girls are up to bat read about softball fall ball on page six.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009 An independent, student-run newspaper serving the Virginia Tech community since 1903
COLLEGIATETIMES 106th year, issue 114
News, page 5
Features, page 2
Opinions, page 3
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blame Numerous violent incidents puzzle university community BY PHILIPP KOTLABA | university news editor oes Virginia Tech breed mass murderers?” asked a recent San Jose Independent Examiner commentary headline. With the realization that alleged Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan, who shot-dead 13 soldiers and wounded 31 others, was a 1995 alumnus, all eyes once again turned to Tech. “What are they doing to the students over there?” asked Twitter user “swedishniceboy.” User “HolyHo33lymoley” wrote, “Maybe the govt should start profiling V.T. students and alumni from now on.” The true contributing factors leading to a violent crimes are much more difficult to discern. Don Shoemaker is a professor of sociology at Tech and sits on the university’s Violence Prevention Committee. He arrived at Tech in 1974. “Some people outside the university may be making that connection,” Shoemaker said. “I don’t think it’s a valid connection; I just don’t see it.” On April 16, 2007, Tech student Seung-Hui Cho carried out the largest mass murder in United States history on Tech’s campus, taking the lives of 32 Tech students and faculty and wounding numerous others. Over a year later, with the limelight seemingly fading, graduate student Xin Yang was beheaded on Jan. 19, 2009, while sitting in the Graduate Life Center’s Au Bon Pain Cafe. Graduate student Haiyang Zhu is charged with the murder. His trial is scheduled for January. In late August, Tech sophomores Heidi Childs and David Metzler were found dead in the Caldwell Fields area of Jefferson National Forest. No charges have been filed in the case. Additionally, Tech student Morgan Harrington has been missing since attending a Metallica concert on Oct. 17 on the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. “People are wondering why ... Tech seems to keep coming up,” Shoemaker said. “I don’t have an answer for that. There is no answer for that. I don’t think it does have a violence-fostering climate, any more than you would find at any other university.” A look at Department of Education crime statistics between Virginia’s public college campuses does not generally raise eyebrows. For example, four forcible sex offenses were committed at Tech and the smaller College of William & Mary in 2008. UVa experienced five in the same timeframe. The year of 2008 saw 64 burglaries on Tech’s campus. However, UVa reported 73 in the same year. The exceptions are in murder and non-negligent manslaughter statistics. The April 16 shootings accounted for the 32 murders at Tech in 2007. It is this number, coupled with the tragedies of 2009 — the murder in the Graduate Life Center in January and the double homicide near Caldwell
Fields in August — that repeatedly brings the university under scrutiny, said John Welch, director of communication for Students for Non-Violence. “We’ve been taking a hard hit this whole semester, so it’s definitely elevated Virginia Tech in the media in a bad light,” Welch said. “All that commentary is very ignorant. It just happens to be another bad coincidence, and it’s definitely going to contribute to the stigma around Virginia Tech.” Still, Welch said the campus community has not fundamentally changed as a result. He also said the campus has not felt many effects from the Fort Hood shootings. “People now are a little bit more on edge, but I don’t think this latest incident has caused anyone to feel uneasy about their personal safety on campus.” Jerzy Nowak is director of the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention at Tech. Although he ignores the comments about a link between the Fort Hood shootings and Tech, he has responded to a multitude of parents with similar, sincere concerns. “Some of them broadly ask questions, ‘What’s wrong with Virginia Tech?’” Nowak said. “I see nothing wrong. People try to look for a scapegoat.” Still, he does not deny the recent spate of bad luck. “The frequency of these tragedies is unbelievably high,” Nowak said. He attributes much of it to a broader societal tension, whether it is due to growing unemployment, socio-economic inequalities, or even fueled tensions amid the current federal health care reform debate. Secondary victims of tragedies such as April 16, 2007, include parents and family members of the victims. As a result of the multiple incidents, Nowak said that every member of the Tech community could be considered, to some degree, a victim as well. “Emotionally, you have to reflect what’s happening even if you were not here,” Nowak said. “You see the symbols. You walk through the Drillfield, and you see the memorial.” As a result, Nowak said, reporting crimes that have any sort of link to Tech became almost part of the culture. James Kenny is a professor and school violence prevention specialist at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Last month he presented a campus seminar entitled “Stronger Than We Think: Self-Empowering Skills that Reduce the Risk of Violence” on behalf of Tech’s peace center. He downplayed Tech’s connection to Hasan, the alleged Fort Hood shooter who graduated with a biochemistry degree in 1995. “It really has nothing (to do with Tech); he was a graduate,” Kenny said. “You guys have 30,000 students, and you have an amazing amount of graduates each year. 99.9 percent of them are accomplishing wonderful things.” see BLAME / page ﬁve
e Companies selected for biotech conference VICTORIA JAMES news staff writer Three local companies have made it to a prestigious biotechnology conference in the nation’s capital. Intrexon, BC Genesis and Synthonics, all from Blacksburg, were selected to be company presenters at the 2009 Mid-Atlantic Biotech Conference at the North Maryland Conference Center in Bethesda, Md. The event, which lasted from Nov. 4-6, featured more than 850 top bioscience leaders and investors from 30 states and 10 countries. The year’s conference featured a healthcare policy panel that provided conference attendees with “insider information” to help adapt to upcoming possible federal health reform legislation and how to benefit from federal stimulus funds. Howard Dean addressed the conference to explain how healthcare reform would affect the biotechnology industry. Randal Kirk, the CEO of Intrexon, was featured as a plenary speaker at the conference. Kirk received his bachelor’s at Radford University and his juris doctorate from the University of Virginia. Sponsors of the conference, specifically from the research and university package, include Tech along with other Virginia universities such as George Mason University, UVa, James Madison University and Old Dominion University.
Norris Hall room to honor heroic professor CLAIRE SANDERSON & SARAH WATSON news staff A room in the second floor of Norris Hall has been named in honor of professor Liviu Librescu, a victim of the April 16, 2007, shootings who blocked the door to allow his students to escape. Norris Hall’s second floor, where shooter Seung Hui Cho carried out the second round of shootings, was renovated and re-opened on April 10, 2009. As one of the six new rooms that have been created, the Dr. Liviu Librescu Student Engagement Center will serve as a place for students to meet and work together on projects.
The idea for the honor came from faculty in the Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics, and was officially approved at the Board of Visitors meeting on Nov. 9. Librescu is being honored for his courage on April 16. He blocked the door of his Norris Hall classroom, while students slipped through the windows to safety. Librescu spent his adolescence in a Jewish ghetto. After surviving the Holocaust, he pushed forward to become an engineer. During Communist rule in Romania, Librescu earned his Ph.D. in aeronautical engineering. However, he was forced to sneak his writings to publishers
in other countries for recognition. Librescu emigrated to Israel in 1978, before settling in Blacksburg in 1985 with his wife. He served as a professor in engineering science and mechanics at Virginia Tech for 21 years. While at Tech, he received a number of honors and awards including AARP the Magazine’s “Most Inspiring Person of 2007.” Librescu’s legacy continues to assist students through the many scholarships in his name, along with the Student Engagement Center. Pat Artis, an alumnus of Virginia Tech, gave a gift to help establish the center.
Orange & Maroon 5
D.C. metro area sniper executed Gov. Tim Kaine issued a statement Tuesday after denying clemency for John Allen Muhammad, one of the convicted 2002 Washington, D.C. metro area snipers. In the statement, Kaine stated the reasons for the execution, which was held Tuesday night at the Greensville Correctional Facility. In Virginia, Muhammad was convicted of the planned murder of Dean Meyers in 2002. He and Lee Boyd Malvo were arrested for 10 murders and three other shootings in the Washington D.C., area. The Virginia Supreme Court confirmed Muhammad’s convictions and death sentence on April 22, 2005. The United States Supreme Court rejected Muhammad’s petition for a writ of certiorari on May 15, 2006. “Having carefully reviewed the petition for clemency and judicial opinions regarding this case, I find no compelling reason to set aside the sentence that was recommended by the jury and then imposed and affirmed by the courts,” Kaine’s statement said. “Accordingly, I decline to intervene.” by priya saxena, news staff writer
JOSH SON/COLLEGIATE TIMES
Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine performs for Virginia Tech in Burruss Hall Tuesday night. The band is on a nationwide tour of college towns. photo by hussein ahmed/spps
editors: topher forhecz, teresa tobat email@example.com/ 540.231.9865 COLLEGIATETIMES
Twirlers soar to
DESPITE RHINESTONES AND TIGHTS, TECH’S TWIRLERS ARE PART OF A DEMANDING SPORT TERESA TOBAT features editor he two baton twirlers on the field during halftime are hardcore about their sport. “I’ve pretty much broken every finger that I have,” said Ashley Bell, a fifth-year “feature twirler” and a graduate student in diary science. Bell has been twirling for 11 years and is performing on an injured ACL that she dislocated during the season’s first game against Alabama. “I didn’t think I was going to go out, but I went out anyway,” Bell said. “I did not come all the way to Atlanta not to march this show. It’s just a normal twirling injury, and then the swelling never went down.” Bell will have surgery in January to repair the damage, but in the meantime she remains optimistic about her condition. She wears a black knee brace at all times when she is performing and practicing. “It’s attractive, I’m not going to lie,” she joked. Baton twirling is not an easy task. Two twirlers are required to hoist at least one, and as many as three batons, up in the air and perform around the field during shows. They twirl the batons, which are about 29 inches long and weigh less than a pound, continuously throughout the pregame and halftime shows. Bell said that it’s imperative that she and the other twirler stay focused during games. “It’s a lot harder than people think,” Bell said. “It does get hard, especially when you’re doing multiple baton work. You’re constantly doing one. When you’re constantly juggling, you have to be aware where the other band members are. We have to adjust to them.” Bell said baton twirling is a sport and she treats it as such. “It’s not what it used to be where it’s just marching in parade and simply baton twirling,” Bell said. “It has evolved to really high standards. I don’t think it gets enough recognition for how much time we put into it. We put as much time into this as
Olympic world champions do. We put in the time. We go to contests. We go to camps. We go and teach and train.” Currently, there are two feature twirlers, and they are part of the Marching Virginians. They keep the same practice schedule as the band, which means they are working on their routines Monday through Friday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. This doesn’t include the extra time the twirlers spend working out to stay in shape. Kaytlyn Schmitt, a sophomore interdisciplinary major in education, has been twirling since she was a one-year-old. In addition to making every band practice, Schmitt visits the gym at least three times a week. Schmitt needs to maintain her physical health to excel in the dynamic sport of twirling. “It requires the gracefulness of a dancer, the flexibility of a gymnast, but also the stamina of a runner,” she said. Schmitt said she becomes more nervous when performing at competitions than at Tech sporting events. At competitions, the smallest mistake could cost her a win, but the focus of twirling changes when she’s at football games. “When you’re at Tech and you step out into the field, it’s a whole different experience,” Schmitt said. “It’s so much fun and it’s just about performing. Performing in front of 60,000 plus fans is such a great experience. They’re so full of spirit, and the band’s music just pumps me up even more.” Despite continuously perfecting their craft, the weather conditions inside Lane Stadium can provide an interesting situation for the twirlers when they perform. “If it’s really sunny or if it’s rainy, the baton could slip,” Schmitt said. “Twirling in the rain can be fun. It does make it a little bit harder.” During windy weather, the twirlers must pay close attention to the baton to make sure they catch it. When it’s cold outside, the twirlers try to keep the gloves on before stepping onto the field so their hands aren’t numb. Bell and Schmitt dress like per-
formers on the field. Bell described their twirling outfits as flashy bathing suits with a skirt and said adorning her attire is one of the most enjoyable aspects of her sport. “It’s my favorite thing. It really is,” Bell said “I sit on costume Web sites all day long. I really do. I’m obsessed with rhinestones. My guilty pleasure is to sit and rhinestone things.” However, the baton twirlers’ flashy ware requires that they must dodge the occasional cat-caller. “We obviously don’t dress like the band,” Bell said. “We have our costumes we wear every game. People tend to hit on you when you don’t look like everyone else. We’ll be warming up on the sides of the band stands, and people from the North End Zone will come and try to talk to us and get us to do tricks for them, and then usually when we go around to the side, people are like ‘Do something for us. You’re so hot.’ You get used to do it. Obviously after five years, I’m used to it.” Bell said she adjusted to the attention gradually. “I’m here to entertain, pretty much,” she said. “It was definitely something I had to get used to the first time. The girls prior to me, they warned me. You know, you gotta be careful. Men are all around — you definitely don’t realize it until it actually happens. Trying to go to get food after halftime is not an easy task.” Bell said she usually just ignores it and walks away. Although, not all the attention they receive is unwanted. Bell said she treasures the moments when younger fans who aspire to be twirlers will want to take photos with them. “That’s the highlight of the games for me,” Bell said. “It’s great to be such a great role model for kids. I really enjoy that the most.” Admiration from fans isn’t the only thing that the twirlers enjoy. Schmitt said they complement the band’s performance and add to the overall experience of a game. “I think it gets the crowd engaged in the band’s performance,” Schmitt said of her work. “Just hearing their sound is amazing. And we just add to the visual effect like the guard.” Schmitt and Bell are members of the Marching Virginians. They both travel with the band and complete the same service projects.
“The band has such a great sense of pride and community and closeness,” Schmitt said. “There are still only two feature twirlers. We stand out maybe a little more. But we’re still all part of the band, 330 strong.” The director of the Marching Virginians David McKee, along with the assistant director, the band and a group of knowledgeable experts are charged with screening the twirlers via video the summer before they come to Virginia Tech. After the initial test, the group sends the finalists a piece of music that the twirlers must perform to in a live audition four weeks later. “This is a situation where talent matters most,” McKee said. “The ability to perform at a high technical level and take a piece of music, listen to it and interpret it so their movement enhances what they’re trying to do musically.” The twirlers are given free reign over the routines. When asked if he felt comfortable giving Bell and Schmidt essentially complete independence when it comes to choreographing McKee responded: You betcha. “One of the keys with our success with features twirlers is it’s a very independent role,” McKee said. “Here’s the drill, here’s the music, you have your skill set, go do it. These two are very independent. Over the years, the people in this position have welcomed that independence.” The Marching Virginians have had as many as three feature twirlers and, in some years, none at all. “They appeal to a very strong contingency out there,” McKee said. “They add just another little bit of ‘wow.’ Because these two perform at such a high level, the ‘wow’ that they add is even at a higher level. These two are really good at finding a moment in the show design to really pop out and there are other moments where they need to get out of the way.” McKee said he is both impressed by Bell and Schmitt’s high talent level and their outstanding character. “The skills that these two have are enormous,” McKee said. “It’s great to have people around like that who are multi-dimensional.”
Passion 2010 tour comes to Burruss JOYCE KIM features staff writer Wednesday Nov. 11, the Passion 2010 University Tour will be coming to Burruss Auditorium with artists Charlie Hall and Steve Fee leading a night of praise and worship. Charlie Hall, a Christian worship leader and songwriter, has been with Passion Conferences since it first started 12 years ago. He was a college student at the time when Louie Giglio, the founder behind this movement, asked him to join. At the time, Hall was making records about revival and the church, which matched with the vision that Giglio had. Passion Conferences is a regional event with conferences aimed to mobilize students to reach out and affect the
world, said Isaac Barber, leader behind vtONE. Passion works with the Six Steps Record label, which showcases major Christian artists who carry the same heart of helping the world through movements such as building wells in Africa and fighting against the sexual slave trade. vtONE was created to bring the numerous Christian ministries at Virginia Tech together, and the Passion 2010 concert is taking what this ministry does and beefing it up, according to Barber. He said it is an opportunity not only for the campus, but also for our entire region to come together and worship. Students will get to see that the body of Christ is bigger than their specific organization, and this concert is not a way to promote the artists, but the
check it out What: Passion 2010 University Tour Where: Burruss Auditorium When: Tonight at 7:30 Acts: Charlie Hall and FEE Tix: https://secure.secure 268.com/universitytour name of Jesus, Barber said. When the university tour was being planned in the spring, the organizers saw that the Baptist Collegiate Ministry on campus had already signed up to take 20 students to the Passion 2010 Conference in Atlanta, Ga., and were the only group in Virginia that did. April Uebel, the associate director for
BCM, said that this was why they were initially contacted. Still, another connection between Tech and Passion had already been made in years prior. Giglio came to Tech after the April 16, 2007, shootings to give an encouraging message to students and had called to see if there was something that the campus could host. Though this tour is aimed to get students excited for the Passion 2010 conference in January in Atlanta, Hall said it is a night to stir expectations, have prayer, worship and to have a collegiate, world-wide awakening. “College is an awesome place in life where students have stepped out of their homes,” Hall said. “Especially their spiritual shelters, and (they) have to make decisions for themselves.”
COURTESY OF CHRIS HALL
Chris Hall (above) and FEE will be the two acts performing tonight in Burruss.
‘Big Lebowski’ star Jeff Bridges takes on a few new characters STEVEN REA the philadelphia enquirer In “The Men Who Stare at Goats,” Jeff Bridges plays Bill Django, a military man who returns from Vietnam to embrace the ‘60s counterculture headlong; the whole Aquarian Age, flower power, altered states of consciousness thing. But rather than drop out of the Army, Django is allowed by the Army to train a new squad of men: a group of would-be warrior monks who employ psychic powers to slay, but preferably sway, the enemy. The movie, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September and opens at theaters Friday, is an inspired and nutty affair that also stars George Clooney, Kevin Spacey and Ewan McGregor. Based on the (yes) nonfiction book about government paranormal intelligence ops, “The Men Who Stare at Goats” is no less loopy than
Bridges’ character: a tie-dyed mystic, a potsmoking visionary. “I’m a product of that age, that era,” says Bridges, who turns 60 next month. “You know, I did a lot of things that folks did back in the ‘60s and ‘70s.” One of those things was hanging out with John Lilly, the psychedelicized philosopher famous for exploring man-dolphin communication and developing the isolation tank. “I was a buddy of John’s,” says Bridges, in Toronto for the premiere. “I was one of his subjects in the isolation tank, he studied my responses to it. ... So when it came time to do ‘The Men Who Stare at Goats,’ I really looked back into that part of my past.” Fans of “The Big Lebowski,” in which Bridges stars as the stoner sleuth the Dude, would say Bridges brought plenty of that character to Bill Django, too.
“I wasn’t really thinking of the Dude when I was doing this, I was going for a different thing,” he says. “But I can see how people would think that.” Bridges, son of actor Lloyd and brother of actor Beau, lives in Santa Barbara when he’s not working, although lately he’s been working a lot. In a succession he cannot now remember, he shot “The Men Who Stare at Goats,” “The Open Road” (with Justin Timberlake), “Crazy Heart” (with Robert Duvall), and “The Dog Year” (with a border collie named Ryder) back to back to back. For Bridges, whose filmography includes “The Last Picture Show,” “Hearts of the West,” “Starman,” “The Fabulous Baker Boys” and “American Heart,” an acting career seemed a foregone conclusion. After all, his first screen credits were on 1958 episodes of his father’s TV series, “Sea Hunt.”
But Bridges says he didn’t fully commit to his job until after he had shot “The Last American Hero,” the 1973 picture in which he starred as race-car driver Junior Jackson. “Normally, after a movie I’m exhausted, a certain emotional muscle is exhausted,” he says. “I don’t feel like pretending to be somebody, I just want to be myself. And you get this feeling of ‘Oh, I don’t want to do this ever again.’ And thankfully, I’ve learned over the years that that feeling subsides, and then you start to get horny to make another movie ...” But in the days just after he shot “Last American Hero,” his agent called with an offer of a part: as Don Parritt, the teenage son, in John Frankenheimer’s big-screen version of Eugene O’Neill’s “The Iceman Cometh.” Fredric March, Lee Marvin and Robert Ryan were already cast. And Bridges told his agent he wasn’t interested. “About five minutes later I get a call from
Lamont Johnson, the director of “The Last American Hero,” and in his very deep voice he said, ‘I understand that you turned down ‘The Iceman Cometh’? ... You call yourself an actor? By god, I’m disgusted with you!’ And so I decided to do a little experiment on myself. I understood that when you’re a professional you have to do it when you don’t feel like it, and I said ‘Well, I certainly don’t feel like it, but I’ll just throw myself into this thing and it will probably put the final nail in the coffin of my acting career.’” So Bridges made “The Iceman Cometh,” and over the course of the rehearsals and the shooting, the young actor bonded with Hollywood leading man Ryan and found himself hanging with the estimable March and Marvin. “I had such a great time jamming with these old masters,” he remembers. “And at the end of that I said, ‘Oh yeah, this is something I can do for the rest of my life.’”
november 11, 2009 editor: debra houchins firstname.lastname@example.org/ 540.231.9865
november 11, 2009
The Collegiate Times is an independent student-run newspaper serving the Virginia Tech community since 1903
Your Views [letters to the editor]
Learning the law might change your ideas
s a student at one of the most unfortunately infamous universities in the nation, I am well aware of the hot button issue of gun control and concealed carry. It seems absurd to many people that anyone should want to allow students to carry concealed weapons on campus. They speak out against it for the sake of their own safety, and not long ago I was one of them. I grew up in a peaceful household with an ex-cop father and a mother who felt no need for weapons in the house. My feelings on the matter were mostly uneducated perceptions that guns were bad and should be left to the professionals. Since coming into the real world, I understand that the professionals are not the only ones that are going to have them and use them by any means. I sat in class one day with a friend of about six months and noticed an empty leather holster about his waist. Curious, I inquired as to the reasoning. He told me all about a club on campus known as SCCC — Students for Concealed Carry on Campus — and had a small debate with me on the subject matter. I was amazed by his knowledge and viewpoint, so agreed to join in on one of these meetings. The information I received was eye
opening and encouraged me to learn more about gun control and safety, as well as the matter of concealed carry on campus. Immediately following the meeting, I walked home and jotted down some thoughts on the matter from what I had come to understand: We fear that which we do not know or do not understand and judge perceived protection by its face. But how can we condemn the rights of those who take, at hand, protection of their own without a trace? Those who do not wave about or flaunt it as a power, those who follow trust, training and law, when we cannot prevent another murder every hour by the one’s who take advantage of this flaw? Choose to put your faith in those who wear badges and praise them for the peace of mind instilled, but do not turn and scorn the time it takes to get them there while all the while innocent are killed. If we prevent the rights of those to carry at their side, we do not halt the danger to be grieved. Only persecute the few, who by good sense and law abide, and condemn ourselves to the safety we perceived. I encourage others to participate in the activities this week and reflect on what they see, too.
Sara Reilly sophomore biology & wildlife science
[students for a sensible drug policy]
Anti-Drug War does not equal pro-drug S
ince I have become the leader of the Virginia Tech chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, I have continually encountered the same question: Are you pro-drug? Individuals make the assumption that the fact that I oppose ineffective anti-drug legislation somehow implies that I advocate drug use. In a sense, I find such an assumption sort of confusing. Does being pro-choice imply that one is pro-abortion? Does supporting one’s right to eat fatty foods from McDonald’s suggest that you are pro-obesity? The simple answer is no. In both of those scenarios, we have acknowledged the fact that a person has the right do what she pleases with his or her own body, so long as nobody else is hurt. Let us briefly consider the purpose of the law. We have laws to prevent people from murdering or raping one another. We have laws to prevent theft and unethical business practices. In each of those scenarios, the law serves to protect people from what other people might do to them. There is a victim and a victimizer. When it comes to drug use, however, the victim and the victimizer are the same person. The one who snorts the coke or shoots up the heroin is the same person who ultimately suffers because of it. So whom are drug laws protecting you from: yourself? It seems the overall purpose of drug laws is to protect people from consuming products that are detrimental to their health. If that is the case, why not pass a law that bans people from eating Twinkies? After all, eating too many sugary foods can also lead to obesity, diabetes and decreased life expectancy. Why not mandate that everybody exercise at least three times a week? Aside from the fact that such laws would be expensive and difficult to enforce, they probably would not be very effective. Each individual is responsible for his own physical well-being. No government mandate can determine how people will ultimately act toward their own bodies. Point in fact: There is still a large amount of drug use despite the fact that drugs are illegal. Almost 50 percent of surveyed American adults have reported using marijuana, and about 17 percent have reported using cocaine. Perhaps it should be considered that irresponsible behavior toward one’s own body, while not a good thing, is a matter of personal choice. A person has the choice to stop eating fatty foods and start exercising on a regular basis. Alcoholics can pursue treatment for their addiction without fear of legal sanctions.
Obesity and alcoholism are regarded as health issues. Why, then, is drug use considered a legal issue? In fact, a study by the RAND Corporation concluded that drug treatment is a cheaper and more effective method of dealing with the drug problem than law enforcement. Ideally, society should make drug treatment easily available for those who seek it, and create an environment, which is not hostile to those with drug problems. For example, after Portugal decriminalized drugs in the early 2000s, there was a rise in the number of citizens who sought treatment for drug addiction. Drug enforcement, on the other hand, ruins lives far beyond the point of the actual conviction. For example, Indiana Congressman Mark Souder recently proposed an amendment to the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA), which would have denied federal financial aid to students with minor drug offenses had it passed. (Luckily it was killed due to the efforts of SSDP chapters around the country.) Furthermore, people with criminal drug convictions on their records are less likely to receive jobs than people without such convictions, even if they have cleaned up their acts. These measures seem counterintuitive because people who are denied jobs or an education are more likely to relapse into drug use. In essence, making drug use a law enforcement issue instead of a health issue creates a hostile environment in which drug users are unable to receive help to pursue the necessary life-style changes for fear of putting a red flag on themselves. One of the consequences of living in a free country is that freedom implies that each individual is responsible for his own actions. This includes what he chooses to do to his own body. Drug use and other unhealthy behaviors are negative lifestyle choices that can cause a great deal of harm, but since there is no distinction between the victim and the victimizer, it is absurd to use law enforcement to deal with the problem. Rather, society should create an open and positive environment that encourages people who partake in such unhealthy behaviors to personally seek treatment for their actions. The role of the law is not to protect people from themselves — if that was the case, then all the bars in downtown Blacksburg would have been closed a long time ago.
Mark Goldstein acis & management major students for a sensible drug policy president
Ideology hinders health care reform more than logic T
he U.S. House of Representatives has just passed a health bill that will provide for transformative changes in the American health care system, and the efforts of those who oppose such reform have been equally as momentous. The bill’s congressional opponents have beaten the dialogue down with ideological fervor in an attempt to filibuster the issue until 2010 election-weary Democrats are reluctant to take a stand. If these actions were based on sound reasoning, they would be justifiable in my mind, but the facts say otherwise. Some of the major arguments of the anti-health reform movement — which is the dominant stance taken by the current congressional Republican membership — are that a public health insurance option would be too costly to taxpayers, would produce agonizing waiting times for patients and weaken individual autonomy over health care decisions, and would be unnecessary because America has the best health system in the world. However, there is ample evidence that strongly suggests all of these oppositional claims are wrong. Let’s start with the taxation claim. We know that any government activity will cost money, and the government’s form of revenue is taxation. The bill just passed in the House proposes a 5.4 percent surcharge tax applied to all Americans earning at least $500,000 annually, or families earning $1 million annually, according to Lori Montgomery and Shailagh Murray (The Washington Post, Nov. 8, 2009). Conservatives in Congress almost unanimously balk at any suggestion that raising taxes is acceptable, but this is particularly true when, as is the case with the current health bill, the tax increases would be applied to the rich largely in order to provide for the payment of other people’s health insurance. But, as will be shown in more detail, the health care system is failing, and it threatens to bankrupt this country over the long term. Opposing taxes at every turn and disregarding the entitlement payments (like Medicare and Medicaid) that are bound to rise to completely unsustainable levels in the near future would effectively mean condemning the
Today America is the only advanced nation worldwide that doesn’t have universal health care coverage.
nation to a permanently weakened financial state. No one complains about the incredible governmental investment of the national interstate system implemented by the Eisenhower administration in the 1950s; well, this was only made possible by the fact that the wealthiest citizens in the highest income tax bracket were paying over 90 percent of their annual income in taxes (as opposed to just 35 percent today, and most exploit loopholes and tax shelters to pay even less). Yet somehow the current proposals for slight tax increases on the wealthiest Americans are met with congressional vitriol. And what about the nature of our health care system? What about the claims that we still have the best health care coverage in the world, and that any government intervention in our health system would lead to government takeover? Take a look around. Today America is the only advanced nation worldwide that doesn’t have universal health care coverage. Are we supposed to believe that every single one of these foreign health systems is characterized by the iron fist of government hammering their citizens’ autonomy into the soil? Opponents of U.S. health reform often point to other nations in warning of the brutal waiting times that would accompany a public health option here in the U.S.; what they don’t mention, according to New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof, is that “citizens of other countries get longer hospital stays and more medication than Americans do because our insurance companies evict people from hospitals as soon as they can stagger out of bed” (NYT, “Unhealthy America,” Nov. 4). Kristof provides a clear example of this in highlighting a report from the McKinsey Global Institute, which found that 90 percent of hernia surgery in the U.S. is performed on an outpatient basis, compared to just 40 percent in
Britain. Yet, perhaps the most striking deficiency in our health system is in outcomes. According to Kristof, the latest World Health Organization findings show that America ranks 31 among all world nations in life expectancy, 37 in infant mortality, and 34 in maternal mortality. Kristof also mentions a study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute, which found that, in gauging how well 19 developed nations succeeded in avoiding preventable deaths, the U.S. ranked last. The health outcomes are sad, but they are made all the more unacceptable when you consider how much we spend on health care. Many studies have found that the U.S. currently spends roughly 16 percent of GDP on health care, while a 2009 study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found that no other advanced nation spends more than 11 percent of GDP on health care. How can we justify doing nothing about the situation when we rank so poorly in so many key health statistics while still spending far more than any other country does on health care? The statistical data overwhelmingly suggests that the push for health reform isn’t merely some byproduct of a liberal agenda in Washington, but, rather, a systemic crisis that threatens the ability of the U.S. to maintain the financial stability and dynamism that have created the greatest society mankind has ever known. And for politicians on Capitol Hill to choose a miniscule individual financial interest over the public good, given these circumstances, would be a mighty shame indeed.
MICHAEL SAGE -regular columnist -graduate student -international affairs major
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Blame: Tech taking steps College grads must work harder to get jobs to stop violent incidents GREGORY KARP the morning call
from page one
But if Tech is not responsible for “breeding mass murderers,” what is? Hasan’s Muslim identity has perhaps been one of the most publicized details about his possible motivations in the Fort Hood massacre. Although American Muslim leaders, including Tech’s Muslim Students’ Association, widely denounced the murders, some have chosen religion as their scapegoat, Nowak said. Kenny added that one incident should not cast a shadow on all Muslim American soldiers. “I think that’s not fair to those soldiers who have Islamic beliefs,” Kenny said. Mental health has also played a role in many murders associated with Tech. Cho had visited Cook Counseling Center several times before the April 16 shootings, and although Hasan was a psychiatrist, some suspect a mental disorder affected his judgment. “There’s always a reason (behind a crime),” Kenny said, “and I think one of the biggest problems is that we try to look at these things from our perspective, and they don’t seem to make any sense.” However, using warning signs to prevent violent crime is a difficult, but possible, task,” he said. “Almost every major shooting that’s occurred in the last 10 years — if you look at the newspapers (on) day one, it’ll talk about ‘random and senseless’ shooting,” Kenny said. “When you look (at) day 4, after there’s been some investigation and someone’s looked into it, you’ll see it wasn’t so random. “It was predictable. There were warning signs.” Consequently, Kenny said the effort to prevent violent crime should center on identifying those individual warning signs and bringing them together. “The reality is that we really don’t train people to look for warning signs,” Kenny said, “and we don’t train them to act on warning signs, and we don’t provide the right mechanisms for them to report them.”
According to Shoemaker, it is a struggle to achieve the right balance between missing early warning signs preceding a violent crime and paranoia of everyday behavior. “You don’t often think of that leading to what happened in Texas,” Shoemaker said. “The dots aren’t always connected, because you don’t always assume that if somebody says something, that in the years from years from now they’re going to go out and kill 10 people. That just isn’t normally done.” Shoemaker and Kenny both said Tech had made considerable progress, however, in building up its capacity to prevent violence and push for a safer campus. The threat assessment team, for example, is working to set up an early warning process. When someone experiences a potentially dangerous situation, he would have numbers to contact relating to that concern. It is the kind of program Shoemaker emphasized was essential to “connect the dots.” “I was very, very impressed with what I saw down at Virginia Tech,” Kenny said. “A lot of these programs are relatively young, but you’re doing the right things.” However, doing the right things does not guarantee 100 percent success, Shoemaker said. “Even if something were to happen in the future, it would not be entirely a necessary indication that we failed somewhere,” Shoemaker said. Kenny expected in a few years that people are going to focus not just on April 16, but the measures taken in reaction to the shootings. “We’re going to be coming to you for leadership,” Kenny said. Students for Non-Violence, the student-led offshoot of the peace center, is already working on teaming up with the Residence Hall Federation to lead a film series for younger students on campus to learn about violence prevention. Another item on its agenda is choosing the speaker for the third Day of Remembrance on April 16, 2010.
Correction -In “BOV votes in MBA fee, talks insurance” (CT, Nov. 10), there was an error in reporting Virginia Tech’s goal for faculty salaries. For the 2009 fiscal year, Tech planned for faculty salaries to be at the 49th percentile compared to peers selected by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, not
at the 60th percentile as originally reported. Tech’s faculty salaries currently rank at the 35th percentile. Tech plans to have faculty salaries at the 60th percentile for the 2012 fiscal year. The Collegiate Times regrets this error.
ALLENTOWN, Pa. — College students graduating in December and May are likely to be the first in a generation to enter a job market featuring double-digit unemployment. That has colleges and universities across America scrambling this fall to revamp their career-placement offerings to help new grads land jobs. Autumn is one of the crucial recruiting seasons, especially for students who want to find employment at Fortune 500 companies. But the outlook for coming college graduates is decidedly grim. On top of a 22 percent decline in college-grad hiring last year, employers expect to chop those entry-level hires by an additional 7 percent this year, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. “What we’re seeing is they’re really being cautious,” said NACE spokeswoman Andrea Koncz. That dismal hiring forecast is even worse than hiring plans following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when hiring came to a virtual standstill. Average starting salaries for 2009 grads dropped 1.2 percent from the year before, to $48,633. Those facts are why career counselors across the Lehigh Valley have worked to shift the mind-set of soonto-be grads entering the work force. The basic message: You’ll have to bust your butt to land a job in this lousy job market. “What students did years ago isn’t enough today,” said Amy Saul, director of career development at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pa. For example, today’s students are encouraged not only to participate in an internship program, but in two or three to boost their chances of being hired. “Competition is much more fierce than it has been in the past for entrylevel candidates,” she said. And the tough economy has created a distressing paradox. Just as students most need career-placement services, many colleges are cutting budgets in their career centers as part of their own belt-tightening. About 55 percent of college career centers nationwide are cutting their 2009-10 spending plans, according to preliminary results of a survey being conducted by NACE. Lehigh Valley college career centers haven’t made sharp cuts, but some are running leaner.
COURTESY OF MCT
Jose Flores, 23, of Allentown chats with John Quinones, vice president of recruitment for Major League Baseball, inside Dana Hall at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Worse yet, career-services departments are now catering to more than just current students. Recent grads who haven’t found work or were laid off are returning for help. In fact, some alumni are returning decades after graduation to use job-placement services. For Kate Hunter, director of career services and internships at DeSales University, that meant she had to brush up on techniques to help people land mid-career jobs. “Sometimes, we’re combing through 20 years of experience on an old resume to find skills that are transferrable to the current job market,” Hunter said. To cope with the bad job market, unemployment is 9.8 percent nationally, local colleges are launching new programs, revamping old ones and tapping alumni for help. At Lehigh University in Bethlehem, job postings dropped off a cliff in the spring. The career center started emailing alumni who might help. That doesn’t sound extraordinary, except that for the first time it e-mailed every single living alumnus it had an address for, an estimated 10,000, said Donna Goldfeder, director of career services. Goldfeder corresponded personally with every alum who offered a job lead. The result? Some 300 job opportunities for Lehigh grads, she said. “We broadened our net with employer outreach too, but to be honest, that didn’t have nearly the effect of reaching out to the alums
did,” Goldfeder said. By the spring semester, the career center plans to have a new online database to help students contact alumni directly. A sampling of new efforts: Moravian started a pilot program this fall called Career Connections. It matches students with advisers based on their interests and targeted professions. It also has “Lunch and Learn” events, including recent and upcoming ones with recruiters from Major League Baseball and Mars Inc., maker of M&Ms and Juicy Fruit. Lafayette College in Easton, Pa., is tapping more than 600 volunteer alumni and parents to participate in mock interviews over the phone and in person. Students are using InterviewStream, an interviewing practice tool that allows students to record mock interviews using a webcam for later critique. Northampton Community College has launched a job club that will offer advice on such topics as resumes and job fairs, networking and interviewing techniques. Muhlenberg College plans a new program on effectively using the online professional networking site LinkedIn, said Cailin Pachter, career center director. Muhlenberg ramped up efforts to help students apply for jobs with the federal government, a notoriously arduous process. The Allentown college also puts together an electronic book for employers and alumni that contains seniors’ resumes. Usually assembled in the spring, it is
being assembled now. DeSales adjusted its one-year-old Senior Success Series, which contains eight programs. Changes included starting job searches earlier and incorporating a strong networking component, Hunter said. While new efforts and programs are more newsworthy, many colleges are re-emphasizing tried-and-true job-search techniques: writing resumes and cover letters, making contacts and developing a firm handshake. “It’s career searching 101,” Goldfeder said. Using such high-tech resources as LinkedIn and online job postings are important, but they don’t replace old-fashioned face-to-face networking, career counselors say. That has college students throughout the Valley practicing their elevator pitches, describing their value in the time it takes to ride an elevator. Muhlenberg even hosts “speed networking” events to practice those 30second spiels, followed by an alumni networking reception where they use those networking skills for real. “It’s not about going online and looking for jobs anymore,” said Hunter of DeSales. “It’s about getting your face out there and getting your resume into the right hands. It’s going to take a lot more legwork.” While some strategies can be taught in groups, there is increased demand for individualized advice, counselors say. Lehigh University dramatically expanded the number of hours it offered for one-on-one career counseling, Goldfeder said.
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november 11, 2009
Softball completes fall ball, Tech wrestling splits weekend dual meet looks forward to new year GEORGE TILLERSON sports staff writer
NICK CAFFERKY sports staff writer The Virginia Tech softball team has much rebuilding to do from last year’s team that featured five starting seniors. Now, if the Hokies want to succeed in the upcoming season this spring, they need big contributions from younger players, something that the team saw for the first time during two tournaments this fall in games against Penn State, Lock Haven, St. Francis, Liberty and Limestone. Moving toward the spring season, Tech has some significant holes to fill both in the field and in the lineup. Not only did the team lose three starting infielders, but those five graduating players represented over 70 percent of the team’s offense last year. Even though the team went into the fall season with several questions about its lineup, it came out with a good bit of optimism because of several players stepping up. “We really didn’t know what to expect before the tournament because we had so many young players, but I think everybody played exceptionally well for fall ball,” senior Whitney Davis said. One of the impressive freshmen has been Bkaye Smith, who had an exceptional fall and will most likely be the leadoff hitter when the regular season starts in February. She will have the task of replacing Jenna Rhodes, the All-American player who occupied that spot last year. In addition to Smith, Courtney Liddle will be another freshman that will have an immediate impact on the team. She will be featured in the revamped middle of the lineup with senior Misty Hall and sophomore Kristin Graham, who hope to provide some power. “Courtney Liddle was phenomenal, hitting three home runs and over .400 for us in the fall,” said head coach Scott Thompson. “She is someone that we are really going to be counting on to get the job done in the middle of the order.”
Overall, though, if Tech wants to have a potent offense, the team knows that balance will be the key to scoring runs. “I think we can see some power throughout our order, but our savior is going to be our balance and hitting with runners in scoring position, which is a problem we had last year,” Thompson said. With such drastic changes in the lineup and inexperienced players filling the major void left by the senior starters, Tech’s biggest asset will be its strength in pitching. Not only is junior Kenzie Roark returning from a season with an excellent 2.73 earned run
S N/SPP MASO E K U L
average, but the Hokies added junior transfer Ashton Ward from the University of Tennessee who comes into this season with a career record of 30-7. Sophomore Abbie Rexrode and freshman Jasmin Harrell will also get time in at pitcher to help out in some critical spots. “I think it’s really good that we have a deep pitching staff on this team,” Ward said. “We are all different types of pitchers with different pitches, and I think Coach Sherwood is helping us out a lot. If one of us needs help, this staff is going to be really good at helping each other out.” The Hokies finished the two fall tournaments with a 6-2 record and averaged nine runs a game in the final tournament, giving the team hope that the offense might come along quicker than previously thought. “We never got to see our full blown lineup the way I think we look like our best,” Thompson said. “Winning is always a good thing, but the fall is about seeing us against the competition. I don’t think that the pitching we saw will be what it’s like in the ACC, but at the same time we scored a lot of runs, which is what you’re supposed to do.” While the fall season is over and the Hokies do not play again until the spring, the team will continue working out individually with coaches and have two clinics in December. Tech’s season officially starts Feb. 12th against Drexler in Jacksonville, Fla.
The Virginia Tech wrestling team split its dual meet this weekend with an 18-20 loss to Kent State and a 21-18 victory over Chattanooga on Saturday. Tech had a comfortable 18-7 lead over Kent State in its first matchup with three duals to go. The Golden Flashes put together a string of three consecutive wins, ending with an 114 pin, outlasting the Hokies by a final score of 20-18. After placing 15th in the national rankings in 2008 and coming off a 20win season with all 10 starters returning, many believe the Hokies deserve to be nationally ranked. Their showing against Kent State said otherwise, though. “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, our focus isn’t dual meets this year, and I guess right away we proved it,” said head coach Kevin Dresser. “We don’t deserve to be ranked in the top 20 right now. It’s still early. Not going to get too excited at this point. We got to get back to work and have our guys buy into what we are doing.” Sophomore phenomenon and reigning Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year Jarrod Garnett was part of arguably the most entertaining dual of the day as he used a takedown in overtime to beat Kent State’s Troy Opfer 8-6 in the 125-pound competition. “I was preparing for overtime,” Garnett said. “I told myself I was not going to lose this match. I got my comeback, the last takedown, and held him for the last nine seconds. I could tell he was tired, and I knew that he wasn’t going to be that offensive from the start.” Tech increased its lead when seventh-ranked junior Chris Diaz and redshirt junior Matt Epperly earned two shutouts against the Flashes. Diaz cruised to a 6-0 triumph over Kent State’s Chase Skonieczny, and shortly thereafter the 165-pound Epperly pinned State’s Sli Bostleman in the third period with a final score of 12-0. “I came out there knowing that last year I didn’t end on a good note,” Epperly said. “I ended up fourth in the ACC. This preseason I just concentrated on proving to everyone that I am the real deal. I got my stuff together, and I just went out there to wrestle, and the score spoke for itself.” Kent State kept fighting, however. When the Golden Flashes stared down an 18-7 deficit, their wrestlers stepped up. Tech’s 17th-ranked junior Tommy Spellman lost 8-6, and afterwards, freshman Chris Penny was bounced 11-4. With the score at 18-14, the heavyweight dual loomed large. Tech’s 197-pound senior Tim Miller moved up a weight class for reasons
NIELS GORAN BLUME/SPPS
Chris Diaz wrestles Vincent Ramirez (UNC) during their semiﬁnal match. Diaz went on to lose in the ﬁnals to Alex Krom (Maryland). undisclosed to face 285-pounder Brendan Barlow. Miller did not stand a chance as he was pinned late in the third period to give the Golden Flashes a 20-18 comeback win. Later in the day against Chattanooga, the Hokies’ Garnett and freshman Erik Spjut put the Hokies on top early. In the 125-pound weight class, Garnett recorded a pin against Chattanooga’s Demitrius Johnson in a swift 1:13. Spjut recovered from a tough loss earlier in the day to beat Chattanooga’s Josh Sandoval 10-4. In the next match, the Hokies lost ground again. While Diaz easily won his bout earlier in the day, he wasn’t as lucky against Chattanooga’s 20th-ranked Cody Cleveland, who took over in the third period with two huge takedowns and pulled off a huge 11-6 upset win for Chattanooga. Fortunately for the Hokies, sophomore Pete Yates followed in a much easier dual than he had in his first of the day against Kent State. Instead of outlasting an opponent 3-1, Yates used his quickness to pin Chattanooga’s Dean Pavlou in 1:38 in the 149-pound competition.
“Last year was real disappointing,” Yates said. “Wrestling the whole season and doing well and then not performing well in the tournament, I knew I had to come out this year and finish strong. That’s my goal.” In the 184-pound weight class, Spellman showed his toughness as he survived a late push by Chattanooga’s Niko Brown, pulling out a 6-4 victory. Dresser decided to forfeit the 285pound weight class since freshman Andrew Miller is still with the football team and junior D.J. Bruce is nursing an injury. “I think the thing we probably learned from the second match is that we battled back a little bit better and dealt with some adversity,” Dresser said. “We are not even close to where we need to be, but it’s the first weekend of the year. There were some positive things and some negative things. For the first time all season it gave the coaching staff something to work on,” he said. Up next for the Hokies is the ACC Challenge Duals in Chapel Hill, N.C., this weekend where they will take on American, Bucknell and GardnerWebb.