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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Outgoing pres. feels heat

    Former ASUA President Tommy Bruce gives a speech to protestors opposing the proposed education budget cuts outside the Arizona State Legislature on Jan. 28.  Recently, Bruce has taken significant criticism for the ASUA concerts loss of $900,000 in ticket and merchandise sales.
    Former ASUA President Tommy Bruce gives a speech to protestors opposing the proposed education budget cuts outside the Arizona State Legislature on Jan. 28. Recently, Bruce has taken significant criticism for the ASUA concert’s loss of $900,000 in ticket and merchandise sales.

    Tommy Bruce is not oblivious to news reports from the last 36 hours.

    He has been ripped apart, spoken out against and potentially libeled by comments on local media stories.

    “”Are you mad cuz you have no money and no friends,”” one commentator wrote on the Daily Wildcat Web site. “”You lost the genetic lottery. Get over it.””

    The criticism came mere minutes after a breaking news story proclaiming the result of what Charles Wollin, marketing director for the Associated Students of the University of Arizona, called one of the greatest concerts the UA had hosted.

    As it turned out, the concert ended up nearly $1 million in the red. For a show that had cost about $1.4 million, ASUA had only raised about $500,000 in revenue.

    For days after the show, Bruce and other top executives were unavailable by phone – forget trying to track them down in person. Whether Bruce was actually still crunching the numbers or simply stalling the inevitable, the news was only released Monday, almost a week after the Jay-Z concert, drew more than 11,000 students to Arizona Stadium on April 29.

    “”His punishment will come in a legacy,”” another commentator wrote.

    And as Bruce sits in the library studying for his finals before his presumed graduation, he is left to ponder his legacy and what he has left behind to the incoming class of ASUA executives and senators.

    “”I haven’t been in the library in a while,”” Bruce said, referring to the countless twilight hours he has spent in the ASUA offices.

    Long hours are nothing new for the university’s first two-term president ever. When ASUA’s special events budget had to be used to cover the Kanye West concert last year in McKale Center, Bruce told the Daily Wildcat last April, “”I don’t want people to think that I’m just throwing away their money. I would never, ever, ever do anything against the well-being of the students.””

    Yet, that charge is exactly what is facing the outgoing president. At least 75 people have expressed in Web site comments their loss of respect for both the student government and the man who has been its leader for four semesters.

    “”All students will be forced to pay for this in the end,”” said a Web commentator claiming to be Stephen Bieda, former president of the Graduate Professional Student Council. A call to Bieda Tuesday night confirmed he posted the comment.

    Although the UofA Bookstore will be helping ASUA pay off the $917,000 in losses from the concert over the next five years, Bruce may pay the most of anyone, with his name appearing alongside the massive failure of a concert that pops up without much effort on a Google search.

    With today’s Daily Wildcat staff editorial and a Facebook group devoted to the ineptitude of the concert’s planning, some have suggested Bruce save his trip to New York to seek out a marketing career.

    “”This sounds like a Tommy Bruce move,”” another comment said. “”Tommy will remember this failure for the rest of his life.””

    This may be truer than the original commentator realized. On the same day the concert’s financial losses were revealed, Bruce removed the “”Last Smash Platinum Bash”” banner from his Facebook page.

    Just a few weeks before, the former student body president was beaming with confidence as ASUA Senators touted Bruce’s accomplishments of bringing West and Jay-Z to campus. Now, barely a breath away from graduation, the man who survives without sleep finds himself having to provide explanations with a downturned face at a press roundtable, rather than celebrating the graduation he and his family have been looking forward to for the last several years.

    Despite Bruce’s assertions that the concert was successful in its retention and recruitment efforts, it’s difficult to drink the Kool-Aid when six figures are in the loss column.

    “”It’s not the ideal situation,”” said Chris Nagata, incoming ASUA president. “”(Bruce) is understandably apologetic. There is nothing else he can express to me – to anyone.””

    Bruce was quick to spare his former executive vice president of any blame for the concert’s failures, saying that the responsibility ultimately lies with him.

    “”My legacy (might be affected) but not Jessica (Anderson’s) – no,”” Bruce said. “”There’s little that can be said.””

    Anderson was just as quick to defend Bruce.

    “”It didn’t come down to one person,”” she said. “”If we didn’t try, we couldn’t have done this.””

    As the sun sets on the Bruce-Anderson duo that has endured two years of challenges, hardships, accomplishments and rewards, Bruce may be seeing his legacy disappear before his very eyes.

    Which Bruce will be remembered? The one who blew almost seven figures on an ill-fated Arizona Stadium show, or the one who has lobbied tirelessly at the State Capitol to lessen tuition increases and try to increase campus funding?

    “”Be nice to Tommy,”” Anderson said over the phone in a tone that hadn’t been heard since the former executive thanked Bruce for “”two amazing years”” at the ASUA meeting two weeks ago.

    “”Everybody will remember different things,”” Bruce said. “”I’m only human.””

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