Should I …
… purchase Ableton so I can take my music making to the next level? My life goals are telling me “yes,” but my bank account is telling me “no.” Decisions, decisions.
Give the students what they want
It was a low-key day off; most of them are like that as the summer draws to a close. Before heading to bed, I had lined up a few articles to read from earlier in the day. I got through them, but then made a quick jump onto Facebook. (What can I say? I’s that irrefusable pull of procrastination). Nothing was happening there, so I checked Twitter, too. As it often does, the name “Avicii” caught my eye. The other details of the tweet? “Cornell. September 22nd. Homecoming Show.” I couldn’t believe it. Through me ran a mixture of emotions: from shock and awe, down to a split second of excitement until I finally settled on a long stretch of disbelief. The fact that this incredible performer, one that I had dreamed of seeing for the past year, was going to be playing his set five minutes away from my alma mater. But it might as well have been on the other side of the world.
I had experienced numerous concerts at Cornell during my time as an Ithaca College student. Fortunately, every time I got in by hitting a home run: with a press pass, taking photos of the show for The Ithacan. This time, I already had two strikes against me. One, I wasn’t a current student at either Ithaca College or Cornell and two, the show was actually taking place through the Cornell Concert Commission. I knew that for a show this big, Cornell was going to keep it closed to their students. Bombers past or present weren’t going to be allowed. “Oh, well. That’s life,” I thought. I knew Avicii wasn’t going anywhere and instead of traveling to Ithaca, why can’t I just catch his show the next time he’s down in the New York City region? You see, I really wanted to experience this with my friends. My college friends: the ones who I have grown to know and love. Electronic dance music is slowly starting to take a serious foothold in the music industry, as well as in the hearts of college students. Soon, thoughts of frustration turned to thoughts of reason. “Why, just why can’t Ithaca College put on a show like that? Don’t the students deserve it?”
Over a year ago, Ithaca College officially opened the Athletics and Events Center, a $65.5 million building that reshaped the skyline of the campus. During my time as a student, I saw this building grow from conception to birth. In fact, in August, 2008, the current site of the A&E Center was nothing more than a barren field with and a small forest of trees. It was on that piece of land that I said goodbye to my family after they had moved me in to begin my freshman year. Fast forward to August, 2011. It was the first day of classes of my senior year. I walked out of my Garden Apartment, put on my sunglasses and laid eyes on the A&E Center, sitting right across the parking lot in all its glory. I did that every single time I left my apartment. I will never forget that view, nor the negative connotation that goes along with it. Every time I looked at that building, I was disgusted by how much of a waste of space it was. It’s one thing to highlight it as the new home of Ithaca Bombers Athletics, but don’t tease the College community, and tack the word “events” in its name.
I had seen the capabilities of the space first hand. As a President’s Host Tour Guide, the building contained a slew of new information to be included on campus tours. Additionally, admission events such as open houses and accepted students days would now be based out of that building. Events? Ok, we’re getting there. I’ll never forget how I impressed I was with the facility when the tour guides got their own private tour. The guide discussed how the 130,000 square foot Glazer Arena held a six-lane indoor track, tennis courts and batting cages, but it can all be transformed into a concert venue, with standing room for 7,500 people. “Wow,” I thought. If a concert had happened in that space during my time as a student, I would’ve been thrilled … but, well … technically, it did. Ithacappella is the first group/artist to hold a concert in the A&E Center. But, I don’t think that’s what college students have in mind when they think of a concert. Hello, Avicii.
To make things worse, all of these negative feelings towards the A&E Center were happening during my senior year … as if senior year isn’t already a whirlwind of emotions. As an upperclassman and campus leader, I felt like I had a responsibility to my fellow students and to my school to try and do something big. Something that just stands out. It’s one thing to be a role model in a number of different organizations and in the classroom, but I wanted to do something that shook the foundation of Ithaca College … literally.
Over winter break, a friend approached me with the idea of having a concert in the A&E Center. Representing WICB, the campus radio station, I knew I had access to a name and reputation that could actually get something like this off the ground. I was excited. When I got back on campus to begin the spring semester, I looked at the A&E Center in a new light. It had the potential to actually live up to its name: the Athletics AND EVENTS Center. I wanted to make something happen, but more importantly, I had no doubt in my mind that Ithaca College students were going to be the ones to do it. To make a long story short, my friend and I had a plan. We had a potential date and artist picked out. We had sought out sponsors, brainstormed committee heads, and even broke down all the necessary finances. My friend had even developed a forty-page risk management assessment for College officials and organization advisors to review. We weren’t fucking around.
As I began to mentally prepare myself for the remainder of my last college semester being consumed by this massive undertaking, one day I got word that it actually wasn’t going to happen. College staff members began to talk. And people who we needed to sign off on this, well, they weren’t ready to play ball.
Here’s my question: when will Ithaca College be ready to play ball? No, the field hockey, lacrosse and tennis already being played at the A&E Center doesn’t count. There’s a gorgeous building sitting atop South Hill that was designed to be multi-purpose, not single purpose. Ithaca College, I don’t know what the deal is, but get your act together and use the space. There are options out there: WICB, freelance student productions, etc. Maybe even tap into the Bureau of Concerts. They’ve done this thing before.
Although I was never a member of the BOC, I spent most of my time as a student wondering how an organization’s leadership could be so intent on favoring themselves and not the students they represent. It was not until my upperclassmen years that I saw some leaders emerge in the group who were willing to look past personal interests and tastes in music and actually present a show that a decent number of students would attend. The BOC cared about the student body, their organization, but most importantly, they cared about putting on a kick-ass show. The organization sent out a survey to students asking about their music preferences and what artists they would like to see brought to campus. In April, I saw We Are Scientists performed in Emerson Suites. They killed it. And the BOC was proud. They should be. While they are still an indie band, they do cross into mainstream more than previous BOC artists do. I had a lot of fun at the show and I know about three hundred other students did, too. If Ithaca College were to give the BOC some additional guidance and resources in the form of market research, show preparation, logistics and budget, I feel that a lot of solid concerts could be organized.
Unfortunately, from what I heard, which I can’t confirm to be true, partnerships spawned by the BOC and directed to college officials were looking to form in order to get the organization of the Emerson Suites and into the A&E Center. The BOC would have liked to use the space for a concert this past spring semester, but somewhere in the conceptualization, it was shot down by the College. If this is indeed true, I wish I could tell you why the proposal wasn’t taken to the next step.
A dream can be shot down a thousand times over, but Ithacans don’t stand for failure. That’s not how we operate. We’re resilient and look for solutions to the problem rather than stand to the side and watch the world pass us by. This mentality of being hands on isn’t something we can deny. Experiential learning is something that’s woven into the fabric of Ithaca College. I know that all too well from one, being a student, and two, being a President’s Host. Our job during tours was, among other talking points, take this cool idea of learning what you love to do, and shrinking it down into a 90-minute tour. So, why are we being denied something that at the same time, our campus is fostering us to do? I know there are some in the student body who would love to go on and be event planners one day. They want to run the theatres and the music festivals. So why is the relevant learning experience of putting on a concert being hindered in a place of learning?
For the time being, we’ll wait for the answer to that question, but we will not stop pursuing what we want: a concert that would draw the majority of the student body. We don’t want this to happen for the sake of getting drunk and having a rave. We just want to rally behind something, because frankly, Ithacans don’t do that anywhere else. Ironically, school spirit severely lacks on a campus abundant with bright minds and dedicated hearts. I know people who have spearheaded two different efforts to bring spirit to campus, but unfortunately, both efforts ended in failure. These things were just not what the students wanted. The students weren’t passionate about it. They don’t listen to it on their iPod. They don’t want to see it live. With so much passion on one campus, it gives me goose bumps dreaming of how the power of music could rally a student body together and bring them into a building on a beautiful campus that they are fortunate enough to call “home” for four years.
Here, they would dance. They would sing along. They would rejoice because, in a special way, the hard work and long hours they put in as students and leaders is being acknowledged not in self-satisfaction, compliments or awards, but in a traditional piece of entertainment. That’s what the students want.
I sit here and write this not to condemn my alma mater or disrespect administrators. I just want to see what I feel is best for Ithaca College, along with the city it represents, the community it creates, the students it teaches and the global citizens it gives birth to. I sit here at my desk, hundreds of miles away from this place I know and love, knowing that while my chance has passed, the possibility of having a concert in the A&E Center for current students is still out there. I’m a strong believer in the idea that good things come to those who wait. The time will come for this figment of imagination to be transformed into a reality. The lights will be turned on, the stage will be set, the sound will be checked and the people will enjoy. The people will love and take pride in being a member of the Ithaca College family. But for now, these people will wait. And good things come to those who wait, like them and like me. I got my tickets in the mail the other day. I’m going to see Avicii at Radio City Music Hall on September 26th.
Just Give Me A Reason (feat. Nate Reuss) by P!nk from The Truth About Love