VOL. 69 NO. 38 | MARCH 9, 2020
UB Indian community responds to violence in India, controversial legislation
Country star Kane Brown brings arenabuilt voice, lights and dance to Buffalo
UB leads the nation in rebounding, Bulls look to continue dominating on glass during postseason play Page 8
SA president remains suspended after three failed motions to reinstate Treasurer motions three times to lift suspension Thursday, each fails, president could be reinstated with 10% of student signatures ISABELLA FORTUNATO ALEXANDRA MOYEN ASST. ARTS EDITOR SENIOR NEWS EDITOR
Student Association President Yousouf Amolegbe has waited for a follow-up decision on his now five-plusweek suspension, as the SA Board of Directors continues to vote to keep it in place. The BOD met Thursday as SA Treasurer Kendra Harris motioned to reopen the discussion of Amolgebe’s suspension. The BOD meeting then included a 30-minute discussion period to debate Amolegbe’s suspension as Harris suggested the BOD either lift the suspension or impeach Amolegbe, and said the suspension is “doing more harm than good.” Roughly 50 stu-
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dents attended the meeting in Capen 567, as most students who spoke in support of Amolegbe, who was suspended for alleged conflict-of-interest violations. Harris motioned to lift Amolegbe’s suspension three times but all failed. The BOD presented Amolegbe with three options to lift his suspension: Amolegbe can create a petition with 10% of UB’s student signatures, there could be another meeting where a board member could motion to lift the
suspension, or they can call a meeting of the members, in which roughly 2,200 members of SA organizations would have to meet to discuss and vote on the suspension, according to SA lawyer Josh Korman. Amolegbe called the meeting “frustrating” and said he feels changes “aren’t being made.” He said this is something he SEE SUSPENSION PAGE 2
Students find bat ‘hanging around’ in C3 Thursday Campus Dining and Shops says bat was ‘isolated incident,’ did not come in contact with guests or food JULIAN ROBERTS-GRMELA SENIOR NEWS EDITOR
siddharth bandhu | The SpecTrum sa pResident yousouf amolegBe sits in at the meeting disCussing his suspension on thuRsday
Black Explosion ‘Rebirth’ educates and entertains 52nd-annual Black Explosion shows appreciation for Black Panther Party, highlights student fashion and talent ALEXANDRA MOYEN SENIOR NEWS EDITOR
Flute Fingers, a performer at Saturday’s Black Explosion fashion show, approached the stage on a hoverboard, playing Drake and Future’s “Life is Good” on his flute. Soon after, the performer wound up
serenading an audience member with a flute rendition of Juvenile’s “Back That Azz Up.” It was his specialty and like many others performing or showcasing their fashion, the Black Student Union’s annual event was his platform. BSU held its 52nd annual Black Explosion with this year’s theme being “Rebirth;” a theme which highlighted the cultural significance of the Black Panther Party. Roughly 600 UB students and community members attended the fashion show at the Marriott Hotel. Social media influencer Cleotrapa hosted the show
thomas atehortua | The SpecTrum student modeling a Jumpsuit fRom aquamaia’s line duRing Bsu’s BlaCk eXplosion
with a special appearance by rapper Sleepy Hallow. The show had four fashion lines and several performances, paying homage not only to the Black Panther Party, but to black culture as well. Models displayed a couture ranging from streetwear from designers like Faceless, to formal African wear from the designer Glenroy March. Flute Fingers, formally known as Anwar “Notes” Overton, was just one of the night’s showmen and has earned over 15,000 followers on Instagram for his artistry. Overton plays his flute at weddings and parties with genres such as hip-hop, soca and R&B. “My performance was just a little razzle dazzle of the flute, I had my dancer Tyreke with me and we just came out and just wanted to give like a little taste of what we do,” Overtone said. “I wanted to do some piano and guitar, but I don’t know if the [audience] was ready for that.” Students had the opportunity to show off their talent through rap, poetry and dance throughout the night. Audience members were excited to see step performances from UB’s Delta Sigma Theta sorority and other Greek letters. Additionally, audience members praised UB’s step team, UBST, and its performance highlighting the unfair treatment against black people within the prison system. In between performances, independent designers displayed their colorful and diverse designs. March’s pieces were each from different collections. He said his white outfits, which were adorned with feathers like a “swan,” were from his White Swan collection, while models
Students found a live bat in the fountain beverage machine tray in C3 Thursday evening. Campus Dining and Shops suspects the bat entered from an outside hallway or an open door and that it was an isolated incident, according to Marketing Manager Ray Kohl. Kohl said the bat did not come into contact with guests, staff or food. CDS called a local exterminator to assess the situation and advise whether or not CDS needs further extermination services. CDS shut down the fountain beverage machine and closed the area after the discovery and a supervisor removed the bat and placed it outside. CDS notified Pepsi, which sent employees to campus to disassemble the fountain beverage machine, disinfect and reassemble it. Max Davis*, an employee at C3 and a UB student, said he used to think C3 is the “cleanest food service job” he’s ever worked, but says differently after students discovered the bat. Davis said he felt C3 should have explained what was happening better. “This whole situation hasn’t sat well with me, as bats can carry a variety of diseases,” Davis said. “I feel that C3 has the responsibility to notify the students who ate there that day, but that hasn’t been the case.” Kohl did not respond in time for publication regarding notifying students about the bat. Some students expressed concerns about the bat spreading the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, after seeing a video of the bat on “buffsbarstool’s” Instagram account. There are no reports indicating that anyone in Erie County, including bats, have contracted COVID-19, as of Sunday evening. *Student-worker’s name has been changed to protect their identity. Email: email@example.com Twitter: @GrmelaJulian
wearing clothes from the Midnight Rose collection wore pieces dripped in red and black. One model came out wearing a long red evening gown with a thigh-high slit, completed with a black tassel around her waist. March then presented his Sankofa line inspired by African tribal garb. “Sankofa means looking back, so I used African prints and then a little tribal. You see the details in the pants and the jackets,” March said. March said working with BSU’s models was an “interesting” experience compared to the models he works with in countries such as France, Africa, Australia and CoSEE BLACK EXPLOSION PAGE 4
2 | Monday, March 9 2020 SUSPENSION FROM PAGE 1
and SA don’t want to be dealing with. “I just can’t see an end,” Amolegbe said. “It’s like we’re all just hanging in there waiting to find out what we’re going to do.” Harris said the same members kept voting to keep Amolegebe suspended even after she presented several points in favor of his reinstatement, and she says they wouldn’t give reasons why. She called the meeting “extremely disheartening.” Eric Weinman, SA director and board committee chair, said that the board has discussed Amolegbe’s suspension for roughly 24 hours worth of meeting-time and that he and the other board members are “just kind of exhausted.” “The only reason we’re revisiting this is because people want to,” Weinman said. “People say there’s no definitive outcome, but there was a suspension, and there was the motion to lift the suspension and that failed. People have already expressed their opinion several times and I think that’s why most people didn’t talk tonight.” Daniel Deslippe, a BOD member, asked the RAGO committee to come up with an “action plan” or a “recommendation” about how the president’s role should be fulfilled to lessen any difficulties within SA. “I will call a meeting of the members if this is not met by the next board meeting because to sit here and do nothing is ridiculous,” Deslippe said. “If I’m going to do some ridiculous logistic thing just to seek a resolution then we can take care of this issue when I do, but to just sit here silently and do nothing is not the right thing to do.” Harris said having no SA president prevents SA and its clubs from hiring new staff, advocating for “the needs of students” and has made it “extremely hard” for her to carry the workload of acting president and treasurer. “As an individual, I feel as though I’m spread thin and carrying out the responsibilities of two roles,” Harris said. “I’m doing not only the duties of a treasurer, but also taking on presidential duties as well. The absence of Yousouf is felt, the office
NEWS is extremely dead. [We] literally have one photographer that’s going to every event. These are students too, they have school work. They’re overworking themselves, they’re doing more than they’re supposed to do.” Harris said multiple staff members have been violating their probations and not fulfilling their roles because there is no presidential oversight. “It’s not fair that they’re essentially exploiting student money and they’re not going to be held to a standard where they need to fulfill their role to even receive that compensation,” Harris said. Vida Annan, a senior health and services major and spectator at the meeting, said that while it may be true Amolegbe has “made mistakes,” she feels that it’s not enough to justify an indefinite suspension and that the board’s refusal to take action is an “abuse of power.” “If the board really cares about the student body, you will either reinstate him or move on with the impeachment process,” Annan said. “Right now, it looks like a personal vendetta against Yousouf to the public eye. It looks like they feel like they’re correct and they do not want to hear what the student body has to say.” Satang Trawally, a senior political science major and SA elections and credentials chair, believes the RAGO committee is constantly voting against reinstatement to make Amolegbe eventually “feel tired and resign.” She said they are going to keep voting “no” until the end of the semester. “If you’re uncomfortable with your decision and uncomfortable with your decision to suspend him, why not go through with an impeachment? The question [of why the board won’t reinstate Amolegbe] was asked multiple times, and they have not been able to answer that,” Trawally said. Omran AlBarazanchi, SA International Council coordinator and a BOD member, called the meeting “unproductive” and said it shows how “dysfunctional” and “faulty” the SA’s bylaws are. “I’ve never seen an organization that has a suspended president [and] has its business halted essentially,” AlBarazanchi said.
“The problem is we have people on the board that are like robots, that go and basically don’t question anything that they do, as long as it’s ‘in the book.’ We can change the book and some people are absolutely closed-minded in that sense.” AlBarazanchi said this is roughly the fourth meeting where they haven’t come up with a resolution for Amolegbe’s suspension. He doesn’t believe a meeting of the members will happen and called it “logistically impossible,” saying he believes the RAGO committee will continue to say “no” to proposals for Amolegbe’s reinstatement. “I’m saying either way, if the president needs to be suspended, there needs to be a path forward to remove him from office a viable way, or the other way around –– he’s unsuspended,” AlBarazanchi said. “There need to be viable options, and there are none. Harman Gill, senior business administration major and a spectator at the meeting, said if one were to look through RAGO’s report, it would be “clear” Amolegbe “deserves” the suspension. “It’s not a great precedent if someone’s suspended, we just unsuspend them or reinstate them just because it’s inconvenient for everyone else. They were suspended for a cause, for violating SA bylaws,” Gill said. RAGO committee members Weinman, Nicole Comisar and Janiece Rosado, and other BOD members voting against the reinstatement did not change their position and didn’t answer student questions during the public period. “There were several policies that were broken [so] that it didn’t merit someone holding the office,” Weinman said. “Why is the suspension being lifted for something that was done and was wrong?” Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Student Association executive board elections to take place March 24-26 Students can submit petitions to run until Friday JULIAN ROBERTS-GRMELA SENIOR NEWS EDITOR
Student Association executive board elections will take place from Tuesday, March 24 through Thursday, March 26. Current students who want to run for the 2020-21 e-board must have a minimum 2.0 grade point average and a petition with at least 200 signatures from undergraduate students. Anyone who meets these qualifications will have a slot on the ballot. Petitions are available in SA’s Student Union offices and are due on Friday. Students cannot campaign until after the petition deadline and candidacy will not be official until Friday. Students hoping to run must attend a “mandatory candidate meeting” on Friday at 6 p.m. SA will hold a club “endorsement meeting” on Monday, March 23 at 7 p.m. During the endorsement meeting, SA clubs will vote on who to endorse after candidates present speeches. Only 2,181 students –– roughly 10% of the undergraduate student body –– voted in last year’s election. The president and vice president won after receiving 1,043 votes. The Spectrum’s coverage of the election will appear online before our next print publication on March 26, the final day of polling. Email: email@example.com Twitter: @GrmelaJulian
Monday, March 9 2020 | 3
College athletics: A system of silent suffering How much is too much?
FINESS DICKSON STAFF WRITER
*This column refers to assault which may be triggering. We don’t typically associate rape culture with college athletics. But maybe we should. Harvey Weinstein. Larry Nassar. R. Kelly. Bill Cosby. We have finally turned our ears to the cries of their countless victims. But the #MeToo movement is bigger than the individuals. We ignore the system that allowed these men to commit countless sexual offenses, vandalize the lives of their victims and leave countless people damaged, scarred and traumatized. This same system serves as the foundation of college athletics. The presence of sexual abuse in college athletics cannot be diminished or ignored, however, we often disregard the mental, verbal and physical abuse that is accepted and intricately embedded in the system. The system of toxic power dynamics between superiors and subordinates. The system that cultivates and promotes victim-blaming. The system that places dominance in the hands of superiors, leaving their subordinates shackled to opportunity, muted and muffled by backlash, stagnant in fear of consequences, damaged and depleted by the responsibility of suppressing their truths and maintaining the well-established positive reputations of their tyrants. As a former student-athlete, having played Division-I basketball at two respective universities, I have witnessed the tribulations of many. I’ve witnessed coaches mistreat my teammates because of their lifestyle preferences and sexuality. I’ve witnessed coaches degrade my
friends. I’ve witnessed my athletic sisters suffer performance anxiety, depression, low selfworth and suicidal thoughts while pursuing the approval of coaches. I have suffered performance anxiety, depression and a misconstrued self-image while pursuing the approval of coaches. The expectation is that we’ll be protected by our coaches. They become responsible for our safety, along with our positive athletic and personal development. Yet they’re excused for causing our mental trauma and burdens. While many athletes enter programs as doe-eyed, naive freshmen, many leave as broken, scarred adults. Coaches must be held responsible. Their public personas and coaching successes render them incapable of degrading players. Their abusive acts and manipulation tactics are given the benefit of the doubt and written off as “tough love.” They dominate the power. They monopolize opportunities. They control future recommendations. They hold our futures. The system created to serve and protect athletes has become imprisoning, leaving us exploited by the dictatorship of coaches. They can do no wrong, and they have the reputation and fans to support them. Coaches thrive in the system of exploitation, often abusing their power with little accountability, leaving athletes as voiceless puppets. Athletes are unable to publicly join in solidarity and discuss manipulation, verbal abuse and exploitation suffered at the hands of these trusted adults, in fear of being victim-blamed and gaslighted. Athletes who do are labelled “unfit for college athletics” and “mentally weak.” It’s a systemic issue that must be changed. Athletes become slaves to the system built to profit from our success, handcuffed to the fear of losing the opportunities attached to our dreams. Handcuffed to fear of losing our dreams –– our scholarships. It’s easy to neglect the rising number of athletes suffering mental health issues, because what would Saturday nights be without football? What would March be without the madness? Because of this, the truths I speak are
difficult to comprehend and accept. But in neglecting and disregarding the experiences of athletes, fans become active campaigners for the growth of a toxic system. Passive bystanders. While not all coaches abuse their power, and not every player shares the same experience, we must decide how much is too much. The line of distinction between coaching and degrading is blurred, creating a limitless boundary of what we accept from coaches. Athletes withstand abuses uncommon to most people’s job experiences, because coaches’ behaviors would be considered unprofessional in any other context. So why is it acceptable in the context of coaching young adults, aged 18 to 22? Within the safe boundaries of athletics, life lessons and mental toughness are inseparably united with pleasure, passion and entertainment. That’s the beauty. Sports are gracious and forgiving. They gently caress the spirit of athletes, remaining faithful throughout personal flaws, continuously extending opportunities for improvement, deepening the satisfaction of victories in the presence of failures and urging the existence of an athlete’s most authentic self-expression. They’re a safe haven and an escape. Yet that very safety can easily be obliterated by the will of an exploitative coach. The misconception that coaches are responsible for producing mental toughness has devastated the experience of sports. Instead of experiencing the forgiving nature of sports, learning to correct mistakes and exercise self-expression, athletes become fearful of mistakes, afraid to be defined and degraded because of them. We become restricted by the limitations of a coach, learning to exist within the boundaries of external opinions and accepting the ceilinged success that accompanies these devaluing expectations. We begin to suffocate. Underhanded comments, personal attacks and public humiliation are often disguised as “coaching.” Instead of learning to persevere through mistakes within the context of sports, athletes are learning to silently survive the mental illnesses that result from these toxic environments. So how much is too much? Do we become suspicious when players express feeling targeted by a coach, verbal-
ly abused, degraded and publicly humiliated, or do we continue to attribute it to tough love and motivation? Do we become curious when athletes no longer want to play their sports, expressing lack of passion and mental exhaustion after a season of “chasing their dreams?” Or, is a clinical depression diagnosis the only factor capable of raising red flags? How long will we accept the limitless boundary of abuse? Maybe the suicidal diagnosis is the definitive line. Would we all agree to be satisfied with our athletes toeing the line of life and death? How much is too much, and why don’t athletes have the right to decide? This is a call to action against a growing system we all incentivize. Athletes incentive the system through silence and fear. Parents incentivize the system through tolerance. Fans incentivize the system through victim blaming. Coaches incentivize the system through exploitation. Administrators incentivize the system through negligence. We must protect our youth, the future of our workforce and the impending generations of parents, teachers, coaches and leaders. Don’t tell us we’re enough. Show us. In writing this, I stand in solidarity with my teammates and sisters who have suffered along with the many athletes who share similar experiences –– I see you and I understand you. I hear your silence, and I stand for us all. Because, even in writing this, I am a former athlete still scarred by the system of toxic power dynamics, exploitation and mental abuse. I fear the consequences of my words. I fear victim blaming. I fear not being heard. But I refuse to condone the suffering of future generations. I refuse to be muted by backlash, suffocated with fear or chained to opportunity. I will be our voice. But I can’t be the only voice. Athletes: we can only create change by sharing our stories and speaking out against the system. Remove your shackles. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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4 | Monday, March 9 2020 BLACK EXPLOSION FROM PAGE 1
lombia. BSU President Florence Ayeni said putting the event together was a “learning experience” and a “journey.” With the help of SA and BSU staff, however, she said the experience had more “good times” than bad. The journey paid off because students eagerly swarmed around the stage when rising New York rapper Sleepy Hallow appeared. “We had a certain budget that we wanted to allocate to artists and a lot of our students just wanted someone local that they actually listened to or kind of related with more,” Ayeni said. “So it was kind of an easy selection.” Nelaje Branch, a junior computer science and statistics major, said she thought the show was “super dope” and liked how each performance showed not just American black culture but Carribean culture as well. Although she liked each of the performances, her favorite performance was from dance group Crossfire. “I think Crossfire absolutely murdered it, like they gave you not only Afro beats, but contemporary. They gave you soul, they gave you majorettes from the HBCU’s, they gave you a little piece of every[thing],” Branch said. Dejah Luke, president of Crossfire and senior psychology major, said the team was inspired by other dancers, particularly Beyoncé, since it was “basically a Beyoncé tribute.” Sedahri Young, senior communication major and a dancer for Crossfire, said when coming up with a dance, the team wanted to give the audience an “HBCU Homecoming vibe” and embody female empowerment. “We changed the game, women have made a change over the years,” Luke said. “This was about the Black Panther movement, the Renaissance and we females had come to show out.” Ugochinyere Ejiogu, senior biostatistics major and one of the performers, described the show as being the “epitome” of “being black.” She said her favorite part
was performing with the Greek life community. “We’re members of Delta Sigma Theta sorority, Incorporated, so joining all the other ‘Divine Nine’ Greek organizations and coming together to do a step and stroll together was very powerful to show the whole community.” The Greek organization’s performance seemed to be a fan favorite for many audience members because they said Greek life with an “HBCU vibe” isn’t as common on campus. “Greek life also represents some source of unity within the African American community,” Ayeni said. “I felt like that just really showed us what brotherhood and sisterhood look like within our community and what unity looks like within our community.” Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @AlexandraMoyen
thomas atehortua | The SpecTrum students model Clothing fRom designeR faCeless’ Clothing line duRing Bsu’s BlaCk eXplosion
thomas atehortua | The SpecTrum RappeR sleepy hallow peRfoRming duRing Bsu’s BlaCk eXplosion
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Monday, March 9 2020 | 5
‘We’re a secular country and we’re all equally a part of it’ UB Indian community responds to violence in India, controversial legislation VINDHYA BURUGUPALLI SENIOR MULTIMEDIA EDITOR
Salaah Khan says she feels sick and helpless watching the news about her home country, India. She says she is horrified by the lynch mobs, the burning neighborhoods and the religious intolerance that have spread across the country in recent weeks. In the country’s capital of Delhi, at least 53 people, mostly Muslim, were killed and 200 were injured during street riots initiated by Hindu nationalist mobs. “It makes me cry and makes me sad,” the senior business major from Bombay said. “And what hurts the most is that I’m here and there’s nothing I can do except spread awareness [and] post [on social media].” The riots and attacks began after Kapil Mishra, a leader of India’s ruling party, threatened peaceful protestors of the recently passed citizenship law. The law excludes Muslims from obtaining citizenship quickly and creates a new Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens, which many insist is unconstitutional and violates India’s secularism. Thousands took to the streets to protest these new laws. India has roughly 200 million Muslims, which account for about 15% of the population. Shantam Goyal, an English P.h.D student from Delhi, said it has been disheartening to watch police “doing nothing” to control the violence. “Suddenly, being openly racist is acceptable,” he said. Goyal and Khan are just a fraction of UB’s 1,860-student Indian community, many of whom are terrified to see the democratic, multi-ethnic nation in its cur-
rent state. Since they’ve been at UB this year, they’ve heard about the arrests of activists and the silencing of journalists trying to cover the increasingly Hindu nationalist government. They are afraid the country they left to come to UB has changed. Goyal feels hopeless about India’s future. He says “it doesn’t really matter what is written in the constitution anymore,” and “the right to protest has been shrinking and shrinking in Delhi.” Despite their worries, they don’t agree on what should be done to stop the violence. Some support Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his policies. They believe the citizenship law and the NRC are beneficial to the country. Yash Lapsiwala, a junior business administration major from India, supports the citizenship law and NRC and says the policies are good for the country and its citizens. He feels the law isn’t “totally” anti-Muslim and that people should educate themselves more. “People are getting hyped for no reason. If they have proof [of citizenship] they don’t need to worry,” Lapsiwala said. “… People should be provided more knowledge regarding the bill.” He condemned the violent attacks on protestors and said both communities suffered from the riots. Khan said she feels safer at UB than she would in India, but she’s worried for her family back home. “It only takes one small thing for [riots] to transfer to Bombay, so I’m definitely scared for my family, because [they are] all Muslims,” Khan said. After three days of violence from Feb. 23 - 26, Modi called for “peace and calm to be restored.” Modi welcomed President Donald Trump on Feb. 25 and rolled out cultural events and receptions as the riots occurred. Shaanta Murshid, a social work professor, avidly follows Indian news as her re-
search is focused on diversity, political violence, oppression and its outcomes. She said Modi’s silence makes him “complicit” to the violence. “[Modi] and his government and the Hindu nationalists have criminalized the Muslims for exercising their democratic rights,” Murshid said. Hindus and Muslims have a history of conflict and being divided for political agendas, which eventually led to the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan. Many Muslims flocked to Pakistan, which became a Muslim state, but millions remained in secular India. “By constitution, we’re a secular country and we’re all equally a part of it,” Khan, said. “My ancestors decided to stay in India and not move to Pakistan. It’s like people are trying to prove the point that whoever moved to Pakistan made the right decision. … India is my country and not Pakistan, so that’s what hurts.” Khan said Modi introduced the citizenship act “out of nowhere” and it “doesn’t make sense.” “[Modi] spent so much money behind the CAA that if he’d put the same amount of money to feed poor people, there [would] probably be a lot of people with food on their plates,” Khan said. “… Everything is so expensive but we’re spending so much money on things that don’t make
sense in an economy that’s not booming.” Anupriya Pandey, an Asian studies professor from India, said the situation has been “emotionally triggering,” because it has caused her to have disagreements with her family. Some of her friends and family agree with Modi’s policies and “refuse” to see a different side, making it “difficult for her to have a voice in the family,” she says. “I’m having to redefine my own relationships with my family because most of them come with this idea of Hindus [are in danger],” Pandey said. Netra Mittal, a sophomore economics and math major, said she was frustrated with the divide within the Indian community. She said her peers who support Modi are coming from “a place of privilege,” calling the support a combination of “ignorance and denial.” Khan said she hopes people can unite and fight for a better future. “I just hope this brings Indians together and makes them realize that we’re in this together, that we’re not separate people and we’re done fighting each other,” Khan said. “And we should fight for a better government, a better leadership.” Email: email@example.com Twitter: @moonhorizon_
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6 | Monday, March 9 2020
Four decades of progressive rock: An interview with Crack the Sky
Founding members John Palumbo and Rick Witkowski talk early struggles and triumphs, album covers before Buffalo show ALEX WHETHAM JUSTIN WOODMANCY SENIOR ARTS EDITOR ASST. ARTS EDITOR
Crack the Sky is still able to rock the stage 45 years into its touring career. The West Virginia-based progressive rock and art rock act has a career-spanning, rotating cast of 17 musicians and 18 studio albums, a catalog which sold out the Tralf Music Hall on Friday. While they never reached the heights of Prog-giants like Yes, Rush or King Crimson, they continue to satisfy their dedicated fanbase. Fronted by guitar players and vocalists John Palumbo and Rick Witkowski, the group’s sold-out show featured the legends diving into their 45 year back-catalogue Before their show, we talked to Palumbo and Witkowski about what it’s like for a band this far into its career. Our interview, lightly edited for style and length, follows below: The Spectrum: You’ve had a lot of different musicians come through the Crack the Sky door. Have you found it difﬁcult to stay consistent? John Palumbo: Not at all. We’ve kept the root: Ricky, myself and even [guitar player Bobby Hird] has been with us for 30 years or something. Rick Witkowski: We do explore new territory, though. We were ‘living in reverse’ for a while, going back to try to find where we wanted to go in the future, so we were exploring old stuff we used to do. John’s heavily into the electronic thing, so we’ve really incorporated a lot of that stuff, but we’re still trying to keep our guitar-rootsy prog-rocky guitar style.
thomas atehortua / The SpecTrum (left to Right) John palumBo and RiCk witkowski disCuss theiR musiC.
TS: Was there a point where the group had to tone down its sound or ideas at all? RW: We had some crazy ideas early on. We had a 30-minute concept piece, but we were just signed to a label at that point. But this was back in the days when they would ‘develop artists.’ They’d say ‘do your thing,’ but it came to the point when we were at our third record and they were like ‘we need a hit single.’ That’s when it got a bit difficult. John ended up leaving the band for a bit, and it was just a struggle, trying to figure out how to get that hit while keeping your artistic integrity. JP: It’s the reality of the business, you know. For me, it took some of the fun away. I remember we went to Canada, and I was knocked out by the fact that there were Mountie Police. I didn’t know they still existed. I wanted to do an entire Mountie Police concept record, but as soon as I brought that to the label, they were like, ‘I don’t think so.’ TS: What advice would you give to someone starting out in the business today? I read that the group had some label troubles very early on.
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JP: Yeah, that was a mess. The thing is, it’s so different and difficult now. It’s hard to get paid, everything is streaming now. What I would tell them, honestly, is to pick another career. Enjoy what you do, keep playing, but don’t rely on it. When we got in, it was a better time for the music business, and it was still difficult for us then, especially because we were not interested in following a straight path. TS: You said a lot has changed in the music industry since Crack the Sky started out, but what has stayed the same? JP: In the business, I don’t think anything has stayed the same. It’s always so focused on, as it should be, on the youth. RW: I think what has stayed the same, though, is the creativity. You know, kids getting together making music, but even that is changed now because it’s so isolated. JP: Yeah, studios are folding because everybody’s got their own studio. You can just make one in a tiny room in your house now. RW: I do think the creative process has stayed the same though. You get a spark of an idea, a vision for a song and you make it. The tools are different, but the art of it is the same.
TS: You opened for a lot of legendary acts back in the day like Rush. Do you remember any of those experiences in particular? JP: Yeah, they were really kind. Unlike a lot of those major acts we would open for, they wouldn’t go on stage unless we had the proper amount of time to open and had our own gear on stage. They were terrific. RW: We put a little snippet of “Tom Sawyer” into one of our songs we’re gonna play as a tribute to Neil Peart [of Rush]. TS: Do you think there’s any chance that rock as a genre can come back to the relevance that it was at 40 years ago? JP: I don’t know. You know, you have to consider the whole social scene when you say that. Kids are growing up in these incredibly high-tech environments now. I guess you could still find some gutsy stuff in punk clubs nowadays, but that would require you to find a punk club. RW: There are some bands out there though like that band that sounds like Zeppelin, Greta Van Fleet. What’s old is new again, so you never know. Email: email@example.com
‘Mr. Brown can woo’ Country star Kane Brown brings arena-built voice, lights and dance to Buffalo BENJAMIN BLANCHET ENGAGEMENT EDITOR
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Kane Brown, one of the biggest artists in country music, touched down at the KeyBank Center Saturday as he secured another accolade: his song “Homesick” had just hit No. 1 on country radio. The song, dedicated to members of the armed forces, is a country ballad at its finest. But the song’s top spot is also indicative of Brown’s star power all around, which he displayed through folk and arena pop bops to a sold-out crowd. Brown’s global musical rodeo — the “Worldwide Beautiful Tour” — was a rock-driven, country pop delight. Along with country artists Russell Dickerson and Chris Lane, Brown capped off a swinging atmosphere for all ages during his sold-out Buffalo hoedown. As the crowd prepared for Brown, a giant white screen appeared on stage displaying the tour’s name, followed by Daft Punk-like visuals and Brown on a rope sliding down from the ceiling. He broke out into Justin Timberlake-
type dances at times amid rock-backed songs like “Lose It” and “Found You.” As talented as Brown is as a hype man, his strong suit is his acoustic songs like “For My Daughter” and “Homesick,” which he played with grace in a sea of lights behind him. Following some shredded violin bow, a thoughtful banjo cameo and a lucky little girl’s reappearance on stage with Brown, he broke into twang-led covers of “Drift Away” and “Crank That (Soulja Boy).” Brown brought back earlier performers Lane and Dickerson for a heavy performance of his song “Pull It Off.” It led to his inevitable finale, with a dubstep-filled “One Thing Right” and a much mellower ditty “Good As You.” Brown is a top dog. Like other performers Saturday, difference mattered and it’s something country fans in Buffalo were willing to embrace. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @bencblanchet
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canisius.edu/DATA alexander brown / The SpecTrum kane BRown peRfoRming hits inCluding homesiCk, heaven, and one thing Right to a sold-out CRowd keyBank CenteR.
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Rebounds make Bulls tournament-bound UB leads nation in rebounding, Bulls look to continue dominating on glass during postseason play JUSTIN WEISS SENIOR SPORTS EDITOR
UB mens’ basketballs regular season came to an end Friday and one stat stood out among the rest. UB led the nation in rebounding during the 2019-20 season, despite fielding a smaller lineup than some of its competitors. The Bulls grabbed 42.16 rebounds pergame, outpacing the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for the nation’s top spot. UB also ranks No. 2 for offensive rebounds and No. 47 for defensive boards. “It’s always been something we’ve talked a lot about,” head coach Jim Whitesell said. “It’s been an emphasis all the time.” The team has used its success on the offensive glass to rank 22nd in the nation in scoring, at 78.6 points per-game. But as much as the coaches may stress the importance of rebounding on the team’s fortunes, it’s the players who have executed the game plan to a tee. “We’ve been told, ‘You have to rebound,’” senior guard Davonta Jordan said. “But at the end of the day, it all depends on how far you are willing to go to help your team.” Rebounding is usually reserved for big men in basketball. But the Bulls typically only use two “big men” on the court:
6’11” center Brock Bertram and 6’7” forward Josh Mballa. As a result, guards like Jordan and junior Jayvon Graves must play closer to the basket and grab boards of their own. “We already know that we don’t have an actual true big,” Jordan said. “We have two guys that are fours playing the big. Coach always harps on this: guards rebounding down low. A lot of teams don’t even send their point guard to rebound. They tell them to stay back. We go down and help our bigs out with rebounding.” Graves is currently second on the team, at 5.5 rebounds per-game. Jordan ranks third, at 5.2 boards. “Jayvon is a naturally good defender,” Whitesell said. “When Jeenathan [Williams] plays his best games, he’s a good rebounder. Davonta [Jordan] is the thirdleading rebounder on our team. As a point guard, that’s a little unheard of. It shows how versatile he is on the defensive end.” Mballa has led the team in rebounding by a large margin, at 9.7 boards per-game. But he is regularly guarding taller players and has to be positionally sound on every rebound opportunity. The coaching staff has emphasized the importance of pre-boxing or “finding your man and getting him out of the way,” as Jordan describes it. Once the ball hits the rim, Whitesell hopes his players have already boxed out defenders, giving UB an easy path to securing the ball. “[Mballa] has done a great job, especially on the offensive boards,” Whitesell said. “He’s become a leader in that area. He’s setting the bar there. He’s doing a great
job on the offensive end and the defensive end. He has a lot of double-doubles. It’s always impressive that way.” Bertram’s return from a foot injury in early January has played an important role, too. He may not be the best scorer on the team, but his size and basketball IQ help him around the glass. “Brock is real steady,” Whitesell said. “He’s going to know his assignments. He’s going to play within his capabilities. He’s done a really nice job on the defensive boards.” As the Bulls look ahead to postseason play, they say they understand just how important it will be to dominate on the glass. Every possession has value in the MAC tournament. Ensuring that the other team
ubspectrum.com doesn’t get second chances on offense, and that the Bulls do, will be a priority for Whitesell and his staff. “It’s important,” Bertram said. “We play great defense. It’s hard to play 30 seconds, and then they get a rebound, and we have to play a whole other 30 seconds. That takes a lot of energy for one possession. Some nights, it’s how basketball is — we may not hit, but we get second-chance points. That helps.” On Monday, the Bulls will host Miami (OH) at 7:30 p.m. in Alumni Arena for the first round of postseason play. And they know exactly what they need to do to get the victory. “We just need to keep being in position and getting rebounds,” Bertram said. “If we do that, we will always give ourselves a chance.” Email: email@example.com Twitter: @jwmlb1
Alexander Brown | The Spectrum Redshirt freshman forward Laquill Hardnett being heavily guarded in the paint by a Miami defender. forward Laquill Hardnett being heavily guarded in the paint by a Miami defender.
Women’s basketball defeats Kent State in final regular-season game Bulls extend streak to five wins heading into MAC tournament EMILY BORJA ROBERT SALISBURY STAFF WRITERS
The Bulls (18-11, 9-9 MAC) celebrated their only graduating senior Theresa Onwuka on Saturday’s senior night, as UB closed out the regular season with a 72-58 win against Kent State (18-11, 11-7 MAC). Onwuka’s final regular season game for the Bulls came with a milestone: her 1,000th career point. The Bulls, even with the win, failed to earn a first-round bye in the MAC tournament. The team will return to Alumni Arena to take on Miami (OH) Monday at 5 p.m.
The Bulls came out strong defensively, forcing Kent State to five first-quarter turnovers and holding the Golden Flashes to 21% shooting from the field. The Bulls led at the end of the first quarter 18-12 as they shot an efficient 8-16 from the field, with two of those field goals being triples. Kent State sophomore forward Lindsey Thall kept the game close as she hit four 3-pointers in the first half, cutting the Bulls’ lead to only a point heading into the locker room. Thall ended the contest with a gamehigh 28 points and 9 rebounds. Freshman guard Dyaisha Fair led the team offensively with 25 points. Onwuka added 16, tailing 12 of them in the first half. UB’s offense heated up quickly to start
the third as junior forward Marissa Hamilton and sophomore forward Adebola Adeyeye connected on back-to-back buckets, giving the Bulls a 32-27 lead. The Bulls soon went on a 6-3 run capitalizing on a Golden Flashes scoring drought. They continued to dominate offensively and found themselves leading 51-37 to close out the third. Kent State opened the fourth on a 7-0 run before Fair put one home to put UB ahead by 10. Fair continued her offensive dominance as she made an essential layup and connected on her free throw, giving UB a 62-48 advantage heading to the final media time out. Onwuka connected on a jumper for the 1,000th career point, extending her team’s lead to 66-50. The Bulls’ offensive dominance was
Andrew Palmer | The Spectrum Senior Guard Theresa Onwuka celebrates Senior Night at the end of her last home game in the Alumni Arena on Saturday
too much for the Golden Flashes, as they pulled within no more than 11. UB made critical stops and ran out the clock to secure the victory. “What a great story that we’re telling,” head coach Felisha Legette-Jack said. “This team that decided they were going to decide when they were going to put the period, their ending to their story and they just weren’t ready to let it be today. We made some adjustments defensively but it’s on the back of Theresa Onwuka. She demonstrated that she’s a leader of our defense and we made some really good stops and we held another team under 59 points.” The Bulls look to win Monday, as they will host the first-round MAC tournament game. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Spectrum, the independent student publication of the University at Buffalo.