Tuesday, April 6, 2010
An independent, student-run newspaper serving the Virginia Tech community since 1903
107th year, issue 41
News, page 2
Hokies improve pitching, achieve national ranking
Features, page 6
Opinions, page 3
Sports, page 5
Classifieds, page 4
Sudoku, page 4
March letter recalls 2003 BOV spat
JOE CRANDLEY sports reporter Since the Virginia Tech baseball team joined the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2005, success has been difficult to come by, especially on the pitching mound. Tech routinely finished at or near the bottom of the ACC earned run average rankings in its first five years, and the Hokies most recently posted their best team ERA of 5.18 in 2009. With admittance into arguably the best college baseball conference in the country, struggles were expected, but head coach Pete Hughes appears to have turned the team’s pitching troubles into a strength this season. In a dramatic change from seasons past, all three of Tech’s starting pitchers rank in the top 20 individually in ERA. After a few years spent throwing his young but talented arms directly into the starting rotation as freshmen, Hughes now has experienced weekend starters, juniors Justin Wright and Jesse Hahn and sophomore Matthew Price, to go up against ACC foes. At just 5-feet, 9-inches, Wright, a crafty lefty with a deceptive delivery, has been a little guy making a big impact since he put on a uniform for the Hokies. In his freshman season, he finished 4-0 and pitched a complete game shutout against the No. 1 Miami Hurricanes. He followed up his freshman campaign with a 7-2 record in 2009. Now in his third year as a starter, Wright (4-3) is the ace of the staff, and while he struggled early in starts against Kentucky and Maryland, the lefty recently regained his form with impressive outings against No. 16 Clemson, Wake Forest and No. 4 Florida State. Wright gave up just two runs over 5.2 innings in a 3-0 loss to the Tigers on March 19. He followed up with a complete game shutout of the Demon Deacons the next week and had just two earned runs in seven innings to go along with 10 strikeouts in a win against the Seminoles. As the season progresses, Wright will continue to be more and more important to Tech’s chances with the see BASEBALL / page ﬁve
Apple iPad first-day sales top 300,000 DAVID SARNO mcclatchy newspapers LOS ANGELES — For Apple Inc. and its iPad, the easy part is over. After months of marketing hype that had fans grabbing their wallets this weekend, Apple announced Monday that it sold more than 300,000 of its new tablet computers on Saturday — a one-day total that topped the 2007 debut sales tallies for the original iPhone. While the Cupertino, Calif.,-based company did not release total sales figures for the holiday weekend as of Monday morning, analysts predicted shoppers would snap up more than 4 million units by the end of the year. The company also said that, as of 12:01 a.m. Sunday, consumers users had downloaded more than 1 million applications — the small programs users can add to their devices — and nearly 250,000 ebooks from the company’s iBookstore online marketplace. Yet, given the country’s economic malaise and the iPad’s hefty price tag, analysts warned that questions linger as to when — or if — there will be similar mass market adoption of the tablet as there has been of Apple’s blockbuster iPod and iPhone devices. (The iPhone 3GS sold 1 million units in its first three days last year.) They also point out that the initial rush of customers would be dominated by early adopters or Apple enthusiasts, who might be more forgiving of the fact that the company may not have worked out all of the technical kinks — or found a so-called “killer app.” “Apple reached first base,” said Francis Sideco, an analyst at iSuppli Corp., an El Segundo, Calif.,-based research firm. Now, he added, “they’ve got to go get everyone else.” Some prospective buyers may be waiting until the end of the month for the 3G version of the iPad, which will cost up to $829, but allow consumers to use the device more like a smartphone. That could pose a problem down the road for Apple, point out analysts, who say the company must also walk a careful line with its iPad to ensure the new device doesn’t eat into sales of its popular line of laptops or iPhone. But none of those concerns tempered Apple executives’ glee at the consumer turnout. Nearly 3,300 apps specifically developed for the iPad are available so far, a third of them games, according to Colin Sebastian, an analyst with Lazard Capital Markets. More apps, he said, were sure to come because “as long as the iPad keeps selling, you’re going to see a lot more innovation on this platform.” The frenzied start-up mentality that ruled Silicon Valley in dot-com booms times is again taking hold, with thousands of software developers scrambling to stake an early claim inthe iPad gold rush. Experience has taught them the potential riches can be huge, particularly for those developers who get in early: The apps market for the iPhone and iPod Touch together top $1 billion in annual sales.
President Charles Steger and John Rocovich, then the rector of the Board of Visitors, speak at a special 2003 meeting that restored afﬁrmative action policies.
NEXT ROUND OF BOARD OF VISITOR APPOINTMENTS LIKELY TO SEE RETURN OF REPUBLICAN INFLUENCE LIANA BAYNE news reporter Gov. Bob McDonnell will appoint at least two new members to Virginia Tech’s Board of Visitors this spring, potentially adding a conservative tilt to the board just months after the university faced the highly charged issue of sexual orientation and discrimination protection. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s March 5 letter advised Virginia’s public universities to remove protections based on sexual orientation from their non-discrimination policies to comply with Virginia law, saying authorization to add protection would require approval from the Virginia General Assembly. The current BOV did not act on Cuccinelli’s recommendation of removing discrimination protection based on sexual orientation. However, this isn’t the first time Tech has grappled with discrimination policies. In 2003, the board complied with a suggestion from then-Attorney General Jerry Kilgore to ban affirmative action. Following a month of public outcry, the university administration called an emergency BOV meeting, and the decision was reversed. Now, the rector of the 2003 board, Roanoke lawyer John Rocovich, could be a potential candidate to rejoin the board as McDonnell makes his first appointments later this spring. Rocovich, a Blacksburg native who has a history of providing major financial backing for both the university and the Republican Party, left the board when his term expired in 2005, after he served the maximum continuous term of eight years. Under the BOV bylaws, there is no reason Rocovich could not return to the board if he were appointed, since it has been more than one year since his last term of service. While serving on the BOV, Rocovich’s financial influence benefited the university. Two notable projects completed during his 1997-2005 term were the construction of ICTAS and the Edward Via School of Osteopathic Medicine. “I’d been serving on a sort of study committee since the middle ‘90s, so we finally got that ICTAS started while I was on the board and that’s a very instrumental part of a major research institution,” Rocovich said. He was also involved in the process of Tech’s admission to the Atlantic Coast Conference. “I was very fortunate to serve on the board in a period of time when we were able to start a lot of new initiatives and do a lot of things that I think helped to propel the school forward. And we, for the most part, had a pretty aggressive board that was far-seeing,” Rocovich said. Rocovich also spread his financial assets to the Virginia Republican Party. According to the Virginia Public Access project, Rocovich contributed a total of $63,000 to McDonnell’s campaigns for attorney general and governor between 1996 and 2009, including $53,000 for travel expenses during both campaigns. “I admire the governor greatly,” Rocovich said. “He, in my mind, has all the right stuff to be perhaps the best governor we’ve ever had. I’m a great supporter of his, and he’s certainly a very able and sensible, capable man.” Rocovich had also been a strong supporter of Kilgore. He donated a total of $53,850 to Kilgore’s various political campaigns for both attorney general and governor between 1996 and 2009, $10,850 of that before 2003. During his run for governor, Rocovich paid $40,000
of Kilgore’s travel expenses. Although Rocovich expressed his enthusiasm for Tech and noted that he enjoyed his time on the BOV in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, he said he has not currently been contacted by representatives from either Tech or McDonnell’s office about serving on the board in the future, or about serving on any type of selection committee for future board members. The current status of the governor’s decision-making process is unknown. A brief statement from McDonnell’s office to the Collegiate Times said that new board appointees would be announced “in the coming months.” Rocovich said he doesn’t yet have any knowledge of the governor’s plans. “The governor hasn’t approached me,” Rocovich said. “It’s a little early.” Tom Tillar, vice president of the alumni association, acknowledged that political affiliation “typically has a strong influence” on who the governor ultimately appoints. “There is no strict rule of thumb, but if you look across, there is a close alignment to the governor’s party,” Tillar said. Tillar works closely with university President Charles Steger to develop the “short list” of candidates the university feels would be good potential appointees. The list will be sent to McDonnell for his consideration at the end of April. Current rector John Lawson and member Ben Davenport have served on the board for the past eight years and cannot immediately return to board after their terms expire in June. Members are allowed to hold two consecutive four-year terms before they must take at least one year off. Current members James Smith and Lori Wagner are both at the end of their first terms and could be reappointed for a second term in June if McDonnell chooses to do so. Tillar said he has worked with Steger and the alumni association to develop the list of potential appointees for nearly the whole academic year. “It can certainly be more (candidates) than the number who are leaving,” Tillar said. “That’s still in process, there will be no more than eight and it may not be that many.” Tillar said if the university is considering a person to add to its list, it approaches the candidate for discussion before placing him or her on the list. “That’s a list I can’t share,” Tillar said. “I can’t say that everybody’s been consulted.” Tillar said the process is not democratic. Tech is free to advise the governor’s office of potential candidates but has no say in who is actually appointed. According to Tillar, the choice between candidates “strictly rests with the governor.” “Usually there are appointments that are names that were not on our list,” he said. The current BOV consists of eight members appointed by former Gov. Mark Warner between 2002 and 2005, along with six members appointed by former Gov. Tim Kaine between 2006 and 2009. Current members who have served on the board since 2003, Ben Davenport, John Lawson, Sandra Lowe, Michael Anzilotti and James Severt, have had to deal with controversy over Tech’s discrimination policy on two separate occasions. The current BOV did not act upon Cuccinelli’s March 5 request to remove sexual orientation from the school’s discrimination policy. Several days after Cuccinelli sent
Board of Visitors Timeline 1995
Tech edits its discrimination policy to include “race, color, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, veteran status, national origin, religion, or political affiliation.”
John Rocovich appointed to BOV by former Gov. George Allen.
Then-Attorney General Jerry Kilgore sends letter to BOV requesting they review diversity policies based on race and discontinue the use of affirmative action when hiring and admitting new students.
March 10, 2003
March 10–April 6, 2003
April 6, 2003
BOV approves new resolution of policy to comply with Kilgore’s request, omits protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation. A period of public outcry and discussion. Over 100 students attend a protest led by the LGBTA during the week after the BOV’s March meeting. The BOV holds an emergency meeting to discuss the change in policy with deputy attorney general David Johnson. The March resolution is overturned and the policy is restored to the 1995 version that includes sexual orientation. Tech’s Principles of Community are written as a result in an attempt to create a campus wide code for diversity. Rocovich’s term expires after he serves eight consecutive years.
March 5, 2010
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli sends letter to all public university Boards of Visitors requesting they remove sexual orientation from discrimination protection policies. The Tech BOV does not act upon this letter.
March 10, 2010
Governor Bob McDonnell issues Executive Directive 1, advising public state institutions not to discriminate based on “factors such as one’s sexual orientation.”
June 30, 2010
Tech president Charles Steger will send a list of recommended candidates to fill four spots that will open in the BOV. McDonnell will have the option to appoint at least two and up to four new BOV members. Two members have served for eight years, so their terms are up. Two members have served four years, so they are eligible for reappointment if McDonnell chooses to renew their terms.
SARA SPANGLER/COLLEGIATE TIMES
the letter, McDonnell issued a directive that stressed against engaging in discrimination in employment searches. In a similar 2003 incident, the board had a different reaction when then-Attorney General Kilgore attempted to ban affirmative action. Kilgore’s office sent a letter to the board, led by then-rector Rocovich, in 2002. The letter suggested that Tech discontinue the use of affirmative action when selecting employees and students and opt for “race-neutral” policies. Instead of denying Kilgore’s request, the board attempted to comply with it. Tillar noted that there were similarities between the situations presented to the 2003 BOV and the 2010 BOV, but that the reactions were different. “The only difference I can find is that the recommendation was presented by the rector without any preliminary notice,” Tillar said. The board did not address the Kilgore letter until March 2003. Then, without first placing it on the agenda of the March 10, 2003, meeting, Rocovich brought a resolution before the board that moved to create the office of equal opportunity and diversity and implement
more race-neutral policies. However, while presenting this resolution, a clause granting protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation was omitted. The previous policy was changed in 1995 to include the sexual orientation provision. That policy read, “Virginia Tech does not discriminate against employees, students, or applicants on the basis of race, color, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, veteran status, national origin, religion, or political affiliation.” The statement of the new, changed policy, presented at the March 10, 2003, BOV meeting read, “the policy of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University not to discriminate on the basis of disability, age, veteran status, political affiliation, race, color, national origin, ethnicity, religious belief, or gender is hereby expressly reiterated and clarified.” It went on to state that this policy would be applied to “the admissions or hiring process” and “awarding scholarships or other financial aid, or any other point in the financial aid process.” This policy ended affirmative action, which see BOV / page two
new river valley news editor: zach crizer university editor: philipp kotlaba email@example.com/540.231.9865
april 6, 2010
nation & world headlines
Toyota accused of hiding defect, ﬁned WASHINGTON — The Obama administration fined Toyota $16.4 million Monday for a four-month delay in announcing defective accelerator pedals in 2.3 million vehicles that could trigger sudden acceleration — and warned that more could be coming. The fine, the largest ever levied by U.S. auto safety regulators against an automaker, forces Toyota to either accept a government judgment it ignored U.S. consumer complaints of a safety problem or fight a high-profile court battle with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The world’s largest automaker declined to say what its next step would be. The U.S. Department of Transportation said Toyota knew about the pedal defect at least as early as Sept. 29, when it told dealers in Canada and 31 countries in Europe how to handle customer complaints about the problem and fix the pedals. In January, the automaker told NHTSA about the problem and issued a recall, revealing that the first complaints had been heard from customers as far back as 2007. It had changed the materials used to build the pedals in production twice — once in February 2008, and again in August of last year — without issuing a recall. Toyota did not reveal the September bulletin to dealers outside the United States. -justin hyde, mcclatchy newspapers
CORRECTIONS JUSTIN GRAVES -Contact our public editor at publiceditor@ collegiatetimes.com if you see anything that needs to be corrected.
BOV: New appointments could shift policy from page one
had been in place at Tech for a number of years. Documentation presented to the BOV shows evidence of race-conscious recruitment of potential students from undergraduate admissions at that time, inviting African-American, Hispanic and American-Indian students to a number of special programs not open to Caucasian applicants. Rocovich stands by his position on affirmative action. “If I remember correctly, my position has always been that the only legitimate way to judge another human being is on merit,” Rocovich said. Roger Clegg, president and general counsel of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a non-profit organization that advocates for civil rights, agreed with Rocovich’s stance on affirmative action. “I believe it is wrong and usually illegal for a state university to discriminate on the basis of skin color or national orientation in how it treats students,” Clegg said. “There is no justification. People should be judged based on the quality of their character. Professors should be hired based on their work and students should be admitted based on their work, not what country their ancestors come from.” Clegg, like Rocovich, believes that giving students preference based on race under affirmative action is a form of discrimination. He also said he believes that people should not be given preferential treatment based on their sexual orientation. “I think it is inconsistent for the current Board of Visitors to be opposed to discrimination based on sexual orientation and perfectly happy on race,” Clegg said. “I don’t see any justification for that but political correctness.” Clegg’s organization also spoke out in favor of Rocovich’s resolution in 2003. Rocovich acknowledged his stance created backlash in the community. “The important principle was that people ought to have hiring, promotion, tenure, admissions and important elements of the university be based purely on merit, and I think that was what generated some controversy,” Rocovich said. The board unanimously approved the resolution, perhaps partially because they were not aware at the time of the implications of approving it, according to Tillar.
JUSTIN GRAVES -Contact our public editor at publiceditor@ collegiatetimes.com if you see anything that needs to be corrected.
Tech faculty members protested the BOV dropping sexual orientation from anti-discrimination policies. “They didn’t have advanced notice. They didn’t consider it thoroughly,” Tillar said. Multiple student and faculty groups protested against the BOV’s resolution. “It was a pretty tense time on campus,” said Davenport, who has served on the board since 2002. Michael Sutphin, public relations specialist for Tech and a Blacksburg town council candidate last fall, was a freshman student when the incident occurred. He was involved with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Alliance activities campaigning against the resolution. “One protest happened within a week of the meeting,” Sutphin said. “It attracted well over 100 students.” Provost Mark McNamee, who has been employed by Tech for the past nine years, said the month of March 2003, was “a very challenging time.” “It was a very unfortunate set of circumstances that developed,” McNamee said. “It was an unfortunate detour that the board took.”
After about a month, the board held an emergency meeting on April 6, 2003, to discuss the policy with David Johnson, a deputy attorney general, in front of a crowd so large that the meeting was held in the banquet room of Owens Hall instead of the usual boardroom in Torgersen Hall. At the end of the nearly four-hour meeting, the changes were overturned by a vote of eight to five. Sexual orientation was added back into the anti-discriminatory language and “narrowlytailored” race-conscious policies were enacted that essentially reinstated limited, legal affirmative action, in which race could be considered as a factor — just not as one of the main factors — for admissions or hiring. Rocovich voted against rescinding the March resolution and continued to advocate for it. Davenport voted to rescind the resolution. Former Gov. Mark Warner did not reappoint William Latham, the vice rector at the time of the 2003 discrimination policy, after he also voted against rescinding the resolution.
Rocovich was not eligible for reappointment at the end of that term. Additionally, a resolution was passed stating that all items up for discussion would have to be placed on the agenda at least three days in advance of the next BOV meeting. Tech’s Principles of Community were also penned as a result of the 2003 incident in an attempt to create a campuswide code for diversity. “The Principles of Community were kind of a hallmark of those discussions,” Sutphin said. “We came out as a stronger community.” The issue was quickly overshadowed by both positive conversations about diversity and a highly publicized dustup between Tech and the Big East and Atlantic Coast sports conferences later that spring. “The world has moved on,” Davenport said. Rocovich said the issue had not been brought up again until Cuccinelli’s recent actions drew a parallel. “All I know is what I saw in the paper, and I wasn’t involved with that ... but it
sounded to me like Cuccinelli ruled on what the law was as to what boards and schools would and couldn’t do and the governor expressed the view that merit ought to be the determinate, not skin color, race, creed, religion,” Rocovich said. “(Cuccinelli’s letter) was about sexual orientation, I guess. It ought to be merit regardless, and that seems right to me.” He said he respected Cuccinelli’s interpretation of the law. “I think merit’s the only standard you ought to use, period,” Rocovich said. “So I don’t have any argument with the governor or Cuccinelli.” Rocovich’s political history may garner him consideration for reappointment to the board. At this time, however, neither Rocovich nor the university is aware of any potential candidates that McDonnell may appoint in June. Rocovich said that in his past experiences with former governors George Allen, Gilmore and Warner, potential new BOV members weren’t notified until a month or two before their term would begin on June 30. “If the governor wanted you to serve, you’d hear from him about a month before,” Rocovich said. Tillar said this first round of appointments would be a guide for how McDonnell plans to handle the next four years. “You never know,” he said. “Generally, appointments over the last eight years have come in early July.” Rocovich said he also was not sure of McDonnell’s selection process. He had no knowledge of whether he was a candidate for appointment. “I don’t know what Bob’s approach will be,” he said. Lawson said that although he had “no knowledge” if Rocovich would be reappointed, he had heard indirectly that some previous members might be returning to the board. Sutphin said he had heard Rocovich’s name being thrown around as possibly returning to the BOV, but “right now, it’s just a rumor,” he said. McNamee said in the nine years he has been employed at Tech, “I don’t think that anyone who’s been on has gotten to come back ... (but) everything would be on a case by case basis.” To McNamee’s knowledge, no university officials have been informed of McDonnell’s possible actions. “We’re just as curious as everyone else,” he said.
editor: debra houchins firstname.lastname@example.org/540.231.9865 COLLEGIATETIMES
april 6, 2010
The Collegiate Times is an independent student-run newspaper serving the Virginia Tech community since 1903
Our Views [staff editorial]
BOV should consider student viewpoints T
he Board of Visitors is a governing body that helps instate new policies and initiatives at Virginia Tech. Each school in Virginia has its own specific board whose members are appointed by the residing governor. This summer Gov. Bob McDonnell has his first chance to appoint at least two new members to Tech’s BOV. Obviously, this means that the new board members will probably have similar views and goals as McDonnell. Nothing is wrong with this, that’s how democracy works: Virginians elected him, for better or worse, and he in turn makes decisions for all of us. Rumor has it that one of his new appointees will be former board member John Rocovich who served on the board from 1997 through 2003 and donated $63,000 to McDonnell’s political endeavors. It’s not sure yet that he will be appointed, but it looks pretty good for him. While it’s important to note that contributing to McDonnell’s campaign will probably increase his chances, that’s an accepted, yet unfortunate, fact of politics. The old saying “Those with the money make the rules” comes to mind. It’s standard procedure across the globe, although that fact does not make it ethical. Whether or not a BOV position used as patronage is fair to students is another issue altogether. There’s no way to tell if the donation would be the main factor in his possible appointment, but it can’t possibly hurt. What’s more questionable is looking at his past as a board member. To be fair, Rocovich supported several important developments at Tech, such as the creation of ICTAS and getting us into the ACC. However, it’s important to remember that he was not alone in these endeavors — we can also thank many others, including the University of Virginia, for our entry into the ACC. What should be investigated is the 2003 attempt to remove Tech’s policy of affirmative action. Affirmative action is still a hotbutton topic. Many consider it a get-in-free card for certain minorities or a remnant of a previously broken — but now rectified — social system. While the former is unfounded (anyone who gets into Tech must reach a certain standard no matter what their race or gender may be), and the latter is up for debate, it’s not something that should be casually brushed aside by a few people who don’t actually attend Tech. Continuing the current and
ongoing debate with an open dialogue is the best way to decide what changes, if any, are needed. Currently, though, affirmative action is on the backburner compared to other political issues. Cuccinelli’s recent discrimination letter comes to mind. Students, faculty and administration across the state rejected it venomously. It’s amazing that our state government made such a movement at all — conservative or not, our state as a whole would never support actively allowing discrimination against its citizens. The reaction to Cuccinelli’s letter is probably one of the best indicators of how students might react to any actions by the future board members that the public deems discriminatory. We as Hokies don’t accept it and we are hesitant to put faith in anyone who may support it. Of course, it is important to note that the BOV and the state government have had the chance to take notice of students’ reactions to the issue at hand, both in 2003 and last month. Prior to 2003, the issue had not been a major topic of discussion at Tech. Hopefully, the reaction to both incidents would factor into any decisions made by Tech’s BOV, if not into those made in Richmond. And even if there were policies passed that we don’t agree with, we as Hokies can still uphold our personal beliefs as individuals in our community. And we have BOV undergraduate and graduate representatives — whose job it is to relay the student voice to the BOV — to speak on our behalf. There’s no reason to give up our ideals. Of course, there’s no way to know to what Rocovich or McDonnell have planned. There’s no way to know for sure if students consider removing affirmative action from the school’s policy detrimental to our school’s society. We can’t even know for sure if discrimination or affirmative action will be an issue in the near future. What we can know for sure, though, is that we’re dealing with politics, and when the time for the BOV appointment is upon us, we need to take a short break from the distance from the Tech community that summer allows us and pay attention to who is elected and what is going on. The decisions that will be made by these appointees will directly affect our lives at least nine months of the year. The editorial board is comprised of Debra Houchins, Sara Mitchell, Peter Velz and Bethany Buchanan.
Your Views [letters to the editor]
Should the law allow murder? Van Alstin writes about the hardships parents must feel when the fate of their child is left in their hands, and criticizes government policies regarding the inducement of death. His story is about parents who decided to bring their child off of life support, who happened to be able to breathe once the tubes were removed. This is when the government imposed on the privacy of the family’s personal matters and kept the parents from killing their child for their own comfort. Perhaps the government should not step in when murder is about to take place in a domestic environment. According to this article, the peace of mind and feeling
of closure is more important than a person’s life. When did we start to have the right to determine the worth of a person’s life? Maybe killing an innocent child is not actually murder if it is giving parents the closure they need. If the young man were ready to die, he would have died when the life support was removed. The government imposes these policies to keep the innocent alive. Some people are evil enough to murder and use the removal of life support as a way out of prison time. This is why those laws are in place and should not be criticized when parents are not lucky enough for their son to die when they think he had enough time alive.
Sarah Waters Freshman psychology major
Community should ignore Westboro Baptist protesters I
n the words of Albert Einstein, the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result. With this guiding principle in mind, I am somewhat confused by our university’s resolve to stage a counter-protest against the outlandish bigots that are making their way to Blacksburg on Friday. Let me set up a hypothetical for you: our good friends from the Westboro Baptist Church come, as anticipated, to spout their ruthless hatred about the tragedies that have befallen this university in recent months. They bring their signs, their raving chants, and their commitment to disrupt a university with a goal of providing a sense of community, acceptance and camaraderie, only to be met with — and here’s the kicker — nothing. Nada. No people. No signs. No demonstrators. Nothing. They continue to entertain one another with their incessant chanting for a whole six to 10 hours until they realize their crazed, ravenous, hatred-spewing congregation has been heard by no one, and they leave. End of story. No media frenzy, no student rally, no counter-protest, no nothing. We, the students and faculty at this university, have an agenda — several in fact — all of which need our constant time, energy, and focus. Many of you are aware that Relay for Life, one of our biggest, if not the biggest
event dedicated to fundraising for cancer research, is planned for April 9. Many of us have classes to attend, community service to participate in and social activities galore. Frankly, I have neither the time nor the inclination to allow these buffoons to enter my consciousness, let alone occupy time out of my day. Each venue that finds itself overrun by these profoundly insane crusaders answers with some type of demonstration that shows their disapproval or general hatred for what these people are doing and saying. Virginia Tech has demonstrated, through decades of actions, its intolerance for the hatred and ignorance of this group. We have no obligation to entertain or lend credence to their plight by staging an uprising against their group. By doing so, we only weaken our stance. To recognize the actions of these individuals at all is to give them the power and attention they crave. I too feel impassioned enough to march up to each and every one of the barbarians just to tell them exactly what I think about them. Words like “despicable,” “abhorrent” and “repugnant” all come to mind. I truly feel that the world would be a better place without them. Yet, they are here no less. And they are marching into our territory, uninvited and unwanted.
We, however, have an obligation to uphold a tradition of class, poise and grace – even when confronted with such a revolting group. I do not believe these people should get the best of us. By allowing them to attract attention and monopolize our time, we pollute the community and the memories of those we have lost. The latest development in our university’s planned course of action — to protest at a location away from the Westboro group – conveys that Tech not only disapproves of the group’s message, but possesses the wisdom to avoid a conflict between students and protestors. The message we send by voting with our feet is that we shun and avoid, both physically and emotionally, their poisonous hatred and with deliberate measure, isolate it from our environment. On April 10, the absolute impotence of their efforts will be revealed when life in Hokie Nation continues with our spirit intact and their festering plague quarantined.
BROOKE LEONARD -regular columnist -sophomore -economics, business
Prenatal DNA testing could open an unexpected can of worms I
magine you are playing a game of poker. You have done your research, and you know how to play the game by the rules. As you look around the table at the other players, you notice something suspicious. A man at your table has an ace sitting in his pocket, clearly not playing by the rules. Another man, you realize, is counting cards. Are these people cheating, or are they simply taking advantage of the situation at hand? This quandary can be applied to another type of gambling — genetic gambling. When a couple decides to reproduce, they are playing a genetic gamble. Who knows how their hand will turn out? However, when people have an ace up their sleeve, the game becomes imbalanced, with prenatal genetic testing and embryonic genetic selection tipping the scales. Let me first define prenatal genetic testing and embryonic genetic selection. Prenatal genetic testing refers to screening a prenatal individual’s DNA to see if it contains or is missing any genes that contribute to a disease. Embryonic genetic selection entails looking at the DNA amongst embryos to see which one(s) contain the most favorable traits for selection. The benefits are apparent. Prenatal genetic testing can give parents of a child the opportunity to decide what to do if their child were to be born with an ailment such as Down syndrome — either be prepared to have a child with a mental illness, or have an abortion. Genetic selection would allow parents to select for an embryo, which, upon fertilization, would be free of a heritable disease such as cystic fibrosis, or have a desirable trait. Unfortunately, I do not feel that these benefits outweigh the costs of what prenatal genetic testing and embryonic genetic selection entail. Prenatal genetic testing, in most
cases, is done to see whether termination of the pregnancy should occur. If a fetus tests positive for a disease, an ultimatum is presented to the parents of the child — keep the baby and both the parents and the child will have to deal with the disease, or abort the pregnancy and try again. In terms of time, effort and money, the easier approach would be to abort the pregnancy. If this selection on diseases occurred for a long period of time, what would happen 50 years down the road for the people who do have these diseases? There would not only be large social stigmatisms, but also expensive financial costs. Because prenatal genetic tests can be expensive to conduct, someone who has the disease could potentially be negatively labeled as “poor” or coming from a destitute background, regardless of whether or not it was true. More noticeably, demand for services that aid these diseased people would decline, making it more difficult for the ailing person to find help and placing financial strains on the companies that thrived off these services. Embryonic genetic selection also has some gray area. Although it is true that parents could select for an embryo that would be free of a disease, it must also stand that parents can select for an embryo that has a disease. One of the more prominent examples of this was when a deaf couple tried to select for having a child that was also deaf. People who are deaf do not view being deaf as a disease, but more of a culture. (Deaf individuals do in fact have their own schools, books, communication, and so on.) The definition of what is an “ailment” worthy of being selected for or against varies from person to person. What is the limit? Embryonic genetic selection could also allow parents to select for a
child with specific, favorable genes. Embryos can be crafted to have certain traits and characteristics that lead to success, but those parents without financial means for expensive embryonic genetic selection have to rely on luck. Has discrimination really reached a cellular level? As foretold by many sci-fi movies, such as Gattaca, will our future job interviews just consist of a DNA test? Will our DNA dictate our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Egalitarian theorist John Rawls proposes that a situation is unjust if changes in the expectations of those who are better off worsen the situation of those who are worse off. Prenatal genetic testing and embryonic genetic selection will do just that. It will improve the lives of those who have the means to take advantage of these technologies. The life chances of people who are not able to finance this or those who are already suffering from a genetic disease will change for the worse. It is true that no one would purposely wish a heritable, life-threatening disease upon their child, and that such a result can be avoided with the methods discussed. It is also true that parents want their child to be the best they can be from the start. However, the social and economic implications of prenatal genetic testing and embryonic genetic selection raise ethical questions, which, currently, have no viable solutions. Humanity is playing a game with science, and to stay in the game, we need to ante-up.
JOSH TREBACH -regular columnist -biological sciences -sophomore
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april 6, 2010
Baseball: No. 25 Hokies rely on talented hurlers from page one
onslaught of lefty-heavy lineups the Hokies will encounter in a weekend series against Virginia, Georgia Tech, Boston College and North Carolina. The Eagles start four lefties, the Cavaliers have five with switch hitters included, the Tar Heels have six with switch hitters and the Yellow Jackets start six. Wright already proved he can control an impressive left-handed lineup against Clemson, and if he can continue to pitch deep into Friday games, he’ll be able to take pressure off the Tech bullpen and give Hughes more pitching options on Saturday and Sunday. Tech’s Saturday starter, right-handed power pitcher Hahn (4-2), finally seems to be living up to his potential in his third year as a Hokie. He entered the Tech program as a bit of an unknown commodity out of Fitch High School in Connecticut, where he was in the shadow of can’t-miss-prospect Matt Harvey, who is now a junior with the Tar Heels. In his first two seasons with Tech, Hahn lit up radar guns and impressed professional scouts enough with his electric fastball and three off-speed options that he was labeled a future first round draft pick. However, he struggled to produce on the diamond
for the Hokies. He went 3-7 as a freshman with a 4.64 ERA and developed as the season went on, but he had a difficult season in 2009, enduring injury troubles and a failed experiment as a closer with only 24 innings pitched, a 1-2 record and just one save. With a full summer and fall to get healthy again and an opportunity to return to the starting rotation, Hahn recommitted himself to getting stronger physically and embraced a new throwing routine put together by the Tech coaching staff. And Hahn’s progress from a radar gun freak to a true pitcher has been evident. He currently sports a 2.23 ERA that is good for seventh in the ACC and a 45:9 strikeout-to-walk ratio, an incredible improvement from previous seasons when he struggled at times with his command. In just seven starts this year, Hahn completed 44.1 innings, 20.1 more than his entire 2009 season. Hahn’s success on the field can also be attributed to the improved Tech defense, which has allowed the incredible talent to pitch to contact instead of trying for a strikeout in each at bat. In previous years with a shaky defense behind him, Hahn often overthrew to compensate, which resulted in more walks and pitches up in the zone for
ACC hitters to handle. Now that he’s confident in the defense behind him, Hahn’s true ability is shining through. Provided he stays healthy, Hahn should continue with a career year that warrants all the previous raving from scouts about his raw talent. Rounding out the weekend starters for Tech is Price, who, like Wright and Hahn before him, was forced into a starting role as a freshman last season. Price jumped in as a starter and had some trouble adjusting to the speed of the game as he moved from a small time high school league to the ACC. He got knocked around a bit late in the season by ACC juggernauts Virginia, Florida State, Miami and Clemson, but a successful trip to the Cape Cod League, where he made the midseason All-Star team as a reserve, restoring his confidence as he came into the 2010 season. During his time on the Cape, as well as in the offseason, Price worked on his fastball command and got some kinks out of his delivery. His improved control has led to a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 35:15 so far this season. The time in Cape Cod also got professional scouts talking, much like they did for Hahn, as he hit 96 mph on the gun and displayed an improving curveball and changeup.
In his first outing against No. 14 Coastal Carolina, Price (3-1) gave up seven earned runs in just four innings, but that was likely due to the sinus problems he had been dealing with for a couple months. The following week, he missed a scheduled start against Charleston Southern to have major surgery and correct the issue. He has been dominant since, picking up all four wins in that span while allowing only 11 earned runs in the last 34 innings to bring his overall ERA down to 4.26. In March alone, Price won three games and produced an ERA of 1.65. With his health issues behind him, Price has emerged as another quality pitcher for Tech, completing an impressive trio of weekend starters for the Hokies that all have professional potential. Tech’s starting pitching can match up with any in the ACC. Anyone who saw the Hokies play last season knows the team can hit with anybody. With the improved defense, more depth in the bullpen, and the maturation of its three weekend starters, Tech has a very real shot at making the ACC Tournament for the first time and the quality pitching to make a legitimate run in an NCAA regional.
Justin Wright (Jr.) Left-handed Pitches: Fastball 86-88 mph, changeup 75 mph, curveball 76-77 mph 2010 season to date: 4-3, 3.95 ERA, 41 IP, 37 K, 11 BB
WRIGHT Jesse Hahn (Jr.) Right-handed Pitches: Fastball 92-96 mph, changeup low 80’s, curveball 77-80 mph 2010 season to date: 4-2, 2.23 ERA, 44.1 IP, 45 K, 9 BB
HAHN Matthew Price (So.) Right-handed Pitches: Fastball 94-96 mph, changeup 8283 mph, curveball 76-77 mph 2010 season to date: 4-1, 4.26 ERA, 38 IP, 35 K, 15 BB
Senior outﬁelder plans to leave it all on ﬁeld KATIE KOOIMAN sports staff writer
CLAY COLLIN /COLLEGIATE TIMES
Sports fans everywhere love an underdog, a true Cinderella story. Virginia Tech softball fans found their own Cinderella in Whitney Davis when she transformed from a freshman walk-on player to a staple in the outfield. Now, this Cinderella is a senior, and her career clock is about to strike midnight. “It’s kind of bittersweet,” Davis said. “It’s the beginning of the end. I never thought this day would come where it would be my last chance to play.” DAVIS Davis’ Tech softball career began in 2006 when she walked onto the team and quickly proved she was more of an outfielder than an outsider. Throughout her four years, Davis has become a scholarship player and a team leader. She intends to make her senior year her brightest. “I guess my biggest thing this year is just to leave it all out on the field and not have any regrets when I’m done,” Davis said. So far this season, Davis’ hitting statistics don’t leave much room for regret. She has already tallied 27 hits and is just 10 shy of breaking her single-season record of 36 from last year. This count has already surpassed her numbers from 2006 and 2007. Four of her hits this season were doubles, and one was a home run. She has also driven in 10 runs so far, one away from tying her single-season record set in 2006 and matching the number she had last year. Her fielding is even better. The statistics show no errors thus far in the field. Davis has four assists on the season as well, which makes for another careerhigh. While her numbers are outstanding, she is humble. “I don’t really pay that much attention to my stats,” Davis said. “I want my team to win and to do well. I want to instill the things I’ve been taught in my four years here to the younger players. When I go out, I want to be one of the girls that they’re going to miss. I want to be a person they looked up to, and they could rely on, and they could think fondly of.”
Davis’ young teammates say that’s exactly what she’s done. This season she took freshman Bkaye Smith under her wing. Smith is already making an impact for the Hokies, starting at shortstop every game this season. In the midst of this success, Smith is quick to credit Davis. “To me, (she’s brought) definitely character in my game,” Smith said. “How to step up. Even if I mess up, I’ve got to hang in there, keep my head up and stay strong. One play doesn’t make a game.” Smith believes Davis has taught her more than how to just shake things off. In Smith’s eyes, Davis has left a legacy with her “go big or go home” attitude. Smith said Davis teaches her teammates to “leave everything out on that field. You’re given the opportunity to play four years of softball here, and do it big,” Smith said. “Leave everything out on the field. Don’t regret, make every
play count.” It’s exactly the kind of attitude Davis’ coaches look for in a player. “Her desire kind of rubs off on people,” said head coach Scot Thomas. “She’s strong as a leader, especially leading by example.” And Davis is setting the bar high for herself and the team. “Our team goal always, every season, is to win the (Atlantic Coast Conference),” she said. “That’s what we start out with. We don’t try to look past that until ACCs are here, and then after that we change our goals. But our main goal every year is to win ACCs.” The Hokies currently rank sixth out of eight teams in the ACC with an overall record of 13-23, and a 2-7 mark in conference play. Thomas thinks his team can make a good showing as the season wears on, though, with a few improvements. “We’ve got to be a better softball team,”
Thomas said. “We are playing really well in spurts. We’ve got to be better for seven innings. We’re going to be okay.” One of the biggest obstacles standing in their way of a quality run lies not in the team’s ability as players, but in each team member’s ability to stay 100 percent healthy. According to Thomas, the team has several players out with serious injuries. Davis isn’t an exception. Recently, she sat out with a concussion and her status remains questionable due to a knee injury. Most recently, she sat out of this weekend’s two-game series with Georgia Tech. But judging by her coach’s and teammates testimonies, her leadership will play a key role in the team’s success whether she is in the dugout or the outfield. “She just loves the game,” Thomas said. “She’s a hustler, a go-getter. And just a great character to have around.”
6Architecture features students exhibit ‘follies’ on Burchard Plaza
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april 6, 2010
RYAN ARNOLD features reporter Second-year architecture student Tyler Rush rotated a wooden model slightly larger than a basketball in one hand. He explored the gaps in the cubic form made by numerous intersecting sticks. He smiled, saying the design looks like something from Star Wars. Under the direction of visiting professor Paola Zellner, Rush and his classmates formed teams to create architectural “follies” as part of their course, The Art of Building. The four team follies will occupy Burchard Plaza this Thursday. Rush and his team’s Star Wars model will translate to a full-size version that approaches a height of 10 feet. Zellner said the definition of a folly has changed over time. In 18th century English gardens, for example, a folly was often a literal rendition of a fortress or classic ruin that sat as an ornament in the JACK HOWELL/SPPS landscape. “The way that we interpret it now is
Students were given terms to consider like “ﬂow” and “modularity” before designing their “follies.”
On Thursday, students will display architecture projects called “follies.” a playful construct that has no defined use,” Zellner said. “So without the burden or complexity of use or program, it opens up the freedom for true exploration of design.” Second-year architecture student Becca Kallen added that the modern
folly isn’t purely sculptural like some of its predecessors. “It’s enhancing the setting that it’s in for the viewer,” she said, “and there can be different amounts of, I guess, interaction with the visitor.” Kallen is part of another team that titled its folly “The Sixty.” Made of layers of 2-by-3-inch pieces of lumber, the folly is a 60-degree equilateral triangle when viewed head on. The Sixty, though, has pockets large enough in which a person could stand. “I think we have dreams of it becoming something that you could maybe sit in,” Kallen said, “or something (like) that could happen.”
Check out the folly projects starting Thursday on Burchard Plaza behind Burruss Hall
The student teams began crafting their follies through an exercise called “charretting,” which involves several sessions of fast-paced designing. Zellner would allot 30 minutes for each team to generate small models, which the entire class would then briefly discuss. Zellner capped the process at two hours. Kallen said the time constraints of charretting were challenging. “But that’s why I’m so glad that we started doing that,” she said, “because we should be able to switch and work slowly at times and work really fast other times.” The charretting models were based on a list of eight words that Zellner asked the teams to explore. Each team adopted two of the words, which included terms like balance, rhythm, hierarchy and repetition. “It was not about coming to a consensus of everybody agreeing what the word meant,” Zellner said, “but it was actually about expanding the definition or the interpretation of those words and the words in relationship to each other.” But turning words into tangible objects, Kallen said, was frustrating. The Sixty is based on “modularity” and “flow.” “I think the problem was because it’s so hard to translate it, you automatically translate it to the most obvious thing,” she said. “And then it’s like, well that’s stupid. I don’t want to see something that screams ‘flow.’” But Zellner told Kallen that viewers aren’t expected to envision the words when they observe a folly. The words and other constraints, such as using only three products to construct the follies, are meant to lend the students insight into their own design methods. “The product was like a pretext to do all of these things that I think are really valuable,” Zellner said. The folly project, Rush said, has impacted his other design work. He’s become familiar with his team’s materials and their spatial capabilities. “All my other stuff is starting to look the same,” he said, laughing. “It’s all something to do with sticks these days.”
Without the burden or complexity of use or program, it (follies) opens up the freedom for true exploration of design PAOLA ZELLNER VISITING PROFESSOR OF ARCHITECTURE
Through the hands-on folly, Kallen now entertains the thought of working a stint with a contractor after graduation. “I’m becoming a lot more aware that I want to be involved a lot more with the actual build process than I ever thought,” she said. Though Zellner is an advocate of the follies, every second-year architecture professor that teaches The Art of Building has their own methods of approaching the class. Zellner said other classes analyze existing buildings in depth. The culmination of their studies might be replica drawings or smaller models of the buildings. Rush said he hasn’t been envious of those students. The folly is an involved but unique project. “I’m kind of proud of it,” he said. “We’re doing something that not everyone does in architecture school: build something full scale that you’ve taken from, ideally, a piece of paper.”