Campus Connection, Sept. 8, 2010

The Merciad has partnered with student newspapers at Gannon University (The Gannon Knight) and Penn State Behrend (The Beacon) during the 2010-11 school year.

Our goal is to bring you the most important news happening on local college campuses each week.


Penn State Behrend student auditions for American Idol

Shannon Ehrin
Culture Editor

To win American Idol, one must survive several weeks of live audience performances, some not-so-pleasant critiques by judges and always a final reveal of who’s made it through to the next week and who has not.

First, though, one must audition.

Just the word “audition” can make the stomach vibrate with nerve induced butterflies, very similar to how most react upon hearing that they have to give a speech or presentation. Unlike giving a speech or presentation, which normally involves standing behind a podium for support, those auditioning have nothing to hide behind and no music to guide them along. Contestants are putting themselves out there, saying “I have talent, I can sing,” and they have to really back that up.

Out of the thousands that audition in the first round, only 100-200 people are chosen to go through to the next preliminary auditions. The tryouts seen on TV are nothing compared to what actually happens at the large venues holding them. Behrend senior Earl Bass experienced that first hand this summer.

Bass auditioned for the next season of American Idol on Aug 3 at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. After driving seven hours to get to the audition, Bass had to wait another 12 hours to actually sing.

One of the last hundred people to go out of almost 10,000 people, Bass had to audition on the arena floor, where there were still many contestants waiting.

“Totally not private,” was how Bass described it, which could make any singer slightly more nervous.

Auditioning in front of two producers, Bass first sang “Get It Together” by India.Arie, but not one song or even two or three were enough. The judges wanted to hear more and Bass obliged them with performances of “Ordinary People” by John Legend and back-to-back renditions of “Halo” by Beyoncé. These songs were not chosen by random, either, especially “Get It Together.”

“I like to sing songs that have meaning to me,” said Bass. “‘Get It Together’ is my motivational song. It keeps me focused and positive, plus I sang it for my cousin who was killed in May.”

Bass was in a group with three other men. The other three auditioning were stopped 10-15 seconds into their songs, not long by most standards, but long enough for the judges to make up their minds. The last of the four to sing was Bass.

“I knew I had to nail it immediately after 15 seconds,” said Bass. “I thought they would’ve cut me off, but they didn’t.”

No, they sure did not stop him. Bass kept singing until the judges asked for another song.

“They let me sing about 20-30 seconds of my second song, then asked me to step back in line.”

The judges talked amongst themselves and finally asked to Bass to sing again.

“They asked me to sing something to ‘showcase [my] range, something we know.’”

So Bass gave them “Halo.” After singing the chorus, Bass was once again told to step back in line. At this time, a third producer was called over to help judge and Bass was asked to sing “Halo” one more time.

“As I started they said, ‘No, from the good part,’ meaning from the high part of the song without allowing me to build to it and that’s where I cracked,” said Bass. “I knew then that I had blown my opportunity. I didn’t expect to sing so many songs in the first round,” said Bass.

While Bass said the female producer wanted to send him through, “the male didn’t . He didn’t even look at me when I sang. What really hurt was the fact that there was another guy in my ‘demographic’ nailing his audition. When I messed up, he went onto the next round.”

The female producer told the four guys that none of them were going through this time, that for season ten the bar is set really high.

For Bass, she had something more to say.

“She looked at me directly and said ‘But you have a lot of potential, I see a lot, a lot of potential in you. Keep working and try again.’”

Anyone in Bass’s position would have been drained by the end of the day. Spending all that time auditioning, thinking you were getting closer with each song, only to hear a ‘no’ at the ending would give anyone a dejected feeling.

“I feel that I sang my heart out the first three times,” said Bass. “I don’t know how I managed to pull it off. Must’ve been God helping me,” said Bass. “I only have two regrets: not having a third song already prepared so I wouldn’t have had to sing ‘Halo.’ I should have sang ‘So Sick’ by Ne-Yo. And my other regret is not skipping the line to audition earlier, because maybe then I would have made it through.”

Besides wishing he could have done some things differently, Bass has been lifted by this experience and can only move forward with his singing career. He does, however, feel that the audition process was not in any way perfect and that it had its pros and cons.

“Pros: you meet talented people and you can network,” said Bass. “And many people owe their success to Idol. Cons: there were many great singers that did not get through. People that if it were a choice between them or me, I would have chosen them. And yes, there were gimmicks and they let them through. But the show is meant for entertainment and talent.”

Singers who don’t get through might be bitter and refuse to ever watch the show again. Bass, though, has decided that he will tune in to the Jersey Auditions.

Does he also plan on auditioning again?

“I’m considering it, God willing something comes along before then.”



Gannon plans new residence hall

By Courtney Lewis
Knight staff writer

Contributed photo: A rendering of Gannon's proposed residence hall, scheduled to open fall 2011.Contributed photo: A rendering of Gannon’s proposed residence hall, scheduled to open fall 2011.

Gannon University’s state-of-the-art residence hall is scheduled to open in fall 2011, and the school is looking for student feedback to help finalize details for the new building, which will house nearly 300 students next year.

The five-floor building will feature two floors of upperclassman suites and three floors of freshman suites, with 75 total units. Linda Wagner, vice president for finance and administration, said that the upperclassman suites will have single bedrooms, and all suites will have a common area, kitchenette and two bathrooms. The bathroom sinks will be located outside of the toilet area, she said, allowing more than one student to utilize each bathroom area at a time.

Wagner said that the $17 million budget is all inclusive, including the 78-spot parking lot, landscaping, technology and furniture for the building. Gary Garnic, associate vice president for campus services, said that some of those details are still being ironed out, so the university is still looking for student feedback, specifically concerning the furniture options for the new building.

Wagner and Garnic are encouraging students to visit the suite models on the A.J. Palumbo Academic Center’s third floor, where furniture from four different companies is being displayed. Wagner said the new suites should have dressers that fit under the beds, which will be very efficient. However, the University is still open to student opinions, and she would like to see as many students as possible view the furniture in the model suites and provide honest opinions.

Wagner said that the new residence hall will have exciting new features, including fitness areas, updated social and study lounges, a chaplain’s apartment and a small convenience store. Each floor will have a social lounge, which may include gaming systems. The first and second floors will have group kitchens and laundry rooms, and the third, fourth and fifth floors will have technologically equipped study lounges.

All Gannon students will have access to the first floor convenience store with their Gannon ID, Garnic said. He is confident that although the convenience store will be somewhat limited, students should still find it very useful.

“It will be kind of small and quaint, but if we carry the right things, it should be successful,” he said.


Gannon installs $12,000 walkway speakers


One year, four surveys and nearly $12,000 later, Gannon University’s Student Government Association has both installed and turned on the speaker system on AJ’s way – but not without resistance from the student body.

The project began in summer 2009 with an estimated cost of $5,000, said Tom Panighetti, SGA president and a senior political science major – but the price tag went up when student government members suggested that the system be upgraded from a music-playing system to a multipurpose one.

“We’ve already spent the money,” Panighetti said, “So we’re just trying to make the best use of it for the future – that it’s not intrusive into students’ lives and to make sure it is a calming area of campus.”

When SGA held the vote to increase funding for the speaker project last spring, Panighetti said eight students attended the Students’ Voice portion of the meeting to express their opinions – one student in favor and seven opposed.

“That’s more people than we’ve had [at Students’ Voice] almost the whole year,” he said.

SGA passed the motion to increase funding for the project with a majority vote.

The current system, purchased from local company JB Pro Sound, includes microphones, outdoor inputs for the microphones and an audio mixer so the system can be used for outdoor events, such as theater performances. Panighetti noted that the speaker system was used to project music from the Aug. 27 concert and barbeque sponsored by SGA and the Activities Programming Board and student response was positive.

Funding for the project came from the SGA special projects fund, said Chris Smolinski, a fifth-year software engineering major who led the project last year as an SGA senior class representative. He called the special projects budget SGA’s “little piggy bank” – a fund made up of money collected from 37 percent of students’ $56/semester activities fee. Unspent money rolls over each year.

“It’s like our own little reward for spending money wisely,” he said.

The speakers are currently set to play 90.5 WERG, Gannon’s student-run alternative rock radio station, 24 hours a day, though Panighetti said SGA is considering playing music only between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Chet LaPrice, operations manager at 90.5 WERG, said he and the rest of the radio station’s staff appreciate the extra exposure.

“We strive to play music that is agreeable to the tastes of the Gannon community and the community at large,” he said.

LaPrice added that several students have knocked on his door and asked how they could get involved with the radio station after hearing WERG for the first time while walking down AJ’s way.

Senior biology major Cassandra Wasson said she did not hear about the four surveys SGA sponsored and would have rather seen the money spent elsewhere.

“The activities fee is supposed to be for things that the students want,” she said. “If they’re not getting my input and they’re only asking their friends who have similar interests to what they want, how can we get an accurate portrait of what the students want?”

She suggested upgrading Beyer Hall with an air conditioning system or the Carneval Athletic Pavilion with better ventilation in the court area.

But Smolinski said he hasn’t heard too many negative things since the speakers started playing music at the beginning of the semester.

“I heard that the biggest complaint out of everybody was the fact that the music is quiet and hard to hear,” he said.