Leaving a legacy

Photo by Pat DePuy/Managing Editor

 

President Hefner sits at his desk during a talk with The Leader, as he reflected on his past. –Pat DePuy/Managing Editor

Fredonia says goodbye to campus president and icon, Dennis Hefner

ETHAN POWERS
News Editor

A 65-year old Dennis Hefner stands on the upper level of his office in Fenton Hall, hands folded behind his neatly pressed black dress suit, pensively gazing out the three massive windows that cohesively reveal a clear, brisk day on the SUNY Fredonia campus. Hefner sees more than a university that stands as a model for small liberal-arts colleges everywhere which seek to attain innovation through renovation, he also sees the fruits of his labor that span a 16-year career.
It would be disingenuous to draw a parallel between a successful emperor overlooking a his vast domain, marveling and relishing a career spent securing brick-and-mortar projects and uniting people of different cultures into a singular, representative body. Rather, during this quiet moment of reflection, Hefner recognizes the enormous successes of the past while acknowledging a campus future in which he is not present. His thin grey beard exudes the chaotic nature of the spring semester as he in the process of hastily preparing to greet children at the school’s “Take Your Kids to Work Day” event. A book titled, Readings on the Regulations of Business which he co-authored during his first year at Grad school, sits idly on his desk. It’s there to prepare him for a keynote speech he is set to deliver later that day on the importance of student/faculty research. Several original Janet Turner pieces are placed delicately on the walls of his office amidst a collection of other watercolors and artwork for which Hefner outwardly shows an almost childlike exuberance and jubilation for.
A picture bestowed to him by his fellow faculty members at California State University, Chico, where he served as Dean of Agricultural and Human Environmental Sciences from 1988-1990, displays a dairy cow underneath the administration building’s archway. The faculty took the picture in jest to remind Hefner that he had come a long way from the deeply urbanized metropolitan hub that is the San Francisco Bay Area, and he keeps it on the right wall of the office’s entrance to remind him “never to take things too seriously.” A miniature replica of a San Francisco 49ers helmet sits on a shelf behind him to represent his upbringing. Amongst all of this reminiscence, a small model of the Fredonia clock tower stands proudly at the edge of the president’s desk. A staple and icon of the Fredonia campus, the clock tower itself personifies the man often sitting in the chair behind it in the sense that they each share that very same uniquely honorable role.
Hefner now enjoys the reserved tranquility of the window-gazing pause eight months after he announced his plans to retire in front of roughly 450 Fredonia employees in Rosch Recital Hall. It was at that moment that the faculty and community alike were hit with the seemingly unimaginable revelation that they would have to say goodbye to the campus’ most successful leader and longest-tenured president in the school’s modern history.
The list of accomplishments is staggering.
Throughout Hefner’s career, enrollment of undergrads at Fredonia has jumped 25 percent, improving the school’s rank to third among four-year colleges in western New York. He has secured approximately $360 million in capital construction funding over the course of his term which has led to the creation of the campus’ Natatorium, University Commons, Rosch Recital Hall, University Stadium, Campus and Community Children’s Center, Business Technology Incubator, and the Robert and Marilyn Maytum Music Rehearsal Halls, as well as the new $60 million Science Center currently under construction. Further notable renovations to campus buildings include Maytum Hall, Williams Center, and the planned $40 million expansion of the Rockefeller Arts Center. It’s not very surprising that Fredonia been the single most successful university in securing construction dollars amongst all of the SUNY masters-level universities within the last 16 years.
The grandiose vision of SUNY Fredonia that Hefner himself helped realize seemed to be nothing more than an unattainable pipe dream when he first arrived in 1996. Instead, Hefner began the process of upgrading the campus firstly by addressing the most basic and essential of the university’s needs.
“When I was first appointed president, I gave remarks to all of the faculty and staff and said that I saw the need for us to move forward in four areas,” Hefner said. “One was diversity for the campus. Another was in the area of assessment. We had a few assessment initiatives going on but not a campus-wide assessment program at the time looking at continuous quality improvement. We needed good strategic plans, and we needed to improve our technology. We had four e-mail systems going at the time I arrived on campus, none of which really worked. It was awful. We were way behind the curve in technology.”
Soon after, Hefner had implemented the “Fredonia in 4” program, enabling the school to reach seventh in the nation for 4-year graduation rates. He then moved $204,000 from other parts of the campus budget to address Fredonia’s poor class selection which would allow students to get full class loads much easier than they’d previously been able to.
“You work on things and periodically you have to lift your eyes and look out at the campus and say, ‘Oh, we should be moving in this direction,’” Hefner said.
It’s one thing to preach such a proactive set of beliefs, but it’s another thing altogether to act upon them. Hefner put his philosophy to practice when he was first given a tour of the campus as one of the presidential candidates. He walked into Diers Recital Hall and recalled that it bore a striking resemblance to the auditorium and stage at the elementary school he attended. Constructing a replacement for the outdated area immediately became a priority for the presidential hopeful. “I didn’t know how we were getting it yet, but I knew we needed it,” he said.
The countless public construction projects Hefner has secured have contributed to a Fredonian identity that goes far beyond the confines of the university’s campus grounds. With SUNY Fredonia as the centerpiece, the town itself has developed a distinct individuality, preventing the area from becoming as Hefner puts it, “Brocton with an Applebees.”
“If SUNY Fredonia wasn’t here, we’d be a part of Brocton. We might be slightly better, because we have an Applebees at the exit,” Hefner said with jovial burst of laughter. “This university has been critical to the development of this community.”
Hefner continued by explaining how he sought to get the university to become utterly intertwined with the surrounding region. “There was kind of a dichotomy when I arrived between Fredonia and Dunkirk as the school had very little going on in the city,” he said. “I have worked to expand that relationship because I consider Fredonia and Dunkirk to be of the same larger area.”
No other project has better embodied that goal than the success of the Fredonia Busines Technology Incubator placed in downtown Dunkirk. The Incubator had already produced financially viable and has been instrumental in the revitalization of Dunkirk’s business sector.
If a leader is to be judged by the way in which they perform during times of hardship, Hefner has undoubtedly cemented his status as one of the SUNY system’s greatest strategists. The SUNY Fredonia president has witnessed the operating side of the campus budget be cut 14 of the 16 years that he’s been serving. Next year, Fredonia will be about $1 million in the green.
“We’ll have three times more in terms of a positive budget than I ever saw in 16 years. It’s part of the reason why I’m leaving now,” Hefner said with a buoyant smile. “What we’ve done on the operating side is return to enrollment growth. That has been able to provide some additional money for other uses. If we didn’t have that enrollment growth, we’d be in very difficult shape right now.”
Unquestionably, Hefner will come to be defined by his relentless advocacy of SUNY education to the State Legislature in Albany. The concept of “rational tuition” was consistently at the forefront of Hefner’s agenda as he argued that setting small, manageable increases to tuition would allow SUNY schools to better forecast their revenue and increase their ability to provide students with adequate classes. Following a battle with legislators that lasted nearly the entire course of his career, New York State voted into law a five-year rational tuition policy in 2011 with the backing of Governor Andrew Cuomo.
President–elect Virginia Horvath, who currently serves as the vice president for academic affairs at SUNY Fredonia, echoes the sentiments that Hefner’s unyielding effort and outlook is nothing short of inspiring.
“I’m most impressed with the way he can overturn difficult circumstances, and we’ve certainly had those in the seven years I’ve been here,” she said. “We’ve had challenging budgets given to us by the state and a lot of time, just uncertainty about our status. He’s able to sit there, listen to the facts, and then say ‘Alright here’s what we’re going to do.’ He maintains this positive attitude about how we’re going to stay on course.”
When asked what will prove to be the lasting impression of Hefner’s legacy, Horvath responded with assertion.
“Never give up,” she said sternly. “That seems to be his motto. It was his motto in finding funding for buildings and when we faced budget challenges. That was the dominant theme of his time, and I believe it will continue to be for the future as well.”
Horvath also relayed her appreciation for Hefner’s genuine interest in the students and the events they are so involved in, stating that it is a defining characteristic which she will take into office with her. “At times when I’d get discouraged, he’d say, go to a student event because that reminds you of why you’re here. He’s known for going to all of these events, and I think partly why he does it is to remind himself of why he does the work he does.”
As an international student from Shanghai, China, Zhuojun (“Georgie”) Fu knows the importance of a president who is directly involved in campus affairs. She currently has a heavy course load as a double major in public relations and computer science, with minors in leadership studies and applied mathematics. Fu has received a number of awards and accolades over her time at Fredonia, most recently the Lanford Presidential Prize which recognizes a member of the graduating class who has exhibited balanced achievement and exemplifies SUNY Fredonia’s ideals. As a result, she has spent quite some time shaking hands and talking with President Hefner.
“I feel like his achievements and impact is everywhere, which subconsciously influences everyone including the students and faculty,” Fu said. “He creates a very healthy, positive, friendly environment for us and the way he interacts with the students, in a way, reflects how we should interact with each other.”
As President Hefner takes his last walks around the Fredonia campus he admits he hasn’t given much thought to the surreal fact that each annual university event he attends, just as he has done every year for over a decade and a half, will be the last time he’ll be able to do so as Fredonia’s president.
“It hasn’t really set in,” he said. “Every now and then, a little bit of the realization creeps in, but for the most part, I’ve just been so busy and I haven’t really had time to think about it. When the second Commencement is over on May 12, I have a feeling it’ll set in pretty heavily at that time.”
Hefner affirmed that while leaving will most certainly be a very emotional time for him, he is adamant in his belief that now is the best time for his departure.
“I will not have any regrets about leaving,” he said. “My thoughts now, and I’m sure my thoughts in the future will be that I’ve been very fortunate to have been the president of such a wonderful university for 16 years. We have terrific students, the faculty has been wonderful to work with and the community has been supportive. I couldn’t have asked for a better position to have. I will leave here feeling a lot of pride in what we accomplished here, as well as with a large number of wonderful memories.”
When faced with answering how Hefner himself would personally like to be remembered years from now, perhaps the single most important question of all, the long-serving university leader known for his sincerely light-hearted exterior turned expressionless and somber. Hefner crossed his hands and looked down at them before speaking in a slow, soft tone of voice.
“What I hope people will say is that during my presidency, I was able to get people to work together for the betterment of the university and the students we have here,” he uttered. “That was always my ultimate goal. I know I will be partially remembered for some of the buildings I’ve secured, but more importantly I wanted the campus to be able to get through some very difficult fiscal times as a complete, cohesive unit, and I think that has been accomplished.”
A final celebration of Hefner’s legacy will be held in the outdoor arcade of Rockefeller Arts Center on Thursday, May 3 at 2 p.m. The reception, which will be free and open to the public, will carry with it an air of both poignant nostalgia and hopeful anticipation as the venue itself bears some heavy significance. It was there that Hefner’s post-inauguration reception as SUNY Fredonia’s twelfth president was held.
It is a rare occurrence that one individual is equipped with the necessary skills and patience to unite an entire region under the scope of their influential guidance. Dennis Hefner arrived at SUNY Fredonia 16 years ago in the hope that he could gradually develop a university he saw a great deal of potential in. His dedication and service over the next decade resulted in one of the most impressive and rapid transformations imaginable for a small liberal-arts college. Hefner deeply believed in the university’s philosophy of success being a tradition. More than that, he made it his own, one that he would promote every day of his career as an activist of the importance that a collegiate education carries. When Hefner finally takes his last steps on the Fredonia campus, the university will be losing an unwavering lobbyist, brilliant strategist and extraordinary leader. What it’ll be gaining however, is a friend and advocate of SUNY education whose presence ultimately became much more than memorable – it was legendary.
The list of accomplishments is staggering.
Throughout Hefner’s career, enrollment of undergrads at Fredonia has jumped 25 percent, improving the school’s rank to third among four-year colleges in western New York. He has secured approximately $360 million in capital construction funding over the course of his term which has led to the creation of the campus’ natatorium, University Commons, Rosch Recital Hall, University Stadium, Campus and Community Children’s Center, Business Technology Incubator, and the Robert and Marilyn Maytum Music Rehearsal Halls, as well as the new $60 million Science Center currently under construction. Further notable renovations to campus buildings include Maytum Hall, Williams Center and the planned $40 million expansion of the Rockefeller Arts Center. It’s not very surprising that Fredonia has been the single most successful university in securing construction dollars amongst all of the SUNY master’s-level universities within the last 16 years.
The grandiose vision of SUNY Fredonia that Hefner himself helped realize seemed to be nothing more than an unattainable pipe dream when he first arrived in 1996. Instead, Hefner began the process of upgrading the campus firstly by addressing the most basic and essential of the university’s needs.
“When I was first appointed president, I gave remarks to all of the faculty and staff and said that I saw the need for us to move forward in four areas,” Hefner said. “One was diversity for the campus. Another was in the area of assessment. We had a few assessment initiatives going on but not a campus-wide assessment program at the time looking at continuous quality improvement. We needed good strategic plans, and we needed to improve our technology. We had four e-mail systems going at the time I arrived on campus, none of which really worked. It was awful. We were way behind the curve in technology.”
Soon after, Hefner had implemented the “Fredonia in 4” program, enabling the school to reach seventh in the nation for 4-year graduation rates. He then moved $204,000 from other parts of the campus budget to address Fredonia’s poor class selection which would allow students to get full class loads much easier than they’d previously been able to.
“You work on things and periodically you have to lift your eyes and look out at the campus and say, ‘Oh, we should be moving in this direction,’” Hefner said.
It’s one thing to preach such a proactive set of beliefs, but it’s another thing altogether to act upon them. Hefner put his philosophy to practice when he was first given a tour of the campus as one of the presidential candidates. He walked into Diers Recital Hall and recalled that it bore a striking resemblance to the auditorium and stage at the elementary school he attended. Constructing a replacement for the outdated area immediately became a priority for the presidential hopeful. “I didn’t know how we were getting it yet, but I knew we needed it,” he said.
The countless public construction projects Hefner has secured have contributed to a Fredonian identity that goes far beyond the confines of the university’s campus grounds. With SUNY Fredonia as the centerpiece, the town itself has developed a distinct individuality, preventing the area from becoming as Hefner puts it, “Brocton with an Applebees.”
“If SUNY Fredonia wasn’t here, we’d be a part of Brocton. We might be slightly better, because we have an Applebees at the exit,” Hefner said with jovial burst of laughter. “This university has been critical to the development of this community.”
Hefner continued by explaining how he sought to get the university to become intertwined with the surrounding region. “There was kind of a dichotomy when I arrived between Fredonia and Dunkirk as the school had very little going on in the city,” he said. “I have worked to expand that relationship because I consider Fredonia and Dunkirk to be of the same larger area.”
No other project has better embodied that goal than the success of the Fredonia Business Technology Incubator placed in downtown Dunkirk. The Incubator has already produced financially viable businesses and has been instrumental in the revitalization of Dunkirk’s economic sector.
If a leader is to be judged by the way in which they perform during times of hardship, Hefner has undoubtedly cemented his status as one of the SUNY system’s greatest strategists. The SUNY Fredonia president has witnessed the operating side of the campus budget be cut 14 of the 16 years that he’s been serving. Next year however, due in large part to Hefner’s brilliance, Fredonia will be approximately $1 million in the green.
“We’ll have three times more in terms of a positive budget than I ever saw in 16 years. It’s part of the reason why I’m leaving now,” Hefner said with a buoyant smile. “What we’ve done on the operating side is return to enrollment growth. That has been able to provide some additional money for other uses. If we didn’t have that enrollment growth, we’d be in very difficult shape right now.”
Unquestionably, Hefner will come to be defined by his relentless advocacy of SUNY education to the State Legislature in Albany. The concept of “rational tuition” was consistently at the forefront of Hefner’s agenda as he argued that setting small, manageable increases to tuition would allow SUNY schools to better forecast their revenue and increase their ability to provide students with adequate classes. Following a battle with legislators that lasted nearly the entire course of his career, New York State voted into law a five-year rational tuition policy in 2011 with the backing of Governor Andrew Cuomo.
President–elect Virginia Horvath, who currently serves as the vice president for academic affairs at SUNY Fredonia, echoes the sentiments that Hefner’s unyielding effort and outlook is nothing short of inspiring.
“I’m most impressed with the way he can overturn difficult circumstances, and we’ve certainly had those in the seven years I’ve been here,” she said. “We’ve had challenging budgets given to us by the state and a lot of times, just uncertainty about our status. He’s able to sit there, listen to the facts, and then say ‘Alright here’s what we’re going to do.’ He maintains this positive attitude about how we’re going to stay on course.”
When asked what will prove to be the lasting impression of Hefner’s legacy, Horvath responded with assertion.
“Never give up,” she said sternly. “That seems to be his motto. It was his motto in finding funding for buildings and when we faced budget challenges. That was the dominant theme of his time, and I believe it will continue to be for the future as well.”
Horvath also relayed her appreciation for Hefner’s genuine interest in the students and the events they are  involved in, stating that it is a defining characteristic which she will take into office with her. “At times when I’d get discouraged, he’d say, ‘go to a student event because that reminds you of why you’re here.’ He’s known for going to all of these events, and I think partly why he does it is to remind himself of why he does the work he does.”
As an international student from Shanghai, China, Zhuojun (“Georgie”) Fu knows the importance of a president who is directly involved in campus affairs. She currently has a heavy course load as a double major in public relations and computer science, with minors in leadership studies and applied mathematics. Fu has received a number of awards and accolades over her time at Fredonia, most recently the Lanford Presidential Prize which recognizes a member of the graduating class who has exhibited balanced achievement and exemplifies SUNY Fredonia’s ideals. As a result, she has spent quite some time shaking hands and talking with President Hefner.
“I feel like his achievements and impact is everywhere, which subconsciously influences everyone including the students and faculty,” Fu said. “He creates a very healthy, positive, friendly environment for us and the way he interacts with the students, in a way, reflects how we should interact with each other.”
As President Hefner takes his last walks around the Fredonia campus he admits he hasn’t given much thought to the surreal fact that each annual university event he attends, just as he has done every year for over a decade and a half, will be the last time he’ll be able to do so as Fredonia’s president.
“It hasn’t really set in,” he said. “Every now and then, a little bit of the realization creeps in, but for the most part, I’ve just been so busy and I haven’t really had time to think about it. When the second Commencement is over on May 12, I have a feeling it’ll set in pretty heavily at that time.”
Hefner affirmed that while leaving will most certainly be a very emotional time for him, he is adamant in his belief that now is the best time for his departure.
“I will not have any regrets about leaving,” he said. “My thoughts now, and I’m sure my thoughts in the future will be, that I’ve been very fortunate to have been the president of such a wonderful university for 16 years. We have terrific students, the faculty has been wonderful to work with, and the community has been supportive. I couldn’t have asked for a better position to have. I will leave here feeling a lot of pride in what we accomplished here, as well as with a large number of wonderful memories.”
When faced with answering how Hefner himself would personally like to be remembered years from now, perhaps the single most important question of all, the long-serving university leader known for his sincerely light-hearted exterior turned expressionless and somber. Hefner crossed his hands and looked down at them before speaking in a slow, soft tone of voice.
“What I hope people will say is that, during my presidency, I was able to get people to work together for the betterment of the university and the students we have here,” he uttered. “That was always my ultimate goal. I know I will be partially remembered for some of the buildings I’ve secured, but more importantly I wanted the campus to be able to get through some very difficult fiscal times as a complete, cohesive unit, and I think that has been accomplished.”
A final celebration of Hefner’s legacy will be held in the outdoor arcade of Rockefeller Arts Center on Thursday, May 3 at 2 p.m. The reception, which will be free and open to the public, will carry with it an air of both poignant nostalgia and hopeful anticipation as the venue itself bears some heavy, perhaps even eerie significance. It was there that Hefner’s post-inauguration reception as SUNY Fredonia’s twelfth president was held.
It is a rare occurrence that one individual is equipped with the necessary skills and patience to unite an entire region toward a common goal. Dennis Hefner arrived at SUNY Fredonia 16 years ago in the hope that he could gradually develop a university that he saw a great deal of potential in. His dedication and service over the next decade resulted in one of the most impressive and rapid transformations imaginable for a small liberal-arts college. Hefner deeply believed in the university’s philosophy of success being a tradition. More than that, he made it his own, one that he would promote every day of his career as an activist of the importance that a collegiate education carries. When Hefner finally takes his last steps on the Fredonia campus, the university will be losing an unwavering lobbyist, brilliant strategist and extraordinary leader. What it’ll be gaining however, is a friend and advocate of SUNY education whose presence ultimately became much more than memorable – it was legendary.

Students display projects and research at student expo

Poetry students show off their creatively re-written poems on unique surfaces using non-traditional writing utensils during the student research expo held in the MPR Thursday afternoon. –Courtney Gfroerer/Special to The Leader

COURTNEY GFROERER
Special to The Leader

Hundreds of SUNY Fredonia students gathered in Dods multipurpose room last Thursday to display their work in the annual Student Research and Creativity Exposition.
The five-hour event featured computer, oral, visual arts and new media, dance, musical and theatre, volunteer and graduate student presentations. Traveling through a maze of posters and projects, attendees were able to discuss the students’ work in person further as they gained a better understanding of the research material present.
Among the work of over 400 students, all different majors and mediums were represented. Presenting the research in such a way allowed the campus and community to physically see how hard the students have been working. As senior Clair Wisniewski stated, “You hear about things in the newspaper and online but it’s neat to show everybody what we really did, and how in depth we went with everything.”
Shannan Keefe agreed, speaking on behalf of her SIFE team. “We did a lot over the course of a year for SUNY Fredonia and we really wanted to showcase the projects that we did all at once. As a whole, we wanted to show how we improved the campus socially, economically and environmentally.”
The exposition encouraged students to display their hard work through presentations, such as the students of the Literacy Publishing class who each created their own handmade book. Spending an estimated 20 hours of work on each book, it allowed them to realize how much hard work goes into actually creating such items. “It gave us a chance to see how books are made and the time and effort it takes to make them by hand,” said Kristie Beckinghausen. “Bringing them here gives people a chance to look at literature in a different way.”
Such projects permitted students to use their creative side and utilize different mediums. Present in the works of a poetry class, Kristen King and Jared George stood by their table of various objects waiting to enlighten people passing by. King explained, “Our professor specifically had us use a non-traditional pen [to write the poems]. I did mine with a dandelion to really appreciate the physicality of writing because it’s so often when we write poems, we just type them up.” George added that he made his “pen” out of his old beard hair that he taped onto a paintbrush to replace the bristles.
Allowing students to be exposed to other classes and majors also opens them up to new ideas and shows them what is going on around campus while they are busy with their own studies. “I think it’s neat to showcase what you’ve done in your four years here because it’s important to show how hard we’ve worked. Not everybody knows what each student does individually on campus,” Wisniewski said.
Perhaps the most important speaker at the event was Hefner as he gave a talk titled, “Joint Student/Faculty Research: Why It Matters.” Telling things he had “never told before on this campus,” Hefner disclosed his recipe for success in research throughout his undergraduate and graduate studies. Being introduced with a slew of accomplishments and achievements, Hefner took the platform to a roll of applause. The audience immediately connected with his friendly demeanor, and his speech truly gave helpful advice to all the students present.
Beginning in his undergraduate work, Hefner co-edited a book by working with his faculty and researching with them, eventually getting his name into the world. This lead to immense success as he was offered multiple federal positions as well as teaching opportunities. Hefner stressed how important it is to work hard as well as the benefits that can come from researching with faculty, stating that later in his career he always tried to incorporate undergraduate research into his own work.

Red Balloon Project gains steam and prominence for Fredonia

JUSTIN LAMOREAUX
Assistant Sports Editor

Many years ago, before the Internet was available to the general public and before it even vaguely resembled the Internet as we know it today, it was used as a communication device for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, (DARPA), a research arm for the United States military. In honor of the agency’s fortieth anniversary of Internet usage in 2009, they decided to spread 10 red weather balloons across the country, and the first individual or group to correctly identify all of the positions would be awarded $40,000.
With the use of the Internet and social media websites like Facebook and Twitter, a group of students from MIT set out to locate all of the balloons. Within nine hours, they had correctly identified all the locations of the balloons. Their operation clearly demonstrated the power of social networking, as the students recruited help from people all around the country with the promise of cash incentives for correct locations of the balloons.
Inspired by the success of the contest, and excited by the educational implications that it yielded, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) began an initiative in 2010 known as the Red Balloon Project in order to promote a re-imagining of education at the undergraduate level. There are a number of factors that are pushing on educational institutions nationwide that the AASCU feels need to be dealt with or else sustainability will become a major issue. These factors include decreasing funds, a greater number of people attending and graduating from college as well as the ever growing need for innovative technology.
SUNY Fredonia is just one of 420 colleges and universities that the association consists of, and is also currently only one in five schools that are being recognized by the AASCU because of their work in the red balloon project. Virginia Horvath, vice president of academic affairs and president-elect of SUNY Fredonia, is heavily involved with the AASCU. She is a member of the provost group within the association and she wrote an article that garnered attention. Her article highlighted the goals that Fredonia pursued while addressing the Red Balloon Project.
AASCU’s vice president for academic leadership and change, George Mehaffy, looked around the country at all the colleges and universities participating in the red balloon project to find which schools were implementing interesting tactics. After reading Horvath’s article, he noticed that Fredonia was one of those schools.
“I picked institutions that I thought were serving in leadership roles in the initiative, and Fredonia was one of those,” said Mehaffy. “I looked around the country, and said, ‘who’s doing interesting red balloon work that we ought to tell others about?’ It was clear to me that Fredonia was one of the places that was doing real important work.”
Fredonia was one of five colleges nationwide to be featured in the winter 2012 issue of the quarterly magazine that AASCU publishes, called “Public Purpose.” However, there were some things that occurred on campus that AASCU noticed as well. When the initiative was in full swing on the Fredonia campus in 2011, Horvath asked reference and instruction librarian Scott Richmond to create a display in Reed Library promoting the Red Balloon Project. Richmond had free reign in creating the display and it turned out to be grand in scale, taking up nearly an entire wall in Reed Library.
“It was completely my design, and Dr. Horvath wanted it to be large and kind of captivating, so we actually used the entire blue wall up until the director’s office,” said Richmond. “It was a lot of red balloons that I cut in the media center, but also in the one cabinet it was a showcase of the titles that were chosen as part of the red balloon dialogues and gave covers, as well as a brief description and reviews from the New York Times.”
The red book dialogues that were a part of the display were part of an idea that Horvath came up with. It was essentially an annotated bibliography of 20 books that Horvath deemed to be important in higher education at the time.
“I gave little descriptions [of the books] and asked people at university senate which sound the most interesting, and are there any that you would be interested in reading, and do you have other ideas,” Horvath said. “The senate helped with this and we came up with three books in the fall and three books in the spring.”
To get people to attend the discussions about the books that were chosen, Horvath proposed a “cheater” book club, where the presenters would read the books and summarize them to the audience. This way, people would be more inclined to attend because they didn’t have to read the book, but they were able to learn about a book they had never heard about before. They then would have the chance to learn and discover certain ideas or something controversial, and then join in on the group discussion.
Although the Red Balloon Project is now over on campus, Horvath believes that the project provided Fredonia with some valuable insights. She says that it gave the college a ground work for the new strategic plan that they are going to implement, as well as for what the school is going to do in general education. Another important result is that it gave a broader context for change, something that may not be welcomed with open arms by all immediately.

POLICE BLOTTERS — 5/2/12

University
Tuesday, April 24
12:27 a.m. An RA in Alumni Hall reported a male attempting to sign in while being on the campus’ Persona Non Grata list. A report was filed.

Thursday, April 26
1:30 p.m. The smell of marijuana was reported emanating from two rooms in Chautauqua Hall. Upon investigation, police found Dean M. Nohle, 19, of room 315 and Randy Lopez, 18, of room 313 to be in possession of marijuana. Nohle was also found to have whiskey. Both were arrested for unlawful possession of marijuana.

Friday, April 27
4:08 p.m. Jose E. Itara, 20, and Kendell M. McNichols, 21, were found to be in possession of marijuana and were both arrested.

7:15 p.m. A window was reported to have been broken in Mason. A report was filed.

10:23 p.m. An intoxicated male was reported to be  in the Williams Center. EMS was called and a report was filed.

Saturday, April 28
12:53 a.m. Nickolas M. Hoard, 19, was found to have alcohol in his vehicle in lot 9C. He was arrested for unlawful possession of alcohol.

5:11 a.m. Michael Crowley, 20, was found to be smoking marijuana in 201B Disney Hall. He was arrested for unlawful possession of marijuana.

6:00 p.m. Zachary Stack, 21, was found to be in possession of marijuana after being searched at the FredFest concert and was arrested.

7:52 p.m. Ashley M. Lane, 21, was found to have an open container of alcohol in lot 23 and was arrested.

9:34 p.m. Police observed a car drive over a curb. The driver, later identified as Zachary Forys, 19, was found to be intoxicated and to be in possession of alcohol. He was arrested for DWI.

Fredonia

Fredfest Weekend
12:20 a.m. Officers were on patrol on Canadaway St. when they observed Christopher S. Galayda in a large crowd waiting to get into Sunny’s bar. They heard him yell “Fuck the Popo,” multiple times. Galayda was arrested for disorderly conduct.

2:05 a.m. Officers responded to a fight in progress at 60 Day St. Upon arrival, Sean J. Bellomo, 20, was approached by officers at which point he began to flee, cutting through backyards. He was apprehended after a short chase on Temple St. and arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, where he was held on $100.00 bail.

2:18 a.m. Christopher Lopez, 23, was observed in the driveway of 7 Central Ave. punching another male who was on the ground. Lopez was arrested for 3rd degree assault and held under $250.00 bail.

5:22 p.m. Joshua M Cortez, 18, and Cameron E. Ashford, 20, were walking in front of 35 Forest Pl. As officers approached, Ashford threw a beer bottle to the ground and was ticketed for unlawful possession of alcohol and littering. Cortez was also ticketed for unlawful possession of alcohol.

4:48 p.m. Jared F. Hill, 19, was caught on camera urinating on the residence at 117 Temple St. When confronted by officers with the video evidence, Hill admitted to urinating on the house and was issued a ticket for violation of sewer ordinance.

Michael R. Fahey, Jr., 22, was observed drinking a can of Labatt’s Blue and then throwing it over the fence at the corner of E. Main St. and Day St., where it landed on the library lawn. Officers ticketed Fahey for littering and open container.

7:23 p.m. Officers observed several subjects fighting in front of 33 White St. As officers exited their vehicle, the subjects fled in different directions. One of the subjects, Kyle Smith, 21, was apprehended by police and arrested for disorderly conduct.

8:22 p.m. Cyrus J. Seiwert, 18, and Luke A. Welker, 20, were observed holding open cans of Bud Light behind 30 E. Main St. by officers on patrol. They were both issued tickets for open container and unlawful possession of alcohol.

10:03 p.m. Jason M. Zipp, 19, was observed urinating in the roadway in front of 40 Curtis Pl. Zipp was issued a ticket for violation of sewer ordinance.

10:11 p.m. Jason W. McMahon, 18, was observed in front of 24 Water St. holding an open can of Busch Light. Officers ticketed McMahon for unlawful possession of alcohol and open container.

10:46 p.m. Officers observed Troy Hess, 19, at 7 Temple St. holding a one liter bottle of Jack Daniel’s whiskey. Hess was issued a ticket for unlawful possession of alcohol and open container.

10:54 p.m. Phillip W. Gloss, 20, was observed trying to hide a can of Coors Light in his jacket. As officers approached he dropped the can. Gloss was issued a ticket for unlawful possession of alcohol, littering and open container.

11:45 p.m. Approximately 100 people were standing in front of Doon’s bar waiting to enter when several people engaged in a brief pushing and shoving match. The crowd was separated by officers who then stood by to make sure the area stayed under control. Aikeem T. R. Sims, 19, began to swing at the opposing crowd and was arrested for disorderly conduct.

1:30 a.m. Alexandria A. Earls, 19, was observed in an altercation outside of 26 Water St. Earls was arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest and escorted to the Fredonia Police Department, where she was found to have a .34% B.A.C. She was later released to her mother under $500.00 bail. She was heard yelling obscenities by officers once she exited the station, at which point she was placed back in police custody. When Earls was brought back in she yelled obscenities at officers. She was warned she was being arrested and began to pull away from officers. Earls has been charged with two counts of harassment, two counts of resisting arrest and one count of disorderly conduct.

5:50 p.m. Joshua P. Neal, 20, was observed in front of 9 Church St. with an open can of Labatt’s Blue. When confronted by officers he supplied them with his brother’s license, at which point Neal was charged with open container. It was later discovered that Neal was using false identification and he was charged with unlawful possession of alcohol and criminal impersonation of another person.

All information printed in The Leader’s police blotter is a matter of open public record. No retractions or corrections will be made unless a factual error is shown. Anyone who is cleared of charges has the right to have so printed. It is the responsibility of the accused to provide notice and proof of the dropped charges.

The Bees have left the hive: What happened with tech startup, SellingHive?

This photo, originally taken after the opening of Selling Hive, was of the small team that got the company up and running. In recent months, the company has mysteriously closed down. –Colin Frank/Photo Editor

JASON FARRAR
Staff Writer

“SellingHive is not just an innovation in social networking, it’s an innovation in sales!” 
These were the excited words of Bob Richardson, CEO of SellingHive. In a Jan. 1 article titled, “Investor bias for Silicon Valley makes starting up tough in WNY” by Daniel Robinson of WBFO, Richardson further stated, “There’s a mindset that if you’re building a social network and you’re not in Silicon Valley, there must be something wrong with it.” This just may in fact be the case, because it appears that SellingHive is no more.
The idea behind the company was simple: to be the proverbial middle man that would match companies with sales associates and clientele. To do this, SellingHive would arrange meetings between companies and potential clients whether it be through phone meetings, social media or video chats. It’s a simple yet important part of the business process that isn’t always easy. This is where Richardson thought he had carved out his niche.
If one wanted to visit sellinghive.com (the company’s official website) today, it would be impossible, because it’s no longer there. It now leads to a page that states, “This page is parked for free courtesy of GoDaddy.com.” From that page one can even click another link to purchase the domain name. The company’s Facebook page looks strikingly similar as it is barren with minimal activity. The most recent post was on April 18 from former SellingHive intern, Himanshu Narula. In this post he asked, “Are you now closed?” To which he received the following response, “No, we are back in beta/blackout mode.” Since the response was made by the SellingHive page it can’t be proven whether or not Richardson was the one who sent it. A message requesting further clarification and information went unanswered.
SellingHive was generous with their staffing. They had three full-time managers. Nicole Szydlo, a 2006 graduate of SUNY Fredonia was hired on as the new marketing manager. Clint Marriott, a graduate of Canisius College, was the new sales consultant. Alex Brown, a 2011 graduate of SUNY Fredonia, was the new technology project manager. On top of the managers, there were roughly 20 people interning at SellingHive’s peak. What’s even worse than the company going under and all of these people being out of work is how they were notified. For starters, Richardson let the three managers go on leave and didn’t even tell them himself that they were being laid-off. Instead, they all received phone calls with the bad news from his partner in California, Jon Sanchez.
Public relations major, Olivia Civiletto, was one of the interns at SellingHive. She and all of the other interns were also notified in a roundabout manner.
He (Richardson) emailed every intern the last day of winter break, the day before we were suppose to start interning again and just had never responded to anyone’s emails over break about schedules or anything,” Civiletto said.
She began her work with SellingHive last school year as an unpaid intern. She then returned in the fall of this school year as a paid part-time employee making $10.00 an hour.
“This winter they didn’t even take back unpaid interns. I would have totally understood if they couldn’t pay me anymore. $10.00 an hour was an outrageous thing to pay interns for a start-up company anyways, but they didn’t even need me as an unpaid intern which is what lead me to believe the company completely went under,” Civiletto said.
It’s not unheard of for a tech start-up to fail. In a 67-page document known as the Startup Genome Report, it was revealed that 90 percent of startups will go under. Out of the 90 percent it was further revealed that 70 percent of them fail due to what is known as premature scaling. This is the idea of companies expanding before they are ready. The concept can take many forms, hiring too many employees too fast, spending too much on customer acquisition before the product is ready or boosting marketing spending without analyzing core metrics.
According to Bjoren Herrmann, one of the key writers of the Startup Genome Report, many startups have trouble deciding which priorities to follow, not to mention measuring their effectiveness once they do, almost always landing in the “proverbial grey zone.” He gave these questions as classic examples of startup uncertainty: “Is a 5 percent increase in retention good? Do I have enough users to declare product/market fit? Is now the right time to step on the gas pedal and scale?”
For now it appears these questions will go unanswered by SellingHive. In this instance it wasn’t even the company folding that was the most painful, it was the way in which it was dealt with. Lastly, Civiletto had this to say, “I feel bad because Bob [Richardson] is a super nice guy. I just think he put the cart before the horse with a lot of things. We did a lot of company dinners and parties and didn’t even have any customers yet and I don’t know if that was the problem, or lack of further funding but they didn’t get very far.”

The college senior’s all-too-common advising nightmare

Last-minute credit panics and how to resolve them
Editorial

We’ve all heard the horror stories. A student in the final semester of their senior year, well on their way to graduation and to their best knowledge are in the clear. Then either through notification by an advisor or the registrar’s denial for degree completion, they find out that unfinished credits linger over their heads before they’re able to move on. The terrible panic ensues, and what could follow may be expensive summer course alternatives and future-inhibiting excess time spent in undergraduate limbo.
We went to the liberty of sitting down with the campus registrar in seek of advice on how students can both avoid and remedy last-minute credit requirements.
SUNY Fredonia registrar Scott Saunders has held his position here since 2000. To set the stage, Saunders explained that advising varies from department to department. The quality of the experience and how advisors are assigned will vary in this way. However, every student in every department across the various academic programs on campus are required to be assigned to an advisor. It is worth noting that students who have either picked up minors or second majors are not required to have been assigned additional advisors, and in this respect are on their own in determining which classes to take and budgeting their time to complete the minor or extra major.
The academic advising program follows an advising manifesto, which states their campus-wide goals and is available on the SUNY Fredonia website. “In college, it is the student’s responsibility, in consultation with her advisor, to become her own academic planner,” reads part of the document.
Saunders also stressed the student’s role in completing their degree. “An advisor is there as advice, and advice is sought out. So, ultimately, the responsibility for a student to know their degree requirements is their own.” He went on to describe the various resources and tools available to students that can aid in keeping them on track and avoiding unexpected last minute degree requirements.
Departmental check sheets are available to students where they can view and cross off required courses in their major or minor as they take them. An online degree audit, course catalog, online transcript reports and communicating effectively with the advisors and department chairs are all ways that students can stay on track with their classes. But there is reason to be wary when using the degree evaluation tool offered on the SUNY Fredonia website. “It’s very limited in its ability,” Saunders said. It breaks down when waivers, substitutions and transfer equivalencies are factored into the mix. The degree of accuracy this tool carries varies between programs, but is most effective when evaluating CCC requirements.
And while we’re on the subject of the aforementioned course waivers, it’s important to realize that this approach exists. Perhaps the least-known and potentially most efficient attempt to wipe unfinished requirements off the map is to complete the single-page form and have your advisor sign off on it. It’s going to help plead your case if your advisor’s error or lack of judgement had something to do with it.
“Evidence that a faculty/professional staff member takes advising seriously and is continuing to develop his advising skills should be an important consideration in decisions regarding reappointment, tenure, and promotion,” as revealed in the advisor’s manifesto.
It’s vital to each student’s success and in their best interests to look out for themselves throughout the advising procedures each semester. Last minute credits are the last bit of heart-racing news you’ll want to hear come May of your senior year.

From the desk of…

Maggie Oliver

Editor-In-Chief

End of the line … for now

This is the end for me. Two weeks from now I will have graduated, moved out of Fredonia and looking to start some type of life in the “real world.” It’s a strange feeling, being almost done, knowing that this is the last issue of The Leader that I will be contributing to as a student.
I’ve been having a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that after this semester there is no more college, at least not anytime soon. This place has been my life for so long, it’s hard to imagine not doing what I do now. Groups like The Leader, Sound Services and FRS are really important to me, but not nearly as important as the relationships that were cultivated through them. I have met so many people here and there is so much I am going to miss when I leave Fredonia.
I cannot explain all of the things I have gotten as a result of on campus involvement. Our Student Association is extremely active and while that can often result in very frustrating meetings, we are so lucky to have so many extracurricular options available to us. To the people who make that possible your efforts are not unnoticed, we appreciate you.
I will miss all of the people who got to know me and still chose to be my friend. Thanks for hanging with me, thanks for going on walks with me and taking time for the grocery store. I know I’m odd.
Something that will definitely be missed is my couch, that thing is the best. In general I really like my house. Getting rid of all my stuff has been interesting. I’m excited and terrified at the same time.
Thinking about having to find a new bar is almost devastating. BJ’s: You are the best bar. Regular patrons of BJ’s: You are a top notch batch of people, I’m glad to know you. I will never get back all the money I spent on Galaga, Beer, wings and darts. Definitely time and money well spent. I look forward to many return visits when I am no longer a student.
Spring semester has been a tough one. Finding motivation has not always been easy. Advice to anyone who thinks they will continue to be invincible their last semester: everything will seem better and more important than work those last few months, plan accordingly. With that said, I am extremely proud having finished a capstone documentary project and even more grateful to the group of individuals which made that project possible. Especially Liz, Catie and Shaun, you guys truly kick ass. Thanks for putting up with my rambling and impromptu naps, I think our project is pretty cool. Procrastination and laziness aside, I do think I learned a lot this semester and can’t imagine being anymore prepared for the real world than I am at this point.
College has been great but I am so happy to get out of this place. Thank you to the faculty and staff who helped me out during my time here and treated me like a worthwhile individual, that really means something to students. Thank you to the people who read The Leader, lots of people spend too much time on this every week, it’s nice to see people acknowledge us. For all you readers out there: if you ever feel like you have some constructive criticism for us, send it our way, improving is important to us. I hope next year proves to be successful, I think the staff is going to do a great job, I’ll be checking in.
Finally, to all the seniors that are graduating, nice job, you did it. Take care out there.

Fred Fest concert successful despite rumors

2012 Fred Fest headliner Lupe Fiasco wraps up his concert set in Steele hall Saturday night. –Colin Frank/Photo Editor

EILEEN MOWREY
Staff Writer

At this time last week, the campus was flooded with rumors of whether or not we would have a Fred Fest. The worry that Lupe Fiasco would not show up to perform was a concern of many students, but rumors were dispelled with the arrival and performance of Lupe Fiasco, the highly anticipated headliner for this year’s event. Opening for Fiasco was student band FunkGnosis.
With screaming guitar solos, free-style rap and ample style, FunkGnosis set the tone for the Fred Fest concert on Saturday. Their musical skill and crowd appeal made it clear why they had beat out their competition in the battle of the bands, securing themselves this opportunity. For the band members, opening for the Lupe Fiasco concert was a dream come true. For audience members, it was the perfect lead up to Fred Fest’s main event.
The band opened with a cover of the Funk classic ‘Play That Funky Music’ by Wild Cherry. The rest of their set was a veritable sample platter of musical genres. From Spanish free-style to pumped up renditions of ‘Hey Ya’ by Outkast and Amy Winehouse’s ‘Rehab,’ FunkGnosis made sure they were keeping every member of their audience entertained. “By playing such a variety of music, everyone was able to get into it,” said Gretchen Erlichman, a visiting sophomore from Nazareth College.
FunkGnosis started as the Paul Mercado Band when senior Paul Mercado was a freshman. The group went through a series of members over the years before putting together the combination onstage Saturday. FunkGnosis is made up of Mercado on guitar and vocals, senior Merik Goma on bass and vocals, senior Victor Diaz on vocals and keyboard, junior Matthew Fitzgerald on drums, senior Kenneth Cobble on alto saxophone and junior Matt Suprina on baritone saxophone.
To the members of FunkGnosis, opening at Fred Fest for Lupe Fiasco meant the world. Paul Mercado admitted that it was his college dream come true. Diaz expressed great respect for Lupe and the way his music goes back to the basic elements of hip-hop and related to social issues. “This is a moment we have to relish,” Diaz said.
Going into the battle, members of FunkGnosis had thought their chances of winning were slim because the voting system usually worked in favor of the band with the biggest fan basis. Not considering themselves one of the popular groups on campus, FunkGnosis thought that their win spoke volumes for their talent and skill.
The group was, however, disappointed that they were unable to open for Lupe Fiasco directly, bemoaning the addition of the DJ hired to fill the two or more hours between their set and the main event. They felt that the free time should have been filled with more student bands rather than a hired act. There are certainly a number of local groups that would have treasured the opportunity to play and it would have been truer to the spirit of Fred Fest; Fredonia students playing for other Fredonia students as a way of showing pride in their school and the talent therein.
FunkGnosis did feature rapper Fresh Dinero and local electronic band three man ill during their set. The final song brought both guest acts on stage, creating a fascinating combination of sounds and styles. Members of FunkGnosis said that they try to bring guest artists on stage with them whenever possible as a way of sharing their opportunities. FunkGnosis bassist Merik Goma said, “Basically, all of us musicians, we’re a community. And we rely on each other.”
Unfortunately, technical problems with microphones and amps created difficulties on multiple occasions. Lead guitarist Paul Mercado said after the show that, “We also couldn’t hear ourselves at all and it made it really difficult to stick together.” They were able to pull through the complications without ever losing a beat though and their energy was unfailing.
For FunkGnosis, the Fred Fest concert was also a wonderful opportunity to promote their new CD. A Taste is a live album recorded and produced by Tim Bausch. It features five of FunkGnosis’s songs, “Hey Ya,” “Love Doll,” “Send Me a Sign,” “Summer” and “Hey Jude Jam.” With multiple senior members graduating this year, their Fred Fest opening might have been the biggest and final hurrah. While they do have a few gigs left around town including a show at Doon’s on Friday night, nothing can compare to Saturday’s performance.

Show within a show within a show delights audiences

The cast of Title of Show perform an opening scene during PAC’s latest experimental show in Bartlett theater on Thursday night. –Colin Frank/Photo Editor

MAGGIE GILROY
Staff Writer

Amidst the chaos and excitement of Fred Fest, the Performing Arts Company’s Spring Experimental production premiered last Thursday and Friday in the Bartlett Theatre to enthusiastic, packed audiences. “Title of Show,” directed by Hilda Myers, was a little show with a big heart that brought audiences through the emotional rollercoaster that comes with creating an original musical.
With music and lyrics by Jeff Bowen and a book by Hunter Bell, the unique musical featured best friends Jeff, played by Mark Montondo, and Hunter, played by Matt Antar. Both characters were created by and patterned after the writers of the show.
When Jeff and Hunter decide to write a musical to submit into a musical theatre festival, they begin brain storming and decide to write about their upcoming experience in writing a musical for a theatre festival. The musical quickly develops into a musical about two people writing a musical….about two people writing a musical. The clever writing keeps the musical fresh and light as the characters often openly acknowledge the uniqueness and complexity of this concept.
Jeff and Hunter then decide to bring their close friends Heidi and Susan to help them perform the show, played by Jessica Sabatini and Cassandra Giovine, respectively. The four friends experience the emotional highs and lows that come with creating an original musical as a result of trying to find a balance of creating an authentic piece of theatre and trying to be successful on Broadway.
The plot of the musical they created reflected the events of the characters’ lives, twisting and turning with each scene. This also added a humorous element as the characters themselves were often confused with what direction the plot was taking.
The abstract subject matter was a perfect undertaking for the PAC Spring Experimental. “The experimental quality of it is that it is so different in its subject matter because it is about writing a musical. The subject matter is very different from a ‘normal musical,’” said Montondo, a sophomore musical theatre major.
This abstractness was handled very well by the talented, energetic cast. Each cast member had great comedic timing; however they were also able to balance this humor with the more tender moments of the show.
The small cast had great chemistry, stemming from the strong bond they possess offstage. “Our relationships have really developed; I didn’t really know anyone in the cast that well [prior to the production]. I had been introduced to them but since I’m new it’s been great to get to know people and have some really good friends,” Montondo stated.
Although some audience members entered the Bartlett theatre unclear as to what they were in for due to the vagueness of the title, they left with a more clear understanding of the subject matter. “I thought it was very interesting,” said Phillip Kowalewski, a freshman music education major. “I enjoyed it very much. Not something I expected. Now it makes sense.”
The title was a takeoff of the submission form the characters had to fill out in order to enter their musical into the festival. The characters cleverly decided to name their show “title of show” after the section on their form that simply stated “title of show.”
The production featured a simple, minimal set of just four chairs and a piano. Very few props, including laptops, cellphones and playbills of Broadway flops were utilized throughout the production.
The music featured solely piano accompaniment by Arthur Lewis. Lewis also played Larry, the accompanist who was magically available whenever the characters broke into song. Larry also provided comic relief as he rarely spoke unless it was permitted by his fellow cast members.
The musical was also a goldmine of Broadway theatre trivia. Subtle theatre references were sprinkled throughout the production, as well as more obvious ones such as the song “Monkeys and Playbills” which was comprised entirely of titles of Broadway flops.
The production was a wonderful conclusion to a strong year of the Performing Arts Company’s student productions. With two hours of free entertainment without an intermission, it left audience members feeling that they were virtually robbing the PAC. “I thought it was very funny” said Cassie Buscemi, a freshman theatre arts major. “It was free but it should have been worth money.”

Dude, stay off the front porch: A look at Fredonia house shows

TIM KENNEDY
Assistant News Editor
Opinion

Here at The Leader we so often end up reporting on the daily comings and goings and sometimes let the stories and issues that lie right under our noses go unreported. I may be the assistant news editor, but I have my hands in so many more things. I have been booking, promoting and organizing concerts for the last couple of years in the Fredonia area. This ties into my passion for music (and total lack of talent when it comes to performing music). Those that can’t do, teach, or something like that.
Fredonia is a college town known for its prestigious school of music but that doesn’t mean when the sun sets the music ends. Fredonia has been a haven, as is the story with so many other small, art-oriented schools, for underground music scenes to flourish. Students here have been trading in Ticketmaster and “convenience charges” for $3 at the side door of a friend’s apartment and a backpack full of beer. The popularity of these clandestine “house shows” based in someone’s living quarters has been on the rise. Tales of basement shows fly by the ears of those in the know, through whispers or tiny fliers with cryptic addresses like “The Foxhole” printed on them. The aesthetic value of a good house show simply can’t be replicated. It’s dusty, it’s smelly and no matter what kind of music is playing, there’s that inherent buzz in the air that can’t be explained.
In recent years, popular venues (addresses will be spared for anonymity’s sake) have included the aforementioned “Foxhole,” “LGHQ,” “Seven,” and “Sixty-Two.” Looking back, we might have been fresh out of creativity juice when those last two got their nicknames.
I got hooked up with booking shows out of sheer luck and the fact that I apparently looked like one of the guys who was running Fredonia Shows, a booking company that was, at the time, run by Dylan England (the look-alike) and Matt Byrne.
Funnily enough, England and Byrne, the guys who made Fredonia’s musical heart tick until I was a sophomore, met through total luck-of-the-draw too. “I was randomly placed in a room with Dylan England freshman year and we had a lot in common. England started a band with some friends from high school called Longitude,” said Byrne. They ended up rooming together for the rest of their time in college and eventually fostered a healthy scene with consistent, quality house shows as well as having acts at BJ’s and other local venues.
The real feat that all of you pull off every year is continuing to come to shows (and for the most part, acting like decent human beings while you’re there). There is no house show scene without people to fill up the room (that’s not meant to be as cyclical as it sounds). “What makes Fredonia’s music scene and house show scene so great is the college being inundated with new music students, sound recording engineers and artists every year,” England said. Look back at last week’s article by our Managing Editor, Pat DePuy. He urged members of the student body to throw “that Fred Fest kegger” and I want you to listen to him, sort of. Get an apartment and have your friends’ band play there before you graduate – you won’t regret it.
When England grabbed me on my way out the door of BJ’s after my first visit there and asked me to book shows, I didn’t even know what “booking” was. He summed it up perfectly the other day. “Anyone can do this shit with enough patience. It is possible to book bands in your house, just make sure they have enough money to make it to their next show and make sure they want to come back … That’s how you create a scene, that’s how you make friends.”
Sure, anyone can throw a house show (hell, you don’t even have to live where it’s hosted), but not many people get the time and effort involved in the entire process. “I know people who would come to every single show, and as soon as it was $2 at the door they would turn right around,” said Marina Hirschfeld. I can’t echo this statement more. None of us who have chosen to devote time, money, the stress that goes into making shows happen and legal liability (speaking of which, University Police declined to comment and the Fredonia Police Department could not be reached for comment when this article was published). We’re not trying to seem like we bear some cross; we signed up for this. The factor that always gets overlooked is quite simple. If you were in a band on tour, would you want to drive your 10-mile-to-the-gallon van to play for free and then wake up and do that again in another town for two more months? Anyone who answers yes is a liar. The money doesn’t go towards beer, it goes towards bands. Music is a lot like journalism, if you’re getting rich off of it, you’re probably doing it wrong. Keep that in mind the next time your friend is whining about giving up a fraction of the money mom gave them for groceries in the first place.
Every year a new slew of freshmen drag whatever worldly belongings they deem worthy up the residence hall stairs and say goodbye to their parents covered in sweat an hour later. Within minutes, the mix of relief and sadness is usually overtaken by one single objective: find out just what the hell there is to do in this town. Most opt for traveling in packs and attempting to find their first “college” party; you’re less conspicuous that way, right? But your caravan by night gives you away just as easily as your lanyard and FredCard combo do by day.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget the first time I got to experience inclusion into the scene (and never paying $5 to dip a plastic cup into a vat of red drink at a frat party ever again), and neither will Hirschfeld, the unofficial queen of The Foxhole. “I used to go to the TKE house as a freshman. When we were leaving we heard music nearby,” Hirschfeld said, “we walked in…and they were like ‘Oh, there’s music downstairs.’ Then our attitude was pretty much ‘whoa, thank God we have this instead of TKE.”
At the end of the day, the saying “if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself” applies to each and every one of you within an iota of interest in music. Make the scene what you want it to be. Get involved. Go to shows, start a band. Donate even if you thought the band sucked; gas isn’t free. Give a high-five to the touring band or the kid alone in the corner for Christ’s sake. Every community needs an alternative to the norm and, personally, I want to see it thrive and grow into a welcoming, accepting and tolerant one.

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