To the Editor:
The Campus Times coverage of Janet Reno’s speech on January 30 missed one very important point. While Reno has a history of fainting during public appearances, I have no doubt that her recent spell was exacerbated by the chronically deteriorating conditions of Strong Auditorium.
The following morning she told reporters outside of Strong Memorial Hospital that she “got hot” and that her corner of the stage “got progressively hotter” during the speech. As a four-year veteran of that very stage, I understood what she was saying all too well. An antiquated boiler and non-existent ventillation system can create a sweltering build up of heat that can make even a healthy 19-year-old swoon.
Built in 1930, Strong Auditorium is one of the original structures on campus. In 80-plus years, it is yet to receive adequate rennovation. While the building has undergone a few minor reconfigurations, Strong Auditorium continues to be an eye sore and a hazard.
During my tenure at UR, students mounted several attempts to bring Strong Auditorium the attention it so desperately needs. Numerous stories and editorials appeared in the Campus Times [see the November 12, 1998 of the CT for an editorial], petitions were circulated and a student-run group, the Undergraduate Musicians’ Council, was founded with almost the sole purpose of ressurecting the facility.
In 1997, the disgraceful seating — laughably patched together with silver duct tape — was finally replaced and the dreary lobby was repainted. In 1998, Lower Strong was transformed into a respectable recital space. But these have been merely aesthetic improvements to a geriatric structure unsuitable for students’ performance needs.
Unless drastic improvements have been made to the hall since my graduation in 1999, I recall a splintering stage, deficient and exposed wiring, frayed rigging above the stage, languishing dressing rooms, a horrid sound system and notably lackluster acoustics. Also, the stage is not handicapped accessible. Only a narrow set of stairs service each side of the stage. Should Reno have needed a wheel chair, not to mention a stretcher, the task would have been nearly impossible.
Reno’s collapse made national news and became fresh fodder for late-night talk shows. The Campus Times, however, should use this unfortunate event to illuminate the fact that Strong Auditorium still needs immediate attention. UR has always had a wonderful variety of quality concerts and programs. The student body deserves a venue on par with other schools. The University must finally determine the future of Strong Auditorium, allocate the resources to do it right and do it now.
Jeremy Rothman, ’99Former CT Opinions Editor, General Manager of River Campus Orchestras and Chair of the Undergraduate Musicians’ Council
410.484.6084 (home phone)