Lip-sync contest goes off script

Rachel Johnson

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During F-It's final performance at the Lip Sync Battle, members of other groups and the audience joined them in taking off their clothes and grinding on random girls in the audience, Nov. 13. Photo by Kayla White

During F-It’s final performance at the Lip Sync Battle, members of other groups and the audience joined them in taking off their clothes and grinding on random girls in the audience, Nov. 13. Photo by Kayla White

It started off as any other lip-sync contest.

Contestants performed to “Hit Me with Your Best Shot,” “Baby Got Back,” and “Same Love.”

The 10 groups that started the evening in CSC Comanche Suites were whittled down to five after the audience voted on little slips of white paper.

Erin Hagy, marketing senior and University Programming Board late night/weekend chair and student in charge of the event, said in the first and second rounds the groups had to submit a 60-second long version of a song, and in the third round they were allowed to perform a full song. Each group had requirements to meet to be a part of the event, including a registration deadline, a song submission deadline and early attendance at the event.

Then the audience voted. Three groups remained. The competition was fierce.

So when the last group, F-It, took the stage, the stakes were high for the duo — a $300 gift card to the MSU Bookstore.

Then things went a little off script.

WHAT HAPPENED

As seen in a video streamed live on Periscope, which has since been removed, the two boys in the group were joined by three other young men in the audience in the taking off their clothes. They then pulled some of the girls in the audience on stage. Some were given lap dances, and some had their legs lifted in the air and grinded on, upsetting some members of the audience.

Mario Ramirez, activities coordinator for student development and orientation, said the group, F-It, had told Hagy that they were going to do something different than what actually happened. He said he went over and to turn off the music about 40 seconds into the performance, when the boys began to involve the female students.

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Tyler Hughes, business freshman, grinds on Laura Flores, biology senior, at the Lip Sync Battle held in CSC Comanche, Nov. 13. Photo by Kayla White

“It went a little bit overboard when other people who were not apart of that duet got into the performance as well,” Ramirez said. “When that happened I went over and turned off the music, because it got a little bit out of hand, and little bit rowdy, which is not what we anticipated.”

One of the girls pulled on stage, Laura Flores, biology senior and SGA secretary, said she was not expecting what happened at the event.

“I wasn’t expecting what had happened that night to happen,” Flores said. “I just thought it was going to be a fun event.”

Myles McBride, exercise physiology freshman, and Tyler Hughes, business freshman, members of JuggaNation, said it was spontaneous and they did not ask the girls’ permission before-hand. They also said the girls they grabbed went with them and did not refuse to be apart of it.

“I’m in-different to [whether the boys should’ve asked us girls ahead of time] because I feel that it was something where [the boys] just wanted to have fun and interact with the crowd, which that was stated before [their performance they would interact with audience],”Flores said. “One of the girls said they would be coming to the front and they would be interacting with people in the audience, so it was said that they would be interacting with the audience. I just wasn’t aware how much interaction was going to take place.”

Hagy said it was clear to the groups that they had to keep it clean. For example, she said no cuss words were allowed in the songs.

“All the groups knew that it had to be university appropriate,” Hagy said.

However, various audience also said members that the songs did have vulgar language.

“The only reason that it wasn’t blown out of proportion is because we are all adults,” Jonte Davis, biology sophomore, said. “If it was a family event, then that should’ve never happened.”

Both McBride and Hughes agreed that they were under the impression that they were allowed to do exactly what they performed and that they had gotten an okay from Ramirez.

“We barely practiced — probably about a total of two hours. We just winged it,” Hughes said.

And adding the additional performers was not a part of the original plan.

“Originally [F-It] was our competition, but they were our friends. So they asked us if we wanted to do a performance with them,” McBride said. “Then we asked Mario, of UPB, and he had no problems with it so we just joined.”

Clint Coulter, resident hall director, said he thought the Lip Sync Battle was a great way for students to get involved and the performance had good intentions. In reference to F-It’s final performance, Coulter did say he thought the performance was funny but inappropriate.

“I did talk to one of the guys who had their shirts off, and they had said they were told that they could do anything as long as they did not take their pants off,” Coulter said.

Alyssa Fanguy, biology freshman, was in attendance in the first row for the Lip Sync and saidshe did not feel offended by what happened.

“If I had seen someone get really uncomfortable, then I guess it would’ve offended me, but since [the girls who the boys interacted with] were okay with it, then there is no point in me being mad if they weren’t mad,” Fanguy said.

Marco Torres, psychology senior, said he felt the young men who performed weren’t aware of the term comfort level.

“Once shirts came off, that could be labeled as harassment. Some people don’t like when others are topless,” Torres said. “They find that disrespectful or rude, but then to go even further and actually touch other students in the crowd, could be perceived as sexual harassment.”

Nevertheless, Torres said he thought the whole performance was interesting, and wasn’t personally bothered by it.

Armas had a different opinion about the event and the actions that occurred during the final performance. Armas said he was “appalled” by the final performance, and plans to do something about it.

“I’m a senator in SGA [Student Government Association], and I felt that for the severity of the situation, which is on the border of sexual assault, the school isn’t doing anything about it,”Armas said. “I feel like this is being ignored and being pushed under a pile of other things and then eventually it will be forgotten. I think that we have to speak up and someone has to say something.”

 

Still, audience members chose F-It as the first place winner. The two performers officially part of the group were awarded the $300 gift card to the MSU bookstore.

WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN

Francisco Ramos Armas, biology junior, said, “My biggest issue was the fact that the guys got rewarded for what they did.”

Armas said he plans to take action regarding the events that took place.

Armas said he met with Ramirez and Cammie Dean, director of student development and orientation, Nov. 17 about the issue. He said the next step he can take is to submit a letter about the issue to the Student Conduct Committee.

“In Javi’s instance, the fact that he recognizes that he saw something that was offensive and was potentially damaging to people and he wants to say something and do something about it is commendable,” Dean said.

She added that the standard first step for someone who wants to speak and address an issue, whether it be about Title IX, which is sexual harassment or assault, or a Student Code of Conduct, is to make a complaint to Matthew Park, the dean of students.

“Generally speaking, it’s best to do that sort of thing in writing or at least have a prepared statement because that helps him as he begins the process of looking into it,” Dean said.

She said from there, it depends on the nature of the complaint and its severity. With Title IX issues, investigators will be hired to talk with everyone involved with the event and report their findings.

“[In regards to the issue at hand] we can’t jump the gun to say that we are absolutely positive it was a violation of Student Conduct, but just the very fact that it could be and we only have one person whose strong enough to step forward and say ‘Hey we really need to look at this,'” Dean said. “I’m not surprised by that because it can be a difficult topic.”

Nov. 17, Armas addressed the issue at the SGA meeting when the floor was open for public speaking.

Andrew Gray, business administration and management junior, thanked him for his comments and said they are greatly appreciated. By unanimous vote, the senators passed a resolution that SGA would not tolerate discrimination on any level for any reason.

 

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