thursday april 9, 2009 blacksburg, va.
S T D E N T T E C H O F O N WH E E L F O R T N E JOSH SON/COLLEGIATE TIMES
ct news staﬀ writer Courtney Thompson almost disregarded an e-mail because she thought it was merely spam. Fortunately, the senior marketing major read the message and discovered her opportunity to audition for the longest running game show in American history, “Wheel of Fortune.” “I was kind of skeptical, but I called and everything was legit,” Thompson said. She traveled to Los Angeles for the taping of the show’s College Week that consists of undergraduates from 15 different colleges. “I have always watched ‘Wheel of Fortune,’ and it’s just always been fun. One day I went online and submitted an application,” Thompson said. Contestants are usually notified of their opportunity to audition within six months after they submit their application. Soon after, Thompson went to New York to audition along
with hopefuls from other colleges. “It was fun. There was a huge group of people, and we did a mock ‘Wheel of Fortune.’” She participated in word tests, crossword puzzles THOMSPSON and hangman. “If you made it through, you got to play for longer and practice spinning the wheel in the air.” Though she enjoyed her time in New York, she was uncertain whether she would appear on the show. “I was excited, but they were vague about how many people they were taking. I was hopeful. It was just fun to audition.” Participants are notified within three weeks with a letter stating that they have been chosen as a contestant on the show. Thompson received her letter in August 2008. “My mom and I jumped up and down in the
kitchen. I also called my dad and my grandparents. My grandparents were really excited. They hadn’t heard of the show before, but they watched it for me.” She was later notified that she would appear on the show’s College Week, which has completed more than 15 seasons. “I started jumping up and down on the Drillfield,” Thompson said. Though she was excited, she began to prepare for the show. “I started DVRing the show because I’m never home at 7 to see it.” Her parents also bought her a handheld Wheel of Fortune Game for Christmas and she did crossword puzzles in the Collegiate Times, too. Practicing with puzzles at home is nothing compared to actually being on the show, especially knowing that you are representing more than 20,000 students. “I just wanted to have fun, but I wanted to do
a good job for Tech. I was a little bit nervous because it was on TV, but then I thought about how fun it was and it calmed my nerves.” Thompson said everyone involved in the show is genuinely as enthusiastic in person as they appear on television, including its hosts Pat Sajak and Vanna White.
“Pat and Vanna were really cool. Vanna came in while we were doing our makeup. She’s gorgeous. It was surreal.” - COURTNEY THOMSPSON SENIOR MARKETING MAJOR “It was encouraging. All the contestants were really happy for one another. Pat and Vanna were really cool. Vanna came in while we were doing our make-up. She’s gorgeous. It was surreal.” The popular game show known for its variety
of puzzles and its vibrant wheel full of prizes has been in syndication for more than 25 years. In order to be on the show, contestants must be at least 18 years old, but other than that, there are no specific requirements. “All it takes is to be a good puzzle solver. We look for enthusiastic, upbeat people who can play the game well,” said Wheel of Fortune representative Ani Amirkhanian. Each season produces millions of requests to audition; however, only about 560 contestants actually make it onto the show. “College week is one of our favorite weeks. We try to get a good sampling. We want people who play under pressure well, fun, enthusiastic, decisive, and can survive with a television studio audience and bright lights in your face,” said Gary O’Brien, head of the contestant department. Because of a legal agreement Thompson cannot reveal the results of the show. She will be featured on April 13’s program on ABC at 7 p.m.
Engineering students’ Alcohol study finds student project to help Kenyans consumption above average GORDON BLOCK
ct news reporter
COURTESY OF MARIA DE JESUS
Linda Marshall, director of systems integration at IBM Global Services, speaks during the presentation of a solar design to provide solar power to a medical clinic in Kenya.
ct staﬀ writer For engineering students, the senior design project is the culmination of everything they have learned in college. For a particular group of Virginia Tech students, it was also the opportunity to do a great amount of good for Kenyan people. On Wednesday in the Torgersen Museum, the Renewable Energy Senior Design Team unveiled its project. Led by mechanical engineering professor Uri Vansburger and graduate student Mark Showalter, the Team works to power the Getongoroma Medical Clinic in Kenya. Initially proposed a few years ago by The Rev. Thorney Kirk, the team hopes to finish the work started by the students who came before them. The team opted for solar energy. Mechanical engineering student and team member Brian Pering is optimistic about the implications of the project. “Solar power was economically viable compared to the cost of moving fuel and the volatility of fuel,” Pering said. “It proves there are green options even for third-world countries”. Though it was the team’s most viable option, the design came at a cost. A fairly expensive system, it compounded the problems the team already faced from lack of funding. Many senior design teams receive funding for their projects from companies in the field looking for cheap
research. However, because the Renewable Energy Team’s project is smaller, they have had difficulty getting sponsors. “It’s very hard to get people to donate for something they can’t see right in front of them,” Pering said. “People don’t like to put money up front, but that’s when it’s really needed.” Still, the Team has been able to make headway this year as IBM, Renesola, and Grundfos Pumps along with the Virginia Tech Foundation have helped provided many of the necessary resources for the project.
“It’s been difficult. Being a mechanical engineer, I like things more hands-on rather than abstract.” - MEAGAN MONTGOMERY MECHANICAL ENGINEERING Another hurdle the team faced was in the design phase. With the shortage of resources, much of the project was constricted to a “paper project,” Showalter said. Because of the financial belt-tightening, the project was developed by taking pencil to paper instead of working with physical parts. Meagan Montgomery, one of the others seniors working alongside Pering, echoed Showalter’s comments. “It’s been difficult. Being a mechanical engineer, I like things more hands-on rather than abstract,” Montgomery said.
She said a strong source of motivation for the Team was the desire to help the Kenyan people and credited Vansburger and Showalter with keeping them focused. Pering and Showalter both sited missionary work as a key reason they got involved in the project. “I don’t have a personal interaction with them, but sometimes numbers speak very loudly,” Pering said. For Showalter, it is his faith that pushes him. “Engineering mission work is what God wants me to do with my life right now,” Showalter said. “I work other jobs to pay the bills”. One of the factors of the project that caught the team on the upswing was its collaboration with the Kenyans. “They learn the stuff easier than the people in the (United States),” Showalter said, who visited the region a few years back to begin set up for the project. With the ability to operate labs and other facilities, the clinic will offer superior health services in the area. Showalter said that while the Kenyan government provides clinics and testing for HIV, some of its own employees do not have complete faith in the test’s accuracy. Showalter also pointed out that while 18 percent of men and 13 percent of women are HIV positive, only 1 percent of those people are getting treatment. The team hopes to raise the money to get to Kenya and install the design by this summer, but they say they may have to put it on hold while they finish collecting the necessary funds.
A new Virginia Tech report is calling for drastic action in light of alcohol consumption rates higher than both state and national averages. The Virginia Tech Plan, created by the Alcohol Abuse Prevention Taskforce, recommended 25 items ranging from policy changes at Tech to increased training and education to non-alcoholic alternative programming for students. The taskforce, formed in 2006, faced several deadlines before finally publishing its findings. The report, originally scheduled for release in August 2007, was pushed back with the shootings on April 16 of that year and received another lengthy delay with the death of Vice President for Student Affairs Zenobia Hikes. Statistics in the report, derived through a survey of 2,000 students in 2005, show Tech students reporting consuming alcohol on average 1.9 times per week. In comparison, the Virginia state-wide average for consuming alcohol is 1.3 times per week, and the national average 1.1 times per week. The amount of alcohol students are consuming is also worrisome for administrators. Virginia Tech students reported consuming 13.2 drinks per week, more than double the Virginia statewide average of 6 drinks per week and 25 percent more than the nationwide average of 9.5 drinks per week. Students averaged more drinks per occasion, consuming 7.4 drinks per occasion compared to 5.5 drinks statewide and 4.2 drinks nationwide. The report cites students for viewing their drinking “as normal and acceptable, despite the abundance of medical and social research to the contrary.” “The issue we’re most concerned about is people who drink in a way that is excessive that put themselves and others in danger,” said Rick Ferraro, assistant vice president for Student Affairs. Tackled in the taskforce report is the large consumption of alcohol preceding sporting events. Steven Clarke, director of the Campus Alcohol Abuse Prevention Center, pointed out that alcohol consumption at football games present a poor example to incoming freshmen.
“Three of the first four weekends of the school year are home football games, so students are seeing parking lots full of students consuming alcohol,” Clarke said. “It gives them the wrong perception.” Some of the recommendations the task force made included time limits for tailgating before home football games and select parking for visiting fans to avoid confrontations. Also considered is the suspension of season ticket privileges for football and basketball for students caught under the influence of alcohol.
“It provides social outlets for those who don’t drink or drink very rarely.” - STEVEN CLARKE DIRECTOR , CAMPUS ALCOHOL ABUSE PREVENTION CENTER “There are plenty of people who want tickets,” Clarke said. “If you’re going to go drunk and be disruptive, there are other people that can use that ticket.” Clarke said the implementation of the plan was to take place at the earliest starting in the fall of the 2010 season. Also in the taskforce report is the expansion of alternative programming for those who do not consume alcohol. Clarke noted statistics that showed 54 percent of students drink once a week or less and that 20 percent of students don’t consume any alcohol “Given the large number of students that don’t drink, we should try to provide that alternative environment,” Clarke said.
Among the recommendations for alternative activities is an alcohol-free club space in Squires Student Center, providing additional substance-free housing options and providing late-night, alcohol-free programming. “It provides social outlets for those who don’t drink or drink very rarely,” Clarke said. As a part of this, groups taking out large public spaces such as Squires’ Commonwealth Ballroom would be required to run their events at later times.One issue for those around the report is the lack of funding to carry out the recommendations. Some of the recommendations carry large price tags. The alcohol-free club space in Squires carries an estimated cost of $15,000 to $20,000, and new late-night programming initiatives carry funding estimates of $25,000. “Right now there is no money attached to this report,” Clarke said. “What is going to happen is when we make the decisions, we will then ask for the money from the university.” Though some of the recommendations had potentially expensive price tags, the report states that the school could face higher costs for ignoring the problems. “You want to get value out of it,” Ferraro said. “You don’t want to underfund it so it won’t work, but you don’t want to overfund it so that it takes away from other programs.” The report will now be sent out to the presidents of all student groups over the course of the next few weeks.
2005 Alcohol Consumption Virginia Tech VA Statewide US Nationwide Average Times/Week
*Courtesy of the Alcohol Abuse Prevention Taskforce *Survey of 2000 students with 980 respondents LINDSEY BACHAND/COLLEGIATE TIMES
Some Spanish classes restricted to majors DEMI ARGIROPOULOS
ct staﬀ writer Course request for fall classes closed last week, and as some students may have noticed, the computer system checks prerequisites for most foreign language courses. In addition, the foreign language department has implemented a new rule for limiting course request for 3000 level Spanish courses and above strictly to majors. This only applies to Spanish courses within the foreign language department. “The funding situation for next fall is still up in the air. The state hasn’t finished its budget, so the university doesn’t know its budget … so our department doesn’t know its budget,” said Richard Shryock, department chair of foreign languages and literatures. Because there is still some uncertainty regarding the staffing situation for the fall, Shryock maintains that the foreign language depart-
ment is “taking a conservative approach in terms of the courses we know we can staff with what we have now.” Associate professor of foreign languages, Jessica Folkart, describes the high demand for foreign languages, especially Spanish, within the university. “…We don’t know if we will have enough money to staff enough classes to meet the demand, so we have to protect the majors first.” This limitation is restricted to pre-enrollment, and it does not mean that minors or students in international or interdisciplinary studies will be unable to get into these higher-level Spanish courses. “We are saving space in the classes so that in the fall we can forceadd students as necessary. Priority must be given to Spanish majors because if our majors can’t graduate in four years, that’s a problem,”
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Partnership works to expand Blacksburg businesses RYAN PETCHENICK
ct news staﬀ writer The Blacksburg Partnership has taken it upon itself to reinvigorate downtown Blacksburg while adding additional commercial and recreational sites to the town. With the help of RKG Associates, The Blacksburg Partnership, in the earlier part of the decade, was successfully able to create a plan for the town that would improve commercial corridors, aid in retail recruitment, and assist with commercial development. The non-profit organization officially came together in July of 2003 and began a campaign to market the town to outside business that it thought would be a good fit in Blacksburg, a campaign that is still going on today. “We have identified 200 business that we’d love to have in Blacksburg, and we’ve gone around the state looking at businesses, that would be a good fit if they decided to re-locate,”
said Blacksburg Partnership President Diane Akers. The partnership, in the recent months, has acquired 36 acres of land off the highway where interstate 460 connects Christiansburg and Blacksburg. Fittingly titled the “Interstate Exchange” project, the Blacksburg Partnership facilitated a deal with the Virginia Department of Transportation where the town of Blacksburg would acquire the land at no cost. The partnership, on the town’s behalf, is working to interest commercial developers to develop on eight acres of property, and in return, the money gained would go toward developing parks out of the renaming 28 acres. There still has yet to be a buyer for the site, though the partnership maintains that it has interested parties. Bill Aden, a board member for the partnership and founding member of Draper Aden Associates in Blacksburg said, “We have an interested party in putting a nice multi-story office build-
ing out there.” He added that if that falls through, they would run another campaign to try and get people re-interested in the property. In the past year, The Blacksburg Partnership has received $200,000 total. $25,000 came from Tech, $25,000 came from the town of Blacksburg, $50,000 came from local businesses, and the other $100,000 came from various projects such as the Gobble Art project, Fork and Cork event, and local interest groups. The Gobble Art project created 75 Hokie Bird statues through a company called Fiber Stock and sells them to various locations around town. The partnership has sold 70 pieces thus far and generated $190,000 in net profit from the project. The process was considered such a success that the partnership is in the beginning stages of another Hokie Bird campaign, this time with “mini”’ Hokie Birds that would stand between 18 inches and 24 inches off the ground
as opposed to the those already around Blacksburg that are 5 feet tall. The money the organization receives goes toward projects, recruitment, marketing and office costs. The partnership has allocated $20,000 each year to marketing and invested $52,000 into the Interchange Exchange project. The organization’s long-term goal is to become self-sufficient. In conjunction with this goal, the organization has seen funds from the town and the school drop from $50,000 to $25,000, respectively. “I think we’ve moved in a very positive direction we’ve cut the amount of funding from town and from Tech, but that doesn’t mean we won’t seek funding from various sources (when we are self reliant),” Akers said. The goal of becoming self-funded is ongoing, and no timetable is available for when the organization plans to further decrease the amount of funds it receives. Some believe this type of organization might best be judged
on how it helps improve the community. Tripp Muldrow, a partner at Artnett, Muldrow and Associates, helped write the downtown master plan for Blacksburg in the early part of the decade, and, believes that the partnership has helped improve the downtown climate and developed a thriving retail and dining district. A decade ago, Blacksburg was literally hemorrhaging business over to Christiansburg, Muldrow said. “Since the partnership had taken up a presence in Blacksburg, the retail climate in Blacksburg is certainly much healthier than it was 10 years ago,” Muldrow said. The partnership will also attempt to use additional money on its downtown revitalization project. Blacksburg is home to buildings dating back as far as 80 years, and the organization feels an obligation to help with projects that wouldn’t happen on their own. The Blacksburg Partnership’s Revolving Loan Fund currently offers
a $25,000 revolving loan, available in increments of $5,000, that would go toward improving the establishments interior and exterior, but the funds are explicitly for building improvements and not for any kind of expenses the business might incur otherwise. At the last partnership meeting one month ago, it had still not received any applicants for the loan. Additionally, the partnership produces a town-wide shopping and dining guide for everyone to use. These guides, of which 20,000 are produced every year and put out during freshman orientation are located all around Blacksburg to market the town to its own residents and incoming residents, who are not already aware of everything their town has to offer. “It’s important to have vibrant retail districts so people can have restaurants they like and shops they like,” said university spokesman Larry Hincker. “The quality of life in the town of Blacksburg is intertwined with quality of life for students.”
Spanish: Priority given to majors from page one
Folkhart said. The department hopes to be able to hire another professor to teach next year, which could add another six or eight class sections that would be available to students. “Since the budget process is coming together so late, it can be difficult for us to find someone, particularly in a language like Spanish, who is available to teach in the fall and who has the requisite qualifications to teach at that level. We want someone who’s going to be a good teacher and not just a warm body,” Shryock said. This limitation on pre-enrollment is temporary, and Shryock said the department would “rather limit things in this way to ensure the quality of what it is you’re getting.” Folkart said that priority will be given “first to majors, second to Spanish minors, and third to international stud-
ies and interdisciplinary studies majors who have to take Spanish, and then to other students.” The changes that are occurring in the foreign language department are not atypical within the university. The department of communication, for example, has had similar limitations on class availability for quite a while. Marlene Preston, director of undergraduate programs within the department of communication, describes the uneven student-faculty ratio within the department. “We have 800 majors and a fairly small faculty for 800 majors, so a lot of our upper level courses are restricted to majors only,” she said. She notes the provost’s commitment to maintaining resources in CLE courses because of their wide-ranging demand among all majors. “Lower level, 1000-2000 level courses that a lot of people use are probably secure. We’d
love to have every student in the university be able to take every class but … we just don’t have the faculty for those upper-level courses.”
“A lot of our upper-level courses are restricted to majors only.” - MARLENE PRESTON DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNICATION The budget changes within the university have caused some departments and colleges to implement course restrictions, but many, including the department of communication, will not see much change. “We’ve always had that bind. We’ve already had some of these policies in place,” Preston said. Drop/add for the fall 2009 semester begins April 27.
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Making financial aid a priority will improve campus diversity For high school seniors, available financial aid packages have long served as important precursors for making up one’s mind about where to attend college. At Virginia Tech, potential students can expect to receive their financial aid offering a few days after they’ve received their acceptance notifications. It is very important for Tech to stay competitive with other state colleges when it comes to distributing financial aid. The last thing we would ever want would be to lose qualified applicants to other schools because we failed to put our financial aid offering out there fast enough. For many students, a hefty financial aid package can make a huge difference. While it is understandable that aid announcements cannot released until an admissions decision has been made on the individual student, it is important for the two to coincide as much as possible. As long as Tech puts the financial aid offering out there early enough, students won’t choose other schools based on their economic situations, but rather on academic merit and other important conditions. Within the past couple weeks there has been a lot of discussion about the recently imposed diversity requirements for faculty. The Foundation for
Individual Rights in Education has combated these requirements, arguing that making commitment to diversity an ideological requirement for faculty members is uncalled for. When such a huge push for diversity is being made on our campus, it’s important to primarily analyze our current system on the admissions level, rather than focus on faculty influence and diversity initiatives. Students from less affluent backgrounds rely a lot more on financial aid to help carry them through school. Especially during such trying economic times, more students than ever before are expecting financial aid to be an important factor in enrollment decisions. If Tech truly wants to become a more diverse campus, these are the people we should be recruiting. These are the people who we should be offering a financially accessible education. When it comes to offering financial aid, Tech should aim to be ahead of other state schools. The last thing we’d ever want would be to lose qualified applicants to other schools whose financial aid packages come through sooner.
Tanning can cause more harm sooner than expected LIZA ROESCH regular columnist
I always find it amusing when the orange glow appears in mid-February. You know what I’m talking about — girls who suddenly become tan between the beginning of second semester and right before spring break. It’s pretty mysterious, considering Blacksburg doesn’t see the sun during that time and laying out in 15 degree weather isn’t the wisest of decisions. All jokes aside, it’s obvious that sunlight is the last thing these girls are exposed to. They, like many young women, have been to tanning salons. Maybe I find this phenomenon funny because I was once one of those girls. I began tanning before my junior prom in high school, following the lead of other girls and hoping not to fluoresce at the dance. After prom passed, I continued tanning and eventually got a job at the salon. It was a pretty easy gig in the summer, considering the majority of sane people don’t pay for sunlight when they can get it outdoors for free. But not me. I took advantage of the free employee tanning from the start. I wasn’t forced to tan, but I was “encouraged to advertise the services provided” and could do so whenever I wanted. So I did. I tanned three times a week, taking my naturally pale skin to a maple hue in hardly any time at all. I loved the way I looked, and I figured that any harm I was doing to my body wouldn’t appear until I was much older. Scary moles and
age spots might befall me at age 60, but at that point I wouldn’t be concerned with how I looked. (It’s amazing what we can convince ourselves of.) Then in early August I noticed a small black dot right between my breasts. I assumed it wasn’t anything to worry about, and I kept tanning into the school year. But in November I began to get concerned about this mysterious black dot. Not only was it still there, it was getting bigger. I had put in my two weeks notice at the salon to focus on college applications, so I decided it was a good time to get this dot looked at by a dermatologist. It was less than half the size of a pencil eraser and flat against my skin. But it was black. And it wasn’t going away. As it turned out, at 17 years old, I had developed a precancerous melanoma mole and needed two surgical procedures to remove it and all the surrounding cells. The mole appeared after only four months of tanning indoors, and I have a lovely 1 inch scar to remind me. Unfortunately, I’m not in the minority. Between 1980 and 2005, there was a 50 perecent increase in young women getting melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. Out of the three forms of skin cancer, melanoma causes 75 percent of skin cancer deaths. Each year, around 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with it, and close to 9,000 people die. The likelihood of a diagnosis increases 75 percent if you tan in tanning beds before the age of 35. Even scarier, the real sun isn’t much safer. It’s been said that each sunburn
more than doubles a person’s chance of melanoma. I know some people will always tan, and some of those people will tan every day of their lives and never get skin cancer. But regardless of whether you suspect anything is wrong, it’s a good idea to get screened by a dermatologist at least once a year to be sure. Early detection and removal of suspicious growths are the best ways to eliminate any chance of the cancer spreading. And the only way to survive melanoma. If left undetected, melanoma can easily spread to internal organs. Once it spreads, not much can be done. Since my brush with skin cancer, I’ve tried my best to apply 30 SPF sunscreen every time I’m outside and attentively look for changes in my skin. I still get a slight tan in the summer, but it doesn’t bring me the same excitement of looking good. It actually makes me a little paranoid. It also scares me to think what could’ve happened if that little dot appeared anywhere else on my body. If it developed on my back, I could’ve easily mistaken it for another freckle or not even noticed it. I’m thankful it was staring me in the face and refused to be ignored. Another thing that can’t be ignored is the overwhelming evidence that melanoma is on the rise and tanning beds deserve at least some of the blame. Unlike any other cancer, skin cancer offers visual evidence of its arrival. So take the hint and have yourself looked at. It might mean the difference between life and death.
The editorial board is composed of David Grant, David Harries and Laurel Colella
LETTER TO THE EDITOR Diversity should be valued but not imposed Regarding Virginia Tech’s increasingly strong “diversity” requirements for faculty merit raises, promotion and tenure, an April 1 column by Ellington Graves challenges the CT’s editorial board and FIRE for “poorly reasoned analysis” of the policy. Readers should examine the policy documents and FIRE’s analysis for themselves at www.thefire.org. In particular, they should read Provost McNamee’s May 29, 2008, memo to all department heads and to promotion and tenure committees, in which he demands, “Candidates must do a better job of participating in and documenting their involvement in diversity initiatives. Diversity accomplishments are especially important for candidates seeking promotion to full professor.” Graves publicly and falsely accuses us of being motivated not by a desire to protect faculty rights, but instead by a desire to “stamp out” efforts at “building greater inclusiveness” on Tech’s campus. But if Graves knows of any public university that imposes similar requirements in the name of patriotism, Christianity, or any other matter of individual choice and conscience, he should let us know so that FIRE may fight them
with equal vigor. In addition, Graves presumes that the editorial board’s March 24 editorial somehow relied on FIRE’s March 25 letter. In truth, the board and FIRE independently reached very similar conclusions — conclusions that are shared by the National Association of Scholars, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni and many others. Virginia Tech’s Board of Visitors also has agreed to comprehensive review Virginia Tech’s tenure and diversity policies. The “litmus tests” employed by FIRE do not involve political ideology, as Virginia Tech’s requirement, but the First Amendment, which protects Graves’ right to criticize us. Graves may be unaware that FIRE has also defended the rights of students and faculty members with an extremely wide variety of views. Another of our biggest cases this month involves the right of adult Maryland students to watch a “XXX” film on campus. “Diversity,” whatever it means, is something that Graves and Virginia Tech are free to value and recognize — but not to the point of imposing such a value against the academic freedom and freedom of conscience of the faculty. Adam Kissel Director of Individual Rights Defense Program, FIRE
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The Collegiate Times is an independent student-run newspaper serving the Virginia Tech community since 1903 Collegiate Times Editorial Staff Editor in Chief David Grant Managing Editors David Harries, Sara Spangler Public Editor Cate Summers News Editors Caleb Fleming, Sara Mitchell News Reporters Gordon Block, Zach Crizer, Justin Graves, Kelsey Heiter, Riley Prendergast, T. Rees Shapiro News Staff Writers Debra Houchins, Phillipp Kotlaba, Gabe McVey, Will Thomas, Ryan Trapp Features Editor Bethany Buchanan Features Reporters Topher Forhecz, Teresa Tobat, Jonathan Yi Features Staff Writers Ryan Arnold, Mary Anne Carter, Drew Jackson, Tom Minogue, Alex Pettingell Opinions Editors Laurel Colella Sports Editors Thomas Emerick, Brian Wright Sports Reporters Joe Crandley, Justin Long, Ed Lupien, Melanie Wadden Sports Staff Writers Garrett Busic, Matt Collette, Lindsay Faulkner, Hattie Francis, Alex Jackson, Mike Littier Copy Editors Erin Corbey, Thandiwe Ogbonna, Kristen Walker, Michelle Rivera Layout Designers Go-Eun Choi, Velechia Hardnett, Kelly Harrigan, Rachel McGiboney, Mina Noorbakhsh, Josh Son Illustrator Mina Noorbakhsh Multimedia Editor Phillip Murillas Multimedia Producer Candice Chu Multimedia Reporters Kevin Anderson, Peter Velz Online Director Sam Eberspacher Collegiate Times Business Staff Business Manager Ryan McConnell College Media Solutions Staff Advertising Director Patrick Fitzgerald Asst Advertising Directors Tyler Ervin Jenna Given, Katelynn Reilly Ads Production Manager Anika Stickles Asst Production Manager Allison Bhatta Ads Production/Creation Breanna Benz, Jennifer DiMarco, Lisa Hoang, Rebecca Smeenk, Lindsay Smith, Katie Sonntag, Lara Treadwell National Account Executive Kaelynn Kurtz Account Executives Libbey Arner, Nik Bando, Brandon Collins, Chris Cunningham, Oran Duncan, Lee Eliav, Judi Glass, Kendall Kapetanakis, David Morgan, Marcello Sandoval, Arianna Rouhani, Jennifer Vaughn Assistant Account Executives Madeline Abram, Diane Revalski, Devon Steiner, Tyler Terhune Marketing Manager Amanda Sparks Office Manager Kaelynn Kurtz Student Publication Photo Staff Director of Photography Sally Bull Business Manager Paul Platz
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US must work to prevent child laundering in overseas countries BURKE THOMAS regular columnist Last year I lived in the Marshall Islands, an isolated Pacific island nation. The day before I left, my host uncle came to me in private. “Seven years ago, my daughter was born in the capital. When my wife and I were raising her, an American came to me asking for our baby. Because it is our culture, we agreed. Do you know when she will come back?” He gave me the name and address of the adoption agency, Journeys of the Heart, whose agent had taken his child. When I returned to the United States I began contacting agency personnel, who did not respond. Each time I wrote, I clearly described the tragic details of the story and asked them to forward my requests for information to the adoptive family. Finally, I received an e-mail from the executive director, Susan Tompkins. She wrote: “Journeys of the Heart does not provide family contact information, as this would be illegal and unethical.” I replied that stealing babies was unethical. In 2002, seven U.S. adoption agencies were working in the Marshall Islands. After a law was passed to prevent corrupt adoption practices, the only agency to receive a license was Journeys of the Heart. Its Web site proudly advertises “Marshall Island (sic) Child Adoption Going Strong.” It continues, “The birth mother and her family generally welcome any contact including visits, phone calls or the required letters.” As for visits, the island I lived on receives a boat that offloads food every two and a half months. Anybody who has been to the Marshall Islands knows that the majority of people do not have any access to telephones or mail. But for kidnappers, the facts are of no consequence. The agency’s main goal is to get “as many of the world’s children out of harm’s way as possible.” By this logic, it is harmful simply to live in poor countries, which apparently can’t approach
our own moral and cultural superiority. Thus, any baby living in a poor country is a legitimate target of such supposedly progressive ideals. We can be reminded of a similar humanitarian vision stated by Christopher Columbus: “Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending (to Spain) all the slaves that can be sold.” It seems the worst aspect of colonialism is still our manifest destiny. For carrying, bearing, beginning to raise and giving up their infant, the young mother and father received nothing. The reason is simple: for adoption companies, giving birth parents nothing is more profitable than giving them something. This is what happens when children become commodities, and agents are paid based on commission. I was hoping that what happened in the Marshall Islands was an anomaly. But instead, the conditions are generalizable. The practice of concealing the “illegal and unethical” adoptions behind the front of legitimate agencies is called child laundering. In 2008, the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force in the United States. The Preamble reads in part that “each State should take, as a matter of priority, appropriate measures to enable the child to remain in the care of his or her family of origin.” However, this law is not followed in practice. David Smolin, the foremost expert on child laundering, argues in “Wayne Law Review” that in most cases, adoptive parents “spend thousands of dollars (or tens of thousands of dollars) to arrange an intercountry adoption, when aid of less than a thousand dollars would have kept the child with their birth family.” But no law requires that this option be offered. Ethan Kapstein notes in “Foreign Affairs” that the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) states “that the placement of children should not result “in improper financial gain for those involved in it.’” Unfortunately, the United States and Somalia are the only United Nations members not to ratify the CRC. Thus, paying commissions per child is legal, with predictable
consequences. Last year more than 4,100 children were adopted from Guatemala, America’s top baby “supplier.” But for the last six years, the country has failed to meet its obligations under the Hague Adoption Convention; thus, as of March 9, 2009, the U.S. stopped accepting adoptive babies from Guatemala. This ban is part of a larger cycle. Smolin contends that in the past 20 years “40 percent of those significant sending nations have virtually dropped out of the intercountry adoption system, apparently due largely to scandals related to child” laundering. Therefore, it is possible that the majority of international adoptions are thefts (I couldn’t find statistics). An April 4 New York Times article notes that our demand for babies from China, the second-biggest (and soon to be biggest) child “supplier,” contributes to a lucrative market in abducted children that may number in the “hundreds of thousands.” Some parents “post fliers in places where children are often sold and travel the country to stand in front of kindergartens as they let out.” Tragically, in the future we should expect that an adoption scandal will rock the Chinese market as well. Anecdotally, recent news of celebrity adoptions has spurred interest in international adoptions. Those who support this trend may want to take a closer look. Madonna’s recent move to circumvent Malawi’s strict adoption laws resulted in a court ruling on Friday banning her adoption of another child. To do so, she must fulfill the country’s 18 month residency requirement, designed to prevent child laundering. Ironically, the court allowed her to keep the first child she adopted from Malawi, which she reportedly obtained through donating $3 million to the child’s orphanage. I have no doubt that international adoption is often a loving and sublime experience for all parties involved. But the other day I wrote my host uncle’s urban relatives a letter: “Please tell him his baby will never come back.”
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april 9, 2009
‘Unveiling’ helps illuminate consumer-oriented society TERESA TOBAT
ct features reporter Director and second year master of fine arts student Alanna Malone wants audience members to know that “The Unveiling,” opening today, has a strong historical background but is not a realistic play. “It’s a dark comedy,” Malone said. “There are dark powerful forces working on these people that prompt them into absurd moments and that offers a great theatricality.” In the play, Ferdinand Vanek is invited to a dinner party hosted by his friends Michael and Vera. During the course of the play, the married couple tries to convince Vanek that he should live the way they do. The play deals with a period in Czech history called normalization. During the 1970s and 1980s, Stalinists promised Czech people that if they gave up personal freedoms they would receive a good job, money and permission to travel. Czech people were not allowed to express dissent or organize. Vera and Michael have exchanged their personal freedoms for consumable goods and try to convince Vanek this is the best way to live. “Vera and Michael’s attempts to work on him are incredibly threatening, coercive, fun, Vanek is subjected to all these things. Each one is a barrage or an attempt to get Vanek to say, ‘You know you’re right, I should take a better job,’” Malone said. “His denial and deflection of Vera and Michael’s attempts drives them crazy.” Malone said she wanted to direct this play in part because of its relevance and ideas. “Policies or attitudes have a way each generation has to confront them, encounter them, deal with them, and if we don’t have the courage to do that, they morph into more nefarious places that aren’t cautified, but become personal attitudes. Although this play comes out of very codified and structured governmental policies and repressive regimes,” she said. Malone said this absurdist comedy relates to this country because of our consumer-oriented society. “This idea of materialism and people’s access to money and power of privilege in the United States, there’s a huge divide in, ‘Well, I have all this stuff, and
this makes me this person. And clearly if you don’t, you haven’t worked as hard or you haven’t pulled yourself together.’ Which is really nutso, but there you have it, these prejudices … How do we allow for that kind of freedom where people don’t hurt each other, but they help each other, how do we that in a society?” Malone said. She said the play grapples with the issue of power. “People with power are really reluctant to give it up. Who’s going to give it up? That’s what Vera and Michael are doing in this play, that is their destruction, but the problem with that is that it leaves you spiritually void, with no human dignity and no ability to offer dignity to the people that you’re with,” Malone said. Senior theatre arts major Ben Kelley plays lead role Ferdinand Vanek, a failed writer and current brewery worker who visits friends Vera and Michael. To research for the part, Kelley examined life of playwright Václav Havel, former president of the Czech Republic. It’s suggested that Vanek is strongly based on Havel.
THE UNVEILING WHEN: April 9 to April 11 WHERE: 204 Performing Arts Building COST: Free TIME: 7:30pm RUN TIME: about 50 minutes Kelley said his character is more skiddish than Havel and has changed during the rehearsal process. “I started out with him a lot more timid. He wasn’t as dominant,” Kelley said. “These people are wearing a mask and he’s waiting to take off his mask, so he can get way. He’s still timid, but I’m starting to find his strength.” Kelley has the lead role, but the fewest lines. “He’s not talking all the time. It’s almost like I’m another member of the audience. I’m really subject to (Michael and Vera’s) performance and what they’re trying to show me,” Kelley said. “My character is someone who does not want to accept the changes that are coming to his country.” Kelley said his character is disturbed that his friends have accepted this new
life, and even though Vanek resists, normalization has changed the way he lived. His character was forced to give up writing. “He almost feels like he has the weight of his whole society on his shoulders,” Kelley said. Senior theatre arts and industrial and systems engineering major Adam Ressa portrays Michael who lives a comfortable lifestyle that has been normalized. “We suggest the recently established and the people who are going with the flow. That’s why we have all this great stuff,” Ressa said. Ressa said it’s difficult for him to portray this character because Michael is very dark. “There’s a lot of traits that I don’t even like in me that I have to bring out for this show,” Ressa said. “He’s a character where I totally see where’s he coming from, and it almost scares me. He represents something horrible. He suggests the establishment.” Ressa said he is subconsciously trying to bring out a part of himself he normally doesn’t show. “I’m a very good person, and I love playing evil,” Ressa said. He said he and his wife Vera don’t have the most loving relationship. “We sure are married. I think we’re a unit,” Ressa said. “I always look at Vera as a teammate there’s some love there – it’s very convoluted and weird, and there’s sexual energy there.” Sophomore theatre arts and English literature major Sarah Wylie plays Vera, Michal’s wife. “She’s crazy. It’s a suburban ’60s housewife on crack,” Wylie said. “My character’s very socialist and trying to convert Vanek to our way of living.” Vera’s hair is put up in a beehive, which contributes thematically to the show. “It’s kind of funny because we have a beehive mentality through the whole thing. Michael and I are always checking in with each other. It’s an interesting thing to do with another actor. You don’t always get that chance to be inside the head of another actor,” Wylie said. The actors played around with different dynamics of their relationship and ultimately decided that they would solely focus on Vanek. “He really is our best friend, and we don’t want to do this to him. It was just us, all of our defenses disappear, and we become these monsters. We went from just being plain bitchy – the
HUSSEIN M. AHMED/SPPS
Michael, played by Adam Ressa, teases his wife, Vera, portrayed by Sarah Wylie in the play “The Unveiling.” problem was that it became all about us ... We’re doing everything for Vanek,” Wylie said. During the play, Vera unbuttons the top half of her dress and is left in her bra and dances suggestively with Michael. “I’m very shy, so it really was very difficult for me to work into that. We worked slowly into it,” Wylie said. She said feeling comfortable was key, and her cast members Kelley and Ressa were supportive. “They’re great guys, and I don’t have to worry about anything, which is nice,” Wylie said. Vera also tries to seduce Vanek to get him to come over to her side. “It’s a journey on stage. I have to portray a woman who is absolutely desperate. She’s willing to have sex with this man. To make him do what they need him to do,” Wylie said. While Vera and Michael may be very desperate, Wylie said the rich historical background of the play is key to the show. “They performed this play in dining rooms illegally. It was not in theaters. It was not allowed ... It’s chalk full of history, and I love that about it because I’m a big history buff. To me, it’s all in the history of it than in the acting of it,” she said. Even though she is the only female
character in the play, she said Vera doesn’t represent women because this is an absurdist play. “We have the hardest time. It’s not a realistic play. It’s written so realistically. The things that you can do with it because it is absurdist are fantastic.” Lighting and scenic designer and props coordinator Kerri Friedman, senior theatre production/design and classical studies double major, said she noted the macabre aspects of the show immediately after reading it. “I really took it as a freak show. This couple has this unbelievable dynamic ... It’s not a good environment: it’s scary, it’s dark, it’s the opposite of normal,” Friedman said. She wanted to pick “uncomfortable” colors for the set that were still a spectacle to go along with a “circus” theme for the show. She ultimately decided on golden yellow, neutral tones and red. The centerpieces of the set are two almost half circle-shaped yellow couches. She said she found the couches very unappealing and void of all tastes. “I wanted this to be that hip couple that thinks they’re in style, but in actuality they are not very in tune with what should go together and what shouldn’t. I really wanted to get that vibe,” Friedman said.
There’s a carpet in the center of the set that Friedman placed there to represent the characters’ different spaces. “The carpet keeps with color palette, but also isolates Vera and Michael’s area, isolates Vanek. The carpet to the wall is Michael and Vera. Vanek is isolated in the chair. There’s strange objects that Michael and Vera collect not because they want them or appreciate them, it’s because they can have them. They’re in a place of status,” Friedman said. Friedman initially wanted to have a mirror on set to loom over the characters, but she settled on using chiming clocks to represent this idea instead. “The Big Brother idea is in those clocks they’re watching. Michael and Vera are under their control. They have a limited amount of time to reach their goal. It’s just an interesting dynamic between them and the clock,” Friedman said. At the end of the play, Vanek eventually goes along with Michael and Vera’s requests. “It’s comic, but it gets pretty frickin’ dark at the end,” director Malone said. “It’s ultimately disturbing to me at the end, that he’s come back into the room. I hope that pisses people off at the end a little bit. I hope that they go, ‘Well, that’s not me. I wouldn’t do that,’ and they really take that to heart.”
april 9, 2009
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april 9, 2009
Freshman lacrosse phenom anything but a non-factor MELANIE WADDEN
ct sports reporter About nine miles west of Baltimore, Jessica Nonn faced the challenge of sorting through a slew of varsity letters to choose a collegiate sports career. She played varsity all four years at Catonsville High School, earning 12 varsity letters overall: four in lacrosse, four in basketball, and four in soccer. While at Catonsville, Nonn earned first team all-county and second team all-state honors in soccer — before deciding to play lacrosse at Virginia Tech. Now she’s a standout college freshman. “I love soccer as much as I like lacrosse, really,” Nonn said. “But I think I decided to play lacrosse (in college) because I was on a really NONN good club team … It made me more involved with lacrosse.” Morgan Widlake, a fellow freshman on this year’s squad, has been Nonn’s best friend since elementary school. “We grew up playing sports together — we played basketball, soccer and lacrosse throughout the years,” said Widlake. “Then we went to separate
high schools and played against each other, but we always played club together.” When the recruiting process began, Widlake visited Tech first. “It was a huge coincidence. We didn’t like plan it,” Widlake said of she and Nonn both ending up at Virginia Tech. “It just worked out that way. I told her how much I loved it, and she was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to have to check it out.’”
“She’s one of those players who, if she makes a turnover, will hustle her butt off to get it back. ” - KARI MORRISON TECH LACROSSE GOALKEEPER Nonn, a psychology major, knew early on in the recruiting process what she was looking for. “I narrowed my choice down early to Virginia Tech or Ohio State,” she said. “The other schools were either too close or too small. I was really looking for a big school.” According to the NCAA’s Web site, seniors in high school are allowed to take three official visits to prospective colleges. Virginia Tech was the clear favorite
by the end. “The girls were awesome when I came down,” said Nonn. “They were all really welcoming, and I think that played a major role in my decision because when I went to visit Ohio State, I didn’t even get to meet the girls... Tech just stood apart.” On a team with just two seniors and one junior, however, Nonn knew that this season would be a challenge. “I think it’s been hard (this year) because it feels like there’s a lot of pressure put on all of the freshmen,” Nonn said. “ I mean, usually freshman don’t even get to play that much, but the fact that we’re almost only limited to freshmen and sophomores, it lets us know that we really need to step it up and not just look up to the upperclassmen.” Nonn has taken a leadership role in the midfield, leading the team both on the attack and on defense. Nearing the end of her freshman season, she has netted some noteworthy statistics, including 28 goals (third on the team) and 40 ground balls (tied for team lead with goalie Kari Morrison). “Jessica is good on both ends of the field.” Morrison said. “Offensively she does well. She’ll hustle back on defense. She is very productive on both ends. Jessica brings this great level of intensity; she works hard and has that all-out hustle that we need.” Senior Rachel Culp agreed with Morrison. “She’s always going hard; I’ve never seen her give up on a play. She’s one of those players who, if she makes a turnover, will hustle her butt off to get it back. She never gets down on herself or anything. She’s a fighter.” Looking to the future, Nonn has some obvious goals on the horizon. Culp, who Nonn looks to for guidance, is the team’s current standout leader and one of the two remaining seniors. “Rachel has been the biggest mentor to me on the team,” she continued. “I’ve looked up to her since day one. She’s just a phenomenal player, and she’s exactly who I want to be in three years… “For the rest of my time here I want to continue to be as successful as I am now, making an impact on the team and hopefully becoming one of the real leaders in the future — maybe even a captain.” Culp agreed to having taken Nonn under her senior wing. “I talk to Jess a lot. I think she, like me, takes everything as a learning experience, whether it’s in the game
Tech’s Jessica Nonn celebrates after scoring the winning goal in overtime against Old Dominion on March 28. The freshman has tallied 30 goals over the first 14 games of her collegiate career, good for third on the team. or practice,” Culp said. “She’s definitely learned a lot from this season, from the beginning to now. If she makes a mistake, she’s always willing to hear it — what she can do better, what it was — so she can improve.” The only thing that could hold Nonn back is foul trouble. She currently leads the team in fouls (34) and in yellow cards (9). “She needs to work on controlling her stick,” Morrison said. “Sometimes
her hunger for the ball is too much, but you can’t deny her hustle and determination on every play.” Nonn continued, “I get really aggressive sometimes. I think I just need to work on staying composed and not getting too crazy, not getting too emotional during the game, because that’s when I get a little out of control. But that’s something that comes with time; it’s just a matter of experience.” In less than a single season, Nonn
has shown an ability to lead that could play huge factor for the program going forward. Her maturity on the field is unmatched by most freshmen and the team expects a lot from her. “Jessica is a huge part of where this program is going and what it will become,” Morrison said. “She is a big part of our success this season … and I expect to see great things from her … I mean, look at her: She’s already great as a freshman.”
Thursday, April 9, 2009 Print Edition of The Collegiate Times