I-CON

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In the Fall of 1981 the Forum moved up from being a Line Budget club (with a maximum of $500 available in Polity funding) to being a Program club (Max. $3000). Long after the disasters of Brookcon and Mudcon, and the forumites who ran them had graduated, there again arose the thought of holding a SF convention on Campus. Strangely enough, the current forumites learned from the mistakes of the past and worked with two other Program clubs: COCA (the Committee on Cinemagraphic Arts) and SAB (Student Activity Board) speakers. The three Polity clubs joined forces and budgets to bring Gene Roddenberry to speak on campus in a convention setting, with COCA providing the contacts, SAB the guest booking and the Forum the staffing and the operational organization of a con. Given the location on Long Island our event was named I-CON.

(the following paragraph merged in from the separate "I-Con" entry) I-Con is a yearly Science Fiction convention that traditionaly takes place over the April Fool's weekend on the campus of SUNY Stony Brook. It was started in 1982 by combining the financial resources of three student groups: COCA (the Committee on Cinemagraphic Arts), SAB Speakers (the Student Activity Board), and the Science Fiction Forum. I-con's first Guest of Honor was Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek.


Jeff Warner's history of early I-CON<ref>SFForum Yahoo Group post, Jeff Warner</ref>

"So, where and how would you like to start?

In the beginning there was the Science Fiction Forum at Stony Brook. The Forum had tried hosting SF events before (SunyCon, MudCon, BrookCon) but with little success. SunyCon was a one day one shot in the Student Union, BrookCon was a traditional 3 day event but held at a hotel off campus, and finally MudCon was a 3 day event on campus but it became a financial swamp. So the idea of a SF convention run by undergrads wasn't new, but how to make one both repeatable AND viable was a problem.

Next there was the Student Activities Board. The functional arm of Polity that organized events for the students at SB, there was a sub-unit called SAB-Speakers that was supposed to bring lecturers, presenters, and entertaining speakers to the university for the student body's edification. Although SAB had tremendous successes in the 70's (for instance, booking The Who to play at Stony Brook), SAB-Speakers was rarely heard from.

Finally there was COCA, the Committee On Cinematographic Arts. COCA showed films on campus, but they were mostly older flicks that had 'artistic' merit and thus ignored by the general population.

Those were the three student run elements that would lead to I- Con, but the initial spark was a change in funding for the SF Forum. For it's entire prior existence the Forum was funded as a Line Item in Polity's budget with a limit of $500 per semester. In 1981 many individual Forumites got themselves elected to Polity and thus elevated our club status from Line Item up to Program Budget, which had a funding cap of $3000 per academic year.

Now, only 4 years after MudCon had crashed and burned, all the elements were in place to have a successful event at Stony Brook: COCA had access to second run films (titles suggested by the Forum) and SAB-Speakers was able to book Gene Roddenberry (suggested by you-know-who), with members of the Science Fiction Forum providing additional money, key staffers, and the socio-structural foundations for what we now know is a Science Fiction Convention.

I'm still researching the exact sequence of those early conventions: I know SunyCon was first in 1973. I believe BrookCon was next in either '75 or '77, and MudCon was last in 1977. All were solo attempts by the Forum to hold a Con, but it took the combined resources of the Science Fiction Forum, COCA, and SAB- Speakers to make I-Con work. The first I-Con wasn't numbered and there wasn't a t-shirt because we didn't know if there would be a second one. When all the bills were settled out we realized we could do it again, and our staff catch phrase became "If you can stand it, I-Con II" (always Roman Numerals, we're a Institute of Higher Education after all...)


More:

Despite the recent revisionism, don't let anybody tell you otherwise: the 4M is the only reason there's an I-Con. Nobody at SAB-Speakers, nor COCA, nor anybody in Polity had ever been to, or even heard of SF conventions, much less students running one on their own. When Ralph Sevush writes about forumites coming to him begging for money, he's technically right: we did go to him for money, more money than we could raise ourselves. More importantly, he doesn't try to claim that I-Con was his or anybody in Polity's idea. Don't get me wrong; SAB-Speakers and COCA were very important to the founding of I-Con, and we were happy and thankful for their contribution. But SunyCon, BrookCon and MudCon serve as a kind of 'Prior Art' proof that I-Con was solely the Forum's idea.

Thusly, I-Con's Chair for the first 10 years was a Forumite (Ralph Schiano), as well as most of the senior staff, and all of the operational staff were forumites. After the attempted self-immolation of I-Con X, all the 'newbies' (Jeff Nagel, Brad Hausman, Rich Hutter et al) moved up to take over the operation with revolving Chairmanships, but even then with the heavy involvement of Forumites. To this day most of the promotion for I-con taking place at other SF Cons and Fannish events is done by Forumites ("The Traveling I-Con Party Crewe").


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