Profane Lyrics Lead to Crossroads Music Ban

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Crossroads, USF’s student-run café, opened once again at the beginning of the school year, serving as a setting for students’ socialization, studying, TV-watching and, of course, eating. However, the atmosphere has a significant difference from last year. Unlike in the past, the soundtrack to the activity in Crossroads, music broadcasted over the speakers from the Crossroads workers’ iPods, has vanished.

It’s unclear exactly what day the music died. However, Seren Sehota, a junior history major who has been working at Crossroads for about a year, remembers the change to have taken effect somewhere in late April or early May of 2009.

“There was a song that had the f-word in it playing, and our managers came downstairs while the song was on,” she said. Several of her coworkers identified the song as “American Boy” by Estelle, featuring Kanye West.

“It was completely by accident, the iPod was on shuffle,” Sehota went on, “but because of that, there were some problems.”

According to Holly Winslow, director of Bon Appetit, the Full-Time Leadership Team then gave the Crossroads workers a warning not to play songs with profane lyrics. The Crossroads team continued to play inappropriate music, she said, and so a manager made the decision to temporarily ban the playing of music in Crossroads.

“We serve many guests in Crossroads: staff, faculty, students and the local community,” said Winslow. “It is our responsibility to create an ambiance that is comfortable, professional and that is just a nice place to meet, study and complete group work. A basic goal is to not offend any of our guests.”

While at present no one is being offended by explicit lyrics, some students are not happy with the lack of satellite music.

“I think it’s sad that because of one person’s shuffle, we lost all of our privileges for music. It’s really quiet in here, and I know that even the customers liked having a little music,” said Sehota.

The absence of background music is not permanent, however. While the speaker system is currently broken, Winslow said, “We are having the speaker system fixed in Crossroads so that we can play a larger variety of music in Crossroads as well.”

Twenty-four students were surveyed in an unscientific online poll conducted by the Foghorn, and their opinions on the music situation at Crossroads were varied. Four preferred having no music at all, one of them commenting, “I’m usually there to get something small to eat and sit down and study, so I’d rather not be distracted with music.”

Others felt that quiet elevator music, not pop songs, should be played. An anonymous commenter wrote, “I would like music but not flaring over the speakers, quiet enough so that I can still have a conversation with the people sitting at my table. [They should probably] turn the music off during midterms and finals week when people actually use that place to buckle down and study in groups.”

Five students chose the option of having student-chosen music with nonexplicit lyrics, because “usually music with nonexplicit lyrics is more pleasant to listen to if you’re studying or talking.”

Another prevailing opinion was that explicit or nonexplicit, the music played in Crossroads should be whatever the employees want to play.

“[Crossroads is] student run, mostly. It should be about what the students want to listen to,” wrote one survey-taker.

Said another: “This school is a university for the students. We are the reason it exists. Crossroads is one of the few things run by the students, so let the students play their music. Is that too much to ask?”

Sehota suggested that instead of putting an end to music altogether, Crossroads should allow an established playlist of appropriate songs approved by the managers.

“Of course we could establish a playlist! I love music and I think that it is so important in our cafes,” said Winslow. “Listening to our student team and their specific needs and finding solutions recognizes their individuality and is what we do as a full-time management team, and I am certain that at the end of this my goal is to compromise and find music solutions.”

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