Fefe Dobson tries to drink a microphone at Ryerson's Parade and Picnic concert. Sept. 7, 2012. Dasha Zolota/The Eyeopener

Was the MAC a proper venue for Parade and Picnic?

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By Betty Wondimu

Ryerson’s 52nd annual Parade and Picnic made history by being the first to be held away from Toronto Island.

This year, the concert was held at the newly opened Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC) and featured headliners Fefe Dobson, Sean Kingston and Marianas Trench.

Although students were excited about the lineup, some students said the RSU’s decision to switch venues was the wrong one.

“The venue change sucks. On the island it was just us. it felt way more exclusive like a private festival,” said second-year civil engineering student Gledis Dervishhasani.

Tim Lai, a first-year film student, agreed, saying changing the venue takes away from the frosh week experience because the MAC has capacity restrictions.

“I’m disappointed because only 4500 people could fit in the arena at MAC, but Ryerson has over 30,000 students,” he said. “It’s Ryerson’s Week of Welcome finale, anyone that wants to come should be able to.”

According to Lai, the RSU should have kept the concert on the island not only to avoid an event that is “cramped, crowded and indoors,” but also to maintain a 51-year-old tradition.

“It’s great that we just unveiled the MAC, but there are so many smaller events that the RSU could hold there as opposed to the biggest event of the year,” said Lai.

Some students thought having the concert at MAC was more convenient.

“Having the concert at the MAC made it easily accessible, meaning you don’t have to take a ferry to get there. As a commuter from Scarborough that means one less piece of transportation, so the change is a positive thing,” said first-year social work student Allison Belen.

“I guess having the concert on campus makes for a better communal feel,” she said.

A better communal feel is exactly what RSU’s vice-president for student life and events, Ifaz Iqbal, was going for.

“Our aim for the change was to bring the Parade and Picnic experience back to our campus,” said Iqbal.

Iqbal said that since the first Parade and Picnic in 1961, the RSU has never had the opportunity to change the location, and when they finally did, it was an offer they could not turn down.

“We all thought it would be an amazing venue and of course we were hesitant at first, but the RSU along with Sheldon Levy put a lot of work in to fuse old traditions in with new ones. We started work back in February because we knew we were about to change 51 years of tradition.”

Levy and the RSU wanted to introduce students to the MAC, and the Parade and Picnic was an effective way of doing so.

“As students, we were so excited about the opening of the new MAC. This concert and our massive lineup of artists this year just makes it the cherry on top,” Iqbal said.

When the concert was done, Dervishhasani had a change of heart.

“Yes, the venue change takes away from the tradition and feel of having a private party, but the better lineup of artists kind of makes up for it,” Dervishhasani said.

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