After a tumultuous journey over the concert’s cost and location that led to one of the most popular and anticipated headliners Bacchanal has seen in recent years, the concert has officially been canceled due to the outbreak of the new coronavirus.
Had Columbia students—many of whom recently began packing their dorms in light of Columbia’s decision to move instruction online for the remainder of the spring—been able to crowd in Terminal 5 this April for the concert, they would have celebrated the performances of rapper Gucci Mane and experimental musical duo 100 Gecs. Wander Marchal, the winner of Battle of the Bands, was slated to open for the headliners.
On March 12, University President Lee Bollinger announced that although the University would remain open and functioning, all classes for the remainder of the semester would be held online. He encouraged students who were able to leave campus to move out of their dorms.
Following Bollinger’s email, the Bacchanal Committee released a statement addressing the growing concerns around the viral outbreak, stating that the committee would move forward with planning and production but that a cancellation of the event “may become a reality.” Yesterday, the committee posted videos of the headliners on Instagram and Facebook and captioned them with the phrase: “What could have been.”
Bacchanal’s cancellation falls in line with Columbia’s strong recommendation to cancel events with over 25 people amid the growing coronavirus outbreak. Earlier Friday morning, administrators announced to student group leaders that all on- and off-campus in-person meetings, events, and travel for groups recognized under the Activities Board at Columbia, Student Governing Board, InterGreek Council, Columbia College Student Council, and Engineering Student Council would be canceled through the end of the semester.
Additionally, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Thursday that effective today, gatherings of more than 500 people would be banned and facilities with occupancies of 500 people or fewer would have their legal capacities cut in half. While these rules would not typically apply to the concert—as schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and mass transit are exempt from Cuomo’s ban—the Bacchanal Committee’s recent decision to move the concert off-campus to Terminal 5 subjects it to these new occupancy limits.
In light of the move to Terminal 5, students originally expressed concern that having an off-campus concert would detract from the campus community built around one of the University’s only central, on-campus events for undergraduates every year. Committee members responded that programming before the performance at Terminal 5 would address some of these issues.
Now, with the COVID-19 outbreak, students will miss Columbia’s only central undergraduate event, which many had anticipated since the beginning of the year.