An independent, student-run newspaper serving the Virginia Tech community since 1903
Thursday, April 8, 2010
COLLEGIATETIMES 107th year, issue 43
News, page 2
Features, page 5
Opinions, page 3
Sports, page 6
Classifieds, page 4
Sudoku, page 4
Fight like a Hokie
Graduate insurance upgrades seen as first step CT NEWS STAFF Members of Virginia Tech’s graduate community have voiced their support after the Board of Visitors agreed in a March 22 meeting to pay 87.5 percent of costs for graduate health insurance plans, up from 82.5 percent. The financial assistance covers the lowest level of the health insurance plan, which currently offers $50,000 of maximum coverage per year. If a student decides to take on a higher level of coverage, the money offered to the minimum plan would apply toward the higher cost plan. Laura Freeman, president of the Graduate Student Assembly, said the price of health care could be a “costprohibitive” part of attending graduate school. “We’re excited to see the university make proactive changes to the health care coverage,” Freeman said, noting that the organization’s health care committee had worked on increasing university support for graduate health insurance since 2003. In addition to the increased financial support, the changes would provide for things such as routine physicals, which was not covered for the 2009-10 plan. Rebecca French, graduate representative to the BOV, said the increase was important to graduate students, many of whom do not fall under their parents’ health insurance plans and are financially independent. “We need a resource for getting health coverage,” French said. Karen Depauw, dean of the graduate school, said that though many students base their decision on where to attend graduate school on education programs and the quality of faculty, she added the treatment of health care stipends could impact student recruitment. “We will remain competitive,” Depauw said. “But if somebody is offering a better package, we may not get that student.” For Freeman, the increase in support was encouraging, considering “the budget issues in this financial year and making this commitment.” Despite her enthusiasm for the increased support, Freeman said there was “a long way to go” in supplementing graduate student health care. For example, graduate students who took part in assistanceships are not considered Virginia state employees — a policy unlike other states. Freeman said this hurt Tech’s ability to compete with peer institutions. Depauw said she hoped to increase support of the plan to her goal of subsidizing 90 percent of costs. She added the university would look for more favorable terms when it submits proposals for a new health care plan in the fall. GM Southwest currently offers the university’s graduate student health insurance, but it was the only company available at the time. “We’d be looking for a company who could offer a better package,” Depauw said. One area for improvement could come through increased health insurance support for graduate students who have spouses and families. Freeman projected that with a price of around $10,000, the cost of placing additional people to an insurance plan could eat up most of a student’s income. “The costs are extremely high if you have a spouse and children on your health insurance plan,” Freeman said. Despite the complaints, French considered the increase in university health care support important with budget cuts and rising student fees. “It’s a small victory, but it means a lot to students,” French said.
Senior sociology major Ron Haley answers the question, “Why do you Relay?” on a sign outside of Dietrick Hall in preparation for tomorrow’s Relay for Life.
DRIVEN BY PERSONAL EXPERIENCES, ENTERTAINERS, ORGANIZERS TIE UP LOOSE ENDS FOR RELAY FOR LIFE LIZ NORMENT features reporter Erin Meyer has spent countless hours preparing for Relay for Life as hospitality management chair — but all her work will pay off tomorrow, because of a personal moment of hers from past events. “I saw my mom struggling to complete the survivor’s lap, and I knew she was out there doing it for me,” said Meyer, a senior management major. Diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago, Meyer’s mother fought through her weakness. After having just finished her third round of chemotherapy, she made the traditional lap at the beginning of Relay for Life, a large fundraiser with proceeds that go to combating cancer. After watching her mother battle cancer for more than two years, Meyer has been both inspired and motivated by her fight. “I’d been involved with Relay for a few years, but right after I heard her news it made the reason why I was called to do this job so much more real,” Meyer said. “You just never know how this disease will affect you, so every single day we need to fight harder because one day we’ll find a cure in this lifetime.” In her second year at her executive position, Meyer and her family are especially looking forward to tomorrow’s event — but in a different way than last year. “Mom finished her chemo in October and is doing absolutely awesome,” Meyer said. Her mom plans to complete the survivor’s lap by running this year. “It will be a celebratory event for my family; we’re all so excited,” she said. Meyer has transferred this inspiration into passion with her position on the executive
committee for Relay for Life. This year is her second in the position and Meyer’s responsibilities include arranging hotels for out-oftown guests for the event, making arrangements for the Survivor’s Banquet and, most importantly, finding a way to feed the 6,000 people who will occupy the Drillfield for 12 hours starting tomorrow evening. Vendors this year include Red Bull, Gumby’s Pizza, Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches, Firehouse Pizza, Moe’s Southwest Grill, and Bull & Bones Brewhaus & Grill to cater the banquet. Meyer works closely with Kristen Walker, a senior international studies major and Relay’s entertainment chair. The two are part of an executive committee of 26 other students who work hard year-round to make the event grow each year. With an expected 5,000-6,000 participants this year, Walker has put together an entertainment lineup to keep participants fighting like Hokies until sunrise. Walker, who also first participated in Relay for Life in high school, was inspired to be more involved after having the prevalent disease hit close to home. When her grandmother lost her battle to cancer 10 years ago, it solidified Walker’s motivation to do something so others wouldn’t have to be affected by the disease. Walker has now met multiple people who have been diagnosed, which continues to serve as motivation. “I am so inspired by both those who have died and who have survived,” Walker said. After participating with Tech’s Relay for Life her two years, Walker was moved to become a member of the executive committee because of the passion she felt from the other members. “They all feel very strongly about it, and I share their passion,” Walker said. “It’s a really
great group.” Walker has helped coordinate a group of speakers to ignite that same passion in participants this year, most from within the university. Ed Spencer, vice president for student affairs and a cancer survivor, will be speaking both about his own battle with the disease as well as the effect of losing his wife, Norrine, to cancer last year. The family of Emily Dao, a Tech student who lost her life to cancer last summer, will also be sharing its story. Tech alumnus Paul Stevens will also be speaking. Stevens currently teaches general biology at Tech and commutes from Wake Forest, where he is undergoing chemotherapy for his rare form of cancer, multiple myeloma. Additional speakers will share the stage throughout the night with a variety of entertainers. A capella groups Juxtaposition and Soulstice will be perform, as well as four other musical performances from the Tech community and around the country. Tech fitness instructors will lead group fitness classes, and the German Club will teach line dancing. There will be a competition held for the title of Relay’s Best Dance Crew, an event that had to be rescheduled earlier this year because of the winter weather. The kickoff performance will be the allmale dance crew the Low Techs. Sharone Christmas, a senior marketing management major and three-year member of the Low Techs, is looking forward to what he expects to be a crowd-pleasing performance. “We’ve been performing at Relay for the past two years, and it’s always one of our biggest and most hyped performances,” Christmas said. The group, who will be dancing to promote Relay for Life as well as the Student Alumni Association, is honored to participate in the event. “It’s always exhilarating to perform, but it’s such a rewarding experience at Relay because you know you’re doing it for a good
cause,” he said. Entertainment events offstage will include flag football games, ladder ball competitions and a wings-eating contest to keep the energy high. Representatives from local salons will be present to cut hair for Locks of Love, a non-profit that creates wigs for children who have lost hair for medical reasons — including those undergoing chemotherapy. For Relay for Life events downtown, the Queen of the Night contest will take place on Main Street. The popular event consists of male Relay for Life members who dress up in drag and attempt to raise the most money. Whitney Law, a senior communication major and event director, looks forward to the event, especially with all work that has gone into the relay. “One of our main focuses is to celebrate, and it really is a celebration of all the efforts people have put in as well as our chance to thank all of the efforts put in to fight,” Law said. This year’s motto is “Fight Like a Hokie,” and Law feels confident that the Tech community will live up to it. Law’s director position puts her in charge of 26 executive committee members and more than 100 planning committees and relay staff members. The university is already in first place this year for fundraising efforts according to the national Relay for Life Web site. While the money is very important, Law feels that the event’s focus is far more important than a number. “What’s vital is that we as a community need to educate more people to know how cancer is changing the lives of people on a daily basis,” Law said. “They have to fight against it for that reason. We can make a difference until we find a cure, and we can all actively be involved in hopes that our children will never hear the words, ‘You have cancer.’”
Parking garage to offer 1,200 new spots Ring Dance GABRIELA CARRILLO news staff writer During the last seven months, the construction of the first parking garage at Virginia Tech has resulted in the loss of several hundred parking spaces, but the structure’s completion early next semester should offset that loss. The 1,200-vehicle parking deck will be opened to the public “in mid-August or the beginning of September of 2010,” said Richard McCoy, parking manager of Parking Services. The structure is planned to alleviate much of the stress commuters and graduate students have experienced with the lack of parking availability. According to McCoy, faculty and staff will be assigned the lower floors, leaving commuters and graduate permit holders to parking spaces in the rest of the five-level deck. In addition, there will be “plenty” of Americans with Disabilities Act handicap-accessible spaces, McCoy said, although the precise number has not yet been established. On-campus resident student parking will not be allowed in the parking deck. Not everyone is happy about the changes. Brian Stitt is a senior finance major whose parking experience in the Prices Fork lots is less than ideal. “Well, it’s absolutely awful. I’m
ROY T. HIGASHI/SPPS
The parking garage, the ﬁrst at Virginia Tech, will be done by September.
on the web
For more information on current and future parking information and locations, check out www.parking.vt.edu.
never sure that I’ll be able to park,” Stitt said. “I’ve given complete strangers rides to their cars so I can get their spots if it gets bad. It’s pretty clear where to park, just very inconvenient.” There will not be an extra charge for
people as they enter to park in the parking structure, McCoy said. However, because of the $26 million budget of the project, the cost of parking permits is set to rise in the following years. In an attempt to provide the student body, faculty and staff with an aesthetically interesting environment, Parking Services updates to the construction include plans for a small plaza area with benches and appropriate landscaping, enabling a gathering location for future garage users. The construction has also prompted some faculty to incorporate the project
into classes. Architecture students will be analyzing the relationship of the structure with the campus and redefining what is already in existence. “There is an architectural question bigger than the project itself,” said Shelley Martin, an associate professor of architecture. “All of a sudden, plants, sidewalks and entrances become more important. The location for this deck was based on the belief that we want a pedestrian campus. The idea of how people move through the campus and the sense of community were crucial.” The disruption caused by the construction will be outweighed by the benefits, according to Frank Weiner, a professor in Tech’s School of Architecture + Design. “During construction, the project is a temporary inconvenience,” Weiner said. “Once completed, it brings about a nice density. The master plan starts to connect.” Because of the limited parking spaces as a result of the construction, people have been unsure of the appropriate parking locations, McCoy said. Parking is allowed around the construction area, and open spaces are available for commuter/graduate permit holders on Duck Pond Road. “Parking Services has received no complaints about people parking on Perry Street,” McCoy said.
planners look to avoid repeat LIANA BAYNE news reporter
Even before the class of 2011 leadership committee issued an apology to juniors unable to attend the March 27 Ring Dance, class of 2012 representatives began planning next year’s dance to avoid the snafu described by many attendees. More than half of attendees to this year’s Ring Dance were not able to enter the Commonwealth Ballroom in Squires Student Center, which has a fire code capacity of 1,100. Nathan Lavinka, class of 2011 president, estimated about 2,500 students attempted to go to the dance. Lavinka issued a statement of apology to the class of 2011 via e-mail Tuesday night explaining the fire and safety code challenges the planning committee faced. “Unfortunately, even if all 1,100 guests were in the Class of 2011, that means that only
20 percent of our class would be able to attend,” Lavinka wrote in the e-mail. “There is no indoor location at Virginia Tech or within Blacksburg to house to entire junior class.” Sandy Bass, class of 2012 president, said it was unfortunate that many juniors were prevented from participating, especially students who paid for their class rings. “It was a huge bummer for us working the event to see people dressed up and not able to attend,” Bass said. Bass, who staffed the 2011 Ring Dance along with other members of the 2012 leadership team, was responsible for administrative tasks such as the coat check and administering wristbands. “The bracelet idea was hectic,” Bass said. Wristbands were given out in an attempt to control the see DANCE / page three
new river valley news editor: zach crizer university editor: philipp kotlaba firstname.lastname@example.org / 540.231.9865
april 8, 2010
nation & world headlines
Obama, Russian president meet to sign arms treaty
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama flew to Prague Wednesday to join Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in signing a treaty they both have hailed as a major step forward on both arms control and U.S.-Russian relations. The formal signing of the pact, called the New Start treaty, was scheduled to take place at the medieval Prague Castle early Thursday, and is designed to bring U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals to their smallest sizes since the early 1960s. The White House said the treaty will lower the number of long range deployed nuclear warheads by 30 percent, although some private analysts insist the actual reduction will be much smaller. Both leaders have gotten a political boost from the treaty after years of friction between the two governments. But other subjects in the day’s talks point to difficulties that still challenge the relationship. by paul richter with contribution from christi parsons, mcclatchy newspapers
[Thursday, April 8]
What: Bone Marrow Drive for Paul Stevens Where: War Memorial Gym When: 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Note: Help expand the “Be The Match” registry to save more lives that depend on transplants, both in the Hokie community and nationwide.
What: Informational Meeting — Peace Corps Presentation Where: Litton Reaves 1870 When: 6 p.m. Cost: Free What: BrotherFlower Where: Gillie’s When: 7 p.m. Cost: Free What: Dance Night Where: Attitudes Bar and Cafe When: 9 p.m. Cost: $8 for ages 18-20, $5 for 21+, Ladies free before 10 p.m.
[Friday, April 9] What: Relay for Life Where: Drillﬁeld When: 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Cost: Donate at www.vtrelay.org What: Speaker — Nedra Reynolds, professor specializing in feminist theory and composition Where: Shanks 370 When: 12:15 p.m. Cost: Free
CORRECTIONS JUSTIN GRAVES -Contact our public editor at publiceditor@ collegiatetimes.com if you see anything that needs to be corrected.
What: Trachy and Lacy Collective Where: Gillie’s When: 9:30 p.m. Cost: Free
Wondering what’s going on around the ‘burg? Check out the events of the upcoming week. [Saturday, April 10]
[Monday, April 12]
What: Hokies Helping Haiti Car Wash Where: Advanced Auto Parts on North Main Street When: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Cost: Donations welcome
What: Lively Arts — Dominic Gradious Where: Burruss Hall When: 7:30 p.m., doors open at 7 p.m. Cost: $7 for students with ID, $20 without
What: International Street Fair Where: College Avenue between GLC and Squires Student Center When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Cost: Free
What: Two Fresh Where: Attitudes Bar and Cafe When: 9 p.m. Cost: $10 in advance through InTicketing.com or at the door Note: 18+ with ID
What: Bike to Uganda Where: Weight Club in University Mall When: Noon to 5 p.m. Cost: Donations welcome
What: Atomic Solace Where: Awful Arthur’s When: 9 p.m. Cost: $3 Note: 18+ admitted all night
What: Michael Cooper’s Masked Marcels and Wondertales Where: The Lyric When: 3 p.m. Cost: $15 for Gold, $12 for Silver What: Annie Cline Where: Gillie’s When: 7 p.m. Cost: Free What: Film — The Book of Eli Where: Squires Colonial Ballroom When: 8 p.m. Cost: $2 for students with ID, $3 without
[Tuesday, April 13] What: Hokie Idol Where: Burruss Hall When: 7 p.m. Cost: $5 at the door What: Darren Carter Comedy Show Where: Attitudes Bar and Cafe When: 8 p.m. Cost: $20 Note: 18+ with ID
[Wednesday, April 14] [Sunday, April 11] What: Film & Speaker — Schindler’s List: A Survivor Celebrates Life Where: The Lyric When: Film from 1 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. Speaker Zav Kedem from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Cost: Free What: An Evening with SOJA Where: Attitudes Bar and Cafe When: 9 p.m. Cost: $20 in advance through InTicketing.com or at the door Note: 18+ with ID
What: Banana Split Night Where: D2 and Shultz Hall When: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Cost: $3.45 Flex, $10.80 cash What: Speaker — Woodstock creator Michael Lang Where: GLC Auditorium When: 7:30 p.m., doors open at 7 p.m. Cost: $1 for students with ID, $2 without What: Bartender Competition — Bar Master Where: Awful Arthur’s When: 8:30 p.m. Cost: Cover
[All Week] This week, the Lyric is showing “Mother,” a Korean thriller from the director of “The Host.” Check out TheLyric.com for showtime information.
What: Homecoming Theme Contest Where: Squires 319 Cost: Free Note: Submit online at www.vthomecoming.org
If you would like an event featured in our calendar, e-mail email@example.com with event details, including cost.
Dance: Class of 2011 gives apology for overcapacity from page one
set capacity. The Old Dominion Ballroom was also used for some overflow, but the line for entrance to the Ring Dance wrapped around virtually the entire second floor of Squires. Attendees were not informed of the capacity of the Commonwealth Ballroom until they were standing in line. Some were turned away at the door. “Looking back, my Leadership Team and I should have alerted you all about the maximum amount of guests, but we did not want to deter any of you from the possibility of enjoying your Ring Dance,” Lavinka wrote in the e-mail. Bass said wristbands are an element that may be used next year, and that he would like to create some kind of priority entrance system for juniors, perhaps by doing a “pre-sale” of free tickets, or by conducting a survey to see who will plan to attend. “We need to make people aware they can’t all come,” he said, noting that the Ring Dance should not be limited exclusively to the junior class. “We don’t want to close it to other class members. We just want to make sure that the class of 2012 gets priority,” he said. Although Bass and the ring committee are “just brainstorming right now,” he said he is “excited to start planning.” The committee had its first meeting last night. More changes that could be implemented include increasing the space of the Ring Dance to allow more people to participate. Although the Commonwealth Ballroom is likely to remain the main area of focus, the planning committee is considering putting the Old Dominion Ballroom and perhaps the Squires lobby to use as well. Bass was quick to point out that he felt Lavinka and the class of 2011 put their best effort into this year’s Ring Dance, despite the admittance issues. “We as the class of 2012 support the class of 2011 and we think they did a great job,” he said. Although the schedule for next year is not yet certain, Bass expects that the ring premiere will take place during the first week of October, and the Ring Dance will happen sometime in March.
editor: debra houchins firstname.lastname@example.org/540.231.9865 COLLEGIATETIMES
april 8, 2010
The Collegiate Times is an independent student-run newspaper serving the Virginia Tech community since 1903
Your Views [letters to the editor]
Road renovation not necessary
his is in response to the article “Road improvements to close off traffic” (CT, March 31), about the upcoming plans for renovation of some of the streets of downtown Blacksburg. I don’t really feel that a renovation is all that necessary for the roads. I feel that it is just a beautification project that really isn’t necessary compared to the estimated $11.2 million it will require. Just because that part of the road doesn’t match the rest of downtown doesn’t mean that we have to endure a two-year project to change things. I understand that the plan is also trying to deal with traffic problems along that stretch of road, so I think you can take some of the money to fix the traffic aspects of the
Greeks deserve consideration Greeks deserve to have an expanded community here at Virginia Tech. When Greek life is forced to live off of the Tech campus, it creates a huge hassle for us Greeks. While our fraternity and sorority members put money into houses that are poor investments in the long run, both the communities and university suffer. The Virginia Tech golf course is an unproductive liability for the university as its revenue and benefits pale in comparison to those provided consistently by the Greek communities here at Tech. Greeks are donors of thousands
renovation, then put the rest of it to a different use. Having brick sidewalks lined with nice trees just doesn’t seem necessary to me. They say that the new sidewalks will make it more pedestrian-safe, but I don’t feel like they are all that bad right now. I have walked up that road a bunch of times since coming to school and have had no problem getting up and down, or crossing the road. It seems to me that the only people who would be in danger are the ones that don’t have enough patience to wait a few seconds until they can safely cross the street. Use some money to fix some traffic kinks but then put the rest to a much better use. MCT CAMPUS
Josh Nicholson freshman university studies major upon thousands of dollars to philanthropic organizations and nonprofits. The Greek community also provides the university with countless hours of community service in events such as the Big Event, Relay for Life and Greeks Giving Back. To not reward communities who devote time, effort, and money to good causes would be blasphemous. The Greek community here at Tech has both earned and deserved the Oak Lane Phase IV Expansion.
Jonathan L. Ciccone freshman general engineering major
High-tech media and old-style issues create new problems M
agazines, like the rest of the media, are thought to be in trouble. This is especially bad news for the conversation on which democracy depends. For magazines are the place where news is put in perspective, analyzed, considered in context and in depth. But we write at a moment of technological hope, as some of the more affluent magazine publishers have prepared their inaugural issues for Apple’s iPad, which went on sale this weekend. They are betting that it will do for digital content what the iPod and iTunes did for digital music: Peplace messy free content gotten on the sly with easily accessible, paid editorial content in full-color electronic magazine format. But even if the iPad turns out to be magazines’ hoped-for savior, if it brings along the values (or lack of values) currently characteristic of much of the new media, a question looms: At what cost? Proponents of the new technology argue — persuasively, we think — that iPad-like devices will permit an interactivity that, properly deployed, could advance the continuing conversation (political, cultural, commercial) on which our open society is predicated. But as John Perry Barlow, lyricist for the Grateful Dead and co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, once observed, “We are immigrants in the land of our children.” Nowhere is this truer than in the country of online. In the world of magazines and their Web sites, nobody knows what anyone else is doing or how and whether the new media are incorporating the journalistic standards of the old. As a result, they all seem to be making it up as they go along. Last summer, with the help of a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Columbia Journalism Review undertook the first survey of the relationship between magazines and their Web sites. We asked magazine and Web site editors to compare standards and practices in new and old media. With 667 respondents (out of a sample of about 3,000) we found some of the findings, if not unexpected, nevertheless depressing. The numbers for fact checking were troubling: 40 percent said that Web standards were looser than print, and 17 percent said that they did no fact checking whatsoever online. And a little more than half of the respondents said they correct factual errors on their Web sites without notifying readers of the errors.
In the online world, speed is the name of the game. Websites are interested in maximizing traffic because advertising is predicated on the number of viewers a Web site attracts. (When asked whether editors take traffic into account when determining Web site editorial content, about half said yes.) This raises the question: Is online content held to the same standards as its print equivalents? Given the prevailing business model, in which advertising is the principal revenue source for the vast majority of magazine websites, our answer is no. If the future of the information highway is digital, then it behooves us to be concerned with the rules of the road. And if there is a trade-off between speed and standards, then we must come to terms with the question of whether there ought to be any speed limits and, if so, how are they to be determined? Although old-media types might hope new-media technology can be combined with old-media standards, there is probably no way to put the genie back in the bottle. Forsaking all of the positive standards associated with publishing on the Web — the dynamism, connectivity and community-building that is its calling card — would be a step backward. But even assuming that the iPad and new technologies enhance magazine content, unless the matter of already lax online standards is addressed, it and other new technologies may further compound the problem. Historically there’s been a firewall between advertising and editorial content. Online, however, where advertising is based on traffic, and traffic is thought to depend on the speedy posting of new content, we’re seeing a gradual breakdown of this wall as journalistic standards become even more flexible to allow for greater and greater speed. If the magazine industry’s iPad experiment is to be successful, it will need to integrate the trustworthiness of the old with the creative potential of the new. Whatever the future of print, the main future of the media will be digital. Anyone who cares about the future of our democratic society, let alone the future of print in general and magazines and/or iPads in particular, should take up the challenge of debating and discussing — and, we would add, codifying — the values, standards and practices that ought to prevail online.
EVAN LERNER & VICTOR NAVASKY -mcclatchy newspapers
British exchange student embraces new customs I
am an exchange student from England studying here in America at Virginia Tech, and I have come to learn a lot from my experience so far. I first arrived in Blacksburg jet lagged, of course, but also terrified of what I was getting myself into — new school, new home, new country. For someone who had never been away from home before, this was sure putting myself in the deep end. One thing that was on my side was that I came to an Englishspeaking country — and I’m guilty as charged — a native speaker of English. What I do not speak, however, is American. Apparently I should be calling everyone “dude” and describing everything as “super,” “awesome” or “neat,” or something of that sort. I do find myself picking up all of the “Americanizations,” which I can’t help but to absorb from around me, which is pretty neat. Studying abroad in an American college is something I never thought I would do, but after gaining the curiosity of what it would be like after my big brother did it for a year, I thought to myself, why not? And now that I am here, I can officially say with ease that I love it. It is, of course, very different from home, starting with even the name “college.” College for me was done several years ago, after high school. I go to “university” back home where I go to lessons taught by teachers. Here, however, I am in college where I go to class, which is taught by a profes-
sor. Simplistic yet all-important details changed the moment I got here, but a change in your vocabulary choice is not the only thing that changes when a young British girl moves across the pond. Your lifestyle changes as well. Even though the stereotype for us Brits is to drink tea and eat scones (which is actually very true, so congratulations America for recognizing that characteristic), I now feel under pressure to swap my tea for coffee and scones for doughnuts. My “quid” is now my “buck,” and for some reason I now have “bangs” instead of a “fringe.” Oh wait, excuse my language — a side-sweeping fringe I think fits the description more appropriately. Of course, health and safety always have to be at the top of one’s priorities, which is why it can take a rather long time for me to cross the road. Constantly looking the wrong way for oncoming traffic is like having to learn your left and right all over again. The education system is noticeably different, whereby I mean as different as opposite ends of the pole. Back in England at Sunderland University, I study as much as I feel necessary when I’m aware of the big exam or assignment at the end of semester. But here at Tech I am back to getting homework again! So I now find myself in a situation where I constantly have work to do every day. I think the saying may just be true
— sit in front of a screen too long and you will get square eyes. This would be from my computer screen with “Word Document” engraved rather than a television with the letters “MTV.” Apart from all the differences that made me feel like a fish out of water at first, I feel like I have settled in rather nicely. Being a student at Tech is something that can inspire you just by walking through the campus. The impressive, castle-like buildings add all the more culture to my surroundings as I learn to live with my fellow Hokies. As team spirit drips off of every part of the school, I can’t help but feel anything but proud to be a part of it. I’m not a one to follow sports much, but you do have to support your home teams. This is why back in jolly England I support football’s (soccer) “Toon Army,” otherwise known as Newcastle United. Here I support basketball as I’m a true Hokie and support, well, the Virginia Tech Hokies! So when, in a lot of things, I see a difference in values and ideologies, what do I do with it? I embrace it, of course.
MELISSA CRAWFORD -guest columnist -English grad student
A whiff of change in pot vote T
he voters of trendsetting California may well decide this November to legalize marijuana — there’s a ballot referendum, and 56 percent of Californians are in favor — and no doubt this would be great news for the munchie industry, the bootleggers of Grateful Dead music, and the millions of stoners who have long yearned for an era of reefer gladness. Seriously, this is a story about how desperate times require desperate measures. Legalization advocates, including many ex-cops and exprosecutors, have long contended that it’s nuts to keep criminalizing otherwise law-abiding citizens while wasting $8 billion a year in law enforcement costs. That argument has never worked. But the new argument, cleverly synced to the recession mind-set, may well herald a new chapter in the history of pot prohibition. It’s simple, really: State governments awash in red ink can solve some of their revenue woes by legalizing marijuana for adults and slapping it with a sin tax. So much of the marijuana debate used to be about morality; now it’s mostly about economics and practicality — which is why New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island are also floating measures to legalize and tax; why similar voter referendums are in the works in Washington state and Oregon; why 14 states (including, most recently, New Jersey) have legalized medical marijuana, and why even Pennsylvania, hardly a pacesetting state, is weighing the sanction of medical pot, complete with 6 percent sales tax. But California is the likeliest lab for a massive toke tax, given its dire financial straits and the fact that
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marijuana is the state’s top cash crop, racking up an estimated $14 billion in annual sales — twice as much as the No. 2 agricultural commodity, milk and cream. Indeed, marijuana is reportedly the top cash crop in a dozen states, and one of the top five in 39 states — valued annually at anywhere from $36 billion to $100 billion. That’s a lot of money left on the table for the black market. In fact, five years ago, a Harvard economist concluded in a report that legal weed nationwide would yield at least $6 billion in revenue if it were sin-taxed at rates comparable to alcohol and tobacco. Actually, I doubt most stoners see themselves as sinners — what’s immoral about seeing “Avatar three times, or strip-mining a tray of brownies, or punctuating the conversation with lines like, “I’m sorry, what was I just talking about?” — but most would probably be willing to pay a “sin tax” in exchange for the opportunity to imbibe, hassle-free, with no fear that they might join the 765,000 Americans who were reportedly busted last year for possession. Pot smokers have long been bugged by the stigma. When I covered a marijuana reform convention in Washington way back in 1977 (OK, yes, I’m old), a delegate from Illinois named Paul Kuhn spoke for many when he complained to me: “You can get rip-roaring, toilet-hugging, puking drunk in public, and that’s OK. But if you pass a joint in public to a friend, you’re a pusher.” But even the reformers of ‘77 said it was “naive” to believe that Americans would ever buy legalization. Today’s generation is more shrewd; the word “legalization doesn’t even appear in the California ballot proposal. The proponents, including a retired Superior Court judge who got fed
up with handling pot cases, are calling it the “Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act.” Granted, nobody quite knows whether or how the California pot plan would fly in practice. Pot use would still be illegal under federal law — the director of the National Drug Control Policy has said that “legalization is not in the president’s vocabulary” — and the U.S. Constitution decrees that federal law trumps state law. On the other hand, the Obama team has stated that it has no interest in hassling the medical-marijuana states. The big question is how such a sin tax would be structured. Would all sellers be licensed? Would it be a point-of-sale excise tax on top of the sales tax? It’s worth pondering, because some state is bound to take the plunge, even if California’s voters balk in November — which could happen because, favorable pot polls notwithstanding, conservatives riled up by health reform seem most energized to turn out in disproportionate numbers this year. The bottom line is that public support for legalizing the crop has been building for a very long time. Gallup found only 12 percent of Americans in favor back in 1969, but 31 percent said yes in 2000, 36 percent said yes in 2005, and 44 percent said yes in 2009. The economic crisis has put wind behind the sentiment, and it seems inevitable that there will come a day — perhaps in the next major recession — when a presidential candidate will find it perfectly politic to speechify about the audacity of dope.
DICK POLMAN -mcclatchy newspapers
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Sub-Lease STUDENT ROOM FOR SUMMER Student Room For Summer- 1 bedroom available in 4 bedroom with 2 baths apartment in Hunter’s Ridge on Patrick Henry. Right behind Food Lion on time check for bus route. Lots of parking, and the kitchen and common room fully furnished. Only $265-without utilities, lease starting end of exams in May till July 9, 2010. Call 757848-3895.
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USED XBOX 360 FOR SALE. In great condition. Includes Xbox 360 core console, memory card, and wireless controller. Asking price is $175. Can include NCAA Football 10, NBA 2K10, and/ or Head Coach 09 at additional negotiated price. Call (540)808-6921 or email email@example.com if interested.
GETTING COLD TIME to Plan your Spring Break 2010 Get Away! Learn how to travel to beautiful locations like Jamaica, Acapulco and the Bahamas on a party cruise. Find out what other Virginia Tech Hokies are headed to your destination. -Adrian Email: Awhite@Studentcity.com for more information
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How to bind your own books:
SEWING MACHINE METHOD: The quickest, most durable solution for short books. Most sewing machines handle paper quite well, just make sure that it is not too thick (8 to 10 pages) or you could break the needle. How To: Cut paper into rectangular pieces twice the width of a page. Fold down the center and stack. The bottom sheet of the stack will be your cover. Sew along the crease. Fold again on the crease using a flat, stiff object to press down cover. Decorate as you desire.
ometimes I think about books, and my mind goes to places that would make a porn star blush.There is little I derive more pleasure from than a tight binding and slow fingering. My youth was filled with such late night fondling, concealed beneath a makeshift tent of comforters and pillows intended to mask my addiction. Books littered my thoughts, leading me to seek them out, even in most public of places. School libraries, museum gift shops, shopping centers and church pews became my playground. Size has never mattered. Age was always irrelevant. Personality and content seemed trivial. My only real requirement was aesthetic. My mother warned me of this with a series of talks and slaps on the wrist. Each time I was caught in the act, I was issued a standard, predictable lecture. “Don’t judge a book by the cover,” she would plead. But I couldn’t help it. The artist within me repeatedly trumps my literary interest, resulting in a series of ill-advised reads and an exquisitely beautiful, but arguably nonsensical book collection. As my unwavering addiction to book arts perpetuates, I have come to discover a practical outlet for my interest: book making. Originally conceived as a means to clutter my shelves and sprinkle my coffee table with pretty things, it has become a handy hobby for gifts and school projects alike. With school winding down, finals impending and an expensive horde of friends graduating, book making offers a simple solution to final projects and sentimental gifts. Craft original photo albums, recycled journals, impressive presentations or showcase your poetry with one of these three simple methods to impress your teachers and friends.
MARY ANNE CARTER -features staff writer -junior -communication major
HAND-SEWN METHOD: The most versatile method to bookbinding, it can be used on longer works because it is all by hand. How To: Follow the same instructions as the sewing machine method, but instead of using a sewing machine, use a thick needle to poke three holes down the spine of the book. One should be centered and the other two equidistant from the
center hole and the edges of the book on each side. Using durable thread or string on a needle, poke through the middle hole from the center of the book, leaving a couple of inches of thread as a tail to be tied. Thread the string through one of the holes on the side, then back through the middle hole and through the other side hole. You are left with both ends of the string in the middle. Tie and trim.
HOT GLUE METHOD: The best method for loose, precut paper that cannot be folded for sewing methods. This method is slightly less reliable, because it is easy to miss a page or a page might come loose. How To: Cut paper to desired size. Stack. Cut a thick piece of paper into a strip the length of your book and a half an inch wider than the stack. This is your spine. Fold and crease around the stack, leaving a quarter of an inch on each side of the spine. Coat it with hot glue and press it against the stack. Make sure your pages line up to the spine entirely, or they will come loose. Let dry and enjoy.
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april 8, 2010
Siblings extend family tradition as Tech athletes COURTNEY LOFGREN sports staff writer Chicago maroon and burnt orange are two colors that have run through the Blow family since 1979 when Carol and Mike Blow entered their freshmen year at Virginia Tech. Now, more than 30 years later, their children, Katie and Matt, continue that tradition of representing Tech by attending school in Blacksburg just like their parents did. Katie is a sophomore human, nutrition, food and exercise major, and Matt is a senior residential property management major. Other than the fact that the Blow children attend the same school, there is another factor that makes their relationship quite unique. Matt and Katie are talented varsity athletes. Matt is a redshirt junior on the Tech baseball team. Splitting his time between first and third base, he has amassed a .271 career batting average in three years. This season, he plays a vital utility role for the Hokies. Katie is a member of the Tech tennis team. In two years of work, she has compiled an impressive 2615 overall record. This year, she is one of the rising stars on a young
team that features just two juniors as its eldest members. Their mother explained how two children from one family can make it to such a high level at the same school. “They’ve always been really close,” Carol Blow said. “They’ve had a bit of competition between the two of them, I guess, but in a friendly way. They’re very supportive of each other. “Growing up, Matt spent a lot of time teaching Katie how to do whatever it was he was doing, whether it was catching for baseball or something else. They’ve both been huge supporters of each other. Now it’s tough for them to go to each other’s events, but they do go when they can.” Both Katie and Matt believe that being away at school together has made them closer than they were prior to college. “We’ve always been really good friends,” Katie said. “And we’ve actually become better friends since we’ve been here at Tech.” “We’re both really competitive with each other,” Matt added. “I’ll definitely go home and play some tennis with her, and she’ll come out and throw the baseball with me.” Matt transferred to Tech from the College of William & Mary after his freshman year. Coincidentally, he had been faced with the same
decision in his senior year of high school. While he initially decided to attend William & Mary, it didn’t take long for him to realize it wasn’t where he belonged. “William & Mary wasn’t the school for me,” Matt said. “It ended up not being the school for me. It was a long process but in the end, I’m happy with the choice I made.” Matt’s decision to transfer proved to be beneficial for the entire family, though, as the following year Katie made her decision to play tennis for the Hokies. “Obviously the tennis was a big factor in coming here, but him being here was definitely a positive factor,” Katie said. Even though both Katie and Matt ended up at Tech, neither of them felt they were pressured by their parents to come to Blacksburg to represent the Hokies. “They never pushed us to go to Tech when we were growing up but both Matt and I just love it here,” Katie said. Their mother agreed, adding that although she and her husband were ecstatic the kids chose Tech, they weren’t a factor in either decision. “We’re thrilled that they chose Tech,” Carol said. “Each of them made a decision independent of one another and it’s just kind of funny that they both chose Tech. It’s a good fit for them both academically and athletically.” Carol and Mike make frequent trips to Blacksburg to support their children. “We try to come as often as we can,” Carol said. “It’s not very often that baseball and tennis play in Blacksburg at the same time, but when those weekends happen, we’ll be there.” Matt says he enjoys the time he gets to spend with his parents when they
Katie Blow, sophomore
Sport: Tennis Major: human nutrition, foods and exercise Career Statistics: 26-15 career record 22-13 in tournament play
Matt Blow, redshirt junior
Sport: Baseball– 1B/3B Major: residential property management Career Statistics: .271 batting average 3 home runs 33 runs batted in
do visit. “I know every time they come back we’ll always go out and walk around campus and they’ll say ‘This is new,’” Matt said. “They really like coming back to Blacksburg, and it really helps that we’re here so they are able to do that.” Even though their schedules are sometimes hectic and usually overlap with one another, the siblings try to support each other as much as they can by showing up at each other’s events. “I usually get to go to a lot of his weekday games,” Katie said. “I go to the ones on the weekends when I can.”
“It’s hectic,” Matt said. “Our schedules are pretty busy during the spring. She’ll be on the road one weekend and I’ll be on the road, or I’ll be on the road and she’ll be on the road. It’s tough, but we try to do what we can.” Through hard work throughout the season and offseason, the Blow siblings have experienced success in their respective sports. Tennis head coach Terry Ann Zawacki-Woods said it’s clear the kids were raised well. “Katie’s such a team player,” Zawacki-Woods said. “She’s one of the hardest workers on our team so she really does a great job of set-
ting the standard in practice. She’s shown a lot of improvement so she’s just a very positive force on our squad. “Her work ethic is second to none,” she continued. “She works so hard at everything both on the tennis court and in the classroom. She’s such a perfectionist she’ll be out here, until she gets her stroke just right, which is just a pleasure to coach.” The baseball team is off to a great start this year, earning a national ranking of No. 25 this week thanks to a 21-10 overall record. Matt has contributed two homeruns and 10 RBIs. He is currently batting .286 for the Hokies. Baseball head coach Pete Hughes can count on Matt’s leadership qualities as well as his contributions on the field. “Matty’s a kid who’s developed real leadership qualities,” Hughes said. “Whether he’s playing or not he doesn’t back down vocally ... he’s going to speak up.” “He has a positive team-first attitude,” Hughes said. “He’s the most improved guy in our program hands down. He was our fall MVP.” Matt’s versatility to play both first and third base allows Hughes to make more moves when a victory is on the line. “He gives us some flexibility to make some moves late in the game,” Hughes said. “I have no problem putting him at third. That just speaks for the type of athlete and baseball player he is.” While Mike and Carol are thrilled that their children are representing the Hokies on the playing field, Carol is just excited that her kids get to experience Tech like she did. “It’s such a unique atmosphere and Hokie Nation is really like nothing out there,” she said.
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