Harvey Mudd College won a contest to bring Grammy-winning country singer Taylor Swift to the Claremont Colleges, according to an e-mail sent to to HMC students Monday by the Director of the President’s Office and Secretary of the Corporation Karen Angemi. Swift will perform an all-acoustic concert Monday, Oct. 15.
“There will be some tickets available to students at the other colleges and all tickets will be free,” HMC President Maria Klawe said in an e-mail to TSL.
The online contest, Taylor Swift On Campus, received entries from 14,000 schools across the country, with participants from both colleges and high schools. The votes were normalized by school population, and participants were allowed to vote once a day during the voting period from Aug. 21 to Sept. 23.
HMC won a $10,000 music program grant along with the performance, Angemi wrote. The four runner-up schools also received the $10,000 grant. The runners-up include HMC rival Caltech, Seton High School in Cincinnati, Terra Environmental Research Institute in Miami and Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose.
“The voting total of each school was adjusted by the school’s population, which I believe was categorized by increments of 1,000 people,” Travis Beckman HM ’15 wrote in an e-mail to TSL. Beckman, along with Yeahmoon Hong HM ’15, created the Facebook event that sparked the online movement to bring Swift to Claremont.
“Since Mudd has roughly 800 enrolled students, I figured that we would have a great change to win since our vote was normalized by only a factor of one,” Beckman continued in his e-mail. “Taking the proximity of the 5Cs into account, I figured that if Mudd won, at least some students from every college would be able to attend since in the rules it states that the winning school has discretion over the ticket distribution. I knew from the start that garnering a large following on the other campuses would be difficult, just because I do not know many other 5C students, but [Hong] made the Facebook event public so we could get more 5C students to help. I figured that if we had more 5C students voting while our voting was still only normalized by Mudd’s population, it would only increase our chances.”
The contest is sponsored by Chegg, the online textbook rental company, and Papa John’s Pizza. Other sponsors include VH1 Storytellers, a series on the music television network that features live performances and interviews with artists; Covergirl; and American Greetings.
“The amount needed to win was entirely based on Chegg’s (the company who ran the voting) discretion,” Beckman wrote. “I don’t think there are any loopholes. Our biggest advantage was that the voting totals were normalized by our population, and as you can see, the top 5 schools are all pretty small. This rule put us on a level playing field with larger schools, such as the UCs. If there were any [loopholes], [Hong] and I only encouraged voting according to contest rules, and relentlessly reminded our friends to vote every day, as we were!”
The Claremont Forum reported that the concert will take place in Pomona College’s Big Bridges Auditorium, according to Josiah Gaskin HM ’13.
Beckman called himself “the Taylor Swift super-fan of HMC,” as he has met her before, owns every single one of her songs including bonus tracks and knows them by heart. Nevertheless, Beckman wrote that even students “who wouldn’t consider themselves Taylor Swift fans helped out just because they knew what it would mean to their friends who did care.
“That in itself is pretty special and speaks to the camaraderie of the 5Cs,” he added.
While the competition didn’t release final numbers of votes, Beckman wrote, “I feel that our small but dedicated group of Mudders and 5C students who voted every day along with others who helped out just because they could was the key. We were given the chance because of the rules that stated Chegg could decide the voting totals based on population size, and we answered with a great showing.”
According to VH1’s website, Swift’s Claremont Colleges performance will air Nov. 11.
Shelby Wax contributed reporting.