Wiz Khalifa concert stirs controversy

Posted on Aug 23 2017 - 8:53pm by Maddie McGee and John Touloupis

While student excitement builds for Friday’s Student Activities Association-sponsored Wiz Khalifa concert, alumni have unleashed their own opinions on the artist, arguing that his music does not embody the values described in the Ole Miss Creed.

Ed Meek, a prominent Ole Miss alumnus, posted on his Facebook page the music video for Wiz Khalifa’s song “Something New.” The video features women in bathing suits drinking, promotion of derogatory slurs and references to sex and drugs.

In his post, he criticized the university’s choice to approve the concert, wondering why the university would promote an artist who he feels is not an appropriate role model.

His post quickly gained both positive and negative comments from alumni and current students.

“I expected people my age to agree with my post,” Meek said. “I was surprised when people called my post racist. This is not a race issue – it’s a sensitivity issue.”

Meek said he felt Wiz Khalifa’s music goes against the behavior standards outlined in the Ole Miss Creed. These values include integrity, fairness, civility and respect for the dignity of each person.

“Wiz’s music touts abuse of women, minorities by using the N-word and clearly promotes drug abuse,” Meek said. 

He said for the university to bring a performer who espouses values contrary to the Creed seems counterproductive.

Current student Jonathan Lovelady cited the First Amendment in his argument against the post.

“My opinion on the First Amendment is to allow anything that isn’t violating it,” Lovelady said. “SAA planned it, and a good amount of the students supported it.”

Among the other comments was a comparison of atmosphere at a concert to that of the Grove, saying people drink, use obscenities and dress scandalously there as well.

When choosing the concert, the SAA looked over several artists before deciding on Wiz Khalifa as the headliner.

“We were given some names to look at over the summer, and I thought, ‘Wow, this is awesome,’” Brady Ruffin, SAA executive director, said. “When the executive council voted on it, it was almost pretty unanimous.”

SAA is funded by the Ole Miss Student Union. For the concert, it partnered with Ole Miss Athletics to secure the Pavilion as the location for the concert. Student feedback was largely positive when the show was announced.

Ruffin said SAA strives to choose events that will appeal to the entire student body, and even amid the concern from alumni, stand by their decision. 

“Wiz Khalifa was the preferred artist by an overwhelming majority of the council,” Ruffin said. “The Executive Council felt that artist appealed to many of our students and our feedback thus far has been extremely positive from our constituents.”

“I want the SAA to provide opportunities for Ole Miss students to participate in or attend events that cater to all students on campus,” Bradley Baker, Student Union director, said.

The concert is just one element of a week full of activities, and SAA hopes students can find activities in which they are interested. 

“Many components go into putting together Welcome Week,” Patrick Ramsay, the coordinator of student activities, said. “Our students work together as a team to make sure Welcome Week is a blast for all students on campus.”