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USG sends email acknowledging problems with Big Sean lyrics

Undergraduate Student Government president Ella Cheng '16 sent an email to all undergraduates on Wednesday acknowledging that Big Sean’s lyrics “are demeaning towards women and LGBT individuals” and apologizing to students who were triggered by the selection.

The email was co-authored by members of the USG social committee, as well as by Duncan Hosie ’16 and Rebecca Basaldua ’15, who started a petition earlier this month to rescind Big Sean’s contract to perform at Lawnparties.


Basaldua said the email was the result of a meeting between her and Hosie with members of USG and Deputy Dean of Undergraduate Students Thomas Dunne, but that the email was not going to be the final result of the USG campaign.

Dunne did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Duncan and I obviously have very strong disagreements over the fact that Big Sean was chosen to come here and we vehemently disagree with Simon [Wu ’17] and Ella even as they stand by that choice — we were able to come to some common ground over his lyrics ... and communicate that to the student body,” Basaldua said.

Basaldua said she thought that Lawnparties should not be canceled but that USG could still make alternative accommodations. She added that she thinks it is concerning that tuition money is being spent on an artist with a sexual criminal history.

“USG was very clear that they wouldn’t say the word ‘apology,’ ” Basaldua said. “I think it was their stance that they weren’t going to give a flat-out apology for it, although they were certainly willing to agree that his lyrics — some of his lyrics — were [inappropriate].”

The email said that the writers "apologize to any Princeton students for whom the Big Sean selection triggered memories of traumatic gender-based or sexuality-based abuse."


Hosie said he wanted to add a clause to USG’s constitution mandating that the social chair focus on the background and lyrics ofLawnparties artists when selecting them.

Big Sean is still coming to Lawnparties, Cheng said, adding that the focus was on how to improve the quality and transparency of the Lawnparties artist selection process.

USG is thinking about posting the website that the social committee actually uses to select artists and the price range of those artists so people can be realistic when telling USG which artists they want, Cheng said. USG is also currently working on an infographic to publicize how the Lawnparties artist selection process works, Cheng added, noting that office hours with USG to discuss the process in addition to the typical surveys could be options in the future.

Not all those interviewed, however, thought the email was a completely necessary reaction.

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“I think everyone’s going to have problems with somebody,” Erin Nurre ’18 said.