Student-planned benefit concert raises over $1400

A benefit concert to aid those affected by the recent terrorist attack in New York raised $1,400 for the Red Cross Friday night. Organized by Dave Goodman ’03 and Eliza Segell ’04 in conjunction with College Council (CC) and the Chaplain’s office, the concert began in Goodrich at 8 p.m. and lasted for almost two and a half hours.

Goodman and Segell, both New Yorkers, developed the idea after one of last week’s meetings discussing relief efforts and Red Cross donations. They e-mailed campus performers and coordinated and discussed the event and its funding with CC and the Chaplain’s office.

As a result, the event acquired a diverse group of student and faculty performers, presenting everything from poems to dance to song. In preparation for the event, Segell said, “I think it is going to be really moving – we have numerous political and ethnic backgrounds represented on stage. . .This hits so close to home. I think people will be honestly reacting to the situation on stage because they know so many people personally affected.”

The event raised funds for the Red Cross through sales at the coffee bar and from donations put into canisters passed around during the performance. Because the Chaplain’s office donated the wholesale cost of the evening’s coffee, all coffee bar sales were able to go directly to the Red Cross. Sarah Barger ’02, CC co-president, and Brian Werner ’01 volunteered their time to work behind the bar, while others worked on keeping the cash canisters moving throughout the audience.

The event not only provided a chance to raise money for the Red Cross and New York relief efforts, but also created another opportunity for the College to come together in the face of the Sept. 11 tragedy. However, unlike events such as the candlelight vigil and the Gaudino forum, this event provided students with a more positive energy as they were given the chance to gather together, celebrate each other’s talents and of course donate to the relief efforts. “Over the last week and a half, our community has come together several times, and each time has provided a different kind of valuable support,” Barger said. “The concert will give us a chance to come together and laugh and clap and relax; it provides us with a different kind of support.”

The concert attracted a wide variety and a vast number of students, with both levels of Goodrich crowded with spectators. Upon entrance, as students searched for a table or chair, they were greeted by a slide projector image of the twin towers from the New Yorker.

The evening both began and ended with the Muslim Student Union leading a prayer. Students from the group also read both the opening and closing chapters of the Qu’ran. Shehryar Qureshi ’04 later spoke on behalf of the Muslim Student Union, emphasizing perspective and that students should “just think, just listen.” He added, in discussion of harassment of Muslim students on campus, “There is a lot of backlash against people who have nothing to do with this. . .terrorism, that’s another kind. Terrorism has many faces and many forms.”

The spiritual tone continued as the gospel choir also led a prayer and performed “Ride on, King Jesus.”

The evening continued with more of an emphasis on individuals and personal bands rather than campus groups. Larry Raab, a poet and a professor of English, read a poem which was 20 years old, but “somehow does relate to what happened.” This was a common theme of the evening, as students performed songs and works that had been written in the past but contained a new relevance after last week’s tragedy.

Relating the poem to New York, Raab said “It’s easy to believe that news by definition happens elsewhere and is always worse than what happens to us.” Other poetry readers later in the evening included Nora Kenworthy ’04, Heather Foran ’04 and Jane Stimpson ’05.

Sol Ka Fe and Nothing But Cuties (NBC) provided the show with dance performances. Students singing included the Ephlats, Ethan Rutherford ’02 and Chris Summerfeld ’02, Andy Howard ’03, Miles Belknap ’05, the Eliza Segell Band, Jeremy Oldfield ’05, Katie Rocker ’03, the Eric Schoenfeld Band, Matt Swan ‘03, Matt Ellis ’03 and Luke Goodbody ’03, as well as Jen Vorse ‘04, Susie Mitchell ‘04, Laura Day ‘04 and Elliott Baer ‘04. Music performed included covers of songs by U2, Paul Simon, John Coltrane and Bruce Springsteen.

At the end of the evening, students were pleased not only with the performance but also with the amount of money raised for the Red Cross.

“I am touched by the generosity of Williams students,” Barger said. “Several times during the night someone would buy coffee, pull out a twenty dollar bill to pay, watch me make the change and hand it to them, and then with a little shrug and a smile, place the entire wad of change into the bucket.”

In relation to the evening’s success, Day said, “It made me feel proud to be a part of this community, to be able to perform for the people here – and at the same time, for those who cannot make it here.”