The student-run news site of Le Moyne College.

The Dolphin

The student-run news site of Le Moyne College.

The Dolphin

The student-run news site of Le Moyne College.

The Dolphin

Long-Unused Courtyard to Finally Reopen as a Community Space
Long-Unused Courtyard to Finally Reopen as a Community Space
Annie Hubert, Guest Writer • April 13, 2024

Riddled with cracked cement and overgrown weeds, the courtyard that lies between Grewen and Reilly halls has been left untouched by the Le Moyne...

‘It Felt Like a Gift From God’: Le Moyne Students and Surrounding Community React to Eclipse
‘It Felt Like a Gift From God’: Le Moyne Students and Surrounding Community React to Eclipse
CMM-274 Class, Guest Writers • April 11, 2024

Amanda Wood started her day off in a taciturn mood at Le Moyne College, underwhelmed by all the talk of the big event. Monday was just any other...

Le Moyne College Responds to Surge in Campus Car Break-ins
Le Moyne College Responds to Surge in Campus Car Break-ins
La Quida Cummings, Guest Writer • April 10, 2024

In response to a recent series of car break-ins across campus, Derek McGork, director of Security, used a recent interview with The Dolphin to...

Spotlight: Cellist Jordan Gunns Musical Journey
Spotlight: Cellist Jordan Gunn's Musical Journey
Daniel Mondelli April 9, 2024

This Wednesday, April 10th, Le Moyne will host a performance by cellist Jordan Gunn in the Panasci Family Chapel at 7:30 pm and will be accompanied...

Flags and Acknowledgements: Le Moyne Takes Steps Toward Reconciliation with the Haudenosaunee
Flags and Acknowledgements: Le Moyne Takes Steps Toward Reconciliation with the Haudenosaunee
Isabella Allen and Carly Nicolai April 5, 2024

“We honor the Onondaga Nation, the original people on whose land Le Moyne College stands.” You may have heard this recited at school-sponsored...

Dolphy Day at 50: Tradition, Memory, and Quest for Authenticity

Le+Moynes+statue+of+jazz+legend+Eric+Dolphy+located+between+Nelligan+and+Foery
Le Moyne’s statue of jazz legend Eric Dolphy located between Nelligan and Foery

As Le Moyne College approaches the vibrant tradition of Dolphy Day, the story of its origins and the narrative surrounding it take center stage, particularly as we mark the 50th anniversary of the graduation of Le Moyne alumnus and Dolphy Day co-founder, Chris Heffernan.

In a recent conversion, Heffernan – a 71-year-old resident of Delray Beach, Florida, who attended Le Moyne at the time the event began, in 1971 – recounted Dolphy Day’s inception as a picture of youthful defiance and a longing for communal joy amidst the tumultuous era of the Vietnam War and the aftermath of significant national tragedies.

“It started out as an act of civil disobedience,” Heffernan recalls. “On the first really nice day, we were gonna cut classes and have a party.”

This act of spontaneity was inspired by a Frank Zappa album and a song titled “The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue,” despite the group’s unfamiliarity with Dolphy himself, a notable jazz musician.

The tradition’s representation has evolved over the years, leading to the installation of an Eric Dolphy statue on campus, accompanied by a narrative that Heffernan disputes. Heffernan said he has deep respect and admiration for Eric Dolphy, a brilliant jazz legend, and that his objections to the narrative behind the statue are not intended to diminish anything about Dolphy’s stature as a great artist, deserving of renown.

“My irritation with the statue was that he [Dolphy] really didn’t have anything to do with it,” he states, expressing concern over the college’s portrayal of Dolphy Day’s origins.

“There was a guy from the class of ’73 who had a plaque made [recently] to honor the true founders of Dolphy Day. He was supposed to put it up but chickened out at the last minute,” Heffernan humorously notes, even suggesting that a daring student might one day affix it to the Dolphy statue.

Dr. Fred Pestello, former president of Le Moyne College, provided an administrative perspective on the Dolphy Day narrative and its contested histories through a note written in 2012:

While he does not specifically address the possibility of the plaque being amended, he emphasizes the importance of embracing diverse perspectives and the evolving nature of tradition in that letter.

“I cherish the role of perspective, myth, legend, and indeed, mystery, in human life,” he wrote.

As spring approaches and Dolphy Day draws near, the Le Moyne community is reminded of the event’s rich history and the dialogue between traditional and individual perspectives. The question of whether the plaque telling the real story will ever be mounted remains open, symbolizing the ongoing conversation about memory, identity, and how we commemorate our collective pasts.

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