Nearly one year ago this week, Wyclef Jean stood in front of an enthralled student body, visiting friends and family, alumni and others. His vibrant character and robust musical talents left us all in awe. The reduced admission of $5 for students seemed like a steal, a welcome relief for the frugal college student.
Nonetheless, it is likely that Wyclef Jean was not chosen because of his musical prowess or jubilant personality but rather with close attention to his personal endeavors for his native Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Unbeknownst to many may have been that Wyclef had established the Yele Haiti Foundation in 2005 to “create small-scale, manageable and replicable projects to contribute to Haiti’s long-term progress.”
Similarly, the choice for our homecoming concert this year can be attributed as much to a majority of students desiring a hip-hop artist as it can to Lupe Fiasco’s “acute thoughts [often] ignored [by] his peers.” In other words, Lupe, born Wasalu Muhammad Jaco, is as much a popular hip-hop figure as he is a fun-loving student of the world around him, a “dazzling lyricist” whose childhood bedroom floors tended to be “covered in comic books and literature of all genres.” He is not a typical “rapper” but rather a “thinking man.”
What’s more, Lupe has an affliction for charity and has previously raised money for “Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Miracle Network.” Earlier this winter Fiasco donated $5,000 for new children’s coats in his native Chicago and sponsored a design contest benefiting the World Hunger Year Foundation (WHY).
So at this point you may be asking what all this has to do with the concert. Why should it matter to me or USF about our featured musical artist does in his or her free time and what communities they support? It is because the university’s mission and one of the reasons that I choose to attend, as I hope many of you can relate to, emphasizes “social responsibility”, “a common good that transcends [our own] interests”, the “development of each person with the belief that no individual or group may rightfully prosper at the expense of others.” And what better way to illustrate our intentions than to have a portion of the homecoming proceeds benefit a charity of the artist’s choice?
I did some research last spring and learned of Wyclef’s charitable activities and wondered if there was a way to raise money for his cause? To possibly present a check to Wycelf at his concert as a show of unity with his mission. Unfortunately, my idea did not pan out but the possibilities have continued to permeate my mind and body.
It is easy to enjoy a great artistic demonstration and nice to pay a relative small portion out of your pocket. It should be even easier to establish a new tradition at the University of San Francisco. A dollar surcharge or two, a contractual agreement for even a 5 percent donation of the $50,000 we generally pay our homecoming artist. My hope is that this would be a unique feature that would encourage other artists who share our values to be more receptive to coming to the university. However, at the very least it would show that we are not merely “educating hearts and minds to change the world”; we are actively participating in the creation of a better world.
Jon Coon is a junior finace major and politics minor. Online at infoforlivin.blogspot.com