thursday march 5, 2009 blacksburg, va.
Heels deal blow to Hokies’ NCAA hopes BRIAN WRIGHT
ct sports editor
Virginia Tech forward Jeff Allen slams home two of his 18 points. Spirited offense from Allen and senior forward A.D. Vasallo, playing in his last regular season contest at Cassell Coliseum, were not enough to defeat the powerhouse Tarheels.
Virginia Tech played its second straight game against a top-10 opponent from the ACC. Its second straight chance to impress the NCAA Tournament committee before a national television audience. When the score was settled on Thursday night in Cassell Coliseum, it was 86-78 in favor of No. 2 North Carolina. For the second straight time, the Hokies (17-12, 7-8 ACC) were on the wrong end of a narrow defeat. A game that was fairly even statically was deadlocked on the scoreboard with 9:25 to go in regulation after forward A.D. Vassallo connected on a 3-pointer. This was part of a 19-point second half outburst by the senior from Puerto Rico, who similarly went for 21 in the latter 20 minutes against Duke on Saturday afternoon. The Tar Heels (26-3, 12-3), though, quickly answered to go up by five. Matters for the Hokies started to turn sour as Carolina managed to hold their opponents at bay, upping the advantage to 11 with three minutes to go. “They just got a lot of options,” Vassallo said. “They’ve got a lot of guys that can get it done. They’re a complete team.” Malcolm Delaney’s 11 points in the final 2:41 did not do much to stem the tide. The Tar Heels made the necessary free throws to complete the win. It gives the Hokies their seventh loss in the last ten games and keeps them tentatively on the bubble for March Madness. Many experts felt that a victory over a highly-touted Carolina team would result in Tech’s ticket to the big dance. “We’re not in a coffin,” said Hokies head coach Seth Greenberg. “We’ve got a lot of basketball to play.” Carolina opened up with the early lead. By the time Tyler Hansbrough scored and drew a foul prior to the first television timeout, the Tar Heels had doubled up the Hokies by a count of 12-6. It would get as high as nine before Tech would narrow the gap with a 12-4 run. Despite only making five of their first 18 shots, North Carolina — a club that scores their buckets at a 48.6 percent clip from the field — managed to keep Tech behind with only four first half turnovers. The Hank Thorns-to-Jeff Allen connection worked twice in the final minute-anda-half prior to intermission. The sophomore guard from Las Vegas, back in the starting lineup following an illness, was on the
giving end of two buckets by the Hokies’ No 0. However, a Hansbrough 3-point response gave the Tar Heels a 42-36 advantage — and the lion’s share of the momentum — into the locker room. Vassallo’s runner in the lane with 13: 57 remaining in the contest tied the game at 50 apiece, the first draw since the score was 2-2. It was two of his game-high 25 points on 11-of-21 shooting. He has now moved into eighth place on the school’s all-time scoring list, surpassing Ace Custis. This all came on Senior Night, when Vassallo, along with forward Cheick Diakite, were honored prior to their final regular season game at Cassell. The sophomore Allen posted a doubledouble with 18 points to go along with 12 rebounds. Much like his efforts against Duke, Delaney struggled from the field. He was only good on 4-of-16 shot attempts. However, most of his points came courtesy of the free throw line. He connected on all 10 of his foul shots, finishing with 19 points.
ON THE WEB Check out collegiatetimes.com for our sports editor’s take on how the Hokies’ loss last night aﬀects their NCAA tournament chances. As a team, the Hokies were perfect in terms of free throws (17-of-17) and actually outrebounded Carolina by a 42-41 margin. The Tar Heels boast the country’s best rebounding average. Points-wise, the Heels were paced by Hansbrough and guard Ty Lawson, who each scored 22. Lawson also had five assists, while Hansbrough led all players with 15 boards. Ed Davis helped the Heels on the defensive end, blocking six shots and menacing many more Hokie shot attempts in the lane. With the win, North Carolina assures themselves at least a share of the ACC regular season crown. The Hokies, trying to reach the .500 mark in the conference, play their regular season finale in Tallahassee against the Florida State Seminoles on Sunday at 2 p.m. “We aren’t worried about our losses,” Thorns said. “We’re just worried about getting that last win … Hopefully we get this win and carry momentum on into the (ACC) Tournament and surprise a lot of people.”
In April 16’s aftermath, Tech invested heavily in PR support ZACH CRIZER
ct news reporter “There was no script for any of this,” said university spokesman Larry Hincker. “The reason why it was so shocking was because it was so unthinkable.” The tragic events of April 16 thrust Virginia Tech onto an unwanted stage, under blinding lights, shocked. Nearly two years later, the lights are beginning to dim. The university has endured intense public scrutiny, but not without a supporting cast, some improvisation, and a big budget. Hincker approached global public relations firm Burson-Marsteller shortly after April 16, enlisting the company’s help for the following year. Karen Doyne, Burson-Marsteller’s Managing Director of the Issues and Crisis Group, worked closely with Tech. “The administration has a pretty small communication operation,” Doyne said. “We were asked to come on and help the administration manage the onslaught of media.” Doyne said the media coverage brought on by April 16 “could barely have been broader.” Documents obtained by the Collegiate Times show that Tech paid Burson-Marsteller $663,006 for public relations services from May 2007 to May 2008. The company’s letter of engagement in May 2007 estimated the costs in the range of $520,000 to $600,000. Hincker said the company was paid with “university funds.” Aside from hiring Burson-Marsteller, Hincker said Tech’s public relations strategies consisted of relaying information to the public as it became available to them. “We told as much as we knew, when we knew it, as quickly as we could,” Hincker said. “It actually got us into problems. Because we were so quick to post information, sometimes it wasn’t entirely correct.” Doyne said that the university had set a course of action before Burson-Marsteller became involved. “The administration’s approach to communication was well established before we ever arrived,” Doyne said. “Our role was to be extra hands in making sure they were engaging the media, who really needed to hear what they were saying.” Tech retained all documents and notes in the aftermath of April 16. The documents’ status as public information allowed them to be viewed by the public under Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act. The documents have recently been organized by the university and made available to families of the victims as well as to the public in two terminals. One is in Newman Library on the Virginia Tech campus. The other is the Library of Virginia in Richmond. Some archives, such as the Prevail Archive, were set up prior to that of the university.
“Going through the archive, what we found were reports on the world’s reaction to what had happened,” said Justin Harrison, creator of the Prevail Archive. Harrison, a recent Tech graduate, used the Virginia Freedom of Information Act to request all documents relating to April 16 and later with Burson-Marsteller. He noticed a multitude of media and a system of scoring its impact on the university’s public image. “Essentially, it was like Virginia Tech was collecting media input of everything: newspapers, blogs, Web sites, anything related,” Harrison said. “They were collecting all of that, and they were rating it as positive, neutral or negative. They were keeping an eye on public perception, and it was done in a very professional way.”
BURSON-MARSTELLER Burson-Marsteller began working with Tech on May 1, 2007, implementing what the engagement letter named as the “Crisis Recovery Action Plan.” Past clients of their Issues and Crisis Management team include Tylenol during the cyanide poisoning crises of 1982 and 1985, Exxon following the Exxon-Valdez oil spill and Blackwater after the company’s employees killed 17 Iraqi civilians. Hincker said the university was overwhelmed with media requests, much as the companies Burson-Marsteller has traditionally aided. “We are the equivalent of what would be called a corporate communications division in a company,” Hincker said. “We’re responsible for lots and lots of things.” Hincker said universities are not equipped to cope with the media outpouring that April 16 brought to the campus. “Nobody had ever dealt with anything like this anywhere,” Hincker said. “We’re a university. It’s not what we do.” Doyne echoed that sentiment, saying many universities look for communications assistance in times of crisis. “Most universities have pretty small communication capability, unlike a corporation,” Doyne said. “It is extremely common for colleges and universities to reach out for public relations help.” After realizing the “magnitude and scope” of the event, Hincker contacted Burson-Marsteller about obtaining its services. “We elected to bring on somebody that could help us manage it. They brought people in whenever we had an event,” Hincker said. Invoices from Burson-Marsteller list the services performed for Tech. The company provided on-site help for various events that attracted public attention. These include the 2007 Commencement Services, 2008 orientations, the April 16 Memorial dedication and the first anniversary of April 16, Hincker said. Hincker also said much of the on-site help was
COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY RELATIONS
Tech spokesman Larry Hincker said that over 1000 journalists, many of which parked their satellite trucks around the Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center, above, descended on Virginia Tech in the aftermath of the April 16 shootings. used to manage logistical challenges. “As much as anything, they were extra hands for us,” Hincker said. “Nobody had ever had to go through what we had to go through as far as the numbers.” Doyne said universities present challenges because of the number of groups that need information. “A university is like a city,” Doyne said. “It is crucially important that all those constituencies get all the information they need. It is a much more diverse situation than many corporations deal with.” Public interest and media attention from around the world pushed Hincker into unchartered territory, he said. “I had a timeline of what we knew when at the first press conference,” Hincker said. “I had my first press conference two hours after the tragedy. It’s unheard of. We had 11 press conferences in eight days.” Hincker said constant communication with the media was the only reaction that came to mind. “Our response was to be as open and accessible as we could,” Hincker said. However, this response brought challenges that Hincker said the university could not handle on its own. Hincker said Burson-Marsteller helped bring direction to Blacksburg, which was crawling with a crowd of media that was barely manageable. “They are a crisis response organization,”
Hincker said. “One of the things you do is try to figure out what’s happening. What can I say? What can’t I say?” Doyne said the company members largely served as advisers to Hincker and other university officials. “Our role was to be generally a sounding board,” Doyne said. “They wanted to be sure they were doing the best they could.” Message development in early May cost an estimated $10,000 according to Burson-Marsteller documents. The “ongoing media management” that Hincker described cost $10,000 per month. Hincker said more than 1,000 correspondents and crew descended upon Blacksburg in the days following April 16, 2007. In addition to answering questions regarding the shootings, the university had to find space for 140 satellite trucks. “Where do you park five satellite trucks, let alone 140?” Hincker said. For many press conferences in April 2007, Hincker said there were three times as many reporters as a White House Press Conference. In the following months, Burson-Marsteller assisted the university in drafting memos and announcements for Hincker and Tech President Charles Steger. The company also advised the university on the future of Norris Hall and Memorial dedication services. Doyne and other Burson-Marsteller officials met with Tech administrators on several occasions, including an initial planning meeting on
May 24, 2007, in Washington, D.C. “There are some basic concepts that will steer you in the right direction,” Doyne said. “Be open. Be accessible. Be transparent. Be straightforward.” The first month of services from BursonMarsteller, May 2007, cost the university $156,520. The period from June 2007 to November 2007 cost $349,413. Burson-Marsteller continued to serve the university through the first anniversary of the tragedy. The last invoice, from December 2007 to May 1, 2008, cost Tech $157,072. The documents Harrison originally found were portions of the “media monitoring” service provided by Burson-Marsteller. Burson-Marsteller was largely responsible for gauging the public image of the university in the aftermath of the tragedy, charging an estimated $170,000 for three waves of opinion research regarding the university’s image. However, Hincker said media monitoring is an everyday part of his job on a smaller scale. “I do that everyday,” Hincker said. “I didn’t do anything different then that I don’t do now. That’s the business that I’m in. You need to know what people are saying about you.” Approaching the two-year anniversary of the tragedy, Hincker said his job has only recently returned to relative normalcy. However, he still faces inquiries that he said
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April 16: Nearly $700,000 spent on media support from page one
there are no answers to. “Everybody wanted to know answers,” Hincker said. “To this day, people want to know answers to the unknowable, and there’s only one person that knows.”
FREE INFORMATION? Justin Harrison is one of the people who wanted answers. In the summer of 2008, Harrison decided to show the public the university’s documentation of April 16 and related topics. “They’re public documents. I thought if anyone could access these documents by filing a Freedom of Information Act request, then that is something I’m going to do. If I think they should be public, then I’m going to make them public because you’re given that right,” Harrison said. While a settlement with families of victims of the shootings stipulated an archive of the documents had to be made available to the families, the university had not yet announced plans to make the archive public. Communication Professor W. Wat Hopkins, the immediate past president of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government, said university documents are always available to be made public. “The Virginia Freedom of Information Act provides that all documents in the custody of a public official or a public body are subject to examination and copying,” Hopkins said. Harrison contacted Hincker asking to view the thousands of documents he had read about. However, a month passed without a response. He then sent another e-mail, which he said was “more to the point,” requesting to see the documents under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. Hincker responded within five hours of receiving the second e-mail, putting Harrison in contact with B.J. Norris, special assistant to the vice president for University Relations. University Relations arranged for Harrison to view the documents over the first two days of October 2008. However, his displeasure with University Relations continued. “The process was pretty problematic,” Harrison said. “It was not easy.” Harrison made note of several complaints, including the initial delay in response from Hincker, as well as the
presence of a staff member in the room with the documents. In an e-mail to Harrison obtained by the Collegiate Times, Hincker apologized for missing the first request, citing the oversight as a result of being out of the office. The e-mail, sent to Harrison following the release of the Prevail Archive, also addressed Harrison’s complaints about University Relations, which were publicized in the Prevail Archive introduction and interviews with media organizations.
April 16th Media Stats
350 268 80 140 400
international news organizations
reporters at graduation ALEX FALLON/COLLEGIATE TIMES
Hincker said the presence of a staff member was standard procedure. “As was pointed out to you prior to your review of the documents, it is our standard practice to have a staff member present when anyone comes in to review any documents — not just the April 16 documents,” Hincker said in the e-mail. Responding to Harrison’s statement that working with University Relations “was like pulling teeth,” Hincker said Harrison was equally uncooperative. “From September 22 until you reviewed the documents — and even subsequently — you submitted numerous questions and requests related to the document review to which my staff responded fully and promptly,” Hincker said in the e-mail. “However, when my staff needed information, you failed to respond timely and/or requested justification as to why information was needed.” Harrison was asked to submit the
names and states of residence of all those who would be viewing the documents along with him. Under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, public institutions are only required to grant access to Virginia residents and members of media organizations serving Virginia. While Harrison exchanged numerous e-mails with Norris about the residency restrictions, the university ultimately allowed all participants to view the documents regardless of state of residence. Now, Harrison claims documents were missing from the archive he viewed, which would become the Prevail Archive. “They withheld the workings of the Policy Group originally,” Harrison said. “They are clearly withholding information.” Hopkins said more than 100 exemptions exist for Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act that give the custodian of the documents the right to withhold them from requests such as Harrison’s. “I will tell you that a lawyer who represents that official body is going to say, ‘If it says you can withhold it, you withhold it automatically unless you have a reason to disclose it.’ And the reason for that is, the lawyer is doing his job. He is trying to protect the public body from being sued for discriminatory treatment,” Hopkins said. Hopkins said the university likely withheld documents containing personal information about students in accordance with federal and state privacy regulations. “Universities have another hurdle they have to get over,” Hopkins said. “There are both state and federal laws protecting the privacy of the students. It is a violation of federal law to release information about students that is confidential.” Hopkins said the definition of confidential has been blurred. “The courts have interpreted that as going beyond simply academic information,” Hopkins said. “Typically, universities are more conservative in the release of information than access advocates want them to be.” However, Hincker said the university felt transparency was important enough to release some information that schools are allowed to withhold under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. “All that correspondence by the teachers about Cho? That is technically protected under FERPA,” Hincker said. “The university exposed a lot of material.” Still, Harrison said if he had more resources, he would consider filing a lawsuit against the university for what he contends are violations of the
Freedom of Information Act. He cited a lack of Policy Group notes as well as the initial withholding of Burson-Marsteller documentation. However, Hopkins said a case against the university would be difficult to make. “It’s logical, you might think,” Hopkins said. “But the law provides that if you are bringing suit against an entity for violation of the law, and you are seeking damages, you have to demonstrate something more than carelessness or an oversight. You have to demonstrate intent to violate the law, and it is very difficult to do that with one occurrence.” In his e-mail to Harrison, Hincker informed Harrison of the university’s decision to make the archive available to the public. He also said the university archive would be more comprehensive than that to which Harrison had access. “However, I also caution you not to confuse yourself or others that the documentation you reviewed and posted online is that which will be contained in the archive being established pursuant to the settlement agreement with the April 16 victims and their families,” Hincker said in the e-mail. “They are not one (and) the same.” Hincker said the information viewed by Harrison was unorganized, but he said the university made concerted efforts to make inner workings relating to April 16 open for public viewing. “There is nothing like this where people have exposed as much as we exposed,” Hincker said. “I don’t know what else there is that the university can do to post things and make things available short of saying you can have anything the university has ever produced.” As the university’s official archives are now available for public viewing, Hopkins agreed, saying the university took transparency further than was required. “Public is the fact that it is in a file folder somewhere in somebody’s office that is a public official, and it doesn’t fall under one of the exemptions,” Hopkins said. “Anything else is over and above the call of duty.” The archives are viewable at two locations, whereas Harrison’s Prevail Archive is available on the Internet. Harrison does not believe the university has made full effort to show the public the information. “If I can make a Web site in two days with a team of ten volunteers that holds 5,000 documents, there is no reason that the university cannot create an archive that can be accessed on the Internet,” Harrison said. “If I can do it, I’m pretty sure they can do it.” Hincker said the personal information
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COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY RELATIONS
A student is interviewed in the aftermath of the April 16 shootings. of victims and university correspondence with lawyers has been withheld from the public archives. However, viewers have not yet been able to view the Policy Group notes on the university archive because of a technical problem. Hopkins said the process of creating the public archives took the university longer than many would like. However, he said the caution fit the situation. “This is a very difficult kind of thing,” Hopkins said. “You’re dealing with something here that is literally unprecedented in U.S. history, so I can understand the caution that the university has taken.”
DECREASE IN PUBLIC RELATIONS This past December, Hincker said he was finally able to return to “doing what he used to do.” He said the storm that consumed his office for more than a year has calmed. He also said his ultimate goal is pushing the tragedy into the background of the stage occupied by Tech. “Virginia Tech, just like Kent State, or just like Columbine or University of Texas, is always going to be known for a tragedy that occurred there,” Hincker said. “The question is whether it’s going to be the first thing that somebody thinks of.” He frequently refers to the University of Texas as an example of Tech’s ideal future. “I don’t think you’ll ever be able to say Columbine High School without thinking of mass tragedy,” Hincker said. “Yet, prior to the tragedy on our campus, the largest mass murder on any campus in this country was in 1966 at the University of Texas bell tower. And yet, that’s not the first image you think of.” He said the students on campus at
the time of the tragedy dealt with the worldwide attention admirably. “During the tragedy, the perception of the institution remained very strong, I think in large part due to the solidarity of the students,” Hincker said. “They were the real pros.” Hincker cites this as one reason the university has broken application records the past two years. If slowly, Hincker said the public perception of the university is evolving. He said he sees the difference when traveling to other parts of the country. In 2007, he said the response to his connection to Tech was, “Oh, that was terrible.” At last check, he said it was, “Well, that’s fine. Tell me about it.” April 16 is still a topic of regular discussion at Tech. Recently, a committee assembled by Provost Mark McNamee decided to cancel classes for April 16, 2009, and Hincker said the decision was far from easy. “It was very important to the Provost to have the input of various stakeholders,” Hincker said. “Students that were here then, injured students, parents and families of the injured students and the students that were killed, it was very important to have their voice heard. There was not consensus on that committee. The feeling was that this was the way to help the university community heal slowly.” While the events of April 2007 still factor into everyday life in Blacksburg, Hincker said the curtains are starting to fall around the Virginia Tech campus once again. “Whereas the April 16 tragedy is always going to be part of our psyche,” Hincker said. “That isn’t the way with the rest of the world.”
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march 3, 2009
Techpaysheavypricefor goodpublicrelations After the horrific events of April 16, 2007, the administration enlisted the help of the global public relations firm Burson-Marsteller to monitor the public perception of the university in the coming months. From May 2007 to May 2008, Tech used “university funds” to pay the public relations firm $663,006 and an additional $440,000 on software to put archived documents related to April 16 online. While Tech has obviously never dealt with a situation like this before, and it is difficult to say what the right next step should have been, spending exorbitant amounts of money on public relations that consisted of nothing more than rating public perception communicated through newspapers and blogs was not the right decision. “Our response was to be as open and accessible as we could,” Hincker said, in regards to making university documents public. However, the university did not unveil archived information to the public immediately. The university’s reason for not doing so was because they wanted to give the victims’ families time to go through the documents before they were made public due to the possibility of identifiable personal information. To that point, we argue that all of the families of the victims have different logins to the database, allowing them access to different files. The university should have easily been able to
make available to the public documents that contain zero identifiable personal information. Additionally, given that the information was already in the public domain, the records should have been easily accessible through the university before they even went online by anyone filing a Freedom of Information Act request. However, when Tech graduate Justin Harrison filed said request, he repeatedly ran into problems with the university and what he perceived as attempts to keep him from accessing the information, even though he had the legal right to do so. The university’s attempts to remain as transparent as possible are tainted by the massive amounts of money they spent, a little over $1 million, in attempting to maintain Tech’s positive public perception. While we’re not accusing them of doing anything wrong in response to the events of April 16, the fact that they spent so much money to protect the public image makes them look bad. They’re acting like how someone who was in a bad position would act, attempting to cover up the situation by paying for the very expensive advice of public relations professionals. The editorial board is composed of David Grant, David Harries, Laurel Colella, Jenna Marson and Alex Kaufmann.
Utilize campus dining halls to cut calories and live longer LIZA ROESCH regular columnist We’re just two months into the New Year, and some of us have already disappointed ourselves. Resolutions to quit smoking or pick up yoga have quickly fallen by the wayside, and old habits live on. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone. And there’s always next year. But if your 2009 resolution involved weight loss or eating healthier, maybe you shouldn’t wait until next year to begin changing your ways. As hard as it is to believe, there is now a greater percentage of obese people in America than those who are healthy or simply overweight. With hopes of finding a cure to this growing problem, a recent study conducted by Harvard University examined the effects of four diets on 811 overweight Americans. Researchers found that the best way to lose weight and maintain optimal health was to consistently consume fewer calories. Low-carb and lowfat diets worked well, but none of it mattered if the individual didn’t cut calories. These findings highlight a lifestyle choice that some people have already mastered. And they aren’t Americans. They’re Japanese. Okinawa, Japan is known for being one of the healthiest places in the world. Okinawans earned this title largely because of their extremely low rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. They also boast the highest percentage of people on earth who live to be over 100. Scientists attribute part of that accomplishment to Okinawans’ firm belief in only eating until they are 80 percent full.
At first, this may sound absurd. We live in middle-class America. We have food within reach at all times and a fruit snack named after every cartoon that ever existed. We could probably consume an entire day’s worth of calories in a Starbucks Frappuccino and cookie if we felt so inclined. But if we’re active and maintain a relatively healthy weight, many people wonder why we should stop eating before we’re completely satisfied. As it turns out, the benefits of doing so are innumerable. First of all, caloric restriction increases energy levels and mental acuteness. It has also been proven to lead to a healthier, more elastic heart — a heart that has the ability to relax between beats in a way that resembles a much younger heart. When coupled with good nutrition, researchers believe calorie control can play a significant role in lessening age-related decline in heart function. Limiting calories can also lower blood pressure, triglyceride levels and cholesterol, as well as reduce the chance of getting Type 2 diabetes. Some studies suggest it can even improve memory function in elderly people. Unfortunately, as most of us know, cutting calories is much easier said than done. Especially with Virginia Tech’s amazing dining facilities and the lifestyle that comes with being in college. But we do have the ability and the resources to make smart calorie decisions. Next time you’re in Au Bon Pain, choose a broth-based soup over macaroni and cheese. A regular size bowl of chicken noodle soup is only 130 calories, and garden vegetable soup is only 80. A regular size bowl of macaroni and
cheese is 500 calories, and a baguette on the side adds another 310. If you frequent D2, eating a big salad topped with a low-calorie dressing before you let loose on the taco bar will fill you up faster, and with a lot less calories. When ordering a drink, reconsider getting soda. Choose water, or a drink with beneficial calories such as real fruit juice or low-fat milk. Making these calorie-conscious decisions doesn’t mean we have to starve ourselves. In my opinion, there are two ways of going about it. We can either consume less food or consume food with fewer calories. Or better yet, create a smart combination of the two. Filling up on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy products is a good start. We should also reduce our portion sizes when we eat things that are high in calories. If you can’t live without the taste of Cinnabon, split one with a friend. If your mouth waters at the thought of a steak from West End, order the lesser cut. Despite all these suggestions, I don’t think it’s healthy to fully restrict ourselves from eating foods we love. I’ll admit that shaving a few years off my life doesn’t bother me when I open a box of Pizza Hut breadsticks. But it’s important we recognize that some of our favorite foods shouldn’t be consumed on a regular basis. Choosing to eat this way is not a fad diet with an endpoint in sight. Your goal shouldn’t be a bikini or a washboard stomach. It should be the prospect of living a long, healthy life filled with work that you’re proud of and as much fun as possible. And maybe a few Pizza Hut breadsticks along the way.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Improve student conduct The conduct of some of the students at the recent home basketball game against Duke has spurred me to express my opinion on the issue. All year long there have been some students who have had nothing short of embarrassing and uncalled for conduct at the basketball games; however, the Duke game was — by far — an all-new low. This isn’t addressed to the student body as a whole; however, there is a select minority that makes the entirety of Virginia Tech fans look classless. The profanity-laced tirades that some students go on are absolutely unnecessary and ridiculous at best. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll drop the occasional obscenity in the heat of the moment, but I stop at that. Some people find it so necessary to have their unintelligent and ridiculous opinions heard that they wait to yell it out when it’s quiet while one of our players is taking a free throw. That’s a great way to cheer our Hokies on to success. One of the more pathetic acts I heard during the Duke game was students yelling at Duke players in the quiet preceding the national anthem. What exactly is the point of going on a 20-second screaming spree that would make your grandmother vomit and Martin Lawrence cover his ears? There is no excuse in going off every time a whistle is blown against the Hokies and most of the time that shows your lack of knowledge about the game of basketball. I was just as furious as everyone else in Cassell Coliseum when Jon Scheyer obviously traveled at the end of the game, and it wasn’t called. A referee missed a call. What’s new? It happens. It’s done. Get over it. Everyone was rightfully booing, but your ability to drop the f-bomb as many times as possible in one sentence isn’t going to change anything except people’s perception of your I.Q. I’m not trying to sound like a goody-goody Care Bear because I’m not perfect, but when is enough, enough? I’m against the ban on the “stick it in” chant at the football games as pretty much everyone is. I also absolutely hate watching our athletic teams lose. And trust me, no one hates Duke basketball more than me. Having said that, I don’t allow myself to sink to an ignorant low the way a select few do. I’ll laugh and take pleasure in the occasional comment yelled by someone; however, the same comment gets a little bit redundant when still being yelled by the same fool at the end of the second half. You received your laugh. Relish in it and move on. Also, to the few guys on the front row who always heckle the opposing players and fans after a home loss … all I have to say is, really? No, the Clemson fans are not going to meet you in the parking lot after the game. No, Nolan Smith is not going to delay getting on the bus home to fight you. In fact, I found humor at how he pointed to the ear plugs he
was wearing because of a concussion to show he couldn’t hear you, thus furthering your anger (and remember, I hate Duke). As much as I’d love to see you fight a Division I athlete, it’s not going to happen. You are a shining beacon of idiocy for all to see when you act that way. To sum up, it’s unnecessary. The actions of a few reflect poorly on the Virginia Tech community as a whole. I don’t think there is a coach in college basketball who appreciates the fans the way Seth Greenberg does, but I’m pretty positive he doesn’t condone such tasteless acts during games. As cheesy as it tends to be, some people need to take another look at the whole concept of Hokies Respect. To quote one of my favorite professors I’ve had in my time at Virginia Tech, “It doesn’t take a lot of effort to look like a red neck.”
Have you seen this proposal to pave the Drillfield and turn it into a parking garage? This is simply a terrible idea. For starters, this would create a parking problem instead of alleviating one. It can take 15 minutes to get around the Drillfield during class change, and this is with a few dozen cars on the road. The mess created by trying to get hundreds or thousands of cars into or out of the center of campus every hour would shut down this university from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. Also, the number of pedestrians walking across the parking lot on the way to campus would make parking not only tricky but dangerous. Aesthetically, it’s a nightmare. The Drillfield made me want to come to Tech the first time I visited. I can’t imagine how I would have felt had it been full of cars belonging to students too lazy to take the bus, carpool or (heaven forbid) walk or bike. Also, this is the only large green space on campus — removing it would be a travesty. Finally, look at the cost. The Drillfield is sinking because of the creeks beneath it. Supports would have to be put beneath the creek level, and the area would have to be drained. This hardly seems like an effective use of university funds. There are parking garages in the master plan of the university, and I imagine they will be a cheaper way to alleviate the parking problems. The individuals who are perpetuating this clearly are passionate about the parking situation here at Tech. I implore them to start putting their efforts to good use and create a reasoned proposal to build garages in existing lots instead of paving over one of the most important and visible symbols of this university. Jeremy Henry Graduate student, mathematics
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Paving drillﬁeld, not realistic
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Tech shouldn’t have authority to punish students above the law CHAD VAN ALSTIN guest columnist We should all feel very proud to attend a school that wishes to act as our mommy. We Hokies have the privilege to attend a state school that will punish us for our actions outside of the classroom. If you violate any silly law while off campus, Virginia Tech will be ready and waiting to send you to timeout, and cash in on your error. So long as you are a student of this university, you apparently have to obey the rules of the college no matter where you decide to go. They own you. You may pay tuition, but Tech can dictate rules even in your off-campus free time. I would like to start by telling the story of a Hokie friend of mine. Being perhaps one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, it still didn’t even faze me to receive a call from him one morning saying that he was behind bars. He and his criminal roommates had decided to safely drink at home and then responsibly walk to order some food. Their walk back home ended in handcuffs and over $100 in fines and court fees. Still, this legal punishment isn’t enough for Tech. A week later, my friend was forced to have a judicial hearing to discuss the punishment the university would smack him with. After some scolding, he was sentenced to take a class called “Making Positive Choices.” This silly course cost my friend another hundred dollars. Caring state organizations, including Tech, love to make money — helping people is just a bonus.
I would be lying if I said that I knew what this class is like. Still, I can amuse myself by imagining a “Clock Work Orange” style re-education in order to make my friend a more productive member of society. If I were in his shoes, I would show up to this bogus re-education course with some rum in my blood. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that every student is given a breathalyzer at the door. His only option then would be to hide a couple of shots in his morning coffee. The very idea that a state organization such as Tech has the ability to re-educate people on making better choices is authoritarian nonsense that shouldn’t even exist at an elementary school, let alone at a college level. All joking aside about the contents of this class, the very fact that the university has granted itself this right to punish students above and beyond the law is disturbingly unethical and completely backwards. When looking at my friend’s situation, one element stands out as being present at every aspect of his criminal charges — money. If I didn’t know better, a simple observation would lead me to believe that the state, including Tech, has found a clever way to make a small profit under the guise of correcting wrongdoing. I will give Tech the benefit of the doubt and say that it is possible that the policy maker really does believe that he or she is doing what is best for the students. Nevertheless, I find the idea that the school can force students into re-education courses on choice making to be nothing short of Orwellian. It’s as if Tech is mandating just how
students are supposed to think and act. The choices my friend made — harmless choices that had no victim whatsoever — shouldn’t have to be corrected. Tech has zero right to force its vision of morality onto the student body. This doesn’t sound like something a free-minded university should be doing. Some could then argue that by going to Virginia Tech, the students have agreed to this nonsense upfront. I would like to remind everyone that Virginia Tech is not a private school. It’s a state university that anyone should have a right to try and attend if they so desire. After all, our taxes pay for this school. No wonder we live in a nation where citizens rely on government services to better their lives. Independence is simply not tolerated by the state. The state schools keep you under their wing from infancy to college, never ceasing to punish students when they act inappropriately. Next time, it seems that my friend should try his luck by driving while intoxicated. Since he was punished by the college for deciding to safely walk and order pizza, perhaps next time he should conceal his actions behind the wheel of a car. I’m sure the university isn’t naive enough to believe that he will really stop drinking. I don’t understand what the university hopes to accomplish from this policy. With dollar signs in the eyes of the student judicial board, they’re punishing students who otherwise chose not to drink and drive. I guess the answer is that it isn’t appropriate at all that students are drinking. After all, mommy doesn’t like it when her children drink.
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march 5, 2009
‘He’s Just Not That Into You’ fails to get deep about dating and relationships There is a sadistic genius behind the makers of “He’s Just Not That into You.” These guys have actually disguised two hours DREW of interwoven JACKSON stories about unbearably staﬀ brainless women writer as a chick flick. It’s like feeding bacon to a pig, no connection intended. With an incredible talent-saturated ensemble cast, director Ken Kwapis (current president of the He-Man Woman Haters Club, I’m sure) has created the modern day misogynist’s manifesto. Set in MOVIE REVIEW an unrealistically crack-pipe lacking Baltimore, “He’s Just Not” opens with the blind date of Gigi (the infectiously adorable Ginnifer Goodwin) and Conor (Kevin Connolly, the guy from Entourage), a decent affair set up by a friend, that manages to make it to a second round of drinks. After they say their goodbyes to one another, they each whip out a cell phone. Conor calls Anna (Scarlett Johansson), the girl he wishes he actually went out with; and Gigi calls Janine (Jennifer Connelly), who must listen to Gigi’s optimistic interpretation of a lovely evening. From there we learn that relationships are a mess of never getting what one wants. Gigi obsesses and yearns for a call from Conor, as we can assume she does after all first dates, who forgets her immediately. Apparently this is the current state of dating in America, a supermarket where men need only be mediocre or worse to melt the hearts of five-year-olds disguised as successful twenty-something women. Women are represented by the desperate Gigi, the aforementioned, the knows-how-to-get-what-shewants-slut Anna, the nagging Janine, the commitment-seeking Beth (Jennifer Aniston) and sad-sack Mary (Drew Barrymore). When
their powers combine, they become every barbecue-swapped female stereotype or awkward punch line. It’s fairly obvious why these girls can’t land their men. Their idea of a relationship comes from ’50s pearlwearing marital obligation rather than fulfillment or compatibility. To them, an old maid’s death is the worst death of all. They — Gigi in particular — will allow men all sorts of behavioral credit, all in the name of a second date. It’s like a dramatization of Rock of Love, where the proverbial man steps in for Bret Michaels and the silicone encrusted floosies have been replaced by some of the most beautiful and fatally needy women on the planet. It’s a crime the talent Kwapis wastes on these dregs of female characters. I’m afraid to admit that all the performances were fairly commendable, especially the scene-stealing Goodwin, who fully explored oversimplified feminine desire with a delicate tip-toe between endearing and annoying.
HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU DIRECTED BY: Ken Kwapis STARRING: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Connelly, Ben Aﬄeck, Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Aniston RATED: PG-13 for sexual content and brief strong language PLOT: The dating plight of women is told through several interwoven vignettes and an all-star cast. GRADE: DRUNTIME: 129 minutes The Oscar-caliber skills of Connelly and Johansson are spent on roles Tara Reid could cover quite adequately, something fairly equated to Van Gogh illustrating a Family Circus comic. The film never once encourages the viewer to wonder why relationships are difficult as the main distraction is whether women are actually this stupid. While the characters are paper thin, Kwapis and company’s one
Digital distractions abound in classroom setting RYAN ARNOLD
You might also like. . .
“The Little Rascals” directed by Penelope Spheeris (1994). A classic tale of he-man woman hating, this ﬁlm has a more progressive view of women than “He’s Just Not That into You” despite its childish perspective.
directed by Richard Curtis (2003). Perhaps not the greatest ﬁlm, but a mostly successful and generally entertaining use of a huge ensemble cast and relationship vignettes. A holiday ﬁlm, but always appropriate.
directed by Jack McTiernan (1988). The only people who could possibly like “He’s Just Not” are guys, and guys generally like explosions and one-liners. This is probably one of the greatest action ﬁlms ever made.
slightly saving grace is its transitional Baltimorean setting. The gutted and remodeled tenements reflect a generation of gentrification, a generation moving farther and farther away from its parents. Janine and Ben are ripping out the nostalgic wooden interior of their recently purchased building and replacing it with sleek stainless steel and cool frosted glass. These apartments are closer to Kubrick’s “2001” than a cozy Rockwell painting. A carefully penned love letter has been replaced by a witty text message, ushering in the era of the digital relationship, where men and women can remain coy at a virtual distance. Marriage is somewhat fading as a social requirement, a fact the film maturely alludes to, but regresses in its characters’ treatment of the sacred union as a grown-up checkpoint.
“He’s Just Not” has assembled a star for practically any taste but has bound them in smartlydressed stupidity, restricting their existence to the one-dimensional page.
“...over-simplified feminine desire with a delicate tip-toe between endearing and annoying.” The film pretends to be an encouraging plea for women to believe that happiness can be found in places other than mistreating men, but instead manages to throw the feminine mentality into the dark ages. Any couple that sees “He’s Just Not” as a heart-warming comedy probably gets around by rickshaw with the man at the helm and the woman on the yoke.
ct features staﬀ writer I watched a girl play “Bubble Spinner” for 25 minutes, although the duration more closely resembled an eon. With class seating divided into three rows, she sat in the front middle — directly below the projection screen that was in use — and I was immediately behind her against the wall. I had no choice but to endure the game’s paralyzing monotony. I broke down the elements of “Bubble Spinner” from afar. A large cluster of colorful dots (appropriately) resembling a viral disease appear to rotate on an imaginary axle. The player controls a shooting device hovering above the herd; the ammo are, again, more bright balls. With the help of your fabled friend geometry, you deflect shots off an imagined boundary so that similar color groups will collide and subsequently vanish, scoring you points. I’ve had high fives more thrilling than that exhausted premise. Still, she chased bubble victory like a kitten after yarn. I think I saw drool tap her space bar, but my eyes may have deceived me. And then her computer’s red light began to blink – low battery. Her eyes tore open like an ice water wake-up call. She swiveled in her seat, staggering downward nearly into her bag as though she was bobbing for an AC adapter. Her arm swam around like a youth’s in a coin jar. No dice. Thank you battery-and-memory fail. With a sigh, she rose upright and closed the laptop with the grief of burying a childhood pet. I returned to class, figuratively. Then, just this past Monday, I stumbled through the snow like an inebriated yeti to my late morning class. The sunlight’s reflections, similar to an inflamed ribbon of magnesium, mercilessly torched my retinas. As I had expected, the room was sparsely occupied upon my arrival. While the professor began unveiling the day’s material, my peripheral vision glimpsed a young woman
whose main priority didn’t seem to be note taking. She was making the obligatory rounds on Facebook, filtering through the weekend’s photos (OMG! We had a partyyy!) and posting on friends’ walls about likely unimportant things. Thereafter, she maintained a fervent instant message chat complete with iridescent fonts and exploding emoticons like birdshot confetti to the eyes. As disinterested as she seemed to be with the material, I imagined the only reason she rose that morning was to don her “so cute” pink Sperry boots and awkwardly throw a flirtatious snowball at a love interest. These two detailed examples are not all. In large classrooms and auditoriums, the sea of incandescent LCD’s yield intriguing observations. I’ve zeroed in on people navigating double-digit Internet tabs. I hardly know five addresses off the top of my head. Why would you possibly need to reference umpteen of them during a fifty-minute lecture? The absurdity of at least one beheld Web site cannot go unmentioned: “Lasagna Cat” contains video reenactments of Garfield comic strips. Incredible. Aside from the screen, even the keyboard serves to divert your attention: One thousand fingers simultaneously abusing the alphabet in McBryde 100 is like a sleet storm pelting your eardrums or the constant flapping renewal of 108 minutes on “Lost.” Recent technologies like the iPhone have certainly increased one’s mobile resourcefulness, but I can’t help but question whether the influx of computers in class is actually contributing to student efficiency. They seem more prone to afford innumerable distractions, leading lectures to resonate like tirades from Charlie Brown’s parents. Just as sour baby boomers nostalgically implore, “What ever happened to rock and roll?” — and who can blame them (see iTunes Store top rock songs list) — likewise I mourn the approaching extinction of the faithful Five Star and its counterpart BIC. Or maybe I can split the middle ground and digitally pen upon a Tablet PC, but that supposed improvement seems as counterintuitive as the Snuggie.
march 5, 2009
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march 5, 2009
Women’s basketball seeks revenge on Virginia in ACCs CHAD MOSESSO
ct sports staﬀ writer If you take a quick glance at the Atlantic Coast Conference women's basketball standings, you would probably surmise that Virginia Tech doesn't even belong on the same floor as the cream of the crop in the league. With four teams ranked in the national top 12 — No. 4 Maryland, No. 8 Duke, No. 11 North Carolina and No. 12 Florida State — the ACC has proven to be one of the toughest conferences in the country. Out of the league’s 12 clubs, the Hokies are 2-12 in conference play and rank 11th in scoring offense, 11th in scoring margin, 11th in rebounding and 10th in turnover margin. One of their two conference wins this season was against fellow bottomdweller Clemson, who is likewise 2-12 in ACC competition. The other, and most recent, was against Wake Forest, who was 5-9 and finished 9th in the final regular season standings.
ON THE WEB See what Tech men’s basketball coach Seth Greenberg has taught the women’s team online at Collegiatetimes.com. But when you analyze the Hokies’ resume a little closer, it's easier to see that the numbers aren't always what they appear to be. While the team may not have racked up ACC wins this season, they showed a knack for playing most teams on their brutal schedule close, especially the premiere ones. "We have got a little down this year just because of our record and stuff," said junior Lindsay Biggs. "But we just have to keep in mind that we can play with anyone in this conference, which means anyone in the country because, in my opinion, it's one of the best in the country." Against teams in the top half of the conference, Tech lost by 11 points or less
almost 50 percent of the time. In just 23 days, the Hokies lost four games against current top-25 ranked squads by an average of five-and-a-half points. After falling to Florida State by just four points Jan. 8, Tech suffered a five-point defeat at the hands of then-No. 4 Duke eight days later, followed the next week by a six point loss to then-No. 16 Virginia. "We try to draw on how close we have been, and we need to do just a little bit more to turn that corner and turn an ‘L’ into a ‘W,’” said head coach Beth Dunkenberger. The Hokies enter the 2009 ACC Tournament aiming to make amends for their disappointing regular season campaign. Their quest begins Thursday night at 8 p.m. in Greensboro, N.C., when they face their rival and sixthseed Cavaliers. “You can look at it as a fresh start because we are capable of beating anyone in this league,” Biggs said. “So if we get on a roll, we can do some good things there.”
To start the tournament with a victory against Virginia, the Hokies know they need to try and slow down the Cavs’ potent offense — ranked third in the conference while averaging over 73 points per game. UVa. is led by junior guard Monica Wright, who is leading the ACC in scoring with 21.1 points per game, and senior center Aisha Mohammed, who has tallied 12.8 points a contest while leading the league with an average of 9.9 boards. The most dangerous scorer on Virginia, however, is Lyndra Littles, who torched the Hokies for a combined 51 points in the teams’ two meetings this season. The senior forward is averaging 21.4 points per ball game, which would be highest
in the ACC if she had qualified to be included in ACC statistical rankings. She missed more than a quarter of her team's games when she sat out much of the beginning of the season for "personal reasons," thus making her ineligible for the rankings. Dunkenberger has the team focused on trying to contain the trio's offensive onslaught. "We're focusing on defense and rebounding right now," Dunkenberger said. "Beating people to every loose ball, whether it's coming from a defensive steal standpoint or whether it's trying to get a rebound." In the two games played this season, the Littles-Mohammed-Wright connection has combined to average over
60 points and 19 rebounds a match. Despite this enormous contribution from Virginia's stars, the Hokies have competed tough in their match-ups with the Cavs, having lost by only a combined 13 points. Junior Utahya Drye thinks the Hokies need to do all the small things well to defeat the ‘Hoos. "To come out with a win against UVa., we need to work on the little things,” Drye said. “As far as boxing out, coming up with the loose balls, just playing aggressive and being more aggressive getting to the foul line.” The winner of the first round matchup is slated to play third-seed and No. 8 Duke on Friday at 8 p.m.
Tech forward Utahya Drye knifes toward the paint during the Hokies’ Feb. 2 home meeting with USC-Upstate .
Published on Mar 5, 2009