The Daily Bruin has set out to cover Bruin Bash as thoroughly as possible since the event’s inception in 2005, digging into both the atmosphere and performances as well as the financial processes that actually fund it.
As one of the single largest regular pieces of programming put on at UCLA, Bruin Bash – and more broadly, the undergraduate student government Campus Events Commission and Cultural Affairs Commission, which together run the concert – deserves heightened attention and inspection from the media and other campus stakeholders.
However, the Daily Bruin was hampered this year in its ability to effectively cover the concert. Prohibitions set by the fire marshal did not allow any photographer with press access to attend the event, and the reporter who was given reserved access was seated away from the floor of the venue, which restricted her ability to observe audience interaction and often left her to use the Jumbotron to get a sense of the energy of the event.
This marks the first time in recent memory that the Daily Bruin’s access to Bruin Bash was limited. The event’s organizers need to take steps to ensure free access of the press to all of their future events, despite logistical problems that may arise.
Campus Events Commissioner Lexi Mossler said orders from the fire marshal and safety issues limited their ability to distribute press passes, along with a heavy demand from “many other groups” clamoring for access. However, Mossler said that CEC marketing staff were allowed to photograph the event, leaving open the question of why outside media were not.
Two years ago, when Bruin Bash was held in Pauley Pavilion, Daily Bruin reporters and photographers were given media seating and access to the stage. This leads to the question – where, then, was the fire marshal’s concern that day, and what has changed in the ensuing two years?
On the topic of other groups requesting access – who, exactly, were the supposedly large number of organizations with interest in covering a local campus event?
When pressed for answers, CEC did little but point to what the fire marshal said.
It may seem like a minor issue to make a big deal out of, but blocking coverage of a campus event has larger implications. It shows that dismissing the press is seen by the student government as okay – and could be extremely damaging if that kind of thinking extends towards things like student council meetings or sporting events.
Student safety should always remain a main priority for Bruin Bash, especially considering the size of the event and its audience. But the fact remains that the concert has hosted high-profile artists, from Childish Gambino and Kendrick Lamar to Tyga and E-40, while also allowing The Bruin to accurately photograph and report on the event with little incident.
The CEC and CAC, as well as the campus at large, must understand the importance of allowing media access to ensure fair and accurate coverage of issues that matter to students.