To The Editor,

I have never felt compelled to respond to The Catalyst, and now, having graduated, I am as shocked as any of you that I am doing so. I am only writing this letter because I love Colorado College with all my heart, and I want to preserve what I see as some of the college’s greatest aspects for generations to come.

For those of you who don’t know me, I graduated last spring with a degree in English and a double minor in wit and sarcasm. More importantly, I consider myself generally non-confrontational, and rarely make such efforts to voice my opinion publicly. Yet, the time has come; after an extended perusing of the almighty Facebook, I stumbled upon a Catalyst article with the words “PlayHard” and “$12,000” sharing the title.

“Surely, this is a typo,” I thought to myself. “They must mean $1,200.”

Somewhat sadly, after reading the article, I realized I was horribly mistaken. To make matters worse, this “debate” has been going on for a nearly a year, with both sides repeatedly pointing fingers at each other.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know all of the facts – not by any means. The arguments I will make from here on out stem from three things: time spent at PlayHard events, the recent Catalyst article, and the knowledge I gained working on the Llamapalooza committee last year.

First and foremost, I’d like to address Mr. Alejandro Salazar’s point that $12,000 for a PlayHard “production” is considerably less than the cost of Blues & Shoes or Llama.

Yes, and a Sam’s Club cola is sure to cost less than the real deal.

Llama inherently costs more because, until very recently, Llama brought international acts to Colorado College, as opposed to student DJs. Do any of you know who headlined Llama my freshman year? Toots & The Maytals! A number of years before that? The Doobie Brothers! Flash forward a few years, and I’m excitedly calling a high school friend to tell him his band got chosen for Llama. For those wondering, they were the band Vasudo, and they absolutely killed it.

Regardless, Llama has not been “consistently strapped for cash” as the author claims; no, this problem began my sophomore year (2010-2011).

The Llama band budget has shrunk severely each year since 2010. I don’t know the exact number, but I’d be willing to guess Toots cost at least $15 thousand to $20 thousand. In 2013, the entire band budget for Llama was $20,000… So much for getting international acts!

Obviously, this does not imply that the missing funds went directly to PlayHard, though the timing proves somewhat suspect. More likely than not, they went towards funding the remarkable education that CC provides on a daily basis. Nevertheless, it’s worth looking deeper into PlayHard events, what they entail, and if they really do need $12,000 for one event.

Conveniently, that question brings me to another noteworthy point.

As I recall, PlayHard has at least two events per year and sometimes as many as four. Suddenly, the $12,000 is looking a lot more like $48,000, which in turn, is looking rather similar to recent Llama budgets (not just band budgets, but the whole thing). Keep in mind, this is for a concert by your peers.

Now, I imagine some of you are reading this and thinking, “Well yeah, but much of the $12,000 is a one-time cost for equipment that will be used for years to come, so the following events will be cheaper.”

Sure, but do we really need to spend $6,500+ to make student DJs look and sound like professionals?  Do they really need “high-end, high-quality equipment?  Do we really need CC student events to have “a degree of professionalism, quality, and depth?”

Based on the amount of fun I’ve had at simple, low-budget Carriage House shows and house parties with bands, I would say the answer is a resounding “NO!”

Student events are student events for a reason; they do not need to be turned into Super Bowl halftime shows. While I would prefer to end my PlayHard spending scrutiny here and now, one other “expense” caught my eye and held a gun to my head, insisting I tear it to pieces.

“Of that [total budget], $2,500 will go towards crafting a true winter wonderland.” Perhaps, I will embed a picture at this point in my letter, a candid shot of my appalled face turning to tears shortly before running into oncoming traffic.

$2,500 to create a “true” winter wonderland?!? You’ve got to be kidding me.

First of all, there’s no way ice cream, fake snow, blowers, paper snowflakes, and some shiny accessories cost $2,500. I beg you to show me the bill – seriously. Secondly, I imagine it would be cheaper to cut a small hole in the roof of Gaylord and let some real snow fall in. I’ll even pay to patch the hole afterwards.

Finally, I’d like to touch briefly on what I see as the major difference between PlayHard events and Llama. PlayHard, as the author points out, aims to create what looks and feels like an EDM festival, while Llama aims for more of a Woodstock vibe.

For professors, staff members, and oblivious students who are unaware, EDM festivals are equivalent to the raves of the 80s and 90s. Now, I don’t mean to sound like your mom or dad, but I don’t think it’s any secret that EDM festivals see astronomically high rates of drug use, particularly powdered drugs such as cocaine and MDMA. While I won’t go into depth about what the little bag you buy actually contains, I will point out that trying to emulate such festivals is despicable to say the least. Walking into a PlayHard event as a senior, I often wanted to slap the throngs of underclassmen clearly on something.

Once again, I know some of you are saying, “but kids experiment with drugs at Llama too!” Yes, but consider the difference; the drugs of choice at Llama are most likely marijuana and various psychedelics. Psychedelics aren’t safe by any means, but they rarely contain the mystery drugs, or “bath salts,” that are commonly used to dilute powdered drugs.

I realize PlayHard does not personally promote drug use, and many students enjoy the events quite sober, but at the very least, ask questions and demand answers.

Should Colorado College openly support such a culture?  Should other cultures and events suffer as a possible result?  Should the school spend as much on a few student-produced raves as they do on Llama?  And most of all, do we have the right to see an itemized spending report for the $2,500 spent on a true winter wonderland?


Christopher Klein ’13


  1. Thank you. Yes. Changes are coming, this is despicable.

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