied Sojka lawn, along with a dunk tank and several tables sponsored by student organizations and campus organizations. Carnival-type foods like snow cones and popcorn added to the festive autumn atmosphere. Then, Na Palm performed on the Fall Fest stage, seeming to undermine the spirit of the event.
Na Palm, also known as Craig Steven Palm, is a rapper from Chicago whose electronic hip-hop songs are laced with expletives. His lyrics typically feature drug use, excessive drinking and partying. They also disrespect women.
In light of recent discussions on campus about sexual assault, respect for one another and proper decorum, we are concerned about the decision to allow Na Palm to perform at this year’s event. His performance and the lifestyle he represents through his music seem to perpetuate the problems the campus is trying to eliminate.
Na Palm opened for Sam Adams, whom the Campus Activities and Programs (CAP) Center and Activities and Campus Events (ACE) booked for the event. Na Palm was not mentioned in the Facebook event or posters around the University announcing Fall Fest.
What bothered us most about his performance was not the offensive content of his music. Each day we can hear similar tunes on the Internet or on the radio (though even broadcast radio must comply with regulations set by the Federal Communications Commission). The real issue was the inappropriateness of the performance for the setting.
Fall Fest is an annual event open to the entire campus community. Faculty, students and staff are able to participate. Since children were in attendance, we were especially worried about Na Palm’s obscenities. Moreover, we believe that since Fall Fest took place in a very public setting, it was unfair that so many people were subject to hearing the vulgarities. The sound carries well in the open air, and even those in the surrounding vicinity could hear the music. Many students at the event seemed uncomfortable or nervous during the performance.
Na Palm’s musical stylings were unexpected at the event this year. We do not question people’s right to listen to such music, nor do we condemn their taste. We simply believe that in this case, since Fall Fest’s entertainment was so prominent, attendees were not given enough information to be able to make informed choices about whether to subject themselves to Na Palm’s potentially offensive performance.