By: Emily Plunkett

You would think that such an early morning start would have been delayed by an always-guaranteed-to-be-five-hours-late Axl Rose.

But lo and behold, just after 7 a.m. on a Friday morning Rose – or Mike Ballard, representing the information and communication technology department, to be exact – was mulling about the Student Commons waiting for the show to start.

The Algonquin College 2012 United Way Campaign Kick-Off was held in the commons theatre on Oct. 12, in front of an excited crowd looking to see their peers participate in the fifth annual air band competition. The Kick-Off signaled the start of a month-long fundraising project spearheaded by members of the college faculty, with student participation events occurring throughout the month.

The fundraising goal for the 2012 campaign is $120,000.

“The majority of the focus [of the campaign] has been with our faculty and staff,” said Jeremy McQuigge, professor of business administration. “Two years ago, I started introducing a student component. We host a number of events throughout the month of October for students where the proceeds from those events go to United Way agency and causes.”

The college-wide fundraising effort is going to Algonquin’s Plants Some Roots program, which helps the most vulnerable students in times of need. The student fundraising, which has set a goal of $5,000, will go towards the Growing Up Great program for the United Way.

In the 2012 edition of the air band competition, four bands took part in the event, with participants representing a wide array of college departments and performing songs that spanned genres from Broadway to metal. Four judges were present to provide critiques of each performance to determine a winner.

Up first was Iced Tea, the ICT department Guns N’ Roses tribute, performing “Sweet Child of Mine” to a charged crowd of about 150. They were impressed with the brash accuracy of the performance, which included a moody Axl Rose impersonation by Ballard, and a stoic Slash as portrayed by Andy Pridham.

“For a little after eight in the morning these guys have pretty big attitude,” said guest judge Michelle Giroux, chair of the education sector of the United Way Ottawa.

Full department performances by the School of Media and Design and human resources brought two inspired acts featuring almost every member of each faculty. Calling themselves the Emerald City Media Designers and taking the stage in what looked to be a big Wizard of Oz number, the faculty of media and design actually revived “He’s the Wiz” from the Broadway musical The Wiz. The performance by Roll Over Beethoven, comprised of members of Algonquin’s human resources department, of the Beatles’ “All Together Now” featured a large group performance of trippy 1960s imagery.

Featuring an energetic Blues Brother-esque dance performance that included Vice President Academic Claude Brulé, the final performance for the event represented the academic development department. Calling themselves CB and the Fifths, they brought down the house with the McFadden & Whitehead disco classic “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now.”

In the end, the judges felt the best performance of the morning went to Iced Tea, but also honoured in the end was the Emerald City Media Designers for the efforts in raising the most money for the United Way campaign before the competition.

In a final, interactive twist to the event, all the performances can be found on the campaign website and viewers can vote for the Fan Favourite. The winner of Fan Favourite voting, which will continue throughout the campaign, will be asked back to perform at the 2012 Campaign Touch-down event on Nov. 30. To vote, visit