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Major Activities Board lures MTV to campus

link to: College ReportMAB president Kelly Snow, '00, says the group plans to continue organizing "larger events and larger-scale programming."

Several hundred students lined up on campus this fall to audition for The Real World, a popular MTV show that films a group of young adults living together in a great location in a house provided by the cable network. The auditions were part of the MTV Campus Invasion, which hit the University of Chicago on October 23.

image: Students line up for a chance to be on MTV (photo by Lloyd DeGrane)During the day, the national tour turned an overcast and chilly Bartlett Field into a somewhat sparsely populated MTV Village, featuring activities centered around two other popular MTV shows, The House of Style and Road Rules, as well as new music and Sony Playstation tents. The spectacle proved too much for about a dozen students who carried placards outside the tents and wrote editorials to the Maroon criticizing the event's corporate ties. Later in the evening, the tour sold out Mandel Hall with a concert by rock bands Garbage and Lit.

The festival, which travels to dozens of universities every fall, is filmed by MTV camera crews, who will piece together footage from the U of C and other locations to air at a later date.

"MTV's role is to give us a national presence," says MAB president Kelly Snow, a fourth-year. "MAB's role was to get the word out about the event and to be the on-campus presence, which is ultimately what matters because it's a University event."

The invasion was one of the many campus events organized by the Major Activities Board (MAB). MAB, the University's student-run entertainment buyer, works to bring "large-scale entertainment to campus at an affordable price," says Snow. The 12-member board, consisting of talent buyers, marketers, technical directors, and hospitality coordinators, is responsible for organizing three shows a year for Chicago students: two 1,000-seat shows in Mandel Hall during fall and winter quarters and then the larger, outdoor Summer Breeze festival during spring quarter.

This year, with a greater emphasis on student preferences--garnered through questionnaires and suggestion forms on the organization's Web site--Snow hopes to bring more popular events to Chicago: "We're pushing for the prestige of known people--known entities like MTV--coming to our campus."

Recent acts have included Busta Rhymes, Sonic Youth, Beck, A Tribe Called Quest, and Liz Phair, but bigger-name bands tend to avoid the U of C because of budget and venue-size constraints, says Snow. "Way back in the day, we had U2," she notes. "Now it's ten, 15 times our budget."

Snow says she hopes to capitalize on the success of the MTV event by coordinating with other universities to bring more big acts to campus. MAB has just begun to consider its winter and spring shows and plans to pool resources with Northwestern in hopes of roping in another MTV-like attraction. "It's all part of our commitment to bring larger events and larger-scale programming,"says Snow. "We want to get more students involved, get better bands, and have a more popular reaction."
--B.B.

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  DECEMBER 1999

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