tuesday january 20, 2009 blacksburg, va.
sports TECH BASEBALL NAMES CAPTAINS Seniors Rhett Ballard, Ty Hohman and Sean Ryan were elected as team captains for the 2009 season by their Hokie teammates. Ballard, who led Tech in strikeouts last year, will be the club’s No. 1 starting pitcher. Hohman started 25 of the ﬁrst 27 games in 2008, but missed the latter half of 2008 after getting hit in the face with a pitch. A native of Ashburn, the center ﬁelder Ryan hit .305 with 36 runs scored and 10 stolen bases.
WRESTLING MAKES PREMIERE AT NO.13 IN NATIONAL POLL The Tech wrestling squad entered the USA Today/InterMat/ NWCA Coaches Poll for their ﬁrst time in program history. The Hokies boast a 15-1 record after defeating No. 17 Michigan and No. 6 Central Michigan on the road this past weekend. Individually, Tech features three in the InterMat Top 25: Jarrod Garnett, Chris Diaz and Pete Yates.
news CAPITAL PUNISHMENT ELIGIBILITY EXPANDED Two bills expanding the list of oﬀenses qualifying for capital punishment were approved in the Virginia Senate. SB 961 allows for the death penalty to be administered to accomplices convicted of having the same intent as the killer. SB 1069 was also passed, enabling for capital punishment to be a sentence in cases involving the murder of a ﬁre marshal who has law enforcement powers. The bills must now be passed in the House of Delegates before Gov. Kaine will have the ﬁnal veto power. SB 961 has been vetoed twice by Kaine in as many years.
tomorrow’s weather PARTLY CLOUDY high 42, low 27
corrections The Collegiate Times incorrectly identiﬁed Y.A. Liu, a professor of chemical engineering and adviser of the Tech Association of Chinese Students and Scholars, as the translator between Virginia Tech and the family of slain student Xin Yang. A member of Tech’s Chinese community handled the translation. The Collegiate Times regrets this error.
Enrollment to remain steady in ’09 JUSTIN GRAVES
ct news reporter With the recent downturn in the economy, admissions offices at colleges and universities nationwide are forecasting the numbers they will see this fall. The quality of and number of applicants at Virginia Tech has seen a steady rise over the past several years. This August, relatively the same number of freshmen are expected to traipse across the Drillfield; Tech’s not looking to change the incoming class’ enrollement numbers. Every year, Tech’s Board of Visitors decides on enrollment goals, and it relays how many students should be offered admission for the coming school year. Many freshmen will remember last fall, when several students were put into temporary housing because there weren’t enough facilities to accommodate the record number of freshmen. The board set the number at 5,000 last year, and this fall that number will not change. Amy Widner, Tech spokeswoman, cites the fact that it’s tough to judge what so many thousands of students are going to do, but the university will continue to try its best to accommodate. “We are working hard not to overfill this year, but you can never predict what a bunch of 18year-olds are going to do,” Widner said. It is too early to be able to predict any kinds of trends that will emerge for the coming school year. The application deadline closed on Jan. 15, so admissions is still receiving a few applications via mail. Widner, however, still predicts that the enrollment numbers for the class of 2013 will not see a significant change from last year or the year before that.
ON THE WEB To read the agreement between community colleges and Virginia Tech, see www.collegiatetimes.com. “Students are on the rise; nationally the number of 18-year-olds has been increasing,” Widner said. “This past year was the high water mark, but we think it will begin to slowly decrease. We know the population is going down, but we do not expect the interest to go down. The quality of students continues to rise.” In the news, much has been made of the recession the nation is experiencing. From auto-bailouts to personal cutbacks, most are feeling figuratively tighter belts when it comes to spending. With the increasing price of higher education, one would assume that the college admissions staff would experience the same backlash. However, Widner doesn’t believe this is the case. “I don’t think it’s going to affect our numbers. I do think that nationally we are going to see a disconnect in the number or type of students that
are able to come to college,” Widner said. “There are other barriers that are not just cost … some students are expected to contribute to the household income.” In order to help increase the probability of such a student coming to Tech, the university has begun to implement several different access-related programs and initiatives that appeal to all students, not just the ones who are financially able to cope with the costs. “One of the major factors in increased freshman enrollment is that a lot of institutions, with Tech among them, are instituting access-related programs for students who normally don’t continue their education beyond high school. Also, until the past year, a net increase in high school graduations,” said Barry Simmons, Tech’s director of scholarships and financial aid. “There are often situations where a student is given an admission offer, but they can’t fulfill the financial gap through the use of traditional financial aid,” Widner said. Over the past few years, financial aid has increased, but not proportionally with the number of students. There are so many different pieces to financial aid, that’s why it’s hard to tie anything to one metric. “Generally, when we set our budget, we set it at a level of enrollment, but we won’t increase that budget if enrollment exceeds,” Simmons said. “Financial aid has increased substantially by the millions over the past couple years.” Tech is currently working on a program titled “Funds for the Future.” Although freshmen are not eligible, it is open to sophomores, juniors and seniors. Under the program, any tuition increases throughout a student’s education could be wholly or partially offset. Another new program for in-state Pell Grant eligible students will see 50 tuition and fees and room and board scholarships granted, and they will be renewable for four years. No applications will be necessary, as the recipients are selected through the admissions process. At the University of Virginia, Access UVa is a financial option that will help keep higher education affordable for several undergraduate students. It is uncommon at most public institutions across the nation, but it is designed to help those who are offered admission pay for their education, regardless of the economic status or other detrimental circumstances. In the spring, Access UVa will have its fifth anniversary. The UVa’s BOV has reaffirmed the program as the basic philosophy for aid at the school, rather than classifying it as an isolated program. “UVa’s Access program is fantastic in that it does allow students with certain socio-economic needs to graduate debt free,” Widner said, “But their freshman class is much smaller than ours, so it makes a program like that much more feasible.” Yvonne Hubbard is UVa’s director of student
June1 General Financial Deadline 2008-09AcademicYearper semester costs In-State 4,099.00 4,867.50 4,667.50 8,668.00 6,344.33
Undergraduate Graduate Extended Campus Vet Medicine (1-3 Yrs) Vet Medicine (4th Yr)
Out-of-State 10,412.50 8,433.00 8,335.00 19.135.00 13,526.50
In-State Total Out-State Total
1-3 credits 957.25 2,536.25
4 credits 1,221.00 3,319.25
5+credits 1.784.50 4,423.25
In-State Total Out-State Total
RACHEL MCGIBONEY/COLLEGIATE TIMES
financial services. Through UVa Access, she has seen a 3 percent increase in the number of students on financial aid. “We haven’t seen an influx of students with difficulties this year, but I believe next fall we’ll see the full impact of the economy,” Hubbard said. “We are discussing now how to handle the changes we believe we will see. Primarily we believe parents need information about what is available and how to access it; information is the key.” When students and parents gather that information, they sometimes begin to look for alternatives. The idea of attending a community college prior to coming to a four-year public institution is often emphasized as a viable alternative. At the end of four years, the same degree is given to a student who has often paid just a fraction of the costs of a student who has attended a four-year university for all four years. “There are a lot more people who are willing to consider a community college education as a start-
ing point. With Virginia’s Guaranteed Admissions agreement, it is significantly less money to come into a four-year institution,” Widner said. “It’s the same degree for less money when they come out. That being said, we do hope as a university to grow our transfer numbers.” This agreement between Virginia Community College System and other Virginia schools, including Virginia Tech, offers automatic transfer to a state school if a student meets minimum requirements — which include a minimum 3.40 GPA for Tech, among other needs. From a scholarship and financial aid standpoint, numbers for free money have been increasing over the past couple years. This, however, isn’t entirely due to any recession or economic downturn. At the federal level, predictions have yet to be made, but Simmons believes financial allotments to the university from the federal government
see ADMIT, page
If you build it: Tech research Cuts could hurt faculty retention may enable lunar construction GORDON BLOCK
ct news reporter
ct staﬀ writer
Budget cuts from the state have Virginia Tech administrators and faculty frantically working to make reductions without sacrificing educational quality. Among the largest worries related to the budget cuts is the effect on keeping faculty members at Tech. As a result of the cuts, a statewide freeze has been placed on faculty and staff raises. “It puts Virginia Tech at risk of losing the best faculty,” said Jack Davis, dean of the college of architecture and urban studies. The college of architecture and urban studies lost $680,000 as a result of the latest round of cuts, not including money that would have been used to pay for raises. Davis noted other schools might take advantage of the freeze to extend offers to faculty members. “There are a few universities that are not experiencing the severity of these cuts, and they are in position to lure away these faculty,” Davis said. “I’m worried about losing the faculty here.” Sue Ott Rowlands, dean of the college of liberal arts and human sciences expressed disappointment about not being able to have faculty raises. “It’s really difficult not to be able to provide salary increases for an entire year or even longer depending on what the state does. We’re all faced with an uncertain economy outside of the university,” Ott Rowlands said. “We’re all kind of holding tight.” The college of liberal arts and human sciences has set a reduction target of $1.8 million for 2009-10. Ott Rowlands added that she was looking into new ways to recognize staff other than raises. “We’ve got to find other ways to reward strong performance, and let them know we want them to stay,” Ott Rowlands said. One possible idea was to distribute letters of acknowledgement to high achieving faculty members. Davis also noted the loss of faculty could affect Tech’s academic rankings. A recent ranking from Design Intelligence recognized Tech’s architecture program as tied with Harvard, Yale, and Columbia Universities for academic quality. “Rankings are attached to the quality of our faculty,” Davis said. “As class sizes get larger, resources are reduced that support these students.” Beyond the risk of faculty defection, programs are also at risk of being cut. One such program is the aquaculture program, which was recently cut because of budget reductions. “We will have no teaching, research, or extension activities in that area,” said Michael Kelly, dean of the college of natural resources. The college of natural resources lost $300,000 from the 2009-10 budget due to the budget cuts. Davis noted that the full impact of the budget cuts have yet to be seen. “The real impact of the budget cuts will be felt next year more than this year,” Davis said. “Although there were budget cuts this year, we’ve tried to accommodate those within our operating budgets.” Davis added the effects could be more visible next school year. “We haven’t seen a dramatic impact on the size of classes or the number of classes offered,” Davis said. “That may be the case next year, with fewer classes offered and larger class sizes for the ones remaining.” Despite the difficult circumstances, Kelly held optimism for the future. “We just have to go through these things as best we can,” Kelly said.
Virginia Tech students have found a way to transform lunar rocks into a construction material that may one day be used to pave roads, construct landing pads and build homes on the moon. The new material is being developed at the National Institute of Aerospace in Hampton and is made by combining aluminum powder and lunar regolith simulant in a self-propagating, high-temperature synthesis reaction. Lunar regolith is the technical term for “the uppermost layer of unconsolidated bedrock found on the moon; it can be thought of as soil without the organic content,” said Eric Faierson, a master’s student in materials science and engineering and the team leader working on the project. The new material is designed to form the foundation of lunar habitats that will provide humans a shelter from micrometeoroids and harmful radiation. Faierson said the issue of radiation is serious and that “without a magnetic field and an atmosphere, the intense radiation present on the moon can cause defects in DNA and cells, which can lead to cancer.” Brian Stewart, a Tech Ph.D student and team member, developed the concept of using “Voussoir domes” as the structural
COURTESY OF ERIC FAIERSON
With the tell-tale “VT” logo clearly evident, a sample Voissor dome is being produced through an SHS reaction of reoglith simulant and aluminum. model for the lunar habitat. “I proposed the Voussoir dome concept due to its similarities to the problems faced by ancient builders here on earth,” Stewart said. “The concept of using small, easy to handle elements to stack into a stable structure was very appealing.” The structure does not require mortar — it is easily constructed or modified, and its thick walls will protect equipment and occupants from the effects of radia-
index News.....................2 Features................5 0pinions................3
Financial Aid Information
Classifieds..............4 Sports....................6 Sudoku..................4
An independent, student-run newspaper serving the Virginia Tech community since 1903 105th year • issue 117
COURTESY OF ERIC FAIERSON
The diagram depicts the cross-section of the habitat, the multiple layers serve structural and environmental — such as radiation —barrier functions.
tion. The lunar bricks are produced when aluminum powder and lunar regolith simulant react at the appropriate temperature. “Once that temperature is reached, the reaction provides its own heat to continue,” Faierson said. Heat released from the reaction may also be used to generate electricity and to extract volatile elements from the regolith such as hydrogen, helium and oxygen that can later be combined to create air and water for the human population. The aluminum powder required for the reaction can be either mined on the moon or processed from the descent phase of a lunar lander. Research indicates the reaction may be feasible, and the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems recently awarded the team first prize for their discovery. The team consists of seven students — Faierson, Stewart, Michael Hunt, Sharon Jefferies, Michael Okyen, Scott Hopkins and Susan Holt. They are being advised by Kathryn V. Logan, a professor of materials science and engineering at Tech, whose previous research with SHS reactions was the inspiration for this work. The team is still studying the reaction. Logan said they “have to conduct more research to make sure it will occur in a vacuum.” To this aim, a vacuum chamber has been constructed in which the reaction involving regolith stimulant will be studied.
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january 28, 2009
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Admit: Financial Engineer given White House award aid may fluctuate PHILIPP KOTLABA
ct staﬀ writer
from page one
will be somewhat flat, based on a continuation of similar trends. The two most common programs for financial aid, Stafford loans and Pell Grants, fall under mandatory spending, which is driven by the number of eligible students enrolling. Within these two programs, students enroll and the school then pursues the necessary amount of funds. The number is usually somewhat stable. Endowments are also used within financial aid, which at Tech are handled by a foundation and are funds that have been donated to the university. Endowed scholarships are not expected to have a drastic increase, either, but official word won’t come until February. Simmons sites the mentality of the country as the reason that financial aid availability isn’t just about what’s available, but is the outcome of several different factors. “The mental attitude often affects who is applying and what the scale of applications will be compared to previous years,” Simmons said. “There seems to be some consternation about affording college now. We are noticing national phenomena with data that show increased interest in community colleges because of their lower tuition costs. I think they are one of the best bargains around. If you’re really trying to watch your pennies, I think that’s great.” The mental attitude that Simmons refers to is an idea that is popular in the world of financial aid at the collegiate level. Phil Day is president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. After decades in the field, he said this recession isn’t unlike any other, and he even suggests that admissions numbers may increase. “The expression we have used quite often that best characterizes what happens is when the economy goes south, enrollment goes north. That has pretty much been the reality,” Day said. “Some adults want to return to school because their original education wasn’t good enough, so you begin to see all types of students.” Day said that community colleges
are a popular option during hard economic times. “A lot of folks change occupations, change jobs, and often, to get the right fit, they have to go back to school. Every community, state college and public university that I know of has a line out the door with people who want to come back to go to college to get what they need to be successful in this new economy,” Day said. “But still, I’ve never seen the impact or effect of this recession hit so many different sectors.” At Tech, financial aid applications are accepted until June 1. Compared to this time last year, Scholarships and Financial Aid estimates that applications are currently up by about 6 percent or 7 percent. At the same time, Simmons recommends that students and their parents do not panic. “The unknown news is that we are unsure of the foundation of the tuition rate and what financial aid will be for next year. But overall, don’t panic,” Simmons said. “Generally, where there is a will there is a way. Sacrifices may need to be made, but students can start, end and continue on in their college career.” A common option in the world of financial aid at Tech is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. FAFSA, which is due this year by March 11, is a form for students to fill out every year in order to get “free money” from the four-year institution of their choice. “Do the FAFSA, and do it on time,” Simmons said. “We have so many issues with people either not doing it or not doing it on time. It’s not a question of money if they qualify for the Stafford or Pell — and it’s not necessarily the case that it takes money from someone else.” “Most people plan for an academic year basis. Right now, I think we are at the calm before the storm, but I don’t think the storm will be as bad as people think,” Simmons said. “You may think you don’t need financial aid, but do the FAFSA. Many don’t do it because they don’t think they need it, but you don’t know what can happen.”
At Virginia Tech, students and faculty are encouraged to “invent the future” through pioneering research and discovery. Maura Borrego, an assistant professor of the Department of Engineering Education, was recognized by the White House last month for her ability to make that goal a reality. S p e c i f i c a l l y, Borrego was awarded the Presidential Early BORREGO Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. The award is annually bestowed on young professionals who show “exceptional potential for leadership at the frontiers of scientific knowledge,” according to its Web site. “The argument is that interdisciplinary research is a big thing. And people are realizing that the way that we’ve organized the universe ...
into disciplines is not particularly helpful for the kinds of big problems that we’re dealing with these days,” Borrego said. It’s the first time the award has been given to an engineer in the area of engineering education. For a while, even the winner was kept in the dark. “They were a little mysterious about it, so I got this e-mail that said, ‘You’re being considered for some sort of presidential award,’” Borrego said. She finally asked whether it was about PECASE. “And so it was fun. And then it was hard to keep it a secret because you’re not allowed to tell anybody until the announcement comes out,” she said. Borrego was nominated by the National Science Foundation, from which she had received a $525,000 grant in 2006. She’s been using the grant to explore new interdisciplinary methods for teaching graduate students, such as Integrative Graduate Education Research and Training programs. IGERT programs prepare students to lead in their fields with innovative curricula and training.
“One of the things we’ve recently found was that there are certain barriers to interdisciplinary research and education in universities,” said Lynita Newswander, a graduate student who has worked closely with Borrego at confronting such barriers. “So sometimes it’s difficult for faculty members from different colleges or different programs to work together. ... We’re looking at how some of those problems can be overcome.” “We’ve gone around the country, we’ve looked at some other schools that are doing IGERT, and (we’ve looked at) what they’re doing that’s successful and what’s setting them back,” Newswander said. For example, they’ve found that weak university support for interdisciplinary programs is itself a barrier. “They don’t often realize what kind of a commitment it is,” Newswander said. On the other hand, housing an IGERT program in a center rather than in one single department made university integration easier. Borrego has also designed and instructed several new graduate
courses and was instrumental in the development and accreditation of the department’s new Ph.D program. To some of Borrego’s student colleagues, winning this award came as no surprise. “She’s brilliant, and I’m so proud to hear that she got this award,” said Erin Crede, an engineering graduate student who assists Borrego with her research. “It’s a big deal for the engineering education field. It’s a good thing for Virginia Tech as well. I really think she deserves it, and I’m looking forward to seeing some interesting things come out of it.” Borrego first took up her post at Tech in 2005. The university is one of only a few in the nation that have engineering education departments. “It was a really exciting time because everything was getting off the ground, and it’s still very exciting because in the meantime we’ve gotten a Ph.D in our department going,” Borrego explained. “It’s nice that that’s my research because I get to read about what you should do with graduate students, and then I actually do it.”
VT Rescue is ‘Citizen of the Year’ SARA MITCHELL
ct university editor For the first time in the organization’s history, the Rotary Club of Blacksburg named an entire group its Citizen of the Year when it honored the Virginia Tech Rescue Squad for its service in 2008. The Rotary Club of Blacksburg, established in 1979, commits itself to the community. Since 1990 the club has annually chosen a Citizen of the Year. “What we’re looking for are folks who exemplify the Rotary model of ‘Service above self,’” said Tom Loflin, chairman of the vocational services committee for the Rotary Club. “We as a club really appreciate the rescue club for what they do for our community.” The club looks to rescue squads and police departments for nominations each year. Neil Turner, emergency services coordinator for Montgomery County, nominated the Tech Rescue Squad.
“They’ve done a great job for people on campus,” Turner said. “I just felt like the squad certainly met that criteria, that by definition they serve above themselves.” The Rotary Club uses a “4-way test” to distinguish winners: they encourage the truth, they are fair to all concerned, they build goodwill and better friendships, and are beneficial to all concerned. “They’re such a unique group of individuals,” Turner said. “The activities of April 16 showed their professionalism; they just did a tremendous job then. Not just that day, everyday.” Turner nominated the squad in November 2008 and the award was presented on January 22 during a Rotary Club luncheon. Members of the squad were present, as well as Tech’s President Charles Steger and Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum. “The squad is all student volunteers, but there is a lot of administration work and leadership they rely on with the Tech administration, and we’re
very glad they came to support the squad also,” Loflin said. “We made sure to thank them for their support,” Tech Rescue Captain Matt Johnson said. “We wouldn’t be able to do a whole lot for the community if we didn’t have those folks backing us up. During the luncheon, Turner spoke to the attendees, as did Johnson. As the oldest student-run rescue squad in the nation, the award comes at the same time as the Tech Rescue Squad’s 40th anniversary. Loflin applauded the camaraderie between members, not only current members, but also the members who graduated. He pointed to the fact that alumni of the squad regularly come back to the team, and some have been mentors to current squad members. “A lot came back on April 16, to help out or to console the crew members,” Loflin said. The Tech Rescue Squad provides emergency medical care to the Tech community as well as provides CPR
certification classes. Rescue squad members put in between 20 and 40 hours a week, depending on the position held on the squad. “What we really try to do here is give a lot of time to serve the university and community,” said Tighe Marrone, the squad’s President. “‘Ut Prosim’ is in our logo and we do try to embody that. It was a real big honor for us to have them say that we’re doing a pretty good job.” Johnson said the squad is “constantly involved in continuing education and increasing certification to be able to provide the highest level of care available in the state of Virginia to the community at Virginia Tech.” The captain finds the group honor fitting for the squad. “It goes to show that our organization really doesn’t succeed just by the efforts of one person; it’s really a group effort,” Johnson said. “Everybody working together, identifying the need, and closing the gap to make it happen.”
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january 28, 2009
HokieShare fails to help students acquire basketball tickets Last October, the results of the men’s basketball season ticket lottery caused an uproar among many students, mostly upperclassmen, denied tickets through the lottery system. Many students also expressed frustration with the lack of tickets distributed in comparison to the number of vacant seats in Cassell. This is due largely in part to the fact that many of the alumni given tickets do not show up for the basketball games. These tickets go to waste, despite the fact that hundreds of students who were not lucky enough to receive season tickets, or who did not win tickets in the lottery, would gladly fill those vacant seats. Simply put, empty seats are going to waste while we have the Hokie basketball fans to fill them. Largely because of the fact that so many students expressed disappointment over the large number of tickets going to waste, the athletics department established a new system to allow more students and members of the Blacksburg community to attend games. The system is known as HokieShare, and while a postitive attempt to accommodate more fans at the game, the system has many flaws, mainly an automatic charge of $4 for either the seller or the receiver of the ticket. According to “New system eases stub swapping,” (CT, Jan. 19) “the new system hopes to safely and effectively transfer tickets to those who will be able to make it to the
game.” Through HokieShare, those who are unable to attend certain games can automatically transfer their ticket to another through their account on hokietickets.com. While the money may go toward charitable causes such as the Boys and Girls Club, the Salvation Army, the YMCA and many others, most students won’t voluntarily pay to give away or receive a ticket when they can just as likely acquire one from a friend for free. Even if someone decides that he or she wants to use HokieShare to give away or acquire tickets, another complaint is that the transfer of a ticket can only occur once, so if someone can’t go, then the ticket goes unused. Charging students and alumni to electronically transfer their tickets is an unrealistic option. A free ticket swap would further benefit students, in addition to encourage greater attendance from fans at games. The five-step process to go about signing up for a ticket and then being specifically chosen to receive it is not a method that diehard fans can count on. HokieShare, while a good idea in theory, fails to help students conveniently acquire tickets.
Expecting absolute safety is an unreasonable expectation Last Wednesday evening police responded within moments to reports of an assault at the Graduate Center’s cafe. JEREMY They secured the GLC. They BAKER caught the guy regular who did it. VT columnist Alerts fired off hundreds of thousands of calls, texts and e-mails with the alacrity of lightning. If you take away nothing else from this tragedy, it’s important to understand that this was the most flawless performance of the VT Alerts system to date, and then realize that none of that mattered to Xin Yang. A basic fact of life is that we can never be completely safe anywhere, unless we are willing to make the kinds of sacrifices Ben Franklin scorned. It’s time for President Charles Steger and the university administration to acknowledge the inherent flaws in the VT Alerts system and act accordingly — meaning it’s time that students licensed by the state of Virginia to carry a concealed handgun be allowed to do so on campus. As one of many people who have lost a friend to gun violence, this is not a call I make lightly. Guns are not a perfect solution. It’s dubious at best to say that a responsibly armed citizen would have been the solution Wednesday night, because from what I understand, it was over before anyone could react. But ever since April 16, the administration has tried to sell us on the idea that all guns are evil, and you can see the seeds of this
irrational anti-gun bias in the nonreasons given for their willful inaction that morning. One of the main reasons cited for not closing the campus that day was that it’s, well, difficult. Especially when students are trying to, you know, get to class and stuff. This is plausible if you assume the police forgot the presumptive lessons learned from William Morva’s escape on the first day of the fall semester, when they had already cancelled classes by the time I tried to take the bus to my first that August morning. The other reason was that they were already questioning Karl Thornhill, a “person of interest” not only because he was Emily Hilscher’s boyfriend, but also because he was a gun user. Since it was obvious that he was the murderer, we students didn’t need to know anything until a few minutes before the final murders began. But even after the truth came out, the tough questions were never asked of the administration and police very loudly or for very long. Tim Kaine swept them out of the way through committee, everyone settled out of court and campus police bought a shiny new Segway. Instead of a serious reevaluation of the magical legal barrier that causes weapons to disintegrate when they cross the threshold between the real world and campus, we have the VT Alerts system, a $35,000/year pacifier — a safety net that shattered like glass under the weight of its first crisis last November. Those of you who were here got the “shots fired outside Pritchard Hall” message about 40 minutes after it happened. Unfortunately, the two follow-up messages fell victim to “access issues” in 3n’s database and weren’t
received. After berating 3n for their failure, Tech was so concerned for our safety that they sent 3n back out to do the exact same job — only this time with instructions to do it better, as well as a field test to make sure it happened. Now the field test as well as the real crisis has been deemed a success, with some people concerned only with the lack of message boards in all areas of campus. But while I personally would like to see one installed in the lone English classroom that has been overlooked, I know that it is a reactionary measure designed to tell time and to make our administration look like it’s doing something to preserve our safety. Allowing students who have already earned the right to concealed carry in Virginia the right to carry on campus would enable responsible adults to protect themselves when unthinkable things happen. You would notice a person carrying a gun on campus with the same frequency that you would notice one at the grocery store, mall and/or church. More importantly, during a crisis, first responders are trained to distinguish between people like civilian shooters and undercover police officers when they arrive on the scene. But you really don’t have to take my word for any of this; look at Blue Ridge Community College. Look at Colorado State, look anywhere in Utah, look at Switzerland if you fear that licensed citizens exercising their right to protect themselves automatically translates into more violence. What we shouldn’t do is swallow the prevailing wisdom that Wednesday’s response proved that we are safe. It’s time for Tech to set aside fear and ignorance and allow us to quietly
The editorial board is composed of David Grant, Laurel Colella and David Harries.
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Be careful not to glorify the crime In Friday’s article, “Details emerge in GLC attack” (CT, Jan. 23), the authors provided an eyecatching yet gruesome image in the article’s opening sentence. While understanding that facts should be presented to their fullest, I feel the Collegiate Times may have taken a step too far by almost glorifying Xin Yang’s death. An innocent victim should not be disrespected in such a blatant manner. By simply reading this first sentence, readers across campus and Blacksburg likely felt horrified and heartbroken, but not relieved nor even justified to know a calloused killer is now under custody. Further heartache and sorrow were probably felt by close friends and family of Yang at this description than if the CT had run a simple proposal of facts of the crime. The facts provided were, however, not inclusive of Yang. While a few details and a picture were given, the majority of the article discussed the killer. I believe this only adds to the ongoing problem of incidentally praising stone-cold murders such as Haiyang Zhu, Seung-Hui Cho and Steven Kazmierczak from NIU. Overpublicized details about their methods seem to merely encourage other potential murder candidates by news organizations reporting their actions more than necessary. Should I make the connection between the publicized death of Heath Ledger during the filming of “The Dark Night” and the murder of a nurse and two infants by a knife-wielding man dressed in face make-up and dyed red hair? As ludicrous murders arise across the nation on school campuses, reporters should detail the lives of the innocent victims and leave out the needless details of the murder and action leading up to the murder. Let us celebrate the life of Yang and her great accomplishments while ignoring the cell phone conversations, knife collections and unmailed letters of Zhu.
Smoking bans are not right More and more regions are passing smoking bans, but does that make it right? The editorial, “Smoking ban in bars and restaurants is beneficial to public” (CT, Jan. 21), states that a ban is needed because bars and restaurants won’t disallow smoking on their own, fearing a loss of customers. The ban would be beneficial because “restaurants with smoking bans would not lose customers to those that allow smoking in their establishments” if smoking was banned in all establishments. Doesn’t that mean that more people want to be allowed to smoke than don’t? If the majority of people were looking for smoke-free environments, then restaurants would pass the bans willingly and gain customers for it! As the editorial reads, “it’s no secret that smoking is an unhealthy habit.” We are making an informed decision every time we choose to go to a bar instead of inviting our friends over for a drink and every time we eat at Sharkey’s instead of the restaurant section of Bogen’s. How about other unhealthy choices? Take alcohol. It’s also no secret that it impairs your judgment and causes liver damage. Maybe we should make bars illegal — then the smoking ban would hardly be necessary. How about eating a cheeseburger? Heart disease, often linked to unhealthy weight, is the leading cause of death in the United States. We should make restaurants such as McDonald’s and Five Guys illegal immediately in order to save people from their own bad choices (both of those are smokefree establishments if you’re trying to stay healthy, by the way). Candy isn’t healthy, either, but I think I’ll risk it and keep going to Chocolate Spike as often as I can … that is, until you make it illegal. If you want to avoid smoke without infringing on the rights of others, there are Web sites listing smoke-free restaurants. Google it.
Jonothan Wrenn senior, biological sciences
Crysta Highfield Graduate student, Transportation
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The media need to hold President Obama accountable TOM MINOGUE regular columnist If there’s one thing that was demonstrated by the media during the last presidential election season, it was that newly minted President Barack Obama could do no wrong. Whether it was digressing on inquiries about his father’s citizenship or deflecting questions regarding the length of his term in the Senate, the majority of news media outlets chose not to pursue these potential angles, instead they embraced the message of hope and change that Obama promised to bring. Well it seems like the change train is indeed rolling down the tracks, but likely not in the way that most people are anticipating. For the first time in the age of the Internet we have a president with overwhelming support from the media in a decidedly non-objective stance. You don’t have to look far for the sort of aggrandizing I’m talking about — this very paper said in a controversially constructed editorial that, “Now, new hope for the people came, But the president and his administration don’t trust his name,” obviously referring to our new president. I am not saying that it’s wrong for people to be placing hope in a public figure, much less a president; I’m saying it’s wrong for a supposedly unbiased newspaper to be taking such a stance. I can type whatever I please into this column because there’s room enough in the paper for fundamental liberals to counter my fundamentally conservative viewpoints. Take heart, however, that there’s not just one paper clinging to the Kool Aid pitcher; news media all around the country are jumping to drink it up as well. I don’t claim to be a seasoned journalist compared to the writers and editors at
these papers, but unless I’m wrong, the core belief of a journalist in reporting is one of unbiased objectivity. My simple request is that the vast majority of media pay the same amount of scrutiny to the president entering office as they did to the president who threw us headlong into Iraq. The real litmus test of objectivity, or rather demonstrated subjectivity in this case, was throughout the entirety of the Governor Blagojevich affair. I couldn’t believe the sheer amount of leads that were being passed by media outlets in what seemed to be a thought-out attempt to put as much distance as possible between President Obama and the exposed corruption of the governor of Illinois. In this case, it was enough for the connection of Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s meetings with Blagojevich to be practically ignored by the abovementioned outlets. Though I do commend the Obama transition team for being able to smooth over such kinks easily with the public, the newspapers should be deeply considering their standard of objectivity. The president’s transition team has also managed to play favorites with the media in the White House Press Room. Major news sources were handpicked to be included in press conferences, while others were excluded. On this note you have to wonder if the media would have let President Bush divvy them up in such a fashion — the quick and easy answer is no. If our ex-president and his staff had tried anything of the sort it would’ve been more likely to run across the headlines of America as “Bush Attempts to Censor Voice of Journalism.” Under President Obama, it’s accepted under the shroud of the greater good. Don’t let me fool you into thinking that the exact phrase “greater good”
would ever be used, however, as it’s a politician’s phrase and usually not indicative of actual good, in itself it tends to make college students like us have an instantly negative reaction. Was it for the greater good that we established democracy in Iraq, nationalized Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, grasped hold of what’s left of our free-markets, or pumped another trillion dollars into them? Well the people making these decisions believe it to be so; however, it is our decision alone whether to support or decry the actions of politicians. During this last week, we’ve seen President Obama transition admirably from a cult of personality to the primary occupant of the White House. What we continue to see is the rose-colored lens of the job that the news outlets continue to feed the public. What we have failed to see, however, is our media, supposedly representing the people, giving no-nonsense, straight news coverage. I will provide one last example. When the president and his staff picked Carol Browner to head the Environmental Protection Agency, one detail that was notably missing in the description of her was her membership in Socialist International as a commissioner for a sustainable world society. You probably didn’t hear about this. I know I only got wind of it because I happened to see the headline on The Drudge Report. Most people don’t read The Drudge Report, and that’s OK, but MSNBC, CBS and ABC should’ve at least run a story on this. Of course the general public didn’t see or hear anything. In the event that the media fails to inform the people and hold a presidential administration accountable, it then becomes the job of the people to inform themselves.
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january 28, 2009
VORCAN to paint to music at The Lantern tonight TERESA TOBAT
ct features reporter Vort Man and Chris Cank of the group VORCAN are on stage while a band plays, but they’re wielding brushes, not instruments, and their painting follows the music. “The music is really the inspiration,” said Man. “If you talk to most artists, they paint to music.” Typically, Man will work on the backgrounds of the music and Cank will paint the detailed pieces. VORCAN has one set to finish an entire painting, and they typically produce three live paintings each show. The duo has painted to many genres of music, including bluegrass, jazz, throat chanting, hip-hop, ska and punk. Man said they like painting to artists who are producing original music. While the group has played multiple shows for the same bands, Man said the duo eschews consistent themes.
There are reoccurring characters in their works, however. These include what Cank called the stuffed animal witness protection program, featuring bears with human faces. Older women resting in recliners compose another set of characters. Cank and Man started painting together while they were both undergrads at Pennsylvania State University. After they left the university, they reunited in Philadelphia and decided in 2006 they were going to paint together full time. While collaborating on painting one work of art can be a challenge, Cank said they have learned to adapt. “It’s a lot to deal with and you have to just go with it,” Cank said. “The artist has a new idea and you have to work with this new idea. You have to go with the flow and deal with your ideas changing.” Both Man and Cank said they try not the paint the band members on stage, which is typical for most groups that
paint to live music, instead trying to let the music and atmosphere of the show influence their work.
VORCAN WHO: Vorcan and The Bridge WHERE: The Lantern WHEN: Today. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. and show starts at 9:30 p.m. COST: $8.00 “Certain songs from the night will influence the art,” Cank said. “The imagery will come out as the night progresses.” One show that produced the painting “Get Out” occurred when the duo returned to their alma mater to play a fraternity party that was cut short by a fire alarm. The painting features two separate stacks of characters on top of each other, what Cank calls “totems.”. The top character on the right totem
Sci-ﬁ novel encapsulates humanity TOM MINOGUE regular columnist Have you ever looked at the sky and pondered the immensity of the universe? Even if you’re not a philosophy major, the novel “Cloud Atlas” by David Mitchell gives the reader an idea of such universal immensity. The book is divided into six different stories that alternate in chronological order and differ by genre. Mitchell proves the versatility in his writing style by starting with a “Heart of Darkness” style tale in the South Pacific that both opens and closes the novel. In ascending and descending order, however, BOOK REVIEW this moves from the South Pacific to the tale of a musical prodigy in Belgium who finds the journal of Adam Ewing, the man sailing across an undiscovered world. Flash to the 1970s, Buenas Yerbas, where the novel again jumps forward in time, in this occasion to journalist Luisa Rey, who has found pages of the prodigy’s diary. Starting to get the idea? I’ve tried to remain spoiler-free because the progression of the book was truly a pleasure. It can’t be elaborated enough how Mitchell demonstrates a mastery of the genres he
writes in the book. The narrative of a post-apocalyptic Earth and the struggle of a man that must travel through it darkly contrasts with the comedic edge of the stories. Though many would classify this book as science fiction, doing so greatly sells this work short. Though there are chapters in the middle section that are definitely of the science fiction genre, I found them to be lacking the hooks that kept me so involved throughout the large duration of the novel. It might just be my personal distaste for sci-fi that turned me off – an immediate reaction due to my fascination with the stuff in middle school – but it seemed out of place in the otherwise brilliant literary structure. That leads us to another interesting point regarding the book’s pace, which makes the linear order less cohesive and, in some portions, a struggle. Ultimately, however, this is what helps to make the novel so fantastic. Not only does Mitchell captivate with the genre demonstrations, he also manages to portray the fractured literary consciousness of what is known as post-modernism with remarkable ease. In some sections, such as the Luisa Rey thriller, this portrayal feels like a
scathing critique against “The Da Vinci Code” and it’s ilk. When he ended her progressions with a dangling cliffhanger, it was notably forced. The mystery manages to stay shockingly plausible, which is more than I can say for the four Dan Brown novels I’ve read. What elevates the novel beyond a majority of it’s modern peers is the author’s understanding and recording of the human experience throughout the novel. For all the genre elements that are easily noticed on the surface, they are superseded by the human condition that pumps blood through the heart of the story. We cannot help but feel for these characters, hurtling toward self-destruction, justice and redemption. We can only sit back and appreciate the journey that’s taken them to these conclusions. Mitchell effortlessly does with a single novel what post-modern writers seem to have been struggling with for decades: Bare essential human truth in fiction with a cleverly structured, easily absorbed, thematically complex work. Though we cannot change the course of any characters in the novel, we can empathize and know the connection that binds together a common humanity. A must read.
is a monkey who is flashing a vulgar finger symbol. Cank said he felt that painting captured the angry mood of the frat party. Both Man and Cank said one of the most interesting shows they painted was a fire dancer burlesque show in Portland, OR. “It was just kind of a horny night,” Cank said. “People weren’t throwing dollars on stage, it was classier than that. It was more just people enjoying a really interesting show.” Cank described the painting as a tapestry of reds and golds with loose figures of women woven within. Mandolin player Kenny Liner of the rock band The Bridge, currently on tour with VORCAN, said the pair is always welcomed at The Bridge’s shows. “It adds a visual element. They paint whatever they’re feeling,” said Liner, who owns six VORCAN paintings. “It’s like having some special sauce.” Liner said his band has played about 50 shows with VORCAN and that he
COURTESY OF VORCAN
Vort Man and Chris Crank began painting together as undergrads. admires the stylistic qualities of each artist. “Chris is a fine artist,” Liner said. “Vort is an abstract artist and when they work together it’s like magic.”
Man said he hopes people will consider purchasing their original works as opposed to buying framed prints because, with VORCAN’s work, the art is “alive on your wall.” STAFF/SPPS
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january 28, 2009
The NFL needs more players like Cardinals’ Fitzgerald Cracking a childlike grin, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald looks as though he’s living a dream, and there no indication that he RYAN isn’t. His underdog Arizona Cardinals TRAPP pulled off another staﬀ playoff upset over writer the Philadelphia Eagles, and the former Minnesota Vikings ball boy is now on his way to the franchise’s first Super Bowl. He sat behind the microphone at the post-game press conference in his wire-frame glasses, necktie and sweater answering questions in a wellspoken and COMMENT selfless manner. Watching him, it was hard to tell this was the guy who had just set the record for most receiving yards in a single postseason. He just seemed too down-to-earth, too humble
and too articulate to be a wide receiver in the National Football League. But isn’t that a breath of fresh air after what we’ve seen this season? Let’s take a look back: Pro Bowler Steve Smith punches teammate Ken Lucas in a preseason scrimmage; Brandon Marshall is originally suspended for three games after violating the league’s conduct policy, although the suspension was later dropped to just one game; Chad Johnson legally changes his name to Chad “Ocho Cinco;” the hero of Super Bowl XLII, Plaxico Burress, shoots himself in the leg at a nightclub; Terrell Owens meets with Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to complain about Jason Witten getting too many receptions (even though Owens was thrown to more ). Let’s face it: Wide receivers have become the “drama queens” of the NFL. It always has to be about them, and if it isn’t, then they make it so. Yet for the past five seasons, Fitzgerald has quietly established himself as one
of the most dominant receivers in the game. And as the fastest player ever to reach 400 receptions, he’s setting himself up to be one of the best ever. Why is it then he’s becoming the hot topic now as his team looks to pull off one of the greatest Cinderella stories we’ve seen in professional football? It’s because he isn’t shooting himself in the leg, working out in his driveway shirtless as he bashes his quarterback, or coming up with a creative way to get fined for a touchdown celebration. He isn’t doing the kind of things that the media seem to pounce all over. Instead, he does what he’s supposed to do. He shows up to work, looks and acts professionally and seemingly catches everything thrown in his ZIP code. It’s been this way ever since he rose into the spotlight during his brilliant years at the University of Pittsburgh. The son of sports writer Larry Sr., the younger Fitz has grown up with the game of football. And watching him play the game he is clearly in love with
is a treat for any fan. We’re in the age where we can’t seem to turn on ESPN without hearing about a professional athlete complaining about a teammate, griping about a coach, or surrounded in some kind of legal or criminal activity. I’m not writing off the Warrick Dunns, Peyton Mannings or Tom Bradys. There are plenty who know how to conduct themselves on and off the field. But how often do we hear about Jeff Garcia’s “Pass It On Foundation” that benefits terminally ill and disadvantaged children? How often do we hear about the athletes who give back? In the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, the media is going to build up the hype, analyzing every detail. But maybe the extra attention on the Cardinals and Fitzgerald can show people that there are players who care more about their team and the game than themselves. Larry Fitzgerald is exactly the type of story line the NFL needs.
After a touchdown by Steve Breaston against the Dallas Cowboys, fellow wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald hugs his teammate in celebration.
Yankee spending spree has simple implication: a salary cap Money can’t buy love, but it might be able to buy a World Series title. Meet the New York Yankees. And this year, they really outdid themselves. JOE In a free-agent CRANDLEY market full of good sports pitching and only a few good bats, reporter the Yankees flexed their financial muscle and outspent any and all challengers for the players they wanted. As a result, the COMMENT Yankees picked up stud starting pitchers A.J. Burnett and C.C. Sabathia, as well as switch-hitting first baseman Mark Teixeira. In the end, the Bombers committed $423.5 million dollars to sign three players to long-term deals, bolstering a weak pitching staff and adding a young, elite hitter to their lineup. With the way the economy stands right now, doesn’t this sort of behavior scream for a salary cap? Small-market teams simply cannot compete with the kind of money the large-market teams bring in — especially the Yankees — and the integrity of the game suffers as a result. Every other major professional sports league employs a salary cap, so why can’t baseball? Sure, the luxury tax spreads
2008 Salaries: Yankees Starting Lineup C Jorge Posada - $13.1 million 1B Mark Teixeira – $22.5 million 2B Robinson Cano - $3 million SS Derek Jeter - $21.6 million 3B Alex Rodriguez – $28 million LF Johnny Damon - $13 million CF Melky Cabrera - $461,200 RF Xavier Nady - $3.35 million DH Hideki Matsui - $13 million source: ESPN.com SARA SPANGLER/COLLEGIATE TIMES
around some money to smaller teams, but teams like the Boston Red Sox and Yankees simply are not affected. This coming season, the Yankees will spend a little over $118 million on their starting lineup alone. Their top four pitchers, Sabathia, Burnett, Chien-Ming Wang and closer Mariano Rivera, will be paid a combined $58.5 million. In other pro leagues, teams are generally good and bad in cycles, with the bad teams rebuilding through the draft and player development, and the good
teams adding one or two key players to make a run at the playoffs or a championship. As a result, the National Football League, National Basketball Association and National Hockey League put together seasons that are defined by parity. Major League Baseball does not. Since baseball added an additional wild card playoff spot in 1995, the Yankees or Red Sox have taken it in nine out of 14 seasons. In that same time period, those two won the American League East 12 out of 14 times, with the Yankees taking home the title on 10 occasions. Essentially, by virtue of having the most money, the Yankees and Red Sox are practically locks to make it to the playoffs each season. Yes, the Tampa Bay Rays won the AL East in 2008, went to the World Series and will compete again this upcoming season, but the Rays represent a rare giant killer. They put its team together by planning for the future, using high draft picks from poor seasons and placing together a complete team instead of paying high-priced superstars. Unfortunately for Tampa, their young talent will outgrow their modest contracts eventually and move on to greener pastures. Then the Rays, like all other smallmarket competitors, will have to rebuild for the future. That sort of thinking does not compute for the Yankees. Every year, the Yankees’ management has the mindset of World Series or bust and their offseason moves prove that. Had the Yankees been economical in their spending this past November, December and January and been forced to operate under a salary cap, their playoff potential would be unlikely at best instead of now being in a position to win the World Series. Do fans of the game really enjoy seeing the same teams dominate every year? Will it be satisfying for Baltimore and Toronto fans to already be eliminated from the playoff race by July? What other professional sports teams pick and choose their players to form an all-star team? The current system needs to go so that fans around the country can enjoy watching their team have a fighting chance year in and year out. Otherwise, the status quo will remain, and the Yankees will continue to overpay the best players to win at all costs, maintaining the vicious cycle that currently exists in Major League Baseball.