The Orange Hair Destler Dare
by Claire Fleming | published Nov. 3rd, 2015
RIT president Dr. William W. Destler is known for his collection of over 160 antique banjos, his school spirit, his love of Tiger Hockey and of course some of his crazy antics.
In the past, Dr. Destler has sent an email or two regarding the RIT weather machine and released a folk music record in 1973, among other far-out ideas. His latest scheme, a challenge to the entire RIT community, was a bet. If RIT could sell out Gene Polisseni Center on October 24, opening night for Men's Hockey, Dr. Destler would dye his hair RIT orange. Holding 4,300 seats, selling out Gene Polisseni Center was no small feat. In its inaugural 2014-15 season, Polisseni never sold out; it didn't even fill when both men and women's hockey teams made regional playoffs.
"I was a little doubtful," said Becky Drexler, a 3rd year New Media Design student at RIT who attended the game with her boyfriend, said. "OneSpirit last year was a huge event and we didn't even sell out then." The morning of the 24th there were just 200 seats left, and by the afternoon, the very last seat was sold. "We made sure to get to the game early so we could get good seats to watch the game and Destler dye his hair," Drexler said.
That evening, the Gene Polisseni Center was busier than ever before. As the hockey team prepared to face the Colgate Raiders, fans poured in from every entrance.
"It wasn't really difficult to accommodate everyone," said Victoria Farrel, a third year International Hospitality and Service Management student and student supervisor for the University Arenas Box Office. Typical problems you would expect would have a lot to do with flow inside and outside the arena, but I really didn't encounter any of that myself."
Fans of all ages were waiting not only for an electrifying hockey game, but what was to happen between the second and third periods - Dr. Destler was to dye his hair orange at center ice. The crowd filled in for an enjoyable, physical and exciting game. Two periods and forty minutes of hockey had gone by and it was time for the other big event of the night. As the buzzer went off to end the period and the players skated off the ice, a red carpet was rolled out. The sound of the presidential anthem, "Hail to the Chief," began to echo throughout the arena. Dr. Destler, sporting his own number "1" jersey and jeans, stepped out onto the carpet and walked towards the chair where employees of Shear Global awaited him. As Destler's hair was being temporarily dyed orange, students cheered.
"It really made me proud of my school just to know that even the President of the university isn't afraid to do something a little crazy, just to interact with the student body," Farrell said. "He's one of us!"
As the process finished and Destler walked off the ice, fans around the sold out arena chanted his name, "Destler, Destler, Destler!" The crowd cheered once more, and the red carpet was rolled up behind him.
After yet another crazy Destler-led plan has come to its conclusion, the entire RIT community awaits to see the next interesting antics president Destler comes up with next.