Think back to this morning, when you walked from the classroom buildings to the Union. Fresh out of a lecture, you were probably entertaining milk-and-honey visions of ancient Athens or daydreams of Dante and Beatrice. Then you pushed open Grewcock’s double doors and the shock of popstar Ariana Grande singing “Side to Side” wrenched you from your fantasy. Again.
It’s time to toss the worst of the Top 40 trash that plays in the Grewcock Student Union. This is the music of frat parties and stale montages, not the soundtrack of early-morning review sessions or late-night conversations. All of us indulge our fancy for pop culture — I’ll admit that I’ve got most of Justin Timberlake’s repertoire committed to memory. But when SiriusXM pumps the union full of ugly, repetitive tracks, it promotes the same thoughtlessness Hillsdale teaches its students to overcome. Luckily, our musical predicament is an irritating oversight with an easy fix.
The monitors who manage the Union’s front desk also run its sound system, but they aren’t the culprits: “The Student Union desk workers only control whether the radio is on or off,” sophomore desk monitor Jordyn Pair said. “We have no control over what is playing.”
When it’s on, the radio usually plays SiriusXM’s “Hits 1” station, which cycles through the latest hits from the kings and queens of bubblegum pop. The tunes of Ariana, Timberlake, and Taylor Swift belt out the hits that financed their newest mansion, they make the Union a feel like high school prom. Yikes.
While the radio station has edited all the four-letter words from these angsty ballads, the content of these tunes promote vile messages. In the chart-topper “Side to Side,” for example, Ariana drops this poetic shoutout to her latest lover: “I’m talkin’ to ya/ See you standin’ over there with your body/ Feeling like I wanna rock with your body/ And we don’t gotta think ‘bout nothin.’” Lovely, right?
This would be less of a problem if the Union was populated only by its 9 p.m. crowd — students strung out on stale coffee and greasy carbs. But a lot of other people visit the Union. Prospective students imagine themselves reading up on the great works of the Western World aside the fireplace, while their mothers picture their precious babes falling for an equally conservative student over ice cream at AJ’s (what they don’t know about Hillsdating won’t hurt them). Donors tour this lodge-like hang out before they snap a quick pic with Winston and clean out their wallets at the bookstore. Professors trudge down the steps into the cafeteria for lunch. Their tiny kids run wild in velcro shoes.
And who sings backup to all this activity? Nasally, auto-tuned voices screeching overhead about their thoughtless sexcapades and subsequent heartbreaks (I’m looking at you, TSwizzle).
Hillsdale College prides itself on adherence to principle and celebration of higher thought. We have got to turn off the music that promotes debauchery as it echoes throughout the center of student life.
Listen, I’m not suggesting we swap Ariana and her ilk for an equally-irritating playlist of goody-goody Christian music. And I’m not saying we should crank up the volume with hours of Rachmaninov’s piano concertos on loop, even though that’s a sacrifice for me — I’ve got it bad for Sergei.
Perhaps an a couple of SAB student employees should aggregate and update playlists of upbeat music that doesn’t celebrate hookup culture. Maybe we could even feature Hillsdale’s own radio station, 101.7 FM, in the later evening hours when it’s quiet enough to hear the shows produced by our fellow students. The options are plentiful, and, more importantly, the options are cheap.
Whatever we do, though, we have got to stop playing “Side to Side.” It’s been stuck in my head for weeks.
Ms. Read is a junior studying French and journalism.