Tuesday, April 20, 2010
An independent, student-run newspaper serving the Virginia Tech community since 1903
COLLEGIATETIMES 107th year, issue 50
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Water under the bridge?
ROY T. HIGASHI/SPPS
Thousands of students run Virginia Tech’s “3.2 Run in Remembrance” throughout campus on April 16, 2010. The event, now in its second year, kicked off this year’s academically themed Day of Remembrance.
Future April 16 events to shift focus, seek positive message “ PHILIPP KOTLABA university news editor
“Beginnings are sometimes hard. The path is not always clear,” read a poem at the April 16 memorial bench dedication ceremony. As Virginia Tech marked the third anniversary of the April 16, 2007, shootings that claimed 32 victims’ lives, that once-foggy path has became more defined. April 16, 2010, marked the beginning of a major transition in the way the university will commemorate future anniversaries of the day. This year’s commemorations — including the creation of new themes for the event — foreshadow much of what is now planned for anniversaries in 2011 and beyond. For the third Day of Remembrance since the shootings, the 2009 steering committee decided to add an academic theme to the day’s calendar: For the first time, a Day of Remembrance shifted beyond solely the victims of Seung-Hui Cho. Daniel Wubah serves as Tech’s dean for undergraduate education. He and Karen DePauw, his graduate school counterpart, were asked last year to co-chair an academic workgroup to organize the day’s academiccentered activities. “Students are being connected to what happened that day, but also to look forward,” Wubah said. “We want students to get a chance to reflect on what that day means; even though (many current students) were not here, it’s part of our history,” he said. “As a member of this community, how would you move beyond what happened that day, and build on it?” One such activity was “Hokie Stone: An Event of Student Shared Knowledge,” a student showcase of research that took place throughout the afternoon in Squires Colonial Ballroom. Other features included designated reflection spaces and numerous artwork exhibitions. “What happened was a tragic loss to this institution,” Wubah said. “It will always be part of our history. Now, instead of looking at the negative connotation, we want to take the positives of it.” The Day of Remembrance was also surrounded by other major events. During the preceding day, the campus organized a speech by the Haitian ambassador to the United States, as well as “Arab Fest,” which celebrated victim Reema Samaha’s culture. On Saturday, thousands of students participated in the annual Big Event community service function. Many of the last students present in 2007 are graduating; the Office of Recovery and Support will be formally dissolved at the end of the current school year. On a fundamental level, the theme’s introduction was the first major step in a new direction for April 16 commemorations. “We’re an academic community, and so we need to deal with the scholarship and the teaching,” DePauw said. “We can honor (the victims). We honor them by moving forward.” The change in focus is met with skepticism from some victims’ families, including Michael Pohle, whose son Michael Pohle Jr., was killed in Norris Hall. This year’s Day of Remembrance was the first he attended since the shootings. “For three years, it’s been deception and lies and broken promises, so I don’t really know what to make of (the transition),” Pohle said. “I’ve become very hardened and cynical in
We’re an academic community, and so we need to deal with the scholarship and the teaching. We can honor (the victims). We honor them by moving forward. KAREN DEPAUW DEAN FOR GRADUATE EDUCATION
my three-year experience here.” Pohle said that an academic focus made sense but that the best way to implement it would be to allow students to learn how to avoid and respond to future campus violence. “I’m all for the academic side of things, but I believe consideration should be made to educating the student body,” Pohle said. “There was a tremendous amount of communication and knowledge lacking (in 2007), so why not take that opportunity to try to have an academic discussion about that? “I don’t want it to reduce what that day is supposed to mean,” he said. Lori Haas, whose daughter Emily was injured but survived the shootings, agrees that the best way to preserve April 16 is by keeping, one way or another, its original focus on the lost and wounded victims of Cho. “I think that we cannot move too far away from the facts of the day, and remembering exactly what happened and exactly why it happened,” Haas said. “Education is a good thing, but if it has to do with subjects unrelated to 4/16, then that’s disappointing.” University provost Mark McNamee said the Day of Remembrance planners took great pains to respect the sensitive nature of the event. “One of the things I learned is that families who were most directly affected really worry very profoundly that their loved ones are going to be forgotten at some point,” he said, “so remembering is central to what we do on this particular day. “The other thing that became very clear ... (is that) the families and people around them really want to be sure that the entire focus is around those individuals, those 32,” McNamee said. “The feeling is that there are 364 other days in the year where you can do other things. “I think that we struck a good balance, looked through their lens, and shaped our events around it.” Suzanne Grimes is the mother of April 16 survivor Kevin Sterne. She said that while she appreciated the university’s challenge in planning the new academic theme, there had not been enough opportunities for families to give feedback, as provided for in the 2008 settlement between the commonwealth of Virginia and most victims’ families. According to the settlement, the families “will have a continuing opportunity in the future to provide comment, in advance, with respect to events or activities planned by Virginia Tech to honor or remember the tragedy or its victims.” The university did hold a conference call with families following the 2009 anniversary to solicit feedback. It also sent an e-mail to families in January outlining an early draft schedule of the 2010 events, an action that Megan Armbruster, who served on the steering committee’s implementation team, said would “happen annually.” see APRIL 16 / page two
Judge hands down life sentence in ‘atypical’ GLC cafe homicide ZACH CRIZER nrv news editor A judge decided Monday that the Mr. Hyde inside former Virginia Tech graduate student Haiyang Zhu was too risky to ever be set free. AtasentencinghearingMondayinMontgomery County Circuit Court, Judge Robert Turk saw two very different sides of Zhu, the 26-year-old former graduate student who killed graduate student Xin Yang in the Au Bon Pain in the Graduate Life Center on Jan. 21, 2009. Ultimately, Turk said the brutality of the murder — Zhu beheaded Yang a day after she ended his hopes of engaging in a romantic relationship — defied any rational explanation. “I guess the rage you had to do that to someone — it just scares me,” Turk said. In a hearing that lasted more than two hours, the court heard testimony from a psychologist who examined Zhu, as well as a friend of Zhu who shed light on the inner workings of the convicted killer, who sat in the courtroom and stared straight ahead throughout the proceedings. The prosecution presented testimony, heard through an interpreter, from the victim’s mother. After sentencing Zhu to life in prison, the maximum term, Turk described Zhu’s case as strange and atypical, and that it reminded him of the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. ——— Stephanie Cox, Zhu’s attorney, presented a new side to the man convicted of first-degree murder in December. Daniel Murrie, director of psychology at the University of Virginia’s Institute of Law, Psychology and Public Policy, conducted multiple interviews with Zhu, as well as with his family and friends, since Zhu was arrested the night of the murder. While Murrie decided Zhu was competent to stand trial and legally sane, he said mental illness likely played a role in the crime. Murrie said Zhu’s mother and grandmother had mental illnesses, most likely forms of schizophrenia. While he said Zhu had likely dealt with depression throughout his life, a series of distressing factors pushed him over the edge after he came to Tech for the fall 2008 semester. Murrie cited Zhu’s high level of academic achievement in China, then pointed out that his first semester at Tech was not successful in the Ph.D. agricultural economics program. “He had left for America with high hopes and by the end of his first semester, he was on academic probation,” Murrie said. “Things were looking pretty bleak.” After the fall 2008 semester, Zhu did not go home for break, but he contacted his father wanting to leave school and mentioned suicidal thoughts. His family told him to stay in school and seek counseling. “He was disappointed with his session,” Murrie said. “He may have misunderstood the idea of counseling. He said, ‘The counseling just listened and I went away feeling even worse.’” However, Zhu was far from alone in his academic troubles. Five of the seven students in Tech’s agricultural economics doctoral program landed on academic probation following the semester. But Zhu did not confront his academic troubles alone. The court also heard testimony from Bob Needham, a Tech graduate student in the same program who befriended Zhu during the fall
COURTESY OF ROANOKE TIMES
Haiyang Zhu pled guilty in a preliminary hearing in December. He received life in jail. 2008 semester. Needham knew Zhu as “Ocean,” which Zhu said is the translation of Haiyang. He described Ocean as a “very courteous” guy who “never spoke negatively about anything except the pressures of the program.” Needham and Zhu took their problems with the program to university administrators but did not make any headway. They later took a trip to the University of North Carolina-Charlotte to view a different program. They became close enough that Needham invited Zhu to his December 2008 wedding. “He got a big smile on his face,” Needham said. “He wanted a written invitation as a keepsake.” The wedding transformed Zhu. “He was having a great time,” Needham said. “He was very social, talking to whoever was there.” At the reception, Zhu caught the garter, which Needham explained meant he would be the next male to marry. Murrie said Zhu made reference to the wedding during their sessions. “Maybe in too logical a way, he decided he was going to get married,” Murrie said. Shortly after the wedding, Zhu first communicated with Yang on a social network Web site frequented by Chinese-Americans. He later hosted her in Blacksburg as she secured housing and began taking classes at Tech. Zhu told Murrie he never actually had a romantic relationship with Yang, but he became obsessive about pursuing one. “He tended to talk about fate and destiny very seriously and linked that in with the victim when he met her,” Murrie said. Murrie said the way Zhu described it “started to sound pretty atypical.” However, Murrie described Yang as a driving force in Zhu’s life. “This is the one time he didn’t feel depressed,” Murrie said. Zhu made a couple attempts at starting a romantic relationship when Yang arrived in Blacksburg, only a very short time before she was killed. “No matter what info is coming in, he’s filing it away as consistent with what he was hoping for,” Murrie said. Murrie said when classes started, just days before the murder, Zhu “broke down” to Yang during a study session and explained his feelings.
Yang told him she was engaged to another man. “Somewhere in the night he got the idea he should take her with him to the next life,” Murrie said. “The belief was unprecedented. He had no cultural or religious beliefs to support the idea.” Murrie, who diagnosed Zhu only with depression, said he was delusional but did not display full symptoms of any other mental illness. ——— Commonwealth’s Attorney Brad Finch described the murder as “predatory aggression.” He said Zhu bought the knives he would use to kill Yang and then called her more than a dozen times that day to arrange a meeting. He later found her inside the GLC cafe and killed her. He cited multitudes of defensive wounds on Yang’s hands and arms and presented pictures of the crime scene to the judge. Neither Murrie nor Finch could produce any reason for the brutal nature of the crime, which Turk made reference to on several occasions during the hearing. Following his arrest and incarceration, Zhu tried to carry out his plan to join Yang in the afterlife. Two weeks after the murder, he was found hanging in his prison cell and was revived. Since then, Zhu has been treated for mental illness, and Cox said he is currently on Prozac. Needham has visited Zhu in prison on several occasions. “More recently he’s opened up to his feelings and emotions,” Needham said. “He’ll talk about things he’s struggling with.” At first, Needham tearfully said he could not believe that “Ocean,” had committed the murder, but he now is attempting to support his friend. “Though I don’t agree with the actions that were taken, Ocean is still a person,” Needham said. “I still care about him. I want to be there for him and support him.” Zhu made a brief statement at the end of the hearing. “I would like to offer my most sincere apology and my deepest remorse to the victim’s family, the Virginia Tech community and the Blacksburg community for what I’ve done,” Zhu said. Turk then sentenced Haiyang “Ocean” Zhu to life in prison and said the case lacked any rational explanation.
new river valley news editor: zach crizer university editor: philipp kotlaba firstname.lastname@example.org / 540.231.9865
april 20, 2010
nation & world headlines
April 16: Service set as theme for 2011 events ] from page one
Goldman, Moody’s to answer before a Senate panel WASHINGTON — A special Senate panel over the next week will begin to unveil the results of yearlong inquiries into the roles of Goldman Sachs and credit ratings agencies such as Moody’s Investors Service in the subprime mortgage meltdown. The hearings are expected to heighten pressure on Congress to adopt new curbs on risky Wall Street behavior. The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations announced the hearings Monday. Moody’s executives are to appear at a hearing Friday on how risky mortgage securities won the top investment-grade rating, giving investors the false impression that they were safe. The subcommittee will focus at an April 27 hearing on Goldman’s sale of securities backed by subprime mortgages to borrowers with shaky credit, including its use of exotic instruments to insure them. Three days after the Securities and Exchange Commission lodged a civil fraud suit against Goldman, the world’s most prestigious investment bank, the developments intensified a media mania as Congress weighs whether to impose new rules on complex securities. by greg gordon and kevin g. hall, mcclatchy newspapers
CORRECTION -In “Protesters rally against Starbucks gun policy,” (CT, online only), Starbucks is a corporate operated store. Starbucks does not franchise any of its operations. The Collegiate Times regrets this error.
JUSTIN GRAVES -Contact our public editor at publiceditor@ collegiatetimes.com if you see anything that needs to be corrected.
“Because of the diversity of the group, there’s always a diversity of opinion, but for the most part it was very supportive,” Armbruster said. “Their feedback is taken very seriously.” Grimes said that more communication from Tech would have been preferred. “The April 16 families want to work with the university,” she said. Pohle also said he was unhappy with communication from the university to his and others’ families. “The only extent that (communication from Tech) occurred for my family is an occasional e-mail,” he said. “We hear a lot of time comments that say, ‘While we appreciate input from many of the families,’ and we turn around and look at one another and go, ‘(Which family is) that?’” In the immediate aftermath of the shootings, the 2008 steering committee included family representatives, injured students and even representatives from local churches. The 2009 committee, which was charged with planning for the 2009 Day of Remembrance and beyond, was downsized but still included families and survivors. Although some of the decisions were highly controversial, the 2009 committee resolved to resume classes on April 16, 2012, and it also created an academic theme and service theme for the 2010 and 2011 commemorations, respectively. Haas, who served on the 2009 committee, said that the university did not properly communicate the future of the committee, which will not meet again. “I think we’re all confused a little bit,” she said. “I don’t think the steering committee ever weighed in on (some decisions).” McNamee stressed that consulting with families was high priority in April 16 planning. For example, the decision to move the commemoration to the evening, combining it with the candlelight vigil, was made in part “in response to feedback from the families.” “We made a real effort to start our meeting with an opportunity for families to talk about their expectations, their feelings, what was important to them,” McNamee said, “by looking at the day through their lens. “I think that really helped us to put
Steering Committee Members Linsey Barker, graduate student representative, Virginia Tech Board of Visitors Tom Brown, dean of students Katelyn Carney, Tech alumnus, fall 2008, international studies Debbie Day, associate vice president for alumni relations, and director, Ofﬁce of Recovery and Support Arlane Gordon-Bray, undergraduate student representative, Board of Visitors Linda Granata, wife of Kevin Granata and research associate, food science and technology Lori Haas, mother of current student Emily Haas Kristina Heeger, undergraduate student, international studies Justin Klein, graduate student, mechanical engineering Michael Madigan, associate professor, engineering science and mechanics Emily Mashack, president, Student Government Association Joe McFadden, president, Graduate Student Assembly Mark McNamee, senior vice president and provost Derek O’Dell, undergraduate student, biological ssciences Cathy and Peter Read, parents of Mary Karen Read Fabrice Teulon , associate professor of French, and member of Faculty Senate Tom Tucker, architectural planner and Staff Senate president Megan Armbruster, administrative director Kelly Griffin, administrative director SARA SPANGLER/COLLEGIATE TIMES
together some programs that were meaningful and that we could continue,” he said. Taking feedback not only from families, but also from the student body will be necessary to keep future anniversaries alive, said John Welch, a fifth-year senior and founder of the Students for Non-Violence club. “It’s really important that the current student body for any given year be represented in what happens on every anniversary,” Welch said, adding that he supported the service theme of next year’s anniversary. “Community involvement got us through April 16, so community engagement is going to be key to keeping the kind of spirit alive after April 16,” he said. Caitlin Grady experienced April 16, 2007, as a freshman in the AmblerJohnston residence hall. Every year she tries to engage new students in the memories of that day by bringing the topic up in settings such as university honors First Year Excellence Seminars. “When I was a sophomore at the
first anniversary, a lot of the freshmen felt they were on the outside,” Grady said. “I wouldn’t want someone to feel like they were on the outside just because they weren’t here for it.” Grady said that although she preferred to remember April 16 on campus with her friends, she did not condemn students who took the long weekend off this year. “It’s not something that I would do, but I definitely understand it,” she said. “Being comfortable with your family or friends at home is definitely a good way to have a nice reflective weekend.” The future of April 16 will undoubtedly be different, and unpredictable, compared with 2007, Wubah said. He noted that a grieving process, which proceeds through several stages, accompanies traumatic experiences. “The first one is the grieving stage, where that year all the way through a year after, it was still very fresh,” Wubah said, “so the focus was still on trying to understand why it happened.” “Ten years from now, we will look at it differently,” he said.
The same is true for other universities coping with similar massacres. The University of Texas at Austin, for example, held the distinction of the deadliest campus shooting before April 16, 2007. It now commemorates the shootings — in which a mentally disturbed student and veteran killed 16 victims from the top of a campus tower in 1966 — with a small plaque near the tower, according to Don Hale, the university’s vice president for public affairs. The 2009 steering committee itself is finished with its work. It did not meet in 2010, and the university will take its suggestions and framework from last year to develop them internally for future anniversaries. Furthermore, following April 16, 2011 — which falls on a weekend — future Days of Remembrance will solidify the new transition, according to McNamee. Certain events, including the candlelight vigil, the lighting of the ceremonial candle on the Drillfield and private events for victims’ families, will continue each year. Some, however, will not always take place
on April 16. The “3.2 Run in Remembrance,” for example, will move to become a weekend tradition to avoid class conflicts. “The character may change; most of the people attending will not have been here since we have a different meaning to them,” McNamee said. For the service-themed 2011 anniversary, hosting the Big Event, a Saturday Tech tradition, on that day is a possibility. “The focus of April 16 is on the remembrance. On the other hand, service and Ut Prosim are perfectly valid ways of expressing that,” McNamee said. “We’ll figure it out pretty soon.” Because classes will no longer be canceled as of April 16, 2012 — a Monday — most public events will take place “around the ends of the day, at the morning and the evening,” he said. So as memories of the fateful event grow ever more distant in time, is April 16 now simply a day in the history of the school? “Ten years from now, I don’t want us to say, ‘It’s over and done with,’” Wubah said. “No.” “I hope that we will remember these people and we will try to live our lives in the way that will be reflective of the good that these people have contributed to our community,” he said. Families of the victims will continue to remember those lost and wounded. “For every family, April 16 will ... forever be there,” Pohle said. “It will never stop being a very important day.” Grimes agreed. “There’s not a day that goes by in my life that I don’t think about the people we lost that day or what I went through that day,” she said. The challenge in the coming years will be to maintain that sense of remembrance on a changing campus. In that respect, planning future events will likely remain formidable. “All of us who have been involved, we’ve been preparing, we’ve been planning, but ... I think every individual, you never know exactly how any particular event is going to affect you,” McNamee said.s “You have to be prepared to step back and be ready for that,” he said. “It’s going to be a very busy, very emotional time.”
editor: debra houchins email@example.com / 540.231.9865 COLLEGIATETIMES
april 20, 2010
The Collegiate Times is an independent student-run newspaper serving the Virginia Tech community since 1903
Your Views [letter to the editor]
Free hugs day and living for 32
arrived on the Drillfield just after 9 a.m., and watched the thick mist of morning slowly give way to hints of blue above, which were soon washed away by a tidal wave of radiance that came with the rising sun. The day showed all the signs of spring with trees budding, birds cheerfully chirping, squirrels searching for their breakfast and students trudging to classes, which are regrettably indoors. I walked straight to the intersecting paths of the Drillfield where thousands of Hokies walk across campus every day. I put down my backpack and took out my sign with “Free Hugs” written in orange and maroon, and stood there for the next six hours. Three years have passed since our tragedy when 33 lives were lost on our campus and many more were injured. I was an ignorant freshman before it all happened, rowdy and careless. I was unaware, then, of the hidden beauty of our community and will always be saddened by the heartbreak it took for us to fully appreciate what we have. I’ll never forget the emergency vehicles racing across campus, the snipers on the library and officers storming the dorm next to ours with guns drawn. I’ll never forget the endless sirens droning on in my head as I tried to sleep the first night. I’ll never forget the fierce and hurt eyes of the girl who glared at me as I walked by with the MTV News crew, which made me ask them to put their camera away. I’ll never forget the girl who worked in West End and always smiled at me, who lost her life during that horrid day. I’ll never forget seeing
each friend before “the list” was known, the relief each hug brought and the significance of the strong embrace of life and appreciation to be there with each other that very second. This is why I have stood there on the Drillfield for the last three years with a Free Hugs sign every April 15. Why do we need a tragedy to share the love and spirit of our community? Why can’t we just embrace what makes us special — each other — on a day like any other? I have always had the heart of a community organizer, which has blossomed at my time here at Virginia Tech, but nothing has made me appreciate what I work for greater than the tragedy that befell our community. To unite and empower a community such as ours is perhaps the greatest motivation I have. In this spirit, I’ve devoted literally every month of the last four years to the next event or activity for those in our community, whether it was hosting a statewide conference or running for town council with the pillars of community and sustainability (issues I feel are eternally interlinked). As our class, which was just finishing freshman year in 2007, graduates and leaves Blacksburg, our campus will have nothing but new faces fortunate enough not to have experienced what we did. Don’t let that be an excuse to not know what happened here or to fail to appreciate what we do have. We’re all Hokies, forever and always. This is our community and it is up to each of you to make the most of it. To me, this is what we should “neVer forgeT” and why we must live for 32.
Bryce Carter Senior humanities, science and the environment major
When does preemptive care become paranoia? A
recent blood-spattered stubbed toe, a ruined sandal and a friend’s concern made me question whether a visit to the doctor was in order. Would I really schedule an appointment with a doctor (and take up a timeslot that could have been filled with another patient) over something as minor as a scrape? Unfortunately, this has become the view in American society — it could be a broken toe. It could be infected. It could also be nothing — better safe than sorry, they say. What happens when your “safe” causes another person to be “sorry?” Health anxiety and hypochondria are driving factors in going to the doctor’s office. However, is this being preemptive? Or is it counterproductive to medicine as a whole? Being anxious about one’s own health does have its benefits. Catching a mole that looks erroneous in nature and having it removed early is a preventative measure usually advised by doctors. It is not advised that you wait until something turns cancerous before you do something about it. This is why screening is so commonplace — Papanicolaou tests, electrocardiograms, prostate exams, colonoscopies and so on. Simply put, getting screened is a smart move. Trying to fix health conditions after they have developed can be very time consuming and expensive, and no one enjoys wasting time or money. People are indeed allowed to worry about their own health problems; they can do whatever they want with their lives. However, when one person’s health anxiety interferes with another person’s health, is that truly alright? A personal example comes from my grandfather’s medical drama last summer. He noticed an irregular mole on his foot. After taking a month to reach a dermatologist who diagnosed it as malignant melanoma, it then took another two months until my grandfather had surgery. Throughout the entire waiting period (one month of waiting for an appointment, two months of waiting until surgery) my medical knowledge made me very distressed. I knew that if the cancer had spread into
his bloodstream, it was all over; the cancerous cells could metastasize to every part of his body. Was everyone who was going in before my grandfather suffering from something as serious as a melanoma? Probably not. Mostly, it was ordinary, healthy people going in and being preemptive. But what about my grandfather? Age discrimination aside (that’s a whole other topic), why was there a delay in surgery, given the seriousness of cancer? I’m unsure if my grandfather really had to wait in line behind people simply because he didn’t schedule an appointment in time. Given situations like these, perhaps a bit of the human soul should come into play in medicine. If you’re working an emergency room and you have three people waiting to be fixed up for their breaks and ankle sprains, and someone rushes in dying and bleeding, are they told to wait in line? Probably not, because there is triage, which places priority based on the severity of a condition. The situation becomes sticky when people try to define what an “emergency” is. It can range from a baby sniffling to a gunshot wound. Can a systematic way to define an emergency exist? Ultimately, there comes a point when preemption cannot be justified, because it reaches a certain point where it can actually harm another’s health. My grandfather was lucky enough that his cancer had not reached his bloodstream by the time he got to the surgery. Not everyone is lucky. At the same time, one could simply argue that if my grandfather had been preemptive to start, he would never have been in that situation. People can be more aware of their health. Alas, such a notion is a pipe dream and nothing more. The irony of preemption manifests itself in tests that employ radiation, such as mammograms. Since 1971, studies showed that mammograms only directly benefited women aged 50 or older. However, screening was still being done on women in their 40s. Women who conduct these tests to prevent cancer will ironically increase their chances of getting cancer because
of radiation exposure. Robert Aronowitz, a professor of the history and sociology of science at the University of Pennsylvania, points out that screening 1,900 women in their 40s for 10 years would prevent only one death from breast cancer, while generating more than 1,000 false positive tests (and the over-treatment and emotional strain that comes with such results). Unfortunately, people jump on the defense when you ask them if they are being careless with their doctor appointments, or if you propose to them that too much testing could potentially be bad for them. This is because it gives the appearance that medical attention needs to be rationed, an idea that makes many people uncomfortable. My question is this: How safe do people plan to be? One does not sit inside all day because they are afraid to get hit by a car or struck by lightning; anyone who did would be labeled as paranoid. Has medical attention reached a state of paranoia? Coming from an extended family that is no stranger to cancer, I am one of the first to take preventative measures — getting moles removed and having my routine bone scans, to name a few of my medical procedures. I understand that not everyone is a doctor, and if people simply do not know what to do, they go to the doctor. There is nothing wrong with this. However, I feel that patients need to have less impulse visits, in which they immediately go to the doctor simply to have the doctor tell them “everything is OK.” Out of fear of lawsuits, doctors may even order to have more tests done before saying everything is OK, thus reinforcing impulse visits. Perhaps there simply needs to be more doctors. I do not know the solution. It’s high time we started looking for one.
JOSH TREBACH -regular columnist -sophomore -biological sciences major
You cannot be a meat-eater, an environmentalist A
pril 22 marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. Founded by former Sen. Gaylord Nelson, the original Earth Day put environmental protection on the national radar, leading to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and passage of the Clean Air and Clean Water acts. Forty years later, Earth Day has gone global. One billion people are expected to participate in Earth Day celebrations this month, from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Tokyo, Japan. That’s all well and good. But planting trees and cleaning up rivers won’t mean much in the long run if we continue to trash the planet with our meat habit. To truly “go green,” we must start with what’s on our plates. Raising and killing animals for food wastes so many resources and causes
so much destruction, it’s hard to know where to begin. According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, 30 percent of the Earth’s ice-free land is now involved — either directly or indirectly — in livestock production. As the world’s appetite for meat increases, countries around the globe are bulldozing huge swaths of land in order to make more room for animals and the crops that feed them. Then there’s the energy required to operate factory farms, feedlots, slaughterhouses and trucks that transport animals and the amount of water that is squandered on animal agriculture — it takes more than 4,000 gallons of water per day to produce food for a single meat-eater compared to 300 gallons needed for a vegan. And don’t forget the edible crops that are used
to feed animals instead of hungry, malnourished people. What else do we get from all the grain, fossil fuels and water that go into making meat and milk? More waste — in the form of tons and tons of feces. Pound for pound, a pig produces four times as much waste as a human does. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, factory farms generate about 300 million tons of manure every year — more than double the amount produced by the entire human population in the U.S. No federal guidelines regulate how factory farms treat, store and dispose of the trillions of pounds of animal excrement that they produce each year. This waste — untreated, unsanitary and bubbling with chemicals — may be left to decompose in huge
lagoons or sprayed over crop fields. Both of these disposal methods result in run-off that contaminates the soil and water and kills fish and other wildlife. There are numerous reports that humans who live near factory farms have been made sick by the pollution — many suffer from respiratory ailments, neurological problems and more. Today’s meat factories also spew out greenhouse gasses that are causing climate change. A 2006 United Nations report revealed that the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gasses than all the cars, trucks, trains, planes and ships in the world combined. The report attributed 18 percent of annual worldwide greenhouse-gas emissions to farmed animals, but new research indicates that the figure actually could be much higher. In “Livestock and
Climate Change,” the Worldwatch Institute estimates that raising animals for food really produces 51 percent of all greenhouse-gas emissions. It’s time to face facts: Most people stop being environmentalists when they sit down to eat. Every time we consume meat, eggs or dairy foods, we contribute to ecological devastation and the wasteful misuse of resources on a global scale. If we are ever to halt climate change and conserve land, water and other resources, not to mention reduce animal suffering, we must celebrate Earth Day every day — at every meal.
INGRID E. NEWKIRK -mcclatchy newspapers -people for the ethical treatment of animals, founder and president
Clock is ticking for American, world action against Iranian aggression I
take it personally: Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, wants to murder me, my family and my people. Day in, day out, he announces the imminent demise of the “Zionist regime,” by which he means Israel. And day in, day out, his scientists and technicians are advancing toward the atomic weaponry that will enable him to bring this about. President Obama, when not obsessing over the fate of the ever-aggrieved Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, proposes to halt Ahmadinejad’s nuclear program by means of international sanctions. But here’s the paradox: The wider Obama casts his net to mobilize as many of the world’s key players as he can, the weaker the sanctions and the more remote their implementation. China, it appears, will only agree to a U.N. Security Council resolution if the sanctions are diluted to the point of meaninglessness — and maybe not even then. The same appears to apply to the Russians. Meanwhile, Iran advances toward the bomb. Most of the world’s intelligence agencies believe that it is only one to
three years away. Perhaps Obama hopes to unilaterally implement far more biting American (and, perhaps, European) sanctions. But if China and Russia — and some European Union members — don’t play ball, the sancations will remain ineffective. And Iran will continue on its deadly course. Granted, Obama has indeed tried to mobilize the international community for sanctions. But it has been a hopeless task, given the selfishness and shortsightedness of governments and peoples. Sanctions were supposed to kick in in autumn 2009; then it was December; now it is sometime late this year. Obama is still pushing the rock up the hill — and Ahmadinejad, understandably, has taken to publicly scoffing at the West and its “sanctions.” He does this because he knows that sanctions, if they are ever passed, are likely to be toothless, and because the American military option has been removed from the table. Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates — driven by a military that feels overstretched in Afghanistan, Pakistan and
Iraq and a public that has no stomach for more war — have made this last point crystal clear. But at the same time, Obama insists that Israel may not launch a pre-emptive military strike of its own. Give sanctions a chance, he says. Last year he argued that diplomacy and “engagement” with Tehran should be given a chance. Tehran wasn’t impressed then and isn’t impressed now. The problem is that even if severe sanctions are imposed, they likely won’t have time to have serious effect before Iran succeeds at making a bomb. Obama is, no doubt, well aware of this asymmetric timetable. Which makes his prohibition against an Israeli pre-emptive strike all the more immoral. He knows that any sanctions he manages to orchestrate will not stop the Iranians. Indeed, Ahmadinejad last week said sanctions would only fortify Iran’s resolve and consolidate its technological prowess. Obama is effectively denying Israel the right to self-defense when it is not his, or America’s, life that is on the line.
PerhapsObamahasprivatelyresigned himself to Iran’s nuclear ambitions and believes, or hopes, that deterrence will prevent Tehran from unleashing its nuclear arsenal. But what if deterrence won’t do the trick? What if the mullahs, believing they are carrying out Allah’s will and enjoy divine protection, are undeterred? The American veto may ultimately consign millions of Israelis, including me and my family, to a premature death and Israel to politicide. It would then be comparable to Britain and France’s veto in the fall of 1938 of the Czechs defending their territorial integrity against their rapacious Nazi neighbors. Within six months, Czechoslovakia was gobbled up by Germany. But will Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu follow in Czech President Edvard Benes’ footsteps? Will he allow an American veto to override Israel’s existential interests? And can Israel go it alone, without an American green (or even yellow) light, without American political cover and overflight permissions and additional
American equipment? Much depends on what the Israeli military and intelligence chiefs believe their forces — air force, navy, commandos — can achieve. Full destruction of the Iranian nuclear project? A long-term delay? And on how they view Israel’s ability — with or without U.S. support — to weather the reaction from Iran and its proxies, Hezbollah, Hamas and Syria. An Israeli attack might harm U.S. interests and disrupt international oil supplies — though I doubt it would cause direct attacks on U.S. installations, troops or vessels. But, from the Israeli perspective, these are necessarily marginal considerations when compared with the mortal hurt Israel and Israelis would suffer from an Iranian nuclear attack. Netanyahu’s calculations will, in the end, be governed by his perception of Israel’s existential imperatives. And the clock is ticking.
BENNY MORRIS -mcclatchy newspapers
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april 20, 2010
Four Hokies still competing for starting kicker job MICHAEL BEALEY sports reporter Four players, one spot. Yet no decision has been made about who will be the starting kicker for the Virginia Tech football team. Redshirt senior Chris Hazley, redshirt freshman Cody Journell, redshirt junior Tyler Weiss and junior Justin Myer are all battling for the job vacated by the graduation of last season’s starter Matt Waldron. While head coach Frank Beamer has yet to reach a conclusion, he intends to make a decision soon. “I’m going to go through this week, and I think it’s just going to be a gut call,” Beamer said. “All of them are good ... all of them. But there’s not one that’s been great this spring. There’s not one that’s separated himself. In the end, I think I’m just going to have to make the call and go. That’s kind of how it’s been the last two or three years, and we’ve been fortunate. With Jud Dunlevy it came out good. With (Dustin) Keys it came out good. With (Matt) Waldron last year it came out good.” Beamer also made it a point that he does not want the competition to drag into the summer. “After the spring games last year, I said, ‘We’ve kicked too many too long around here. I’ve got to make a decision,’” he said. “That’s what we did and it’s probably going to be the same thing this year.” The Hokies are no strangers to replacing kickers. In fact, Tech has had three different starters in the last three
years with Dunlevy in 2007, honorable mention All-ACC Keys in 2008, and most recently first-team All-ACC Waldron this past year. In the last three years, the Hokies’ kickers combined to be 64 for 78, kicking at an impressive 82 percent conversion rate. But Saturday’s scrimmage did not help to separate a clear leader, as the four candidates were two for six on their field goal attempts. To be fair, however, wind showed up in full force Saturday, swirling inside Lane Stadium at an unpredictable rate. “I hope that we don’t get evaluated on (Saturday’s scrimmage),” said Hazley, who missed his only attempt from 45 yards. “Kicking into the wind today was very difficult. Usually we can hit those balls from 50 yards out and today it wasn’t even close. That has to be the worst I’ve seen it in Lane.” Hazley, from West Chester, Pa., only started playing football during his senior year at Henderson High School. He actually enrolled at Tech with no intentions of playing football. In his second semester, he figured he would give it a shot on the gridiron. “I only played in maybe six games my senior year of high school — that’s when I started playing football,” Hazley said. “I came here just as a student — didn’t really plan on playing football. Throughout the first semester I kind of got bored and was looking for things to do.” Nevertheless, Hazley appears to have a leg up on his competition. It doesn’t hurt that in each of the last three seasons, Beamer has chosen a redshirt senior for the job. However, Myer is
We’re all close, we’re all good kickers. It’s going to come down to who can put the ball through the uprights the most. JUSTIN MEYER POSITION KICKER
the only kicker on the roster with any significant game experience. Myer handled kickoff duties for the Hokies last season and played an integral part in the Hokies leading the ACC in kickoff coverage with his net average of 53.3 yards per attempt, while allowing a starting field position for opponents on the 16-yard line. “(Having the experience) helps me in the aspect that I’ve been out there,” Myer said, after missing on both his attempts from 49 and 50 yards out. “I know what to expect, I know what it feels like to kick in front of everyone. But at the same time that’s not going to win any job. I’ve got to be consistent. It comes down to my kicking.” While Myer and Hazley are jockeying for the top position, both Weiss and Journell also remain in the mix. Journell, rated the No. 3 kicker in the nation coming out of high school by ESPN, connected on a 22-yard attempt while missing from 32 yards out. Weiss made his only attempt from 21 yards out Saturday. Although the competition and pressure to perform will be amplified in this Saturday’s annual Maroon-White spring game, there is still a sense of
NIELS GOERAN BLUME/SPPS
Junior Justin Meyer at the April 11 scrimmage. He is one of four potential replacements for Matt Waldron. camaraderie among the four players. “We all root for each other but at the same time we’d like to be the one out there,” Myer said. “We’re all close, we’re all good kickers. It’s going to come
down to who can put the ball through the uprights the most.” “We all seem to be pretty neck and neck,” Hazley said. “I don’t think they’ll make a decision right now, but if I can
be the one spot, that’s the best that I can hope for, and right now I have that one spot so I hope to keep on to it. That’s all I can hope for now, go into the summer with that one spot.”
Football team completes last scrimmage before spring game NICK CAFFERKY sports staff writer With just one week remaining in the spring football season, Saturday’s scrimmage brought focus onto several position battles in progress on all sides of the ball. The Hokies looked to find their starting kicker Saturday, as four feet looked to replace former Hokie Matt Waldron’s at the position. Unfortunately, mother nature had other ideas. “One thing that affects football is wind,” Beamer said. “I thought it affected the scrimmage today to some degree. With the gear you have, any more, if it snows, rains, sleets, that’s not a big deal. But when the wind blows, it kind of affects it.” Winds gusted through Lane Stadium all day Saturday and left the kickers frustrated, as they combined to convert on just two of six attempts all day. While the wind stopped Beamer from deciding on a victor in the kicking battle, a fight on the offensive side of the ball heated up. Senior starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor went sixfor-10, throwing for 134 yards and a touchdown Saturday, but for once, Taylor’s arm wasn’t the one Tech’s coaches were most worried about. After Taylor took most of the snaps behind center, the coaches got better looks at redshirt freshman Logan Thomas and junior Ju-Ju Clayton, who continue to fight for the No. 2 spot at quarterback. While Clayton held the position as backup last season, Thomas’ development has been closely watched. “Right now, no, they haven’t distanced themselves,” said quarterbacks coach Mike O’Cain. “Both of them have done some really good things. Logan on Wednesday had five or six really good passes, and then he had three or four high balls. So it’s just consistency in the physical areas.” Consistency and confidence were two themes present while Beamer
spoke on the battle Saturday. According to Beamer, Taylor is “playing well.” “It’s just a confidence issue with him. He knows exactly what he’s doing and is throwing with tremendous confidence. That’s the difference between him and the other two right now. They don’t have that confidence, they don’t know enough,” Beamer said. Much like the kickers, both backups seemed to struggle, as Thomas went three-for-12 and Clayton went fourfor-11 with three interceptions. Unlike the spot for kicker, though, the backup quarterback job may not be won or lost this spring, and it could linger into the summer. Though the wind affected the flight of many balls, it didn’t stop the Hokie receivers from making big plays. Junior Jarrett Boykin caught two balls for 31 yards and a score, while redshirt junior Danny Coale had two receptions, totaling 89 yards. In addition to Boykin and Coale, who have been Taylor’s two favorite targets since the group has been together, redshirt sophomore Xavier Boyce also had a great day, leading all players with three catches. Because of the wind, Tech’s offense tried to keep the ball on the ground. However, the running backs had very little success and struggled to get back to the line of scrimmage some of the time. With redshirt sophomore Ryan Williams and sophomore David Wilson not participating, the majority of the carries were given to Darren Evans and Tony Gregory. However, redshirt junior Evans managed only 16 yards on 10 carries, scoring twice, while redshirt freshman Gregory finished with negative yardage, finding the end zone once on nine carries. Gregory’s performance certainly isn’t going to help him, as he is already looking over the shoulders of several backs in front of him on the depth chart. But while many have focused on the potential of the Hokies’ offense this
spring, the defense that the Hokies have been famous for seems to be a bit forgotten. “At Virginia Tech, we have a tradition of the best defense,” junior safety Eddie Whitley said. “When the offense was headlining the team, that kind of put a little chip on our shoulder. OK, yeah, we’ve lost a couple people but still ... we’re going to make plays.” Tech’s defense, which lost five starters last season, used Saturday to show how it hasn’t missed a beat. The defensive line continuously stopped the Hokies’ rushing attack, holding the offense to a total of 35 yards on 42 carries, forcing the offense to go to the air more often than it might have liked. Once the offense elected to go to the air, it was the secondary’s turn to pounce. Sophomore defensive back Jayron Hosley, who was almost shut down this spring from a groin injury, led all defenders with six tackles Saturday. Whitley proved that he can be a big part of the secondary, as well, registering two tackles for a loss, an interception and a pass break-up during the scrimmage. After two strong showings in consecutive scrimmages, the defense is proving that the lost starters don’t mean that 2010 will be a down year for defensive coordinator Bud Foster’s unit. “Communication is getting a lot better,” Whitley said. “A lot of the guys coming in with the first unit were together in the second group last year, we just moved up a spot. “We have a lot more responsibilities on our shoulders, but at the same time, I know what Jayron is gonna do ’cause I was talking to him last year.” The Hokies have one more week of practice before the much-anticipated Maroon-White spring game, when fans will get to see the team split into two teams to play in a full-contact contest.
NIELS GOERAN BLUME/SPPS
Playing as quarterback, redshirt freshman Logan Thomas throws a pass down at the April 11 scrimmage.
april 20, 2010
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