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COLLEGIATETIMES

thursday april 30, 2009 blacksburg, va.

www.collegiatetimes.com

sports GHANA TO CALL UP NYARKO Current Chicago Fire member and former Tech soccer player has been called up by Ghana head coach Milovan Rajevac. Nyarko, a native of Kumasi, Ghana, has started all six games – scoring a goal and recording two assists in his second year with Chicago. The Ghana Black Stars lead their qualifying group for the 2010 World Cup.

Debate reveals candidates’platforms “Politics is the art of the possible, not the art of the perfect.”

“I’ve never attacked a Democrat in my life and I’m not going to start now.”

“Governors make time.”

MCAULIFFE

DEEDS

MORAN

news SWINE INFLUENZA FALLS SHORT OF PANDEMIC LABEL An outbreak of swine influenza has been classified at the phase 5 level — one step short of a full pandemic — by the World Health Organization. 64 cases of the illness and one death have been documented in the US so far. However, there are currently no cases of the swine flu in Virginia. The university is in contact with public officials and has a contingency plan should an outbreak occur on campus. Schiffert Health Center advises students and faculty to call its offices or their doctor if they are experiencing flu-like symptoms and have recently traveled to an area where human cases of swine flu have been confirmed. No vaccine for the swine flu is currently available, but anti-viral medications have been shown to reduce its symptoms. Schiffert also encourages students to follow several basic procedures to prevent illness, such as frequently washing one’s hands with warm soap and water, avoiding contact with ill persons, covering nose and mouth when coughing/sneezing, and getting adequate sleep. Schiffert Health Center can be reached at (540) 231-6444.

tomorrow’s weather SCATTERED T-STORMS high 77, low 58

corrections In Tuesday’s news brief, former university president T. Marshall Hahn Jr.’s accomplishments were misidentified. It was during his tenure that women were allowed to enroll in the Corps of Cadets. In “Blacksburg approves town budget” (April 29) the Town Council cut the print edition of the calendar — it will be available online — and reduced the frequency of its brush collection. The Collegiate Times regrets these errors.

index News.....................2 Features................4 0pinions................5

Classifieds.............6 Sports....................7 Sudoku..................6

An independent, student-run newspaper serving the Virginia Tech community since 1903 106th year • issue 55

DANIEL LIN/SPPS

CREIGH DEEDS, BRIAN MORAN, AND TERRY MCAULIFFE GATHER AT THE LYRIC TO DISCUSS CAMPAIGN INTITIATIVES T. REES SHAPIRO

ct news reporter All three Democratic candidates for Virginia Governor assured citizens they would eventually unite to close the controversial gun show loop hole. But last night’s debate in Blacksburg proved the campaign will be a shooting match until the second Tuesday in June. Candidates Terry McAuliffe and Brian Moran left R. Creigh Deeds fumbling for his pockets, while the other two dueled on a more personal level. All three candidates had been asked to respond to how they would fair head-to-head against Republican gubernatorial nomi-

nee Bob McDonnell. Instead, Moran took the opportunity to take a shot at McAuliffe for maintaining his “positive” campaign as really a façade camouflaging his ulterior tactics. “Now one thing I have to say about Terry, this is our fourth debate now and each time Terry says, ‘Oh, I’m being positive I’ll never say anything bad about another Democrat,’” Moran said. “It was Terry’s campaign that ran the 3 a.m. ad questioning whether or not Barack Obama could be our commander-in-chief.” McAuliffe interrupted, smiling: “And I was designing the ads too, OK, that’s good.” Moran pressed: “You take credit for running her campaign, take some responsibility.” McAuliffe insisted he had no discretion over Clinton’s advertisements against President Obama,

and stated, “I’ve never attacked a Democrat in my life and I’m not going to start now.” Moran persisted that “Whatever you face from me is child’s play from what McDonnell will do to you.” And that the former state delegate would seize upon the opportunity to face the Republican candidate in the election “because I will beat Bob McDonnell and I will beat him like a drum.” The intense exchange pushed candidate Deeds practically to the back of the stage. He was finally pulled back to the microphone after an expression that seemed too familiar during the debate for the state senator after the tangential arguments between Moran and McAuliffe during the questioning. “Creigh Deeds still has 90 seconds,” said debate moderator Ben Tribbett of the NotLarrySabato online blog. Last night’s debate, co-sponsored by The Collegiate Times, The Huffington Post, blogs FireDogLake, and Tribbett’s Not Larry Sabato, touched on a variety of subjects geared toward

Locals help nurture sister city

COURTESY OF MARY HOLLIMAN

Blacksburg citizens help clean up a school damaged by flooding. teaching for the week, take about six hours and require an overnight stay, according to Mary Holliman, a former town council member who was on the trip. The scholarships are usually about $4,000, and many have been offered throughout the past 20 years.

“All the teachers that had received scholarships are still in the system rather than using the scholarships as a stepping stone to go somewhere else,” Holliman said. Unfortunately, the school that

see CITY, page two

Author discusses urban renewal JUSTIN GRAVES

ct news reporter Mindy Fullilove, Virginia Tech’s Ridenour Fellow, will speak on campus today in Holden Auditorium at 5 p.m., giving a lecture titled “Community Trauma in the Context of the Current Economic Crisis.” Tomorrow, she will hold her last event, a seminar in Squires Brush Mountain B at 11 a.m. to further discuss her work with those interested. Before her appearances in Blacksburg, Fullilove sat down with the Collegiate Times to talk about her work and her visit to the

ZACH CRIZER A Virginia Tech student will announce his intention to run for Blacksburg Town Council Friday. Bryce Carter, a junior humanities, science and environment major, will run for a vacant Town Council seat in November. His campaign will begin on Friday at 5 p.m. in Squires Student Center. A press release said there are two main points of Carter’s campaign. He hopes to “aggressively seek out new opportunities for the university community to intermingle

ct news staff writer

Roanoke and Blacksburg area. CT: Why did you decide to come speak at Virginia Tech, and how did you become the Ridenour Fellow here at Tech? MF: Dr. Gerry Kearns, director of the school of public and international affairs, invited me to come speak here on campus, and he also asked me to fulfill this position. On my side, I wrote about Roanoke in my book, so I always appreciate the area and love to come further experience the areas that I wrote about. CT: I understand that you are doing several things, from speaking at a library in Roanoke to giving a lecture to holding a seminar, with

FULLILOVE

a full schedule Tu e s d a y Thursday. What would you say is the overall, farreaching theme of all of these events? What are you trying to

accomplish? MF: I wrote a book five years ago called “Root Shock,” and it told the story of urban renewal in Roanoke. What I want to talk about is ways in which the story has had important lessons for other cities and what

see FULLILOVE, page three

see DEBATE, page 2

news in brief ct news reporter

DEBRA HOUCHINS

San Jose de Bocay is a city of about 5,000 people in rural Nicaragua, but as Blacksburg’s sister city, it is a destination for local citizens and their charity. Nine locals visited in January with a mission to renew relations with the city and find new ways that Blacksburg citizens can aid the rapidly developing community. Since beginning interaction with San Jose de Bocay in 1989, Blacksburg has offered significant support for its sister, most notably donating $25,000 for a school built in 1991. Originally consisting of six rooms, it was expanded upon and now offers 750 students a place to learn. All fundraising and planning is carried out by Blacksburg citizens. “This is a committee that is not a town committee; it’s a communitycitizen committee,” said town council member Susan Anderson. The committee continues to support the city in the area of education by offering scholarships to teachers. Then they can make weekend commutes to the nearest university to be certified to teach. The trips, which are made after

collegiate voters and current events. All three candidates agreed the “gun show loophole” needs to be closed. The candidates all used the example of how easy it currently is for felons and persons with mental health histories to obtain firearms. “This year we did get two Republican votes and got that bill out of committee — that’s the farthest it’s ever gotten,” Deeds said of his accomplishments in the state senate while representing the 25th district, while includes Charlottesville. “We didn’t get the necessary votes on the floor of the senate but by golly I think its going to take somebody like me who comes from a part of the state where second amendment rights are respected. “It’s going to take a guy like me, who under the traditional ways of looking at those issues, who can bring people together from both sides of aisle, from all parts of the state and I’m determined to get it done, to get the gun show loop hole closed.”

with the town through promoting smart development and regular community programs.” Carter also hopes to create a town-affiliated student advisory committee. His second focus is sustainability. Carter is seeking to “improve progress toward the goals outlined in the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement.” Blacksburg Town Councilman Derek Myers died in February. Currently, Tech professor Mike Rosenzweig is filling the seat. In February, Rosenzweig said he would not run for the permanent seat.

Muslims educate campus on faith ROSE FILLIPPELL

ct news staff writer Muslim organizations in universities across the country are currently recognizing Islam Awareness Week in an effort to inform, educate and remove misconceptions about the religion. The events taking place this week at Virginia Tech are hosted by the Muslim Student Association, a club founded 10 years ago comprised of approximately 40 Muslim and non-Muslim students. The events have all been free and open to anyone interested in learning about Islam, a faith growing rapidly in the global spectrum. “The focus of the week is to clear up misconceptions about Islam and show that Muslims are regular Americans too,” said Imran Imam, treasurer of the MSA. Imam added the two fundamental misconceptions that the student organization hopes to clarify are the beliefs that Muslims cannot work with people of other faiths, and that the religion holds the place of men to be far superior to that of women. A viewing and discussion of the film, “On a Wing and a Prayer: An American Muslim Learns How to Fly” will be held tonight from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in room 223 of Engel Hall.

The MSA describes the film as a gently funny tale of an American Muslim enrolling in an open-minded flight school, where he and his family must shed stereotypes and refuse to be denied basic American rights. A comedy performance by Azhar Usman, a Muslim, and Rabbi Bob Alper was held yesterday evening in the Graduate Life Center, seeking to provide more than just laughs. Beneath the humor was an implicit message of mutual respect and understanding between the two men, proving that despite differences in religious beliefs and values, friendship and camaraderie can most certainly exist. The coordination of the show was a collaborative effort by the MSA and Hillel, a Jewish student organization. Organizers of the event felt the two religious groups worked well together to plan the show. “I think even just both of our groups getting together will encourage relations,” said Abby Sinsheimer, vice president of programming for Hillel. “We have been working extremely well, meeting once or twice a week for planning and putting up flyers.” The success of the two groups working together may lead to advance cooperative efforts amongst groups of

have a news tip? want to see something in the CT? e-mail newstips@collegiatetimes.com

see FAITH, page two


page

2 news

editor: caleb fleming email: nrvnews@collegiatetimes.com phone: 540.231.9865 office hours: tth 2 p.m. - 4 p.m.

april 30. 2009

editor: sara mitchell email: universitynews@collegiatetimes.com phone: 540.231.9865 office hours: mw 1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

City: Visit brings new ideas Faith: Understanding Islam from page one

Blacksburg funded was damaged by flooding two years ago and is need in of repair before it can be used again. The elementary school students are currently meeting in the high school building in the mornings. The group of nine visiting Blacksburg locals joined local Nicaraguan students to help clean up the school and start the process of getting it back into shape. In order for the school to become operational again, three things are needed: A stone retaining wall, a fence around the property and a footbridge across the creek to the school that must be repaired. The mayor of San Jose de Bocay said the community will be able to get the bridge repaired, and the federal government will most likely fund the retaining wall. They asked for Blacksburg to think about donating for the fence and continuing the scholarships. The committee is also considering donations to replace books and equipment.

Still, the city is mostly self-sustained. “People weren’t complaining or asking for handouts,” Holliman said about the citizens. She described many as friendly and “business-like.” While in Nicaragua, the nine also visited a fair-trade coffee plantation in the mountains, as well as a maternity clinic in which women within two weeks of their scheduled delivery stay in order to ensure they have proper medical care when their babies are born. They also met with the teachers, who were on summer break. Upon arriving in the town, they were welcomed by an orange and maroon hotel that had been freshly painted in their honor. Bryan Murray, sophomore environmental policy and planning major, attended the trip with the hope of designing a program to give local students access to computers and learning software. Murray was awarded the Austin Michelle Cloyd Honors Scholarship, which offers up to $13,500 of funding, in order to get his

project started. Although the long-term goal is for the schools to have their own computers, Murray explained that the first step was getting the students access to a computer lab. The lab, already in the city, would require software for the students to learn computer skills. In order to protect the equipment, the fence must be built around the schools first to prevent theft or damage. “I feel like it deepened my perspective about how different people approach the value of education,” Murray said. “These kids are really eager to go to school.” He is planning a return trip in the next year to get the project started. On April 13, the travelers held a town meeting to give a report about the trip, show a prepared slideshow of pictures and discuss the condition of San Jose de Bocay. Jason Selwitz, their guide and translator, attended the meeting. A similar report will be given to the town council in the upcoming weeks.

from page one

differing religious beliefs. “Hillel was recently approached by an Iranian group of students; this will help other groups on campus know that they can co-sponsor events with Hillel,” Sinsheimer said. Issues pertaining to women’s rights in Islam will be highlighted by Maha Alkhateeb, a renowned speaker, and Rachel Scott, a professor of the course “Women and Gender in Islam,” offered at Tech. The two will discuss

the relationship between women and men in Islamic society on Friday from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in Engel Hall, Room 223. The presentation aims to alter stereotypes of women’s treatment in Islam and will include a panel discussion with the audience in which any further questions or debate can be brought forward. The week will conclude with an open house at the Masjid Mosque, located at 1284 North Main St. on

Sunday. The finale will give visitors the opportunity to see the place of worship for Muslims and to learn about the basics of Islam. Khaled Adjerid, ex-officio and current adviser for the MSA, noted a high turnout in previous years, stating that attendance for the events has reached upward of 700 people. “The numbers change from year to year, but we can count on between 100 and 200 people coming out to the events,” Adjerid said.

Motion City Soundtrack

Debate: Candidates show personal differences but similar policies from page one

Moran supports closing the loop hole and also is not a proponent of expanding the rights of gun owners. He contended a recent bill supported by Deeds, which did not pass, should never allow citizens to carry concealed weapons in establishments that serve alcohol, stating, “Guns and alcohol don’t mix.” “I have voted to close the gun show loop hole, not just shrink it,” Moran said. “I truly believe anyone purchasing a firearm should have to go through the background check. I support closing it, not merely shrinking it. I do support (the) second amendment, but I don’t believe we should be expanding gun rights right now.” Deeds said he had consorted with State Police authorities and other firearms enthusiasts in order to come up with amendments to the “gun show loophole” bill that were commonsensical. “Politics is the art of the possible, not

of the art of the perfect,” Deeds said. “I needed votes to get that bill out of committee, and that’s what I did.” McAuliffe and Moran fired off again over the subject of delegate seats, where Democrats are close to reaching the majority. Moran said McAuliffe, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2001 to 2005, may have the star power to succeed, but wouldn’t be able to seal the deal when it counts.

“Politics is the art of the possible, not of the art of the perfect. I needed votes to get that bill out of committee, and that’s what I did.” - CREIGH DEEDS GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE “Well under your chairmanship, Terry, our Democratic Party lost 10

seats in house, six seats in the senate, and the presidency of the United States with George W. Bush, the worst president in modern American history,” Moran said. “We don’t need you to pick up those six seats.” McAuliffe countered that the party gained more voters and resources than ever despite the lost seats in Congress and behind the Oval Office’s Resolute desk. McAuliffe added that President Obama approved of his capabilities and lauded his leadership during the campaign trail. However, elections are determined by voters, he said. “Now, I can take a lot (of) responsibility,” McAuliffe said. “But I don’t think the chairman of the DNC is responsible for winning or losing. I think the candidate who is running has a little bit to say about that.” The final debate, sponsored by the Washington Post and WashingtonPost.com, is slated for May 19 at the Northern Virginia Community College Campus in Anandale. DANIEL LIN/SPPS

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page 3

thursday, april 30, 2009

Plan addresses culture of learning JUSTIN GRAVES

ct news reporter Faculty and staff met Tuesday to discuss Virginia Tech’s First Year Experience/Quality Enhancement Plan. The town hall style meeting was held in order to present the current plan and solicit input on the implementation. The plan, entitled “Invent Your Future,” is intended to enhance student learning in the first year, to encourage thoughtful academic planning and build knowledge and understanding. “I have been very pleased to see the level of engagement that faculty, staff and students have had in the process, and it is exactly what we’ve hoped for,” said Provost Mark McNamee. “We want to come up with a significant plan that will make differences in the lives of undergraduates,” McNamee said. “Dr. McNamee has been one of the initiators of making sure we meet the QEP requirements,” said Bob Jones, who chairs the QEP Implementation Committee and the department of biological sciences. “It is a continuing process in what will be more steps and iterations of feedback and versions of the plan,” Jones said. The plan hopes to be thorough and provide a sound basis for increased learning outcomes for all students enrolled at the university, not just freshmen or transfer students.

“Learning outcome assessments and measurements of the changes in learning is one of the most critical aspects of the plan. It has to be unique and reflect our own personal culture and where our institution is headed,” Jones said. Through tools such as pathways framework and academic advising, student learning will hopefully become more streamlined and reflective in order to improve the first-year experience for all students at Tech. There are several core tasks for students within the QEP plan, ranging from developing a plan of study to researching co-curricular activities and learning the benefits of reflecting upon previous work.

“We want to come up with a significant plan that will make differences in the lives of undergraduates.” - MARK MCNAMEE PROVOST “We are saying we are Virginia Tech, we are a major research university, and we have our own traditions and cultures,” Jones said. “Learning about those and exploring your own learning goals is a very powerful way of defining and exploring the advantages of this institution.” Technology will also play a role in selfreflection through the use of ePortfolios, a key point of the QEP plan.

“The tools that we can use here are matrices, presentations and goal management tools,” Jones said. “They can use innovative ways to reflect on their learning and can actually keep track of the QEP within this framework.” All ePortfolios will be housed within Scholar, which will become the standard for Tech as the university begins to move away from Blackboard. The QEP, to be phased in over five years, will be coordinated, implemented and assessed centrally. Tech is also seeking to minimize administrative costs to make the program work properly. The bulk of the work will be coming from students, advisors and instructors. “We could try to implement it in its entirety in the first year, but we are all aware of the budget restrictions, so we want to just weave it in,” Jones said. “Then we can get feedback, learn, and guide it to greater and greater success.” Overall, Jones said the plan has been very thorough, but he still would like to seek suggestions from those that it affects, and that was the purpose of the meeting. “We have gotten very close to coming up with a plan that ensures that students are engaged during their first year experience, and we are making them welcome to feel like they can do undergraduate research or study abroad and explore all of their opportunities,” Jones said. “The idea is that when you select a project to work on like this you have to be able to show there is a need for this to happen based on data, and

you also need to be sure that you have mechanisms in place to track practice and show it’s making a difference,” McNamee said. Some of the information used to create the QEP plan came from a survey conducted by the National Survey of Student Engagement and a questionnaire that many universities use to get some indication from students about how involved they are in their education and what they do around campus in addition to academics. “We are using the results of that survey here at Tech to help identify areas where we can do a better job, and several faculty and student groups have talked about advising,” McNamee said. “That’s why it’s a part of the QEP.” The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission (SACS) will begin interactions with Tech to refine the plan this spring. This summer, a complete written plan with a budget will be due, followed by a SACS visit to Blacksburg next spring. In the fall of 2009, pilot aspects of the program will be implemented along with staff and faculty development with plans for implementation by the fall of 2010. “We want to have as much ground work laid and field work conducted to demonstrate that we’ve been through all the issues and that we listened to our students,” McNamee said. “This meeting is all just part of that process. In the end, the most important factors are that it’s owned by the entire university, not just some.”

Fullilove: Uprooted communities find ways to recover from page one

people around the world can also contribute to the subject and how they are responding to the story. CT: Your lecture is titled “Community Trauma in the Context of the Current Economic Crisis.” What do you think is most important for people to understand about communities at a time like this? MF: The main focus of the lecture is essentially, “What do we do when communities are uprooted?” The book “Root Shock” is about the effects on communities, whether it be destruction by natural disaster, policy or war. The question is always what do you do next? How do you approach recovery? Especially right now, more or less everyone is in crisis economically, and you have to ask yourself, “How do you approach these kinds of problems with even lesser resources than we had

before?” I think it’s mostly important for people to understand that after trauma, communities actually become more splintered than they were before. Afterwards there is often a crutch. People try to put things back together after they fracture, but that comes with a lot of tension and hostility so it’s important to understand how this unfolds so that people can manage it correctly. It doesn’t take money necessarily to solve the problems among people; it takes concern for each other, and organizing. CT: What prompted you to write “Root Shock?” MF: Growing up in the 1950s and ‘60s, urban renewal was going on around me, and all of us really, but I never really thought about it. Ultimately, the AIDS epidemic in the United States was linked to the destruction of communities and neighborhoods, and I wanted to be able to understand that. These stories were a helpful way of understanding that.

Around that time in 1994, Mary Bishop published an article in the Roanoke Times that was about urban renewal, and that really also really helped inspire me and got me started. CT: You’ve studied everything from the crack epidemic to Sept. 11 to Hurricane Katrina — do you think any area of study has been more impactful and insightful than most others? MF: I think that what we see here is different angles of the same problem, and my experiences have given me new things and new ideas. Every time you have an opportunity to manage a different situation you learn a lot about the creativity and the particular ideas about what to do next, which are often rooted in the actual place where the events have taken place. Whenever I get to visit and understand and talk to people, it just adds to my appreciation and understanding of them. CT: Your work was discussed in the

New York Times a few weekends ago, and the journalist attributed it all to a coworker of yours and your husbands, who is a French planner. However, I understand that, in fact, your husband, yourself and Michel Cantal-Dupart have worked together on these urban planning issues. Why do you think this mix up happened, and how do you feel about it? MF: The article was titled “Dissecting the ‘Heart of Orange.’” The University of Orange is a project of ours that we just started and is a sort of a free university with a mission of understanding Orange, New Jersey, and how it can become the urban village of the 21st century. The University of Orange is doing some of this planning work with Michel, and in his opinion, the issues in Paris, France, and the issues in Orange were exactly the same. Orange is a small city in the New York metropolitan area,

LooP In the

Wondering what's going on around the 'burg? Check out the events of the upcoming week.

30 3 0

Thurs, April 30

What: Annual Spring Plant Sale Where: Greenhouse Complex and Hahn Horticulture Garden When: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

What: Aside Oceans, By Morning, Porcelain Smile, Vegas on Fire Where: The Lantern, 211 Draper Rd. When: Doors– 8:30 p.m., Show– 9:30 p.m. Cost: $7

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Fri, May 1

What: Boogieburg Soundsystem on four turntables Where: Rivermill, 212 Draper Rd. When: 9 p.m. Cost: Free

What: $4 Bag Sale Where: YMCA Thrift Store, 1000 N Main St. When: Friday and Saturday, 8:15 a.m. to 7 p.m. Cost: $4 per bag or basket-full

What: Naturally Sharp Spring Concert Where: Graduate Life Center Auditorium When: 8 p.m. Cost: $5

What: Center Hill– show and CD release party for the Roanoke rock band Where: Awful Arthur’s, 213 Draper Rd. When: 10 p.m.

Where: First & Main Shopping Center What: Blacksburg Fork and Cork– The area’s first annual food, wine and art festival featuring wines from several regional wineries, local culinary delights, cooking demonstrations from local chefs, regional art and live music. When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., rain or shine Cost: $15 in advance, $18 at the gate- tickets include a Sat, commemorative tasting glass and full festival access. May 2

2

What: CCVT Campus Car Show Where: Price's Fork Commuter Lot (at the corner of Price's Fork and Stanger) When: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Cost: $5 entry for non-members, free to look around

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Sun, May 3

4

Mon, May 4

What: Soundfest– featuring Saves the Day, You, Me and Everyone We Know, Dr. Manhattan, Aviate, and Facepaint Where: Squires Commonwealth Ballroom When: 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. Cost: Free

What: Facepaint, The Royal Bangs, The House Floor– facepaint, acoustic rock band, headlines show featuring dynamic rock band Royal Bangs and local lyrical-fusion band The House Floor Where: The Lantern, 211 Draper Rd. When: Doors– 7 p.m., Show– 9:30 p.m. Cost: $5 What: Vitamin Water Hokie Open Golf Tournament– open to Tech students and the public, to support Virginia Tech Rec Sports Where: Pete Dye River Golf Course– 8400 River Course Dr., Radford VA When: 1 p.m. Cost: $55 to $65 per player, depending on registration

and Europe has beautiful cities so even from a European perspective it’s different, and they have a lot to share with us. That is the premise of the project. CT: If you would like for a student to come away with one single thing from your week-long visit to Blacksburg and the Montgomery County area, what would that one thing be, be it academic or non-academic? MF: I want to stress that bad policies and bad development can destroy communities. All kinds of injustice

and disaster can destroy them, but they can also be overcome. Communities are what keep us healthy as a nation. We’re currently facing a really serious economic crisis, and it’s long-term. The U.S. is either going to be a leading nation in the world or we are going to switch foot. It is only collectively that we can find an answer to that that makes sense in terms of global warming and other natural occurrences as far as learning how to protect the community is really essential to the nation.


page

4 features

editor: bethany buchanan email: features@collegiatetimes.com phone: 540.231.9865 office hours: w 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., f 1:30 - 2:30 p.m.

april 30. 2009

Playwriting student pens tale about relationships and breakups TERESA TOBAT

ct features reporter Three guys are in a bar. Two of them have to convince the third guy he should go through with his wedding. This writing prompt inspired master of fine arts in playwriting Alice Shen’s piece, “The Conversation About the Keys.” Shen wrote the first act of the play in 72 hours and said it was the first time she wrote about her own life. The play draws influences from the post undergraduate experiences she has had. “I call this the quarter-life crisis. The quarter-life crisis is when you’re tired, but you’re not sleepy. You’re tired, but you don’t want to go to sleep yet,” Shen said. “Even though they are personal, I think they’ll appeal to other people who are going through this quarterlife crisis.”

THE CONVERSATION ABOUT THE KEYS WHEN: April 30-May 2 TIME: 7:30 p.m. WHERE: Performing Arts Building COST: Free RUN TIME: About 90 minutes, including a 10 minute intermission “The Conversation About the Keys” is a companion play — it has two parts that can be performed in any order, together or separately. The first act, “Tim Without Thalia,” features Tim, the lead male character, as he recounts the various stages of his relationship with Thalia. Shen described act two, “Thalia With Someone Else,” as an aftermath play of how Tim deals with his breakup with Thalia a year later and how he handles Thalia getting married to someone else. Shen is not directing the play, but she has attended many of the rehearsals and is permitted to say whatever she would like to the actors. She said her presence is beneficial because she can clear up confusions the cast may have about her work. However, she is careful not to restrict the actors. “A playwright wants to do things one way, but that’s not conducive to the collaborative process,” Shen said. “These actors that we’re working with,

they’re so vivacious, and they take these words, and they become other things.” Freshman theater arts major Alex Beard portrays Albert, one of the two friends of the lead male character in the play. He provides comic relief and said having the playwright in rehearsal has added depth to the process. “I was worried it was going to be limiting, but she was really open to different ideas,” Beard said of Shen. Beard’s character works closely with Rob Talbert, a master’s student in creative writing, who portrays Greg, Tim’s other friend. “The best way to describe us: We are the douche bag friends,” Beard said. “That’s the way we are described over and over again — the way we come up in his monologues.” His fellow cast member, Talbert, agrees with his analysis but said their emphasized their familial relationship. “It’s a tough love kind of thing,” Talbert said. “Whenever we slam him with stuff, it’s not because we honestly want to hurt his feelings. We think we’ve got him figured out. I think we try to take on the older brother role.” Tim’s friends are the reason why he meets Thalia at a bar after finding Thalia’s keys. “The reason why we force him to go talk to her, before any of this started, is because we have his back, and we have his back so much, we’re going to pick him up and put him in front of a girl because we want him to score,” Talbert said. By the end of the first act, Tim and Thalia have broken up after a few years of dating. Shen said one of the major themes of the play deals with falling in and out of contact with people. “How do you fall apart with people, with anybody, without any major thing happening? Do you just get bored with the person? Is it a natural growing apart?” Shen said. “You lose things in your life all the time. Whether it be friends or lovers or jobs, or even your idea of where you are in the world.” Another theme explored includes how marriage is viewed in a modern lens. Shen said fewer people are getting married, and more people are in long term, committed relationships. She questioned whether marriage means more than simply getting a piece of paper and going to a big party. As a major aspect of the play is the quarter life crisis, Shen wanted to explore the idea of what life post college is all about.

HUSSEIN M. AHMED/SPPS

Thalia, portrayed by senior theatre arts major Christina Dabney, reminisces about her relationship with former fiancee, Tim, played by Jason Tolbert. “After I got out of college, I learned a lot of stuff, but I think all the stuff I learned is lost in a certain transition period. I find myself asking, ‘What did I really learn?’” Shen said. “In college, I had a sense of ‘I don’t know what I want to do with my life.’ But it was all so contained. The ‘I don’t know what I want to do after college’ is much larger.” Katie Ludvigsen, a junior theatre arts major, plays Sonia, one of Thalia’s bridesmaids. Ludvigsen said playing her character came easily as she is still trapped in the college mind set. “It (is) just a really natural play because the themes and the characters

are easy to understand,” Ludvigsen said. “I catch myself being Katie.” Christina Dabney, senior theatre arts major, described her character Thalia, as a girl just out of college who is charming and fun. Dabney said she believes there is genuine love between Thalia and Tim, but it eventually runs its course. “I think what attracts them to each other is they kind of make each other better,” Dabney said. “They’re just funnier and more charming as individuals with each other because of all the chemistry they have. I think that chemistry is what makes them fizzle out because it’s so explosive and fun

and wonderful for a while, and then all the sudden it blows up. Then there is that residual love there. I think there’s definitely love there, but even more than love there’s just this really strong bond between them.” Playwright Shen said one of the most interesting aspects of the rehearsal process was that others viewed her play as a comedy while she took a different approach. “For me the crux of the play is dramatic. It’s rather cynical to me,” Shen said. “The characters are cynical, but they’re also in that limbo of tired, but not sleepy. There are deeper undertones to this play than just a relation-

ship comedy.” She said “Annie Hall” and early seasons of “How I Met Your Mother” were two works that influenced her play. She said that while both are cynical in nature, cynicism often has truth behind it. “We’re all kind of jaded,” Shen said. “Jaded people dealing with romance often get the deepest into it, I like to think, because jaded people might think the world is shit or crap, but I think they work the hardest to get to a happier place, which may or may not be true. But I like to think that taking a more jaded spin brings out more genuine emotion.”


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editor: laurel colella email: opinionseditor@collegiatetimes.com phone: 540.231.9865 office hours: mw 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.

april 30, 2009

EDITORIAL

Gubernatorial debate showcasestechnology’s growing importance Clear and important distinctions were made about the candidates and their individual plans for the future of Virginia at the gubernatorial debate held last night in the Lyric. Brian Moran, Creigh Deeds and Terry McAuliffe waged a battle of the words, in the hopes of winning public support and the votes of Virginians in the Democratic primary this June, and later in the gubernatorial elections this November. As we prepare to elect a leader to guide the commonwealth into the future, we are seeing an increased reliance on technology as part of the campaigning process. Those who attended last night’s debate saw the effect of these technological innovations first hand, from an opening montage of Youtube clips awkwardly highlighting the Republican Party’s most notable blunders in the past four years, to the live stream of more than 1,000 tweets coming in from Twitter. These real-time comments allowed Virginians from all over the opportunity to question the candidates, most notably when it came to the issue of the proposed coal-fired plant in Surry County, within Hampton Roads. In conjunction with the CT and Huffington Post, the debate itself was also hosted by two blogs FireDogLake and Not Larry Sabato. The fact that online commentators took the initiative to help organize a primary debate is a testament to the technological advancements made in the past few years, giving us a clear picture of the role social networking sites and commentaries will continue to play in the future of politics. When asked whether they would respond to questions posed via Twitter in the same way as they would to letters from constituents, all three candidates answered with a resounding yes — laughably

untrue, but likely said in good conscience, as the effect of the nearly instantaneous transfer of information over the Internet is something all three candidates are keenly aware of. The other interesting part of the debate was how tailored it was to the issues directly affecting students. Most of the topics discussed directly impact the populous of the Blacksburg community, specifically student voting rights, and potential legislation that would require Virginia’s public universities to reserve at least 75 percent of their slots for state residents. All three candidates argued that college voting regulations must be codified — currently the job of deciding where a student may or may not claim domicile is left to the county registrar. Job creation was a hot topic of the night, with candidates promising to put more money into green jobs, and Moran working to raise the minimum wage. When it came to the gun show loophole, all of the candidates expressed their desire to close it, but offered little insight into what must take place to make that happen. Offering little more than condolences and their promises to try, all three candidates skirted the issue of what it’s going to take to pass the bill. McAuliffe continuously brought up the importance of competition in this election. While some have argued that this primary struggle does not portray the Democratic Party as a united front in opposition to the Republicans, intelligent debate among these three men allows Virginia to select the best of three candidates to compete against Republican nominee Bob McDonnell for the title of governor this fall.

Time to rethink use of term ‘illegal immigration’ CHAD VAN ALSTIN regular columnist This past Monday evening Virginia Tech was graced with an appearance by Tom Tancredo, a former Republican Congressman and 2008 presidential candidate. His speech was given on so-called illegal immigration, and it was ironically sponsored by a group named Young Americans for Freedom. I’m unsure exactly how the tern “freedom” can be used along with the nationalistic concept of border control, but nothing really surprises me anymore. The term “freedom” is used by conservatives and liberals to make expansions of government seem less tyrannical. I would like to start by stating that the term “illegal immigration” is one that I challenge semantically in the same manner that I challenge other politically driven terms such as “pro-life” or “pro-choice.” In order for something to be considered illegal, the implication is that there was a crime committed. Immigration of any kind is victimless, and these kind of crimes have no place in a nation built on freedom. The conservative movement would have us all believe that immigration done outside of the federal government’s snail-paced legal way is somehow damaging to the American economy and culture. I’d prefer not to re-iterate their entire argument as I feel it’s something most of us already know. Immigration is a very popular topic amongst news commentators. These conservative types do believe that somehow immigrants from Mexico take American jobs and leech off social welfare programs. I guess my libertarian response would be to get rid of the social welfare programs. However, my response to the claim that Mexican immigrants are taking away American jobs would have to start by questioning whether conservatives are dedicated to the free market principles they speak so highly of. It’s impossible to have a free market in a nation with secure borders

and labor control of this magnitude. Business owners should be allowed to hire any person they want at any time they want. Free markets have to be synonymous with actual freedom. The jobs that companies have available don’t belong to American citizens, nor do the companies themselves belong to the American government simply because they fall within the American border. Making the claim that immigrants from Mexico are taking away American jobs would have to imply both ownership of the company and those jobs by the American people and their government. This is absolutely an anti-free market concept.

The government could solve the immigration problem by privatizing welfare programs and ending police state restrictions that require identification and permission to simply open up a business and hire workers. It’s also extremely unfair to pretend that somehow mass immigration is bad for an economy. The beauty of a free market is that it will grow and expand, and the demand for jobs should increase along with population growth. If the growth of jobs isn’t correlating with population growth, this is a sign that too much state control is present. It’s also fair to note that many so-called illegal immigrants have fake social security numbers and pay income taxes. Most also pay property taxes and sales taxes. Many immigrants have the same right to government services that any of us have. Not every American pays their taxes either. Even if you don’t buy the argument that immigration is healthy for an economy, I hope that most people can understand that increased border security can only mean a rise in the police state.

There are already so-called border checkpoints that Americans are forced to go through. These checkpoints are often hundreds of miles from the border, and are nothing more than an excuse for the government to invade liberty in the name of a new enemy— the Mexican immigrant. In order for the government to keep up the war on immigration, drugs and terrorism at the border, we’ll all need to prepare to show our papers and give up a bit of privacy. Just like their futile war on drugs, the state will be unable to keep immigrants from entering America without documentation. Instead their security theatre will serve only to make immigration more violent by surrounding the practice with organized crime and desperation. The federal government can never stop people from entering this country, and I don’t even see a need to try. A free nation should have borders that are open and accessible to anyone who wishes to cross. Border security will only lead to less economic growth through regulation, and less freedoms for those of us who already live within the fortress of America. The government could solve the immigration problem by privatizing welfare programs and ending police state restrictions that require identification and permission to simply open up a business and hire workers. All this serves to do is to stifle entrepreneurship and take away economic liberties. Simply because I was lucky enough to be born to the United States does not mean that I am any more American than someone who chooses to cross the border and live this country. Like nearly everyone else in America, I am a descendant of immigrants. Just because an immigrant from Mexico has found a way to stay out of the government databases does not make them a criminal. I am envious of their ability to make a living without the state keeping a watchful eye on them. They certainly are experiencing a level of freedom that I simply cannot. The law forbids it.

It is hard to explain and comprehend how closed-minded and comical Kevin Gillispie’s argument is in his column, “Gay marriage does not accurately depict equality” (CT, April 28). Gillispie’s argument is founded on the basis that men and women are not equal in society and that in order to validate gay marriage, “you must first prove the interchangeability of men and women.” This is simply not the truth, and it is foolish to comprehend that Mr. Gillispie is so narrow-minded to believe this is a valid reason not to legalize gay marriage. Homosexuals are tax-paying citizens, which should be all the reason to allow them the right to have recognizable marriage. Every tax-paying citizen should have the same rights as all other tax-paying citizens. Opposite sex marriage is recognized by the government, and in some cases, receives tax incentives and larger tax refunds to help support families. It is an injustice that homosexuals are not rewarded the same benefits in their relationships or marriages. Additionally, it is a joke that Mr. Gillispie refers to Perez Hilton as the “Exemplar-In-Chief”, insisting that he represents the homosexual community. He does not. I do not support what Perez Hilton said, and in fact, I cannot stand anything that comes out of that man’s mouth. However, if you will refer to Perez Hilton as the

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, Phillipp Kotlaba, Riley Prendergast, T. Rees Shapiro News Staff Writers Debra Houchins, 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, Lindsay Faulkner, Hattie Francis, Alex Jackson 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, Rebecca Smeenk, Lindsay Smith, Katie Sonntag, Lara Treadwell National Account Executive Kaelynn Kurtz Account Executives Nik Bando, Brandon Collins, Chris Cunningham, Lee Eliav, Judi Glass, Kendall Kapetanakis, David Morgan, Marcello Sandoval, Arianna Rouhani, Jennifer Vaughn Assistant Account Executives Madeline Abram, Katie Berkel, Diane Revalski, Devon Steiner Marketing Manager Amanda Sparks Office Manager Kaelynn Kurtz Student Publication Photo Staff Director of Photography Sally Bull Business Manager Paul Platz

The editorial board is composed of David Grant, David Harries and Laurel Colella.

Voice your opinion. Readers are encouraged to send letters and comments to the Collegiate Times.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR Gay marriage depicts equality

The Collegiate Times is an independent student-run newspaper serving the Virginia Tech community since 1903

representative of the homosexual community, then let us refer to Rush Limbaugh as the representative of the conservative community. Mr. Limbaugh has gone through three divorces, something that I find comical when the conservative community and Mr. Gillispie’s argument are based on the importance of opposite sex marriage and the sanctity that it holds. Finally, Mr. Gillispie goes completely berserk when he switches gears in his argument as he goes off on a random tangent to discuss the rendering of children and why we should not let children live with multiple sets of parents. What Mr. Gillispie’s claim is here, I could only guess. But, if it is some shot at children who are raised by homosexuals, then he is making a dreadful mistake. For someone who is basing his argument on science and condemning those who use emotions, Gillispie is falling victim to his own words. There is no evidence that children raised by homosexuals are inferior or different than children raised by heterosexuals. In a University of Southern California study, “researchers found no differences in the mental health of children or their quality of relationship with parents.” Mr. Gillispie, please stick to the facts and not your opinion. As you say, “Outside the intellectual nursery of academia, nobody cares about your feelings,” so please keep your feelings and thoughts to yourself. Andrew Mertens Sophomore, history and English

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NATE BEELER/THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

Obama’s first 100 days: Rhetoric loftier than presidential actions VINCE WARREN regular columnist As President Barack Obama hits the 100-day mark on Wednesday, it’s time to take stock. Many of Obama’s words have been inspiring. His rhetoric represents a relief to those who watched with horror as the Bush administration systematically dismantled the U.S. Constitution and ignored international human rights standards. Yet in many areas of critical importance — like human rights, torture, rendition, secrecy and surveillance — his words have been loftier than his actions. On Obama’s very first day in office, his administration ordered a 120-day suspension of the military commissions for Guantanamo detainees. The commissions were widely assailed for allowing evidence obtained through coercion and torture, secret evidence and hearsay evidence, all in violation of the U.S. Constitution. But Obama did not abolish the military commissions; he only hit the “pause” button. The new president’s most dramatic moment came on day three when he issued executive orders to close

Guantanamo’s prison camp within one year. But Guantanamo isn’t yet closed. The hundreds of men held there still haven’t won their freedom, nor will they necessarily have their day in fair court. Another year for men who have been held in abusive and inhuman conditions for seven years already is simply too long. Secrecy was the hallmark of the Bush administration. It classified more documents than any administration in history, restricted Freedom of Information Act requests and tried to protect government officials and military contractors from being held liable for illegal actions, such as torture and wrongful death. It invoked the state secrets privilege to avoid scrutiny in court and responsibility for government action more times than any other administration. Obama has come down on both sides of this issue, ordering far more transparency through cooperation with Freedom of Information Act requests, while at the same time invoking state secrets in a case charging an aviation corporation with complicity in rendering a detainee to torture. The U.S. government used to need a warrant before it could spy on its own people. In 2002, President George W. Bush issued a secret execu-

tive order illegally authorizing the National Security Agency to wiretap Americans without a warrant. When the program was exposed, the administration secured immunity from Congress for the telecommunications companies that participated in the program. Obama still has not repudiated the executive orders supporting warrantless wiretapping and the legal opinions used to support them. Most recently, in the wake of his welcome release of the infamous torture memos prepared by Bush administration lawyers, Obama has indicated he will not prosecute former officials who broke the law and committed crimes, saying he would rather look forward than back. For there to be no consequences for creating a torture program not only calls our system of justice into question, but it also could allow the nightmare to happen all over again. After the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush quickly squandered the world’s enormous goodwill toward the United States. The goodwill Obama has inspired can evaporate if the rest of the world begins to see his administration continuing too many of Bush’s policies. Vince Warren is the executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

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april 30, 2009

After stout 2008, a new playing field for Virgil in ‘09 CHAD MOSESSO

ct sports staff writer Next fall, Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones better bring his appetite to the Chick-fil-A College Kick-off. If he and the Alabama Crimson Tide plan on leaving Atlanta with a win over the Hokies, Jones must manage a hearty helping of “Virgil Stew.” After three seasons of watching fellow Virginia Tech cornerbacks take charge of the Hokie defense, senior Stephan Virgil is ready to add his own spice as the leader of the Tech secondary in 2009. “From my first two years of watching Flowers play and the way he comes out of his breaks with the receivers and the way he just goes and attacks the receiver,” Virgil said. “Then watching Macho (Harris), how fluent and swift he was downfield, how he comes out of his breaks and how he reads plays. It's almost like making soup. I take a little bit of what I learned from Flowers, and I take a little bit of what I learned from Macho, and I put my mix into it — and you got a hell of a combination.” Over the past five seasons, Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster's unit has been one of the best in the nation — each year ranking in the top 10 in total defense and scoring defense in large part due to the consistent, excellent play of the secondary. Four straight Associated Press AllAmericans have anchored Foster’s defensive backfield since 2005, which has ranked in the top 15 in interceptions every year this decade except for in 2003. After Jimmy Williams started the trend in 2005, Brandon Flowers followed with consecutive honors in '06 and '07, and in 2008, Victor ‘Macho’ Harris made four. Nobody doubts that Virgil must fill some enormous shoes this season, but because of the seemingly never-ending cycle of star cornerbacks, a blueprint for success has been passed down dating back to Anthony Midget's stellar season in 1999. Since then, Tech hasn't gone longer than one year without producing a defensive back that was named All-

American. With the departures of Harris and Flowers to the NFL, an increased drive for success now sits fresh in Virgil's mind. That is one reason why defensive backs coach Torrian Gray believes his newest field corner will live up to the lofty expectations. “He understood how those guys prepared and what kind of playmakers those guys were,” Gray said. “And I know he doesn't want to be anything less than those guys were. I'm sure he's going to look at them, see how they played different things, and want to be that same type of guy. I know that's going to be motivation for him.” One of the biggest adjustments the North Carolina native must make is the jump from the field cornerback position, where he started every game last season, to Harris' old spot at boundary corner. The boundary corner leaves Virgil isolated in man-to-man coverage much more often than the field corner and forces him to make quicker, smarter reads. Although Gray and Virgil acknowledge he must “grow up” rather quickly, the transition should be eased by his experience at boundary corner when he played behind Flowers in 2007. “It's kind of like going back home,” Virgil said. “You get more run action to the boundary side, and I like a lot of contact and I like to be in the mix. Sometimes last year I wouldn't get a tackle in the field, so I felt kind of left out.” In addition to his adjustments on the field, Virgil must make strides as a leader off the field. In past seasons, Virgil could sit back and learn from Flowers and Harris, but now he finds himself in the position of the teacher. Although unfamiliar with the role, he understands the importance of being a leader like his predecessors, as they helped to groom the player he is today. “Last year, being my first season playing, I got some experience under my belt so I have to lead some of the younger guys,” Virgil said. “Right now, I'm there to give them the answers. I have to take a step up from being a follower like I was last year listening

KYLE MAXEY/SPPS

Stephan Virgil makes a crucial stop on Cincinnati recevier Mardy Gilyard. Virgil, who intercepted six passes in 2008, will replace Victor ‘Macho’ Harris next season at the field cornerback position, while stepping into a new role as the leader of Tech’s defensive backfield. to Macho, to being a leader now like Macho was to me and the rest of the secondary.” Virgil certainly won't be the only leader next fall, however. Tech brings back an experienced defensive backfield this year, including senior free safety Kam Chancellor, who also started every game last season, along with returning rovers senior Dorian Porch and junior Davon Morgan. Chancellor observed Virgil's development firsthand through the past three seasons and believes he is ready to excel and continue the tradition of standout Tech cornerbacks. “I think Virgil can (be the next great

cornerback),” Chancellor said. “He has all the fundamentals down, his technique's sound.” “He's a leader and he likes to make plays,” he said. The one thing that Chancellor and Gray agree on is that a key to Virgil's success this season is consistency — something that the past star cornerbacks learned to master. While Gray won't judge Virgil strictly by his accolades, he concedes that if he can continue to learn from his mistakes and build on his stability he developed last season, the potential is limitless. “I won't judge it on whether he becomes an All-American or not. To

me, what Brandon did, what Macho did, they were pretty consistent for the most part. Game in and game out and they broke plays when they presented themselves,” Gray said. “And I think Virgil can have that kind of consistency,” he said. “That's what he did all year at the field corner; he was very consistent. Now, it will be a little bit of a tougher challenge this year, but I think he has the ability to be able to be that consistent. And if he's consistent he will be productive at the position.” Virgil doubled his personal goal of three interceptions last season with six on the year, while tying Harris for the team lead.

He wasn't ready to give a prediction for the season quite yet, but Virgil definitely plans to surpass his tally of interceptions from a year ago. Whether he can make a run at Ron Davidson's Tech record of nine picks, which has stood for over 40 years, remains to be seen. But as the comparisons to past Hokie corners are inevitable and flattering, Virgil wants to create his own legacy. “I think I can fill their shoes,” Virgil said. “But those shoes, they're their shoes, you know. So I just have to blaze my own trail and be an All-American and make my impact just like they made their impact.”


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editor: thomas emerick, brian wright email: sportseditor@collegiatetimes.com phone: 540.231.9865 office hours: w 12:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.; t 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

april 30. 2009

Equestrian club riders represent Tech in national championship HATTIE FRANCIS

ct sports staff writer Drawing a name out of a hat to determine which horse you will ride when competing for a national championship is an extremely daunting task. A huge amount of luck combined with skill will determine whether a rider will perform flawlessly. Abbey Carmichael, Paige Messick and Brent Noll of the Virginia Tech equestrian club got to experience this very scenario. After qualifying for the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association National Championship a couple of weeks ago, the three traveled to Murfreesboro, Tenn., to compete from April 23-26. Carmichael and Noll participated in the Walk-Trot Equitation, finishing fourth and sixth place, respectively. Messick took part in the Novice Equitation Over Fences division,

placing outside the top 10. During the season, Tech loads up a van and drives the riders to whichever school is hosting the competition. The host school provides all the horses for the competition. This means that all of the Tech riders have never seen or ridden any of the horses that are available to them. “It’s all luck of the draw,” said assistant instructor and barn manager Sherri West. “They’re not allowed to practice on that horse at all. They can only sit on it until they go into the ring.” The entrants are asked to do a series of commands and they’re judged — against the peer in their class — on their ability to ride the horse they are on. “The riders that are talented enough to ride a variety of different horses tend to have the most success with this,” West said. “So our riders ride different horses on a regular basis so that they get used to having to figure

it out on the fly.” The experience of these three riders varies from two to 11 years. Noll has been riding for just two years. After watching the Kentucky Derby, the junior wanted to go on a trail ride. He visited a barn and was intrigued as he watched someone jump a horse. “I wanted to do that type of riding and they (told me) that’s English style,” Noll said. “So, I said, ‘Forget about the trail ride.’ “I definitely feel that since I’ve started, I’ve progressed pretty far for the short amount of time I’ve been riding,” he said. Messick is on the other end of the spectrum. The sophomore has had riding experience since she was seven or eight — a span of around 10 or 11 years. Her love for horses was sparked when she attended a riding camp and the flame hasn’t been extinguished. “I just had my own horse,” Messick

said. “So I would go to school, then go out to the barns and ride and then go to horse shows on the weekends.” One of the unique aspects of the equestrian season is the progression one makes toward qualifying for the national championship. “You have to get 35 points and each

“They’re not allowed to practice on that horse at all. They can only sit on it until they go into the ring.” - SHERRI WEST ASST. INSTRUCTOR & BARN MANAGER venue is worth a different amount of points to qualify for regionals,” Messick said. “Then, when you get to regionals and your top three at regionals move onto zones. And if

you’re top two at zones, you move on to nationals.” The country is broken down into nine different zones. Within each zone, there are the regions. “Our particular zone has three different regions,” West said. “And so, in our regular season, we compete against the folks that are in our region and everybody gains points towards that magic number of 35.” Out of each of the nine zones come two riders who will compete in the national championship. That means Messick, Noll and Carmichael were three of the select number of competitors. “There are eight different levels that the riders participate in,” West said, “so we want the best riders at each different level. So those who haven’t been riding as long will be at the lower levels.” The higher-level riders are expected to know more and are therefore

asked to do far more in the ring during competition. Nevertheless, it is still difficult for a lower level rider to succeed. “It takes a lot of practice to get good at what they are doing,” West said. “They get tested on a different level, so when they go in the ring it’s very important that lower level riders dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t.’ “The upper level rider may have a blip on the radar but they are being tested on so many things,” West said. West compared upper level riders to lower levels by using the analogy of an academic exam. “If you’re taking a test that has 200 and you miss two questions it’s not a big deal, but if you’re taking a 10 question test and you miss two, it’s a big deal.” “So for the Walk-Trot guys, we’ve been just drill, drill, drill,” she said, “because everything has to be just so and in order.”

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Thursday, April 30, 2009 Print Edition