(Reggie Beehner)

By Marty Finley

As Christmas break fades from memory and the new semester starts rolling along each year, rumblings begin surfacing about the spring concert in April, held by the Student Activities Council. SAC discussed the issue in a special emergency meeting Tuesday in which it voted to pursue an $85,000 bid and begin contract negotiations to bring a major country music artist to McBrayer Arena on April 9. Sources close to SAC said the artist is Dierks Bentley.

The motion passed with a unanimous 8-0 vote, but not before some SAC members protested, saying they believed some students wouldn’t agree with the move.

Alison King, vice president of student activities, asked the members of the council to put aside personal preferences and vote for what they believe was the best decision for the university and its students.

Lonnie Scott, assistant director of student involvement and leadership, agreed, adding that SAC should realize that choosing the spring concert act is essentially a business move.

But Brandon Burtner, vice president of resident life, disagreed. He said SAC is not a business, but instead a part of the Student Government Association. He said that although he was confident the majority of students would approave of a country artist, he believes that some students, such as those favoring a rap or Christian rock act, would feel slighted.

Scott said he wished SAC could appeal to every student, but said no artist they could book would please the entire student body.

Some SAC members, however, took issue with what they perceived as the SAC’s lack of planning. These members said they thought the concert would be better organized and have a better pool of artists to choose from if the seach process had started earlier in the year, especially since most artists are booked up by now.

Justin Hobbs, concert chair for SAC, said they considered several acts before arriving at Bentley. He said R&B artist Chris Brown and rock band Hinder were considered, but their price tag of $125,000 each was out of SAC’s budget range.

Other acts, like Plain White Ts, Ben Folds, Seether and Breaking Benjamin were considered, but those acts were booked, unavailable or conflicted with SAC’s schedule, Hobbs said.

SAC also considered comedian/ventriloquist Jeff Dunham, a stand-up veteran with two Comedy

Central specials to his credit, but Hobbs said he would have conflicted with comedian Jim Breuer’s Eastern visit in April, the same month as the concert.

Hobbs said the dates offered by some of the other artists would have pushed the event too close to Breuer’s and he did not want to have two events so close together.

Scott reiterated that SAC did its homework.

“I just want you to know, we exhausted every option,” he said.

Although SAC said it had planned to survey the student body for its artist preferences, the plan was delayed, owing to disagreements among SAC members about how the questions should be worded.

Before the measure to pursue the Bentley show can move forward, it must first be approved by the executive cabinet, composed of senior-level officers in SGA.

The executive cabinet was still considering the measure as of press time.