Faculty, staff entertain for good cause with "J'Amnesty" fundraiser

Release Date: 3/8/2012

Dr. Jesse Weiss and the Weiss Family Dancers were the big winners in "J'Amnesty," a fundraising event hosted in Rowntree Recital Hall Wednesday night by the U of O chapter of Amnesty International.

Weiss Weiss Baby!

Dr. Jesse Weiss and family perform "Weiss Weiss Baby" a parody of a Vanilla Ice song.

Performing his own version of Vanilla Ice's hip hop song "Ice Ice Baby" in an astonishing display of unsuspected talent (as "Weiss Weiss Baby"), Weiss and his team were only one of several acts that dazzled the rapt audience to raise money for a good cause.

"J'Amnesty was a talent show for faculty," said Cinthya Grillo, an accounting and economics major from Nicaragua who is the campus Urgent Action coordinator for Amnesty International. "Originally we got the idea from networking at regional and national Amnesty International conferences we've attended in the past. They would mention they'd done this type of activity before and how really successfully it had gone over. They would have bands participate, for example, and raise money charging for attendance and selling concessions. So we thought we'd do our own version here at school."

Participants voted across campus last week and at the event itself by donating into individual jars for each performer.

Other performers included Dr. Stewart Dippel, who performed a shaggy dog monologue and haiku; Dr. Rickey Casey on piano; Library Director Stuart Stelzer, performing poems on a theme of human rights; emcee and reference librarian Patrick Morgan, who covered Stone Temple Pilots on acoustic guitar; and The Rev. Nancy Benson-Nicol, who teamed up with Professor Cynthia Lanphear for a spirited performance on hand drums.

Students opened and closed the show, with Gabriela Peña and partner Gerardo Navarrete performing a samba to open, and recent talent show winner Trent Ueunten performing with glow sticks to end the night.

Amnesty International raised a total of $165.13 from the event. "It was a complete success!" Grillo said.

Voting at J'Amnesty.

Students cast their votes for their favorite J'Amnesty performers. Dr. Jesse Weiss and family were the top vote-getters for their rendition of "Weiss Weiss Baby" a parody of the Vanilla Ice song.

Grillo said there are many opportunities for those interested to participate in Amnesty International. "We have a wide array of campaigns ongoing," she said. "Anything that has to do with human rights. Originally we did a lot of death penalty campaigns and violence against women, but nowadays the campaigns have expanded to LGBT issues, housing, poverty, and environmental corporate responsibility, among many others."

Other upcoming Amnesty events include a photo exhibit on Monday, March 12, at 6 p.m., in Walton Fine Arts Center. "It is called 'A Timeline of an Execution Night: an Hour by Hour Photo Story," done in collaboration with death penalty photographer and photo-journalist Scott Langley. "It will be a convo event," Grillo said. "We met him at an Amnesty conference in New York City, and he arranged to have us show his photos here at Ozarks for only the cost of shipping. It is an intense exhibit."

She added they also plan to collaborate with the psychology club soon to do a project on human trafficking. "I'm sure we'll do more urgent actions," she said. Members of the Urgent Action Network compose and send letters, e-mails, and faxes to government officials who have the power to stop human rights violations.

Those interested may contact Grillo and the Ozarks Amnesty International chapter at cgril8326@ozarks.edu.