GSU, why skip Dragon*Con?

Have you ever wanted to be able to experience life as one of your favorite characters for a day? Dragoncon gives thousands of people this opportunity every year. Created in 1987,  Dragon*Con “offer[s] over 3,500 hours of non-stop programming, concerts, a film festival, the South’s largest costume contest, and the largest Art Show in all of fandom” ( to the City of Atlanta. This event allows teens, young adults, and adults alike to celebrate childlike fun for a few days every year. On top of celebrating the worlds of Anime and gaming on this day, Dragon*Con helps to raise funds for charities and foundations. Dragon*Con 2012’s attendance reached “over 52,000 and charity events raised $45,000 for the Georgia Chapter of the ALS Foundation“( With this being said, Dragoncon is one of the most popular and highly celebrated cultural events in the city of Atlanta.

Unfortunately, Georgia State’s band has turned down the opportunity to play at this monumental event for 2013. Why? Well according to the GSU Band’s calendar of events from August 30, 2013-September 2, 2013, the event days for Dragon*Con 2013, the GSU Band will be participating in IMP 2013: Atlanta at Georgia State. What’s IMP you may ask? IMP Atlanta is an annual conference whose primary objective is “Building and Managing Relationships in a Global Network: Challenges and Necessary Capabilities” ( Yes, slightly –well more than slightly, less fun than Dragon*Con 2013, but nonetheless still important.

Since Georgia State’s Band won’t be able to participate in this historic, and frankly awesome, event this year, can Georgia State students look forward to Georgia State’s Band playing in Dragon*Con 2014? More than likely no, this isn’t the GSU Band’s first time turning down the opportunity to play at this event.

For Georgia State to be a school that throws around the word “diversity” much as it does, one would believe that Georgia State, being in the heart of downtown, would make its presence known in the majority of cultural events taking place in the City of Atlanta. But nonetheless, we see GSU Band’s inherent lack of desire to participate in an event as unique as Dragon*Con. Dragon*Con is one of the only cultural events of its kind, especially while taking into consideration its massive attendance every year. But, somehow the GSU Band hasn’t made time to acknowledge it as an event worthy of the presence of Georgia State.

What does this say about not only the GSU Band (or should we place more emphasis on the band directors, W. Dwight Coleman, Robert J. Ambrose, and Steven Harper?) but about Georgia State as a whole, because the GSU Band is of course reflective of Georgia State itself? Georgia State thrusts the notion of an acceptance and admiration of diversity, yet, it turns down the opportunity to have a notable presence in one of Atlanta’s most diverse cultural events more than once! This repeated refusal reflects a lack of appreciation for different subcultures in Atlanta.  When asked about this issue Khalid Abdullahi, a junior at Georgia State said, “As a GSU student, I am shocked that the band would turn down such an opportunity. Having been a Dragon*Con attendee in the past, I can assure that GSU students were in heavy attendance. With thousands of people traveling from all around the US to Atlanta, it makes no sense that the college in the heart of Atlanta would not show support, and ultimately gain more national exposure through Dragon*Con.”

So this year, Georgia Tech will be playing at Dragon*Con 2013. Oh the irony!


Editor’s note: The Georgia State Marching Band is directed by Dr. Chester Phillips, Director of Athletic Bands


  1. The fact that the band directors (who, by the way, are NOT Dwight Coleman and Steven Harper) had already committed to the band playing at another event should tell you something. Basic professional courtesy would dictate that you don’t shirk a prior commitment to do something “more awesome”.

    The marching band receives requests constantly to perform at various events and has to decline most of them. Time is not infinite and I am very thankful that the directors respect us and understand that we are busy with school. Something the directors are big on is making sure that if the band is playing somewhere, that there is a good representation of the ensemble. If enough people aren’t available to play, they will decline the invitation. Say they had accepted the invitation to perform at Dragon*Con, but only a bass drummer and a saxophone player were available to perform. The band would represent itself poorly and contribute to a public image of the ensemble that is less than what the band truly is.

  2. Another completely uninformed, reactionary, useless article from The SIgnal. The band is asked on a regular basis to perform in all kinds of events all over the city of Atlanta. Of course we would like to do all of them. However, the people in the band go to school. Have jobs. Have lives. Commute. If you would like the school to continuously use student fees to schlep the band everywhere and say “yes” to everything we’re asked to do… go ahead. Make it happen. Use student fees unnecessarily, and lose a big chunk of membership in the band. We’re not an inanimate object, we are a group of people. Sorry we can’t say yes to everything. Why not report about the failure of athletics/SGA to get students to athletic events? Please inform yourself. You’re an amateur “journalist”. Write like you want to be a real one some day.

  3. The band gained A LOT of national exposure when they performed at the Presidential Inauguration… which The Signal attempted to sensationalize with a headline that read, “Georgia State marching band receives $120,436 for Presidential Inauguration”. But the real problem with this particular article, which Jordan pointed out, is that the band already committed to performing at IMP Atlanta. I don’t think it would have reflected well on the university if the band had said, “Just kidding, someone at our student newspaper thought it would be more beneficial for the university if we performed at DragonCon instead.”

    Maybe The Signal should take their entire staff to DragonCon and represent Georgia State!

  4. This is a pointless article. Basically, my sentiment is “who cares?” The band had a prior commitment. It is not a slap in the face for the band to give priority to a GSU-related commitment over Dragon*Con. I’m sure you’re an aspiring journalist, but please find a subject that is more important and relevant for discussion.

  5. I cannot completely express how disrespectful this article is, not only to the band directors (who, again, are not Dwight Coleman and Steven Harper) but to us, the members, who put so much time and effort into the program. What else can I say that hasn’t already been said?

    For starters, let me put some things into perspective for you. While not all of the marching band’s participants are music majors, for those that are, marching band is often one of about ten classes. Yes, marching band is a class! On top of ten or more classes, most of us work part time jobs to pay for all of our musical endeavors, among other things. Non-music major participants are equally as busy, considering that musicians are the most high achieving students in any school system. We do marching band because we want to, because we enjoy it! Bashing us for not appearing at a particular event (something we as members have no control over) makes us less inclined to want to perform for you.

    Secondly, I want to talk about this: “..can Georgia State students look forward to Georgia State’s Band playing in Dragoncon 2014?” As students, do you really look forward to our performances? Where are you on Saturdays during the football season? Do you go to the Homecoming Parade just to watch the marching band? We appreciate people who appreciate us and, quite frankly, I do not think you appreciate us. You are upset because Georgia State will not be represented at Dragon*Con, not because the band will not be performing.

    Third, the Georgia State Marching Band, as you know, was invited to participate in the Presidental Inauguration this past January. It was more than likely the biggest press that Georgia State University has ever received, drawing the nation’s attention to our unique school. You’re welcome. As far as the irony in Georgia Tech’s scheduled appearance, there is none. While Dragon*Con is hosted downtown, it is an event that draws people from all corners of the state, as well as people from neighboring states. It is not, in any way, tied to Georgia State University. They have as much right to represent our city and our state as we do.

    Lastly, I urge you to think before you type. I feel as if this article was written under the influence of strong emotion, in the heat of the moment, before you had time to really sit and think about the situation. I also urge you to consider the people that might be affected by what you write and decide if your article is really worth it. It is disheartening to the proud members of the GSU Marching Band to be mentioned in such a way. We love our program and we love our school, and we ask only for your support in any of performances or future endeavors.

  6. I think you should start reimbursing those of us who wasted our time reading this laugher of an article. Since you clearly did no research whatsoever as to what the School of Music has done for Georgia State, allow to me to do your job for you:

    1. I’m assuming you’ve been living under a rock, so let me explain: we have this guy – we call him the President. He just got inaugurated for another term a few weeks ago. There was a big parade and everything, and oh – guess who was representing the state of Georgia at this parade?

    2. The orchestra performed at the investiture for our school’s new president, Mark Becker. The orchestra (along with the choir, jazz band, and occasionally the wind ensemble) also performs annually at the Holiday Gala, an event which draws plenty of attention both to Georgia State and the arts in Atlanta.

    3. Our School of Music also does an exchange program with Renmin University in China. Our students and faculty regularly perform and compete around the world.

    4. John Mackey, Frank Ticheli, Michael Colgrass, Steven Bryant…if you don’t know these names (and I’m assuming you don’t know most basic things, so no), these are very big, world-reknowned wind band composers that have all visited Georgia State, where our groups have performed concerts entirely of their music (with the exception of Steven Bryant, but that’s happening later this semester). Oh, and let’s not forget that Pepe Romero, one of the most famous classical guitar players in the world, will be performing a concert with the GSU Orchestra this weekend.

    …but no, you’re right. The band clearly sucks and nobody will ever know who Georgia State is because the band refuses to play at a glorified costume party.

  7. This is not quality journalism…it also ignores the fact that the Yellow Jacket Marching Band and the GSU Marching Band are pretty close organizations. That GT is getting the opportunity to make some band club money of this gig is a good thing. The author needs to gain some perspective.

  8. “Inherent lack of desire to participate in an event as unique as Dragon*Con”…. So I guess the Presidential Inaugural Parade wasn’t on a big enough and “unique” scale for you. How about this- you actually write an article supporting the band and the University. You would have thought we were Georgia Southern’s band with the way you write about us with contempt. Let Georgia Tech play at the convention…. happy for them that they got the opportunity. Read your own article… we already have a prior commitment for those dates. Tough. We can’t be in two places at once. Sure, it may not be as fun as performing at Dragon*Con, but at least we are still putting the University’s name out there and being ambassadors to GSU. More than I can say for the Signal….

  9. … So why is it ironic that Georgia Tech play at the convention again? Especially since TECHNOLOGY is one of the convention’s panel circuits?

    Also I’m curious as to your DCI, DCA, WGI, marching band, concert band or even garage band resume. I’m guessing you haven’t, because you don’t seem to understand the finer complexities of scheduling performances. (Some of these include, “Do we have prior obligations on that date?”, “How much are they paying the organization/how much attention will this really give us?”, “Have we had sufficient rehersal time before this event?”, “How many performers can we get to show up if we were to notify them at this point in time?”)

    So please, if you’re so inclined to report on things you aren’t very informed about, do some more research and maybe talk to people involved with the organizations (A reporter doing interviews? Heresy!) you try so desperately to slam.

  10. I feel that this is very belligerent. If this is not slander and other forms of journalistic condemnation on the school of music entirely, I don’t know what is. Someone should report the author to the dean of students..

  11. “This event (The IMP conference) is the largest international gathering of researchers and instructors in the field of business marketing and purchasing, drawing participants from Europe, the Americas, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.”

    So promoting the band at a large, international convention isn’t diverse enough for you?

    Unlike Dragon*Con, the IMP Conference does not come to Atlanta every year. In fact, (and someone please correct me if I’m mistaken) the IMP Conference hasn’t even taken place in the United States before, much less in Atlanta! Dragon*Con could hardly be considered a “monumental event” in comparison to this.

    Also, as many have stated, Mr. Coleman and Dr. Harper are not band directors. I see you possess the mental capacity to find the faculty directory, but can’t trouble yourself to check your “research”. At least your editor did.

    Some real, quality journalism right here.

    I didn’t think it was possible, but I am actually dumber after reading this article.

  12. Come on! can y’all please be grown up college kids and think for a moment?
    First of all, we just made our presence known when we marched on national tv for our president.
    Second of all, and you said this in the article, that the band already had prior commitments…
    I am very proud to be a part of the band and I’m proud of everything we do. The Signal just keeps coming after us without any real logic and I know all of us band kids are sick of it. Get a life, Signal!

  13. A few questions for the author

    1. If this was really such a big deal to you, why didn’t you just email Dr. Phillips? I’m positive that he would have been more than happy to answer them for you. Or why not just ask members of the band to see how they feel?

    2. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the importance of this “problem”? Compared to something as trivial as this, I feel like there are much more compelling things going on around the world to write about.

    3. Would the lack of the band’s presence really ruin your visit to Dragon*Con?

    4. How is GT’s band playing at the next Dragon*Con ironic?

    5. Did you know that the band performs at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Christmas Parade in December? Thousands of people come to watch every year and up to a million view it on television.

    I support freedom of speech 100%, but this is the third article released this school year criticizing the band in some fashion and we don’t appreciate being harassed like this. So many members of the GSU student body love and appreciate the band, and nitpicking at us for something so silly is unprofessional and doesn’t make the Signal look good at all. I’ve enjoyed reading your paper in the past and hope to continue doing so, but these attacks on the band need to stop.

  14. The columnist responsible for this article should immediately apologize for writing such a poor and incredibly slanderous article. Beyond that, the Signal itself should issue an apology to the GSU Marching Band for how frequently it likes to drag the program’s good name through the mud.

    The Georgia State community should be proud of the band for all of its accomplishments and how well it has represented the university. Marching the Inaugural Parade in its 3rd year of existence is no small feat, and beyond that the band has represented the school very well at the CHOA Christmas parade, football games which are sparsely attended (SHAME ON YOU STUDENTS. SHOW SOME SCHOOL PRIDE FOR CRYING OUT LOUD), and even a major motion picture (The Watch). They have a prior commitment to this event, and it would be incredibly shameful if they renege this just because some idiot wants them to do a certain event.

    Keep up the good work GSU Band! You guys do more for this school in one year than anything the Signal has ever done!

  15. This article is a disgrace to our school. Our marching band is one of the best bands in this state… the members are among the hardest working at GSU. How dare you write an article bashing them for not performing at FRIGGEN Dragon Con. They obviously have a prior commitment. Also, please research thou roughly before you publish an article… Dwight Coleman and Steven Harper are Directors for the School of Music… not the band program. The Signal is embarrassing and I’m ashamed that this is our campus newspaper. You should be fired.

  16. Hello All!
    My name is Jaira and I am the writer of this article. First and foremost, I would like to clarify that the purpose of my article is not to criticize the Marching Band. I attend campus events and enjoy the entertainment and school pride the presence of the marching band brings.

    But, regarding the topic of the Band’s repeated refusal to play at Dragon*Con, I stick to my point. I understand that the band cannot play at every event that graces the city of Atlanta, but it is my belief that an event as colorful and unique to the city of Atlanta as Dragon*Con is worth making time for.

    • Our point is that you need to do actual work before putting slop like this on the internet. You didn’t know who the actual band directors were, you mentioned nothing of the inauguration (which is way bigger than DragonCon will ever be), and now it’s been discovered that your points about Georgia Tech’s band playing there and the GSU Band playing at the IMP event were both blatantly false. How can you possibly try to justify crap with more crap?

  17. Band Community – just know that the GSU community loves you guys a ton! The Signal just likes to complain about things. Please do not think these articles represent the student body at large.

    Signal – Can you guys just right something positive about the school for once. Every week it is something different.

  18. As much as I LOVE D*Con and WILL be attending, I cannot stand the Signal’s blatant bias against the band! We went to DC and represented our state, they freak out over the cost. We have prior engagements, probably arranged by “higher ups” and they still rag on us.

    As much as I would adore seeing my marching band be a part of this iconic event, I would never spout such ignorant crap.

  19. Please enlighten me on a couple of things. You spend the whole of it complaining that GSU isn’t going to Dragoncon, only to end it with a statement that GT’s band is going instead “Oh the irony!” ?
    Firstly, where did you get such information? If it was solely from hearsay, then you’ve done a fine job of displaying your lack of journalistic talent. Ever heard of verifying your sources? Speaking as a member of GT band, we haven’t heard anything about us playing at Dragoncon thus far, so I’m surprised to hear that you, who don’t seem to know anything of your own band, would know inside info on ours before we do.
    Secondly, even if we were, how is that ironic? Is that supposed to be a snide jab along the lines of “Figures the ‘nerds’ over at Tech would be the ones to play there.” ? If that’s the case, then you obviously are a simple-minded individual. You write the whole article about GSU missing this wonderful opportunity and then turn around and bash it by implying it’s just some nerdy thing? If you feel that way, why did you waste your and our time writing this?
    I’m disappointed and can only hope that in the future you invest a little more time and forethought into whatever you write.

  20. Also, if you ACTUALLY look at the Georgia State Marching Band’s schedule ( and look at those days, there is nothing there. Dr. Ambrose talked to us and said we’ve never been contacted by the IMP conference. So to add on to Nik Fuller’s observations, this article is chocked full of mistakes. From one journalist to another, do your research. It’s embarrassing to me and other journalists in the band to read articles like this.

  21. Jaira, I would like for you to address your lack of adequate research when writing this article. Journalism 1101: It is one thing to have an opinion about something, but please do the necessary research before you write. The Signal needs to do a better job with research and grammar. This is a newspaper for a national research university… please act like it. There is no reason why there should be grammatical errors and incorrect information in the Signal articles. I will be submitting a complaint to the Dean of Students.

  22. Jaira Burke|Columnist = Oxymoron Very sad article Jaira. With so much to write about, this is what you came up with?

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