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  • The Griffin

Infused with new members, Fusion thrives

By Patrick Healy, Opinion Editor

When I went to observe a Fusion Gaming Society game night, learning Egyptian Ratscrew wasn’t the original plan. But there I was Friday night, wincing after unwanted high fives in that unholy marriage of slaps and poker. I had been patiently taught the game by two members, and our game quickly ballooned to nine crowded around a table. Around us, “Rock Band” and ping pong provided options for the more musically and athletically inclined.

With a funky acronym like F.U.S.I.O.N. — I’ll tell you what it means at the end of the article — and a noisy atmosphere, I can understand how freshmen could find the club intimidating. My advice for the uninitiated: embrace the shenanigans. The later it gets, members told me, the more fun it becomes. It seems the only activity they don’t have (or could have, if you ask) is a sport — though that’s only if you don’t count the human pyramid they constructed last year.

While other clubs went dormant or fully virtual, Administrator Navi Sandhur said Fusion worked with Student Life to host as many in-person events as they could. Members credit President Dante Dillon for not only keeping Fusion alive, but expanding it. Under his leadership, the club recovered from dwindling and then greatly diminished membership to now more members than even recent alumni such as Warren Arno can remember.

But Dillon and others were quick to emphasize the enthusiasm of this year’s freshman class.

Co-Administrator Jordan Juback said of the class of 2025, “They are so excited.” More than 60 freshmen went to the “mini-Gaming After Dark” (GAD) held at the end of orientation. Freshman Fred Piwko said the mini-GAD encouraged him to come to the weekly meetings, which he looks forward to every week. This week, however, the normal game night will be a “beat the e-board” competition to award tickets for Saturday’s GAD raffle.

Gaming After Dark is a twice-a-semester event held at Science Hall Commons, complete with food, a raffle and big-screen “Super Smash Bros.” If that sounds like a blast, you’re in luck! The next event is tomorrow, Oct. 2 at 7:00 p.m. (Though I was hoping to keep it a secret for my own sake, I’m ethically obligated to inform you that the top prize is an Xbox Series S — I just hope the e-board gives me some extra raffle tickets to compensate for my good deed.)

If you’re busy this Saturday or it sounds too intimidating, more good news! The weekly meetings are held every Friday, and their room faces Shoppe 120, so you can scope it out while grabbing ice cream.

The weekly meetings usually have a few core games — “Super Smash Bros,” “Rock Band,” pool — with dedicated players, but many people float between games. Damita Scrivani said, “You don’t have to be a gamer” or come every week to enjoy. Each game has enough participants to get it started but few have too many where a new person can’t take frequent turns.

A lot of members recalled hesitating before attending their first meeting. Valeria Lee said she wasn’t brave enough to go to the weekly meetings alone her freshman year. That’s where the executive board comes in. There are seven of them, and their most sacred duty is to make new members feel welcome. The results of reaching out to new members and engaging with regulars are borne out by the numbers; Fusion draws dozens of students to their Friday game night and has to reserve Science Hall to accomodate GAD.

Besides approaching unfamiliar faces at meetings, at least one e-board member is usually occupying the Fusion office during the week. They are willing to play anybody in any game at almost any time. And if you lead another club, reach out. They would love to work with you on theme nights or give you a shout-out at GAD in exchange for help hosting it.

As if Fusion doesn’t do enough to build campus camaradiere, they are working on bringing back what used to be the foremost event on their calendar: the Lasertron Lock-in, a night reserved exclusively for Canisius students at the popular laser tag and arcade destination.

A few years ago, the Undergraduate Student Association switched funding models from large initial allocations, that allowed Fusion to spend their share however they wanted, to appeals that demanded itemization and explanation of expenditures. This proved too much to handle, dooming the lock-in event even before the pandemic. With Treasurer Gee Singh and Co-Treasurer Sean Huber on the job, Vice-President Ellie Furmanek told me that the tentative plan is to bring back the popular and multi-club event in spring of 2022.

If it is a go, you’ll hear about it. My conversations consistently led to praise for Head of Propaganda Billy Johnson’s creativity and quiet dedication. If you’ve ever seen a Fusion poster around campus or are one of the 142 official members who receive the weekly email, you have him to admire.

What began as Chess Club in the 1980s just keeps adapting to the times, refusing to let a pandemic get in the way. Located in between the two freshman dorms and open almost five hours every weekday, it’s the most accessible club on campus. It also might be the most diverse. It felt like a cross-section of campus. That’s no accident. There are no qualifications for membership or time commitments; I challenge anyone to go there and not find something you like.

Finally, as promised, I’ll tell you what F.U.S.I.O.N. means. If you were expecting a six-word name, I don’t have it — the acronym was apparently lost to history. Instead, I’ll tell you what it means now. It means a defusing of stress after a long school week, an infusion of energy into campus and a fusion of class years and walks of life. From a freshman’s first week to the last day of the week, the little room below Palisano just might be the heartbeat of campus.

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