B.o.B. and Asher Roth might love college but they may not be going to Virginia Commonwealth University any time soon. After paying $100,000 for the duo to perform at the annual Back to School bash for freshman, concerns are being raised over the drug laden content of their music that could halt the event altogether.
In keeping with the themes of Roth’s other work, “I Love College” extols certain nonacademic portions of the collegiate experience, such as excessive beer consumption, marijuana use and casual sex. At one point, the song devolves into the chanting of the words “chug” and “freshmen.”
Event price tag: $100,000, to be paid for through student activity fees from Monroe Park Campus students.
“Having this artist come to the campus normalizes inappropriate, illegal and unhealthy behaviors,” said Denise D. Miller, president for the Regional Drug Free Alliance and chairwoman for the Parents Council of Commonwealth Parenting.
“It also lowers the expectations for the students,” she said, adding that she was disappointed to see the school spend so much on a performer who condones that behavior.
The performers were chosen by the school’s Programming Commission, which consists of 12 student executives from various student activity committees, according to VCU public-relations specialist Tom Gresham.
Gresham added that university staff “provides logistics-related parameters that could preclude a performance, but the decision is the students.'” Staff members who worked with the commission could not immediately be reached.
Karen Khoury of New Jersey, mother of incoming freshman Ally Khoury, 18, was not pleased about the Roth performance.
“I think the message that the college is sending by allowing this performer is one of ‘we condone this behavior, but just don’t let us catch you doing it,'” she said. “I certainly don’t consider myself a prudish parent. But had I seen this earlier, I probably would have written some sort of a complaint.”
The “I Love College” video opens with a disoriented Roth awakening amid scantily clad females. It then revisits the frat party the night before, the highlights of which include beer pong, beer funneling, mattress tossing and drawing on and shaving the heads of passed-out partygoers.
VCU has held the Back to School Jam since 2002. The event usually consists of a dance party, and the cost the past three years has been between $15,000 and $23,000.
This is only the second time the event has included a concert; the other was in 2006, when rapper T.I. performed at a cost of $116,000.
Adele McClure, president of the Monroe Park Student Government Association, said the programming commission settled on B.o.B. and Roth after soliciting input from students via Twitter, Facebook and surveying.
McClure said she understands the concerns of some parents and administrators but that on a daily basis, students listen to worse music than what Roth puts out.
She said she considered asking Roth not to perform “I Love College” but decided against it since “College” is the only song many students know. “If he was singing any other song, people would be like, ‘Who is this guy?'”
These students are definitely doing and saying worse things than they will hear about at that concert.