Harvard Students Want to Ban Rapper From Performing at School Concert

A group of students have started a petition to get officials to reconsider hip-hop artist Tyga's appearance.

Photo by Michelle G via Flickr

Photo by Michelle G via Flickr

A group of Harvard students wants officials from the university’s office of student life to cancel a rapper’s performance at the school’s annual spring concert because they feel like the artist’s lyrics and message are too “misogynistic” and “violent.”

Last week, Harvard’s College Events Board, which is made up of students, announced that Tyga, a rapper known for songs like “Bitches Ain’t [expletive]” and “Bitch Betta Have My Money,” would be the headlining act at the school’s Yardfest concert.

At first, junior Leah Reis-Dennis didn’t know much about Tyga’s lyrics and overall message, but after listening to a series of his songs, she deemed him offensive and started a petition to get him banned from Yardfest. “We were deeply offended by the misogyny and violence that runs throughout his songs. We decided that we should do something about it,” says Reis-Dennis.

She posted a petition on Change.org late Sunday night, March 31, and by Monday morning, it had more than 1,200 signatures. “It was a pretty immediate and amazing response,” says Reis-Dennis, adding that she hopes the school will reconsider the choice and find a different headline for the show.

On the online petition, Reis-Dennis and friends wrote:

We believe that a Yardfest without a headliner would be better than a Yardfest that amplifies misogyny and violence. We demand that Harvard rescind its offer to Tyga, because we believe that Harvard should not provide a platform for music that promotes sexism and rape culture.

Reis-Dennis says she hasn’t spoken with officials from the school about her recent push to find a different performer, however, she plans on hand-delivering the petition with all of the signatures to the office of student life on Tuesday to show how much support the protest has gained. “Harvard should really listen to the student voice when deciding to give someone such a big platform to perform,” she says. “I am hoping they reach out to us once they see the student support.”

She says it’s not just students offended by the lyrics that are boycotting the rapper, however. Others have signed the petition citing reasons such as Tyga being a poor representative of hip hop, as well as a bad performer. “Not only do I agree with this petition, but Tyga is also really bad. Like, seriously,” wrote George Fu.

Other groups of students have been rallying for acts like Macklemore and PSY to perform at the April 13 concert, instead.

Student bands that are opening for the Tyga performance during Yardfest also said they didn’t want to have him on the stage. “Tyga isn’t a great example of artistic excellence … he isn’t a very good representative as hip hop as a genre. There hasn’t actually been too much resistance. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some resistance,” says Reis-Dennis.

But she says she is prepared for student backlash to her petition, because “that’s part of being an activist.”