MACRoCk XIV is upon us!

The 14th annual Mid-Atlantic College Radio Conference (MACRoCk) will be occurring in Harrisonburg, VA on April 1 & 2, 2011. This year, MACRoCk will be hosting over 90 bands including Bouncing Souls, Capsule, S. Carey, Screaming Females, Turbo Fruits, Algernon Cadwallader,  Timbre, Super Vacations, Invisible Hand, 1994!, Pulling Teeth, US Christmas, Cannabis Corpse, Inter Arma, Pianos Become the Teeth, The Extraordinaires, Snack Truck, Dangerous Ponies, Snowing, Woe, Withered, Brooke Waggoner, Antlers, Gifts From Enola, Ocoai, Eternal Summers, Gringo Star, Air Waves, Arches, Andrew Cedermark, Sacred Harp, Heavy Cream and Pujol. MACRoCk will also host a variety of panelists speaking on topics such as Local Food, Booking in The Music Industry & Screen Printing.

MACRoCk was first put on by the student volunteers at James Madison University’s student radio station, WXJM, in 1997. Today, MACRoCk is an independently owned and organized organization, and is the largest independent music conference on the East Coast. MACRoCk offers a unique opportunity for bands, industry professionals and fans to interact and connect to support the music they love. With all the shows taking place in independently run and operated downtown music venues, MACRoCk was founded on a belief that corporate sponsorship and big business were not part of what makes music great. Through grassroots organization and an all-volunteer staff, MACRoCk strives to promote independent music, thought, art, business, and culture. This is MACRoCk’s 14th year, and it is going to be better than ever before. For more information about the conference, bands and tickets, please visit the MACRoCk website at

President Rose Emails All Students About Plan to Transform JMU Alcohol Culture

Various student sources at JMU report having received an email sent to the entire student population today by President Rose outlining a continued and expanded commitment to ensure students’ health and safety by limiting the abuse of alcohol by some students.  The email outlines changes in enforcement, parental notification, and educational programming.  The email is reprinted in its entirety below:

August 18, 2010

Dear new and returning students,

I hope your summer has been both relaxing and meaningful. We look forward to welcoming you to JMU and to the new academic year!

While our mission is to prepare you to be educated and enlightened citizens, our primary concern is always your personal health and safety. Last spring semester ended with some lingering issues surrounding negative alcohol-related events off campus. As your President and on behalf of the university community, I remain very concerned about the abuse and underage use of alcohol by some of our students. Such behavior results in negative consequences for the individual and it also threatens the personal health, safety and community respect of the entire student body. The purpose of this letter is to notify you of actions that we will be taking to change the negative alcohol culture that has been associated with James Madison University specifically, and higher education generally.  Continue reading “President Rose Emails All Students About Plan to Transform JMU Alcohol Culture” »

Buy Your Downtown

The Laughing Dog is one of many locally-owned downtown businesses.

I grew up in Harrisonburg in the 60’s and 70’s. At that time there were no malls, cell-phones, Internet, remotes, gangs etc. It was a small town. JMU was for the most part a women’s college. The Cloverleaf shopping center “was” the mall!

Once, at the same time, these stores all existed downtown. They were profitable because the community had no where else to go. They were/are the Virginia theater, the State theater, Grants, McCroys, Woolworth, Klines, Glens, Alfred Neys, Joseph Neys, Charles Fauls, Leggits, Charles Mathias, Jack Collins shoes, A & N, the Arcade, Novelty News, Warrens Cut-Rate, Salts barber-shop, L & S diner, Jesse’s, Va. Ham, Downtown Grill, Julius’s, George’s, Peoples Drug, Hostetters, Western Auto, Schewels, Denton’s, Grand Piano, Advance, Hawkins Hardware, Sears, Sherwin-Williams, Cato’s, and a Singer sewing machine store.

The question remains, what happened? Continue reading “Buy Your Downtown” »

This post was submitted by Jim Purcell.

Downtown Company Celebrates 5 Years In Business

Immerge Technologies celebrated its five year anniversary on May 17 – and is celebrating at Earth and Tea Cafe on Thursday June 24 from 5-7pm.   A JMU grad startup company, Immerge has grown into a highly profitable organization, providing web design and custom programming services to hundreds of clients including Harrisonburg Electric Commission and Casterbridge Tours.

Located in the Keezell Building in Downtown Harrisonburg, Immerge has also forged a strong relationship with Continue reading “Downtown Company Celebrates 5 Years In Business” »

This post was submitted by William Roy.

Springfest vs. Volunteerism

Aired May 7, 2010
“CIVIC SOAPBOX” (WMRA-FM): Springfest vs. Volunteerism
By Mike Grundmann

When the Springfest riot broke out in Harrisonburg on April 10, the opposite was going on across town, and JMU students were at the center of both. Dozens of students were helping with the annual Blacks Run cleanup, where almost 3 tons of trash were collected.

Not only that, 35 members of the JMU swim club anticipated the Springfest garbage mess and helped the city do its cleanup the next day.

There’s been plenty of shame-on-you within the campus confines after Springfest: not just from the president but a professor who wrote a scalding letter to the student newspaper, The Breeze, and at least two students who wrote confessional pieces. Dozens of readers added their comments. The Breeze also probed for causes in a piece on mob psychology.

The following week, a group of students spontaneously formed and started planning how it can help patch relations with the city and volunteer where needed. It’s talking with city leaders so its efforts can be meaningful.

I’m the Breeze faculty adviser, so pardon me if I cite a few stories just from this semester, which prove the altruism permeating the student body. After the Haitian earthquake, a group struggled desperately to reach its $30,000 fundraising goal. A 25-hour basketball game raised money for orphans in Mozambique as well as the local Boys and Girls Clubs (one organizer played for 18 hours). An airplane-pulling contest raised money for a city mediation center. The women’s lacrosse team served a Sunday meal at the Salvation Army. The annual Relay for Life, a cancer-benefit walk that’s an overnighter, drew about 2,000 people and raised more than $150,000. One student in 2008 invented a new type of concrete mixer that will raise the standard of living in a Ugandan village.

Using examples from my own journalism classes this semester, one student spent spring break helping the homeless in Nashville, and another helped build a shelter for homeless teen girls in Belize.

It’s not just volunteerism that JMU students contribute. The university is also a lab for the kinds of technology that will save the world. An electric motorcycle that students built has set a speed record. Students are also designing bicycles that disabled people can ride. Others are experimenting with nanotechnology, which will produce eventual wonders in medicine, manufacturing and space travel. There’s a lab with printers, quote-unquote, that make 3-D objects; the prediction is that we’ll all have such printers at home in 10 years. And, from the president on down, there’s a major push to minimize waste in energy and materials. JMU just won a governor’s award for that.

I’m continually impressed by how many of my students list activity or office-holding positions on campus, the vast majority of them service-oriented.

Did some of these same students also attend Springfest? Yes. Did they throw bottles? I don’t know, but I doubt it.

I’m not saying all this because I’m the booster type. I’m a journalist by training, and you know how skeptical we can be. I’m doing this because the Springfest riot really surprised me, and I wanted you to know why I was surprised.

Mike Grundmann is a journalism professor at JMU and advisor to the student newspaper, The Breeze.

This post was submitted by Mike Grundmann.

Then and Now: JMU Presidents’ Controversies

“Spring Fest 1010” that took place off-campus but was hosted by James Madison University students led to police battles that headlined newsprint with each step into blame or fame heralding the school’s response. And the school newspaper’s invasion by a team of the local Commonwealth Attorney heightened the public outcry.

Students protesting in Wilson Hall and being arrested, circa 1970, before Dr. Ronald Carrier became the school's president. (Courtesy of JMU Special Collections, Carrier Library)

Since the school’s inception just over a century ago as an academy for young women, the five successive school presidents have each had visions of accomplishment and always faced the media chopping block. Any time something major and/or colorful went wrong, newspapers quickly front-paged the story.

For example, first president Julian Burruss felt, “The development of a strong, noble and womanly character is of first importance….” His rules were stringent but media ignored any small discrepancies such as one girl placed on a quarter’s probation for attending a dance downtown without permission, knowing she couldn’t get permission. Ditto when another was suspended for rudeness to a teacher.

But on certain matters Burruss could not hold the newspapers in check.  Banner headlines in the Harrisonburg paper for February 15, 1913, reported “PRETTY SCHOOL GIRL ELOPES FROM NORMAL.” Immediately below in smaller caps ran “MISS LILLIAN CAMPBELL, LEAVES DORMITORY BY MEANS OF IMPROVISED ROPE, JOINS LOVER AND HASTENS TO BE MARRIED—STUDENT BODY SHOCKED.”

The faculty was more shocked and faced a dilemma since no specific rule banned elopement!  Deliberating from afternoon until after midnight, the faculty finally voted to expel the young lady from school for “leaving without permission.” The groom’s sister was asked to withdraw as well and the other roommate suspended for a year. The story made the Washington Post and newspapers around the state—yet the school didn’t lose face on this one.

And so it goes, both problems and kudos make the news. Yet president Burruss made few errors and when offered the presidency of Virginia Technical Institute, he couldn’t refuse the step up to his alma mater. Newspapers applauded his success.

However, those same papers only halfheartedly welcomed the new president Samuel P. Duke. Harrisonburg’s Daily News-Record for July 23, 1919, simply stated the Virginia Normal School Board voted “7 to 5 in favor of Prof. Duke.” Clearly disappointed in the choice, the paper didn’t even accord Duke the title of state supervisor or list his many accomplishments. Their newsprint continued to evoke the vast local disappointment that Dr. Sanger, the local popular Valley choice, had not been given the position.

Yet Duke’s presidency ran smoothly—even when his Dean of Women Denise Varner bobbed her hair and numerous students followed this trend so absolutely forbidden in Duke’s rules of conduct. However, newspapers paid no attention as general student behavior toed the line under Duke at the newly named State Teachers College in Harrisonburg. While Duke’s list of restrictions seems ludicrous today, they generally extended ordinary rules enforced at students’ homes.

For 30 years Duke won only public accolades as he guided his faculty and students through the changing world in the Great Depression and World War II. Under his leadership, men were admitted as students for the first time and male athletic teams emerged. (The basketball team dubbed itself the “Madison Dukes” in hope Dr. Duke would fork over funds for basketballs and equipment—which he did.)

In 1949 a massive stroke ended Duke’s presidency. Soon designated President Emeritus, he and his wife were given the refurbished Zirkle House across Main Street (where JMU is now building its nearly-completed performing arts center) to be their home for the final six years of his life. And Gov. William Tuck appointed Dr. Tyler Miller to become Madison’s third president.

However, “The third time’s a charm” did not apply to third president Miller. While his first decade accomplished continuing growth with few changes, his last years were shadowed by the startling disharmony of the ‘60s and ‘70s. For example in 1967-68, student Jay Rainey came on campus wearing “hippie fashion” blue jeans, blanket ponchos, sandals, and flowing hair. Rainey refused to change and Miller refused his admission for next year. That decision drew wide press coverage when support on Raney’s behalf from the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia won in court and the school had to admit him.

Also, a campus underground organization, Harambee, objected to Miller’s firing of three sympathetic faculty members without apparent reason as they were quickly replaced. In addition, demonstrations on campus led to student arrests. Those events included students marching on campus, a one-night takeover of the administration building, and a later welcome for Vietnam protester and movie star Jane Fonda to appear on campus to encourage students to join the antiwar activists.

Looking back years later, fourth president Dr. Ronald E. Carrier candidly assessed:

Tyler Miller had been a good president, was a very fine man. But the world was changing—dramatically. You’d had the assassination of John F. Kennedy; of Robert Kennedy, of Martin Luther King. You’d had the Berkeley free-speech movement; you’d had Civil Rights issues in Selma, Alabama, and Birmingham. You had the Vietnam War, had just had Cambodia, plus we had Kent State. You had some trouble here which was really minor but turned into more of an issue than it probably should have been.

Dr. Miller was caught in the vortex of a changing world, didn’t really want to go into it but didn’t know how to get out of it. Yet he got out in time before it damaged him personally—no one asked him to quit—and before the institution paid the price.

Newspapers had a field day. And at times presidents #4 and #5 have run the same gauntlets. One example is Carrier’s firing of a physics professor popular with the faculty but yearly unable to attract enough students to the physics program to warrant his continuing. The faculty called for Carrier’s dismissal but the Board of Visitors disagreed. Carrier remained and the school continued to flourish with expanding programs in all academic areas.

And now President Rose responded to Spring Fest by taking immediate action to contact parents school wide with a letter of his assessment and reassurance of responsive actions ahead. No student uprising or parent ire has followed. Both parents and students applaud his timely response and strong leadership. That, however, has not made the off-campus news.

For more detailed description of the events of the first four presidents—Burruss, Duke, Miller, and Carrier, read detailed chapters in Nancy Bondurant-Jones’ book, Rooted On Blue Stone Hill, a history of the school’s first ninety years.

This post was submitted by Nancy Bondurant Jones.

Rose Writes to JMU Parents

In response to the Springfest incident last Saturday, JMU President Rose sent an email to parents of JMU students.  The email is included below in its entirety.

April 16, 2010

Dear Parents:

By now, you have seen the news coverage of the Springfest gathering in Harrisonburg last weekend.  I’d like to acknowledge that the vast majority of our students did not attend the event and those who did, for the most part, cooperated with law enforcement officials on the scene.  Many of the JMU Students who live in the vicinity welcomed the police presence and the ultimate decision to disperse the out of control crowd.  I am appreciative of law enforcement’s timely response and commitment to restoring order.

JMU students who made poor decisions and participated in destructive behavior will be subject to the university’s judicial process as they are identified.  The events of last Saturday have cast a cloud upon the reputation of James Madison University and our relationship with the community.

The collective behavior of the individuals involved on Saturday was disturbing.  Public drunkenness, destruction of property and threats to personal safety are inexcusable regardless of the circumstances.  All of us have a stake in the safety and well being of our students.  On and off-campus safety is ensured through the good decision making of each member of our university.

We are conferring with students, property owners, law enforcement, community leaders and government officials in an effort to prevent similar situations in the future.

I am encouraged that many of our students – even ones who did not cause any trouble at Springfest – have already taken responsibility for their actions and have expressed interest in restoring the relationships that the university values.  Recently, Student Government Association President Candace Avalos attended the Harrisonburg City Council meeting and publicly apologized on behalf of the entire student body.  Additionally, many of our students are coordinating efforts to personally reach out to area citizens who were negatively impacted by the events of this past Saturday.

The university acknowledges the fact that you, as parents, have invested a great deal of time, money and care into seeing that your children succeed during their college experience.  We take great pride in producing some of the nation’s most well educated, enlightened and productive citizens.  Although events such as Saturday evening are distracting, the university remains committed to our mission and will use this as an opportunity to strengthen our community.


Linwood H. Rose

Project: Bus Tickets for Salvation Army Residents

My name is Grady Hart, I am a freshman at JMU and a member of JMU Amnesty International.  I am writing this letter in regard to the local Salvation Army, where I have been volunteering weekly for the last couple of months.

While volunteering there, it has come to my attention that very few of its residents even have bikes, much less cars. Unfortunately, they also have very little money, especially due to the less than ideal economic times right now. I have also noticed, however, that they do not seem discouraged by this fact, as some have still been able to find jobs and are now working for a better life for themselves, and in some cases, their families.

On a personal level, I find it inspiring that even in the situation in which they find themselves, where despite not having money for food or shelter, they still have the drive to pick themselves up and keep on fighting. This is why it pains me so greatly to see them hindered and often defeated by lack of such a simple yet vital resource as transportation, as their extremely modest incomes do not allow them the luxury of purchasing bus tickets to find jobs, to get to and from jobs, and to do other essential things such as visit doctors and family.

It is for this reason that I recently organized and hosted a benefit concert in Harrisonburg in order to raise money for the purchase of bus tickets for these more than deserving fellow Harrisonburg residents. In one night, through the good will and support of JMU students and other Harrisonburg residents alike, we raised almost $350, which will all go directly to the Salvation Army to purchase bus tickets for its residents.

While the concert was a great success, I do not view it as a long term solution, as about 40 bus tickets per week are needed, and at $20 for a book of 25 tickets, the funds will go dry after about eleven weeks.  To address this problem, I have contacted and been in conversations with the Mayor, Mr. Kai Degner, and am also planning to speak along with several other dedicated classmates at the next City Council meeting.

This is a large problem, and in order to resolve it, we will need the help and support of many more people than just my classmates and me. Ideally, I would like for these Salvation Army residents to be able to receive free bus tickets so long as they are using them for worthy causes, such as job searching, doctor appointments, or getting to and from work. However, I also understand that this is not an ideal world and compromises often must be made. I therefore believe that it is only through collaboration that a long term solution to this problem will be found. I call on everyone who reads this letter to please help join the fight.

Since I will be presenting at the next City Council meeting, one very easy way to help this worthy cause would be to contact Mayor Degner and the other council members, Vice-Mayor Baugh, Council Byrd, Council Frank, and Council Wiens to voice your support of free or discounted bus tickets for Salvation Army residents. The contact information of each resident can be found at the following web address.

As you can probably tell, I believe that this is a cause worth dedicating my time and energy to; I hope you will also find this to be true. Please help in any way that you can so that we can make a difference and help these fellow Harrisonburg residents to help themselves.

Grady Hart- JMU 2013

This post was submitted by Grady Hart.

JMU Riot: Blame Game is Not Constructive

This riot blame game needs to stop. Harrisonburg and JMU are inextricably linked. Both are equal partners in this community and mutually benefit each other. Splitting our community along these lines merely adds to the shame and embarrassment. Instead of creating this dichotomous rift as a means of shifting blame, we should be engaging in constructive dialog as partners in this community to figure out how to prevent such regrettable situations and sustain this mutually beneficial relationship.

In situations of this magnitude there is rarely a clear cut right or wrong. This case is no exception. Clearly a number of students did not act in accordance with the values espoused by the university and this city and should take personal responsibility for their actions. However, there was a serious lack of foresight by the city and the university that allowed the situation to reach the critical mass necessary for this level of civil disturbance. Each should take responsibility for their portion and move on to a more constructive debate.

I would encourage members of the groups who are committed to working together to attend future city council meetings and any other community dialog.

This content was submitted by the author, and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Harrisonburg Times.

This post was submitted by William Koons.