Vassar Today

Live in Concert, ViCE Presents

By Kate Conlow ’09

An important part of maintaining healthy campus life is providing activities that balance out the intensity of studying. Inspiring lectures and provocative art exhibitions help fulfill this need. But what many students want when they need an escape from their mountains of homework is movies, live music, and other performances. Vassar College Entertainment — or ViCE, as it’s known — is the main organization on campus responsible for providing quality entertainment for the college.

An almost completely student-run organization, ViCE sponsors between 100–200 events a year. It has brought in lecturers and comedians and hosted a murder-mystery dinner theater. But ViCE is best known for its musical offerings.

Before ViCE came to be, in the late 1980s, Vassar entertainment was organized by the Student Entertainment Committee (SEC) and Bad Taste Cinema. SEC showcased musical acts like the popular 1970s English rock band Squeeze and the funk band Earth, Wind, and Fire; Bad Taste Cinema provided weekly screenings of popular movies like The Graduate. When these two organizations disintegrated, ViCE took their place. Today, Teri Quinn, director of campus activities, says, “ViCE is committed to organizing a wide variety of events for the entire campus, and to this end they successfully sponsor many activities, large and small.”

Some recurring events that ViCE arranges are the popular Jazz Night in Matthew’s Mug and movie screenings in Blodgett. Jazz Night boasts both big and small jazz performers and provides a space for students to relax or dance every Tuesday night. The Film League, a subcommittee of ViCE, provides free weekly screenings of movies that have recently left theaters. (Last year they showed Batman Begins and Broken Flowers before they were released on DVD.)

Wyclef Jean at Vassar Collegew
Wyclef Jean at Vassar Collegew
In terms of live music, ViCE brings to campus an impressive array of acts, from emerging bands to more well-known entertainers like hip-hop artist Wyclef Jean (pictured) and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Bringing in the big names is especially rewarding for ViCE members. Director Jeremy Robinson-Leon ’07 says putting together these big shows is “not only a good experience in leadership, but also in calling people and talking business with professionals.” The democratic structure of ViCE, he adds, “allows anyone to have a tremendous amount of influence in the decision-making process.”

Making arrangements for on-campus entertainment is a formidable task. For ViCE the most difficult part of the process is determining what entertainers students want to see and hear. Vassar’s diverse student population means there is an extreme range of musical interests. Often, students are more receptive to smaller, underground artists rather than large, mainstream acts. Events planned for 2006-07 include a dance party with disc jockey Coco Chanel, noise-rock band Japanther, indie artist Jose Gonzalez, and hip-hop performer Lupe Fiasco.

The obstacles that ViCE sometimes encounters, however, do not keep it from being a hugely successful organization. And if Robinson-Leon has his way, ViCE will use its prominent role to get more involved in humanitarian causes. There’s “a lot of potential” there, he says, to go beyond providing entertainment.

If you remember a notable entertainer from your years at Vassar, let us know: