SUNY Oneonta has decided not to move forward with the OH-Fest concert scheduled for Saturday, April 20. The OH-Fest street festival will go on as scheduled from 1 to 5 p.m. on Main Street. Late this morning, the City of Oneonta withdrew the permit it had issued to the SUNY Oneonta Student Association to hold the concert in Neahwa Park. This left SUNY Oneonta with the choice of either canceling the event or finding another site for it.
In an email to the campus community, Vice President for Student Development Franklin Chambers explained the decision:
“The president, senior members of her staff, the University Police Department chief, chief facilities planning and safety officer, director of student activities, legal counsel and I met to discuss this. We assessed the feasibility of relocating the concert to Alumni Field House, where the college has staged several concerts through the years, on such short notice.
“Our decision came down to safety. OH-Fest planning is a months-long process involving the City, Hartwick College and SUNY Oneonta. Given less than 36 hours to change the venue, we simply do not believe it would be possible to ensure the level of security we deem necessary for an event of this type and size.
“We regret needing to make this choice and acknowledge it will disappoint members of Oneonta’s campus communities and many others. However, the college, no matter the circumstances, must act in students’ best interests.
“The disposition of this year’s OH-Fest concert offers a teachable moment. Earlier this week a petition was created urging the college to cancel Sean Kingston, the scheduled headlining act, because of concerns related to a sexual assault allegation. This has become part of a broader cultural conversation around how we make conscious decisions as consumers and confront sexual assault. As the colleges move forward through today and the discussions that this week will bring forth, we ask members of our campus community to keep survivors in their thoughts.”