If there’s any metaphor for the price tag on elite higher education, just look to its student-run concerts. For Columbia’s 250th anniversary a few years back, this alum remembers a blowout that included a no-show by Erykah Badu and one recently-hospitalized Wyclef Jean claiming painkillers as an excuse to scale the stage’s light towers instead of performing more than 40 seconds of his songs. This to the horror and amazement of thousands in attendance.
Not to be outdone, this year’s annual spring Bacchanal festivities (theme: “Chewbacchanal“) reported a budget “over the $100,000″ mark” and included performances from Of Montreal, Ghostface Killah, and Wiz Khalifa. (“Spending Columbia’s money is very hard to do and takes a long time,” the Columbia Spectator quoted Bacchanal treasurer Cleopatra McGovern as saying last week.) Last year’s show (uber-famous alumni Vampire Weekend, Talib Kweli) brought in an estimated 1,000 students. This year’s budget couldn’t buy any performers scaling the stage, but it did afford Kevin Barnes, Ghostface Killah, Pittsburgh rapper Wiz Khalifa, and a white-powdered guy in his tighty whities.