COLUMN: Uveino says goodbye to Intrepid, SBU

By Jeff Uveino

The weather matched the collective mood of the campus community.

As clouds leaked rain across the Southern Tier of Western New York, St. Bonaventure University sat in disbelief over the previous day’s decision.

It was a Monday, and the calendar read March 14, 2016. My first visit to SBU.

The day before, an NCAA selection committee decided to leave the Bona men’s basketball team out of its championship tournament field. Despite a 22-8 record and a share of the Atlantic 10 regular-season title, the committee excluded the Bonnies from March Madness.

“The snub,” as Bona fans now commonly refer to the incident.

To my parents and I, however, the disservice done to this private, Franciscan university of about 2,000 undergraduates located 75 miles south of Buffalo didn’t matter much.

We were there to learn about the university’s journalism school. Not its basketball sob story.

Each person we met mentioned the snub. It was as if a hammer had been dropped on the head of the school’s soul. The pain radiated from each passer-by, a campus community dumbfounded over the exclusion of its beloved Bonnies.

It’s not that we didn’t care. We just didn’t understand.

Five years later, I spent March 14 sitting court-side at University of Dayton Arena.

There, the Bonnies played VCU for the 2021 A-10 men’s basketball championship and the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

The six-hour drive to Dayton to watch the game? A small ask for myself and the dozens of Bona students that will become lifelong friends.

After all, that dreary post-snub visit to campus had all but convinced me to attend the university’s Jandoli School of Communication. With that decision came an abundance of professional opportunities, including covering that A-10 final for student media.

The Bonnies beat VCU handily. 

On the outside, objectivity fueled my stoic demeanor from the media section. My heart, however, filled with a sense of pride that could only be matched by the hundreds of Bonnies fans that scrambled toward the court to join the celebration.

Five years prior, those moments would have meant nothing. Now, the image of the confetti-laden, on-court celebration will stay with me forever.

That’s the impact that St. Bonaventure University has on its family members.

It’s hard to find the words to describe the school’s dynamic to those who haven’t attended. SBU alumni refer to the community as a family, while outsiders often prefer the term “cult.”

I still remember the guide that led my parents and I through that rainy, downtrodden tour over five years ago. He and I shared a drink over the matter a few years later.

I could write dozens of cliches to convey my love for SBU, but have been taught better than to do so.

All I can say is that the best four years of my life have been spent in the Enchanted Mountains. Thank you to every single person who has made that statement possible.

SBU freshman reflects on NCAA Tournament run, community’s love for Bona hoops

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Ryan Surmay

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — The typical response from someone when they hear of St. Bonaventure University is, “Where’s that?”  

For a school in Cattaraugus County, New York with just over 2,000 students, you wouldn’t expect much of a fanbase for sports.  

Unless you’ve experienced the school in person.

At SBU, you’ll find some of the most passionate basketball fans, with a massive following. You’ll find diehard fans that love and support their team like no other school. St. Bonaventure basketball is a community, and where no matter where you go, you’ll find fellow alumni and be greeted with a “Let’s Go Bona’s.” 

Since I’m a freshman, it was my first time experiencing the St. Bonaventure basketball atmosphere, other than the times I came to games with my family, since my mom is an alumnus.

I always watched the games when they were on TV, but after experiencing these moments as a student, I know why the school has some of the most passionate fans in the country, who would travel anywhere to support the team. 

So much so, many alumni and current students made the six-hour trip to UD Arena in Dayton, Ohio to support the team in the Atlantic 10 Championship game. Sitting in an arena that was only at 25% capacity, still, a majority of it was St. Bonaventure fans.

Seeing Osun Osunniyi have a monster volleyball spike-type block, or a Kyle Lofton 3-pointer that results in the crowd roar made me excited to be able to go to games at the Reilly Center next season.  

Because of COIVD-19, Bona’s win over VCU in the A-10 title game was the only contest Bonnies fans were able to attend in person. However, the community has supported the team all season in other ways.  

When the team left to go to Dayton, it seemed like the entire community stopped everything to show support.  Starting with just the students on campus standing in the parking lot outside the Reily Center cheering for the bus as it drove off, it then drove through downtown Allegany, where local businesses came outside to cheer and hold signs up for the bus parade.

Then, the buses drove by a local elementary school and saw children hold signs for the team as it passed by. That is what makes St Bonaventure so special, and is also why alumni often refer to the school as “the best place on earth.”

While the team matched up against LSU in the first round of the NCAA tournament this season, a school with an enrollment of 34,290 students (which is 13.5x more people than St. Bonaventure with 2,540 students), not a single person was intimidated by their opponent.

The people at St. Bonaventure have heart and pride for their team — but most of all, confidence. Sadly, the game didn’t go SBU’s way, and they lost. But, right after the game, SBU-backing Twitter pages and websites gave their support in saying how proud they were to be a Bonnies fan. 

Whilen being one of the smallest schools in the tournament this year, St. Bonaventure has something that beats all other teams: heart.  

SBU community mourns death of late president

photo: St. Bonaventure University

By Dustyn Green

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — Dr. Dennis DePerro, the 21st president of St. Bonaventure University, passed away Sunday evening after battling COVID-19. His passing was announced in an email sent to the SBU campus community Monday morning.

“Our hearts are broken, and we send all of our love, support, sympathies and condolences to the DePerro family on their loss, especially Dennis’ wife, Sherry, and his two sons, Andrew and Matthew,” said Dr. Joseph Zimmer, acting president of the university. “Please keep them in your prayers.”

Zimmer, SBU’s provost and vice president for academic affairs, has served as acting president since mid-January. 

“What I’ll miss more than anything was his uncanny ability to make you feel better even on your worst days,” said Tom Missel, SBU’s chief communications officer. “He had a unique gift. I loved that man with all my heart. I know there are thousands of people who would say the same thing. His humanity, his insight, his ability to listen to all sides, his sense of humor – all of that made him a great leader.” 

John Sheehan, president of the university’s board of trustees, also expressed condolences to the DePerro family. Sheehan noted DePerro’s strong connection with SBU alumni.

“Our alumni adored (DePerro), and the relationships he forged at every college he’s worked run deep, especially at Le Moyne, where I know his loss will be deeply felt,” Sheehan said. “Please keep Sherry, Andrew, Matthew and the entire DePerro family in your prayers. The university will do everything it can to support them.”

The university’s flag will fly at half staff through March, according to Zimmer. 

DePerro tested positive for COVID-19 on Christmas Eve before being admitted to a Syracuse hospital Dec. 29. DePerro assumed the presidency on June 1, 2017, and led the university through the admission of its three largest freshman classes in 11 years. 

Funeral arrangements will be announced when they are available. Cards and letters can be sent to the president’s office. 

SBU president still hospitalized with COVID-19; Zimmer to serve as acting president

By Dustyn Green

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — St. Bonaventure University announced on Monday that Dr. Joseph Zimmer, the university’s provost and vice president for academic affairs, was named SBU’s acting president in place of Dr. Dennis DePerro. 

DePerro has been battling COVID-19 since being admitted to a Syracuse hospital on Dec. 29, where he was recently placed on a ventilator. In a release, the university said that DePerro is in serious but stable condition.

“It’s important that we have, during Dr. DePerro’s absence, a leader overseeing the business of the university,” said John Sheehan, chairman of the university’s board of trustees. “The (board) has complete confidence in Dr. Zimmer.” 

Zimmer told the campus community that his priority is to continue DePerro’s work until the president is healthy enough to return.

“My role now – in collaboration with our senior management team and faculty leaders – is simply to keep us moving forward in the positive direction we have been headed since [Dr. DePerro] came on board as president in 2017,” Zimmer said. 

Dr. Anne Foerst, chair of the university’s faculty senate, said that the senate will continue to work with Zimmer achieve this goal. 

“Dr. DePerro is in the thoughts and prayers of the entire university community, including the faculty, and we look forward to him making a full recovery,” Foerst said. “The faculty senate has and will continue to work constructively and productively with Dr. Zimmer, for the benefit of the university and its students.”  

Zimmer also conveyed a message to the campus community as it continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“With COVID-19 still consuming our thoughts and plans this semester, and the president working hard to recover, I’m asking every member of the Bonaventure community to support each other during this challenging time and to continue to keep our students’ needs at the forefront of everything we do – and, of course, to keep Dr. DePerro in your prayers,” Zimmer said. 

As of Tuesday, no further updates have been given on the president’s condition. Cards and well wishes for DePerro can be sent to the president’s office.  

UPDATE: SBU to remain open until Nov. 24 as planned

photo: Molly Williams/The Intrepid

By Dustyn Green

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — Despite 24 new cases of Coronavirus reported on Monday, St. Bonaventure University has elected to remain open until Nov. 24, according to a press release sent to students on Monday.

In-person activities, including the university’s gaming room and open swim at the Reilly Center, have been canceled due to the uptick in cases. The Richter Center will be closed to all athletic activities, but will remain open to host classes. Dining services will continue as normal.

The university also halted all men’s and women’s Division I athletic practices other than men’s and women’s basketball, which begin play next week.

“Students with concerns about instructional delivery over the next week may contact their instructors,” the release said. “Students asked to isolate here or quarantine at home should inform their instructors of their situations.”

DEVELOPING: University officials to meet regarding COVID-19 concerns

photo: Molly Williams/The Intrepid

By Dustyn Green

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — St. Bonaventure University saw its number of active COVID-19 cases double on Monday afternoon, as Cattaraugus County and Western New York also see increases in active cases of the virus.

According to the university’s COVID-19 tracker, SBU currently has 10 active cases of the virus, and 45 students are currently in quarantine. In response to the virus’ increased presence, multiple SBU professors have begun to change the layout of their instruction.

According to Tom Missel, chief communications officer for the university, the issue of increased COVID-19 cases will be discussed at a meeting on Monday evening. Missel also reminds students that the university’s COVID-19 tracker can provide them with the latest virus numbers, and is updated each morning.

This story is developing.

SBU professors, students prepare for Election Day

photo: Connor Raine & Molly Williams/The Intrepid

By Nic Gelyon & Peter Byrne

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — The 2020 election process will arguably be the most unique in American history. The country is in the throes of a pandemic, and voter advocacy messages have become a regular part of American lives, as has the election in general.

But Dr. Bart Lambert, political science professor at St. Bonaventure University, still sees the positives that arise in such an unusual year: 

“This year, with all of the early voting and with the mail-in ballots, I don’t think students have any excuses,” Lambert said. 

He’s speaking to and about students who aren’t voting this year. Though, as Lambert suggests, they’re likely abstaining because of poor planning, not disillusionment. 

“It’s not that they decide not to vote, it’s that they fail to vote,” Lambert said. “They forget to make arrangements.” 

The record books can be thrown out with this election cycle. And as Coronavirus restrictions have changed the way politicians engage voters, and vice versa, it’s also changed the way citizens view the voting process.  

For example, Lambert doesn’t think having a sole “Election Tuesday” makes sense for anyone, let alone college students. Tuesday is a weekday. College students and working adults alike are busy in their daily lives.  

“It’s not real conducive to student participation, because it’s a Tuesday, you’ve got classes… and with people standing in line now upwards of an hour or two, it gets to be a burden,” he said. “So if students don’t make arrangements, they might miss their opportunity to vote.” 

But, as many understand now, election day is no longer the end-all be-all day to cast a ballot. Lambert thinks this year’s voting system makes more sense going forward.  

“Why not give people two weeks to vote?,” he said. “It makes it much easier because you can plan it around your life better… some people have two jobs and a family to care for. If you can do it on the weekend, or any other day of the week, that should help.” 

So, according to Lambert, voting in this year’s elections will take some planning, but the election process has been made more convenient than ever. Did, or will, students at St. Bonaventure take advantage?  

The Intrepid’s Peter Byrne asked several out-of-state freshmen if they voted, and what method they used. 

Byrne, who is from Bernardsville, New Jersey, has already filled out an absentee ballot. Ryan Surmay, who hails from Cranford, New Jersey, won’t be filling out an absentee ballot this year, but it’s because he planned ahead. His mother gave him a mail-in ballot when his parents visited campus in September.  

Freshman Isabelle Gaffney, from Morristown, New Jersey, was also proactive. Gaffney went back to Morristown last month, filled out her, and dropped if off on her way back to SBU. 

Freshman Maddie Gilbert, who hails from Ringwood, New Jersey, will do the same.

Byrne asked two other people if they were planning to vote. Both said no. 

To recap:of the six people Byrne asked (including himself), four said they have already voted- either by mail-in ballot or absentee ballot.  

But Dr. Pauline Hoffmann, internship coordinator at St. Bonaventure, thinks there may be a bit more disillusionment in voters than Lambert lets on. However, she feels students should use this as fuel to create change. 

Hoffmann essentially reaffirms what Lambert said: there is no excuse not to vote.

“If you want things to happen in your democracy… there are people representing you,” she said. “You have to participate in democracy, it’s critical.” 

Hoffmann, along with other students and a few faculty members, staffed a voter registration table outside the Swan Business Center in late September.

Students who came to the table for advice tended to ask not who they should vote for, but rather how to vote. The table was meant for this purpose.

Having other students so involved helped in answering these questions, according to Hoffmann.  

“I had someone who said they didn’t register before, because they didn’t think it mattered,” she said. “It was better, I think, coming a student than me. Hearing it from someone your own age makes more sense. This is why this matters in this particular election.

Some students still believe, however, that their voice doesn’t matter. They think voting is for ‘grown-ups’, involving issues that aren’t relevant to them.  

But Hoffmann encourages students to have more of an open mind.

“When guys are younger, you feel like you’re invincible, and the things that bother us old people don’t matter to you guys” she said. “And the reality is, eventually it will.” 

Hoffmann’s message to student’s who simply don’t view voting as necessary?

“What’s the difference?,” she said. “Imagine if everybody said that.”

SBU student duo brings “Olean Yard Signs” to the Southern Tier

photo: Olean Yard Signs/Facebook

By Sean Casey

OLEAN, NY — In the wake of the Coronavirus harming many businesses, two St. Bonaventure University seniors managed to start a new one locally in Olean. 

Chandler Poczciwinski and Haley Sousa are the founders of the business, named “Olean Yard Signs,” which makes customizable lawn signs for people for special events.  

The business idea stemmed from the new business of Poczciwinski’s mother in Buffalo, called “Buffalo Yard Signs”.

“Her company was a huge success, so we decided to bring yard signs to the Southern Tier,” Poczciwinski said.

He said his mother started her business in Buffalo because she thought it was great way to celebrate a birthday or special event while being in quarantine.  

“It has been a slow start, however, we expected that because Olean is a much different market than Buffalo,” said Poczciwinski and Sousa.

Although starting slow, the duo hopes that their business starts to grow, not necessarily for them, but for their plans with it in the future. 

“Our goal for this company is to build a profitable business that we could leave to the next generation of SBU student entrepreneurs,” they said.

Both Sousa and Poczciwinski are moving to California and have no plans to bring the business with them, so they would like for this to become a legacy of theirs at SBU.

“We are hoping to find some eager students to keep Olean Yard Signs going,” they said.