Thursday, April 29, 2010
An independent, student-run newspaper serving the Virginia Tech community since 1903
COLLEGIATETIMES 107th year, issue 56
News, page 4
Features, page 3
Opinions, page 5
Sports, page 7
Classifieds, page 6
Sudoku, page 6
Police hear public feedback
The Town of Blacksburg held an open meeting Monday for citizens to address a special panel in charge of reaccrediting the Blacksburg Police Department. The department has had accreditation since the year 1993.
Blacksburg police seek accreditation
Popular class granted ‘signature’ resources
news staff writer
The Blacksburg Police Department engaged in a reaccreditation process through the national Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies this week. The department has been accredited by Fairfax-based CALEA since 1993. The accreditation process revolves around 463 points that focus on written directives, management decisions, a preparedness program, the department’s relationship with the community, accountability, procedures to limit liability and professional excellence. A reaccreditation process occurs every three years. The police department was last accredited in 2007. Lt. Kit Cummings of the police department is the officer assigned to managing the accreditation process. A team of officers from around the country traveled to Blacksburg on Monday to conduct interviews and reviews of policies and practices. “We send out two-thirds of our files and they assess the other one-third on site,” Cummings said. Cummings said the three to four day on-site assessment period “runs the gamut” in terms of the amount of items assessed. “They look at everything imaginable,” he said. Cummings said being accredited by CALEA is “like the Good Housekeeping seal.” “It’s a seal of national standard,” he said. One component of the review process involves public comment. The assessors, led by Douglas Knight, chief of police in the city of Vandalia, Ohio, held a meeting Monday night to accept comments from the public about the Blacksburg Police Department. The comments given Monday night were entirely positive. Many of the attendees worked with area police departments. Representatives from the Radford, Christiansburg, Roanoke County and Virginia Tech police departments, as well as Virginia State Police and the FBI attended to support the department. Non-law enforcement representatives from the Women’s Center at Tech, the New River Valley Apartment Council, New River Valley Services and the Mental Health Association of the New River Valley also gathered to praise Blacksburg police chief Kim Crannis and her officers. Wendell Flinchum, chief of Tech police, commended the Blacksburg Police Department for working closely with the Tech police during times of crisis and during normal daily operations. “Our policies are similar, we know what to expect from them, and they know what to expect from us,” Flinchum said. He attributed this ease in joint operations to the fact that both departments are accredited by CALEA. The Tech police were originally accredited in 1992 and accreditation was renewed last November. Other area police agencies also commented on the partnerships they enjoy with the Blacksburg Police Department. Don Goodman, chief of police for the city of Radford, worked for the Blacksburg Police Department for 23 years before moving to Radford. “They are one of, if not the finest, agencies in this area,” he said. The Roanoke City division of the FBI also works closely with the Blacksburg Police Department. Kevin Foust, senior director of Roanoke’s chapter of the FBI, said when they began to establish the joint terrorism task force there, the Blacksburg Police Department was one of the first agencies to get on board. “They certainly help us a lot more than we help them,” Foust said. Cummings said the public comment session is usually helpful not just for the assessors’ purposes but also for the public to be able to hear opinions about the department. “Any service provider might give you a customer card and you expect both the good and the bad,” he said. “This is to build consumer faith.” The Blacksburg Police Department should know the results of the reaccreditation by the end of the month, Cummings said.
One undergraduate course’s transformation into what is known as “signature” class for the fall represented a solution for resource-starved classes amid financial belt-tightening. What was once a class with a maximum of 200 students, “Introduction to Astronomy” is slated to expand to allow approximately 600 students to take the course each semester. Arav, an associate professor of physics who has been at Virginia Tech for two-and-a-half years, is the class instructor. The class is open to all majors but is only a requirement for astronomy minors. Nevertheless, it still tends to be one of the more sought after courses by undergraduates. According to Arav, the 200 seats are filled very quickly during the first day of
course request each semester, prompting what he saw as a need for expansion. In spring 2009, Arav and his department chair approached Daniel Wubah, vice president and dean of undergraduate education, about expanding the class to allow more students. Wubah suggested making the course a “signature” class. With this new title, the course took on several changes, most notably by tripling the class’ enrollment capacity to allow more students to sign up. Arav said that this sudden increase in students would not affect the way he taught the class. “As soon as you have more than 100 students in the class, anything between 100 and 1,000 is all the same,” he said, admitting that a larger class can limit personal contact for the students. To aid with such a large class size, the plan is to have several undergraduate “learning assistants” who will teach weekly
After days of holdups, Senate will proceed with financial bill DAVID LIGHTMAN mcclatchy newspapers WASHINGTON — The Senate agreed Wednesday to end a three-day stalemate and move ahead with formal consideration of historic legislation to overhaul the nation’s financial regulatory system. Efforts to craft a bipartisan agreement broke up Wednesday, with Republicans, who’d stalled the bill, getting few if any concessions and perhaps starting to suffer some political consequences. The Senate next will begin debating and voting on possible changes to the massive bill, which would order the biggest overhaul since the Great Depression of how the government oversees financial institutions. The Senate should take about a month to work through the legislation, and if it passes, it will have to be reconciled with a different version that the House of Representatives passed last year. Then each chamber must pass identical versions before President Barack Obama could sign it into law, which is unlikely before July. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., promised a Senate debate that would allow time for all points of view. “It is time for debate to begin,” he said, “and it must be a serious, vigorous debate.” Republicans remained guarded about the bill. “I continue to be concerned about several provisions,” said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who’s in the small band of party moderates that Democrats hope to win over. The bill would make it easier for the government to move fast to dissolve troubled financial companies that pose a risk to the economy, and would create a tough new consumer-protection agency to keep an eye on mortgages and other forms of consumer credit. It also would require big banks to spin off
divisions that trade in derivatives — exotic financial instruments that helped cause the recent deep recession — and would bar them from proprietary trading of them for their own accounts if they also trade on behalf of clients. Derivatives are bets between private parties. Their value is derived from price movements of underlying assets. The fight over regulating derivatives is expected to be one of the more unpredictable battles in coming weeks. Some Democrats think that their colleagues have gone too far, and Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the Banking Committee, complained that the plan that the Democratic-dominated Senate Agriculture Committee approved last week was developed “behind closed doors.” “The provisions as currently drafted would have far-reaching and devastating effects on these businesses and our economy, increasing the cost of nearly every product we use and negatively impacting job growth,” Shelby warned. Republicans tried to show some gain from their three-day delay, when they blocked three motions to proceed with formal debate by maintaining united opposition. Some Republicans said they anticipated that Democrats would abandon the idea of a $50 billion bank-financed fund to help liquidate troubled institutions, though Dodd declined to abandon it in his negotiation with Shelby. One reason Republicans gave up their fight Wednesday appeared to be a sense that they were losing the political game, particularly after Tuesday’s well-publicized Senate hearings featuring executives from Goldman Sachs, the embattled New York investment firm. Senators flogged the bankers, charging foul play, and Republicans ran a risk of negative public reaction by blocking a bill aimed at policing Wall Street.
This speciﬁc class is meant to appeal to a large portion of our students, to ... allow them to gain experience with the use of technology NAHUM ARAV ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, PHYSICS
recitations. The recitations will be optional, and each section will have between 20 and 30 students. “These recitations will be much more intimate, the students will get much more personal attention, and they can ask the questions that they could not in the big classroom,” Arav said. A big change for signature classes will be the increased use of technology. These courses will work toward enhancing the high-tech education experience for stu-
dents. For example, with clickers, the professor will teach a concept and can instantly test whether or not the students understand it. Additionally, Arav’s course will utilize Tech’s projection capabilities to incorporate state-of-the-art graphics, media, and visual imagery of astronomy and astrophysics. One reason the class is such a popular choice for students is because of the reputation of the professor teaching the course. This past semester, Arav was nominated and was a finalist for the Sporn Award for Excellence in Teaching Introductory Subjects. “At the end of the day,” Arav said, “this specific signature class is meant to appeal to a large portion of our students, to give them as much scientific education using astronomy as the vehicle and allow them to gain experience with the use of technology.”
LGBTA panel tackles ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’
A panel conducts a question-and-answer session on the military’s ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy on homosexuals serving in uniform. The panel began its discussion following the screening of a PBS documentary on the subject, “Ask Not.” The events are part of a nationwide Human Rights Campaign tour. photo by mark umansky/spps
editor: topher forhecz email@example.com/ 540.231.9865
april 29, 2010
Soundfest brings the noise
COURTESY OF HIT THE LIGHTS
COURTESY OF HIT THE LIGHTS
VTU LAUNCHES ANNUAL FREE CONCERT THAT BLENDS SOUNDS OF SEASONED MUSICIANS WITH UP-AND-COMERS LIZ NORMENT features reporter When Mike Cunningham first came to Virginia Tech in fall 2009, he wasn’t very impressed with Blacksburg’s music culture. “I’m from New Jersey so there’s a pretty strong music scene, which I really didn’t find here,” said Cunningham, a sophomore psychology major. Cunningham, who is a member of the Virginia Tech Union, will be helping to put on the organization’s annual spring concert, Soundfest, tomorrow to help alleviate this perceived lack of music. “It’s pretty much the only way for people who like alternative or indie type music to see it while in school, especially if they don’t have a car to drive to Richmond or Charlotte,” he explained. Each year, Soundfest mixes a lineup of wellknown acts, such as Mae and Saves the Day performing in past shows, along with up-andcoming acts. This year, the lineup includes Anthony Snape, Jonas Sees Color, the Morning Of and Ryan Cabrera, who has had success with hits such as “On the Way Down.” Ending the night’s festivities will be headliner Hit the Lights. The alternative-punk band hails from Lima, Ohio, and is the act that Cunningham is most looking forward to.
“They’re a great group of guys who love to play music and have a good time,” said Cunningham, who has seen the band 14 times in concert. “The music has a great energy, and they always tend to draw an awesome crowd.” Cunningham got involved with VTU after hearing about opportunities with the group last spring. Now part of the Alternative Sounds Committee, Cunningham worked with a group of students all year to plan this Friday’s event. Samantha Holdren, a sophomore psychology major and director of the committee, has been involved with VTU since her freshman year. “Music is one of my passions, so when I started looking into getting more involved on campus, VTU seemed like the best thing for me,” Holdren said. To find artists to bring to the event, Holdren’s committee came together in the fall to brainstorm a range of possibilities. “At the meetings, people would essentially come and say, ‘Hey have you heard this new band?’ and we’d start to compile a list,” Holdren said. “From there, we start to contact agents and work with the student body to see who we think might be successful around campus.” Courtney Hinchee, a senior apparel design and merchandising major, has enjoyed past Soundfests, in particular because of the size of
COURTESY OF RYAN CABRERA
check it out
When: April 30 Where: Squires Commonwealth Ballroom Time: Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Cost: Free
Squires Commonwealth Ballroom. “It just feels more personal,” she said. “You can better relate to the artist than at a huge amphitheater.” She also doesn’t mind Soundfest’s ticket price. “I love to support live music on campus, but so many times a big name band comes and tickets are $25, which I just can’t afford on a college budget,” Hinchee said. “But if it’s a free show, I’m down.” At the event, students are free to come and go throughout the evening should they want to step out and return later. “There are a lot of people excited to see Ryan Cabrera and Hit the Lights, but it’s free so people can just drop in and check out whoever they want,” Cunningham said. While these may be the more popular acts, Cunningham said that a perk of Soundfest is watching how younger bands develop their own fan base. “That’s the cool thing,” he said. “The bands get a lot more famous and then you can say, ‘Man, I saw those guys play for a group of a thousand kids at Virginia Tech.’”
april 29, 2010
Almost half a century old, the Grateful Dead live on JONATHAN TAKIFF mcclatchy newspapers PHILADELPHIA— For a band that was counted out 15 years ago when front man Jerry Garcia died, the Grateful Dead has shown remarkable endurance and staying power. Last month they were subject to a major analysis in The Atlantic, with academicians testifying to the Dead’s groundbreaking, pre-Internet inventions of social networking and viral marketing. Now, the New York Historical Society, the city’s oldest museum, is staging an exhibit of Grateful Dead memorabilia _ through July 4 _ that argues the same points. Along with the expected rare disks, band instruments and props, like that Jerry Garcia skeleton marionette that jiggled in the “Touch of Grey” video, are artifacts ranging from the Deadhead hot-line answering machine to genial letters sent out to the fan base (“Got a good place for us to play?”). This exhibit-goer also relished survey responses from viewers of a closedcircuit Dead telecast. “This will be even better when it’s holographic,” prophesied one futurist. These exhibit materials are culled from The Grateful Dead Archive, a collection of “600,000 linear feet” of stuff which the band recently donated to the University of California at Santa Cruz. Eventually, all the content will be available as an online resource for students, fans and scholars at www. GratefulDeadArchive.org. This Deadhead also is having fun playing the recently-issued board game “Grateful Dead-Opoly” (Discovery Bay Games), designed by Philadelphia fan Debbie Gold. Properties you can buy and build on include favored concert venues and Dead albums (“Working Man’s Dead” and “American Beauty” are the most valuable). And you’re rewarded/punished with Karma cards
(“Left Off the Guest List? Advance to the parking lot.”) And, for those seeking a fresh music fix, a “new” Grateful Dead CD/DVD package has hit stores and download sites. “Crimson, White & Indigo” (Rhino, A-minus) shares the complete, three-hour Dead performance from July 7, 1989 at Philadelphia’s JFK Stadium, momentous on several counts. “It was the last show to ever play the facility, though we didn’t have a clue of that back then,” recalls Dennis McNally, the band’s longtime publicist and author of “A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead.” “That was also the show which got the local promoters at Electric Factory Concerts hauled into Federal court and convicted of felonies for having ghost employees on the payroll. But we forgave them, continued to work with them. Even Bill Graham ripped us off. We figured it was just them balancing out the contractual score.” On the artistic side, notes group bassist Phil Lesh, that JFK show is arguably from “one of the strongest periods in the band’s touring history, thanks to the presence of Brent (Mydland) on keyboards.” Sadly taken just a year later (a drug O.D.), Brent “had a soulful vocal tinge that was special. He harmonized great with Jerry and Bob (Weir) and occasionally me, and he got a conversation going with Garcia (on guitar) that no other keyboardist ever managed.” You hear it in the hot fun in the summertime grooves they summoned in Philadephia on tunes like “Iko Iko” and “Fire On the Mountain,” and on Mydland’s impassioned debut of “Blow Away,” which earns as big a stadium roar as standard bearers like Garcia’s “Loser” and the Lesh-sung “Box of Rain.” Also, dig the then-new, synthesized tones that the band was applying to the percussion-centric “Space” jam. “Working with electronics was just a
natural evolution for us, part of the search for different sounds,” says Lesh. “I had fun coaxing flute sounds out of my bass. It allowed me to operate in stealth mode. You didn’t know it was coming from me.” Much is now being made over the Dead’s prescience in recording most of its shows. “We did something like 2,300 performances, and we have tape on about 1,500 of them,” calculates Lesh. Several concert recordings were released, of course, during the band’s working life, most famously the jamming improvisers’ chronicle of a “Europe ‘72” tour. Those concert packages repeatedly underscored the bumper-sticker slogan “There is Nothing like a Grateful Dead Concert” because, like snowflakes, no two were exactly alike. The inventory “really became important as a source of income after Jerry died” in 1995 “and we stopped touring,” says Lesh. Sales of the “Dick’s Picks” series of mixing-board tapes put together by band archivist Dick Latvala would prove so compelling to fans that it eventually grew to 36 volumes. Simultaneously, Rhino was putting out “From the Vaults” shows captured as higher-quality multitrack recordings. And, of late, there’s emerged yet another series of disks/downloads called “Road Trips” which cobble together sets from different shows. Still, historian McNally disputes the contention of Dead scholars, expressed in the Atlantic magazine piece, that the Dead were sharp marketers, somehow envisioning the gold they could someday reap from these recordings. It’s even been asserted that they laid the groundwork by first allowing amateur tapers to record the same shows in lesser quality and then trade the material with others, in the process building up the “legend” of certain performances. “It never occurred to the Dead that they could make money from the board tapes,” says McNally. “The tap-
COURTESY MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS
ing started when Owsley (soundman/ chemist August Stanley “Bear” Owsley) was their mixer and was attempting to get the band to be disciplined, which was hysterical in the abstract, as he was also the most manic of people. I can’t think of anyone less disciplined. But he got into the habit of recording every show and then afterwards the band would gather and listen and evaluate the performance.” “For a while, we even carried a whole listening room with us on tour,” remembers Lesh. That business of taping just about every show “then continued as a matter of record keeping,” says McNally. Then when the group got mega-huge in the late 1980s, after “Touch of Grey” went to No. 1, “and they were doing summer tours of sheds and stadiums, they also started accruing video recordings of
shows. In a stadium, they needed video reinforcement to make it colorful for people in the last row. And they’d run a copy for the archives because, well, that’s what we did.” The establishment of an official tapers section and viral spreading of Dead lore was similarly “luck and serendipity,” believes McNally. “The Dead were lousy cops. We didn’t want to mess with the atmosphere and ambience of the concert by stopping the tapers. It was easier to elbow the record company, since the band basically didn’t care about record companies.” “Jerry set the tone with his famous line ‘When we’ve played it, we’re done with it. So let them (tapers) do what they want with it,’” recalls Lesh. “That was a perfect example of our values.” The bass player does grant that there was financial strategizing in the pio-
neering establishment of the Dead’s own record label and ticketing service, both gambits now quite popular with bands. “But we were ahead of our time, especially on the label side. There was no ecosystem, no YouTube and iTunes to get the music out there. So we still had to rely on major record companies to get distribution. And we’d wind up losing money on the deal.” Lesh says he’s certain that the entire Grateful Dead collection of 1,500 shows “will eventually become available online, with random access.” And he’s finally starting to create some new music with Bob Weir in their current incarnation as Furthur. “We’re going to dribble the music out a little at a time on the Internet,” Lesh hints. “I have no interest in making a record. In this day and age, why bother?”
‘Iron Man 2’ premieres, expectations slip on a shiny suit STEVEN ZEITCHIK los angeles times LOS ANGELES— “Figure out what the audience wants and give it to them,” Robert Downey, Jr., said from the podium outside the El Capitan Theatre at the “Iron Man 2” premiere Monday night. Downey may have been kidding, in that knowing, smirking, I’m-in-onthe-joke-too way of his that defies you not to like him. But the statement may also have well captioned the evening, summing up how the presentation of the franchise has neutralized many criticisms of its popcorn charms. Downey and Marvel know the commercial juggernaut they have here, and as they’ve done since they started rolling out the movie at Comic-con last
summer (and as Tony Stark himself might do), they not only flashed that confidence but turned it into a selling point. Indeed, the premiere of the Marvelproduced, Paramount-distributed, Justin Theroux-penned sequel delivered the pleasing to the crowd, as director and co-star Jon Favreau, standing on a makeshift podium on Hollywood Boulevard, introduced the litany of stars, from Mickey Rourke to Gwyneth Paltrow to Samuel Jackson to Downey himself. Then out came “The Ironettes” (like the Rockettes, only with a superhero motif) who did a heels-up, devil-maycare number to parallel an on-screen performance from one of the film’s first sequences. (The El Capitan setting of the premiere, incidentally, showed just
how entwined Disney is with studio/ producer Marvel, which it acquired last year, which also meant the premiere was the first known superhero movie to begin with a live organist performance, as nearly all screenings at the El Cap do.) We’ll of course wait for the Los Angeles Times’ critics and other reviewers to offer their assessments of the movie, but our own quick reaction was of a film rich in flash, generous in wit (never before has such a fast-talking, confidence-brimming wiseacre donned a superhero costume) and thin on meaningful storytelling (but thick with the false-start kind). Several colleagues we spoke to afterward similarly did not find themselves in a pose of jaw-dropping awe but, like us, they felt the film has a sense of confidence
in its own mission that almost wills you into liking it (or distracts you from its convolutions). What this movie will offer its broad quilt-work of fans is of course the key question. For a film that will be one the biggest of the summer and possibly the biggest three-day opener of all time, “Iron Man 2” has a tricky job, commercially speaking. It needs to satisfy those who crave more of the mythology introduced by the first film, but it also needs to stand alone as it aims
to bring in even more people than the first (and squash that movie’s $98-million opening and $318-million total). And as it does all of this, it needs to set up future movies in the Marvel canon, particularly the ensemble-oriented “Avengers,” which it devotes a fair amount of time to doing, at the risk of complicating the storytelling (we’ll stay away from major spoilers, but here’s a small one; skip to the next paragraph if you want to avoid it _ Downey’s Tony Stark offers to come in as a “consultant”
to the Avengers group being organized by Samuel Jackson’s Nick Fury. That doughnut scene from the early footage is only the beginning.) If the wisdom based on some of the early tracking has it that “Iron Man 2” has the potential to be a blockbuster of epic proportions, Monday night did little to tamp down those expectations. When you have the flashy goods, you may as well show them off. Both Tony Stark and Robert Downey Jr. could tell you that.
new river valley news editor: zach crizer university editor: philipp kotlaba firstname.lastname@example.org/540.231.9865
april 29, 2010
nation & world headlines
Exhibit seeks to show more human side of Civil War WASHINGTON — “They are treating me worse and worse every day.” That’s what a slave named Ann in Paris, Mo., asked someone to write on her behalf in a letter to her “dear husband” on Jan. 19, 1864. He was a soldier in a Union Army black regiment. Ann was desperate for money to buy clothes and food for their daughter and herself: “Our child cries for you.” The letter is part of a trove of Civil War artifacts the National Archives amassed to commemorate the 150th anniversary of one of the most important events in American history. The exhibit, “Discovering the Civil War,” which opens Friday in Washington, isn’t your typical Civil War retrospective. Epic battles are not the focus. Through letters, diaries, maps and other documents, as well as touch-screen technology, the exhibit reveals smaller twists and turns in the calamitous events of the 1860s, which continue to echo more than a century later. “We’re not trying to say that Gettysburg and Antietam are not important,” said Bruce Bustard, an archives senior curator. “But this is a sort of unexpected, undiscovered part of the Civil War.” The exhibit will be in two parts, with the second phase opening in the fall. The entire show will tour the country next year. by david goldstein, mcclatchy newspapers
CORRECTIONS JUSTIN GRAVES -Contact our public editor at publiceditor@ collegiatetimes.com if you see anything that needs to be corrected.
Wondering what’s going on around the ‘burg? Check out the events of the upcoming week.
[Thursday, April 29]
[Sunday, May 2]
What: Ag Econ Club Barbecue Where: Hahn Horticulture Garden When: 10 a.m. Cost: Sandwich (w/coleslaw) $3.50, Chips $0.75, Drink $0.75, Cookies $0.75, The Works (sandwich, chips, cookies, drink) $5.50, Pint $7.50 What: Zebulon Swift (band) Where: Gillie’s When: 7 p.m. Cost: Free What: Speaker Lifefoot lectures about "Building Bridges between Native Americans and African Americans" Where: Graduate Life Center Auditorium When: 8 p.m. Cost: Free
[Friday, April 30] What: Bourbon Shades with guests The Rosco Where: Gillie’s When: 7 p.m. Cost: Free What: Railroad Earth Where: Attitude’s When: 9 p.m. Cost: Tickets are $20 in advance through www.inticketing.com or $22 at the door. 18 and up admitted with a valid ID.
[Saturday, May 1] What: Society of Indian Americans Cultural Show Where: Squires Commonwealth Ballroom When: 5 p.m. Cost: Free What: Un prophete (A prophet) Where: The Lyric When: 7 p.m. Cost: $5 What: New River Valley Symphony Where: Burruss Auditorium When: 8 p.m. Cost: $8 general, $5 student/senior
What: Archery Club Practice Where: War Memorial multipurpose room B When: Noon Cost: Free What: Blacksburg Community Band Spring Concert Where: Burruss Auditorium When: 4 p.m. Cost: Free What: Student Recital: Katie Belvins, soprano Where: Squires Recital Salon When: 8 p.m. Cost: Free What: Emmit-Nershi Band Where: Attitude’s When: 9 p.m. Cost: Tickets are $15 in advance through www.inticketing.com or $18 entry at the door the day of the show. 18 and up admitted with a valid ID.
[Tuesday, May 4] What: Tap Extravaganza Where: Squires Haymarket Theatre When: 7 p.m. Cost: Free What: Student Recital: Chelsea Crane, soprano Where: Squires Recital Salon When: 8 p.m. Cost: Free
[Wednesday, May 5] What: Wednesday Garden Walk “Spring Blooming Woody Plants” with Dr. Alex Niemiera Where: Hahn Horticulture Garden When: Noon Cost: Free
nation & world headlines
Questions about how Red Cross is spending Haiti relief funds mounting PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Fred Sajous, a Haitian earthquake survivor armed with a video camera and a cause, is a man on a mission: to figure out how the American Red Cross spent the $430 million it raised for the disaster. The former Broward Community College student in Florida visited the tent city across the street from the American Red Cross’ Petionville headquarters in Haiti. Tent city leaders said they had not received anything from the Red Cross. With the organization’s monthly report in hand, he went to a dozen more settlements. “I couldn’t find the $106 million,” said Sajous, a 29-year-old mechanical engineer who left Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for Portau-Prince after being laid off last year. “I didn’t see a single sticker or anything.” More than three months since the American Red Cross raised hundreds of millions to aid Haiti in the aftermath of the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that killed an estimated 300,000 and left 1.3 million homeless, the organization says it has spent about a quarter of the money. But after consuming $106 million in the first 60 days, the Red Cross in the past month has tapped just $5 million more and has come under fire for what critics call anemic spending. Other aid groups, members of Congress, bloggers and even a former board member are among the growing chorus asking what the Red Cross is doing with such a massive amount of money raised in such a short time. by frances robles, mcclatchy newspapers
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editor: debra houchins firstname.lastname@example.org/540.231.9865 COLLEGIATETIMES
april 29, 2010
The Collegiate Times is an independent student-run newspaper serving the Virginia Tech community since 1903
Your Views [letter to the editor]
Ticket policies need to change
uring every day of school, students and associates of Virginia Tech make unwanted donations to Parking Services in the form of parking citations. Parking Services collects about $648,000 of parking citation money for the fall and spring semesters, excluding weekends and holidays. According to parking services, an average of 135 citations are issued daily. When you receive a parking citation for parking in an improper spot you are charged a $30 fee. To put this in perspective, by making an error while parking you are required to pay nearly half the price of a student semester permit. Students at this university are paying anywhere from $14,629 to $27,902 for tuition and other expenses. It is just not ethical to be hit with a huge $30 fee, especially when you consider how ill-equipped the school is in handling parking and also the money that Tech collects from our tuition. There are many solutions that have been suggested, albeit to deaf ears. In all cases it must be said that the outright fee
of $30 is not right or justified. One such solution is to gradually increase the parking citation fee with every additional citation. For example, the first citation could result in a $5 fee and increase by increments of $5 with each additional offense with a reset in the increments yearly. Another proposed solution is to give a pardon to the first offense and then have a flat fee of $15 for every offense afterward. The power to change the rules lies in your hands, the student willing to take initiative in changing policy. We students are the heart and soul of this school and should have a voice in how it is run. You have the opportunity to be involved in real change with only a few minutes of effort. If you feel that the parking system is inadequate and in need of change, I recommended contacting Steve Mouras, director of transportation and campus services, at email@example.com and voicing your opinion and suggestions.
Alex George Sophomore electrical Engineering major
Recent Nebraska legislation aims at undoing Roe v. Wade N
ebraska’s Abortion Pain Prevention Act, signed into law last week, appears to have a quite reasonable aim: to prevent fetuses from feeling pain during abortions. In fact, the law, which bans abortions for women more than 20 weeks’ pregnant, is yet another attempt to undo Roe v. Wade and abolish a woman’s constitutional right to a previability abortion. To do this, the law takes a disingenuous path, one well trodden by antiabortion legislation passed in the decades since Roe. Abortion legislation today commonly masquerades as something much smaller than a call to ban all abortions. Laws that require teens to consult their parents before obtaining abortions purport to encourage family communication and protect youth from rash decisionmaking. Laws that require women to wait 48 hours and make two trips to the doctor before obtaining an abortion are cast as ensuring “informed consent.” Ostensibly, Nebraska’s new law addresses fetal pain. But these narrow aims are not what the laws are really about. A 2007 strategy memo by antiabortion leader James Bopp Jr. promotes “incremental” abortion restrictions as an interim tactic until abortion can be fully banned. The memo points out that these more limited measures serve to “keep the abortion issue alive and change hearts and minds” and thus to “translate into more disfavor for all abortions.” It is evident that the drafters of Nebraska’s law were not primarily concerned with fetal pain. This law bans abortions starting 20 weeks after gestation, claiming that this is the point at which fetuses can feel pain. But the law doesn’t ban all abortions during that period. For example, a woman can still obtain an abortion if it’s needed to save her from grave physical harm. If fetal pain marks the threshold beyond which we should not kill a fetus, why are any abortions permitted during this period? Moreover, for those permitted abortions, the legislation does nothing to protect the fetus from its purported pain, such as requiring the administration of anesthesia. If the law’s goal is to protect fetuses from pain, it is oddly framed. But let’s assume this law more clearly addressed fetal pain. Has a scientific breakthrough occurred that warrants a reversal of Roe v. Wade? Proponents
certainly claim that. They maintain that new evidence on fetal pain is so compelling that Roe simply cannot stand in its wake. According to Nebraska Right to Life director Julie Schmit-Albin, “What we didn’t know in 1973 ... we know now.” We have reason to be suspicious of attempts to restrict abortion based on supposedly new scientific evidence about fetal development. Efforts to oppose abortion on such grounds in the United States date back at least to the 19th century, when antiabortion doctors dubiously claimed to possess new and superior medical evidence concerning embryonic and fetal growth. What new scientific evidence did Nebraska’s legislature look to? In accordance with regular legislative practice, all testimony on the bill was heard by a small fraction of the 44 lawmakers who ultimately voted for it. Two witnesses testified on the topic of fetal pain. One was an expert in pain management and anesthesiology who admitted he had no personal experience treating or studying fetuses. The second was a pain expert who had administered fetal anesthesia in a neonatal intensive care unit, but only starting at 23 weeks. He also asserted that “life begins at conception” according to his “religious viewpoint” and his “maker.” (This same doctor, venturing far beyond his apparent medical expertise, spontaneously volunteered that electroshock therapy to induce a grand mal seizure should be the preferred treatment over abortion for a suicidal woman 20 or more weeks pregnant.) It can hardly be said that Nebraska lawmakers learned of some new and authoritative evidence on fetal pain. The fact is that there is nothing approaching a scientific consensus on fetal pain at 20 weeks’ gestation. We should all support continuing objective, sound research on whether and when fetuses perceive pain. But the Nebraska legislature didn’t want to wait for that, because scientific truth was not the point. Should it be asked to rule on this law, the Supreme Court — and particularly Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the court’s swing vote on abortion — should remember that.
CAITLIN BORGMANN -mcclatchy newspapers
War on drugs hurts all with cost, ineffectiveness
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response I am commonly given when I am promoting Students for Sensible Drug Policy on campus is “I don‘t do drugs. Why should I care about these issues?” While I understand how one might hold this misconception, the fact of the matter is that the war on drugs is universally relevant. The drug war leads to increased crime on our streets, extremely high law enforcement costs which are financed by tax dollars, and a perpetuation of racial and social inequality. Therefore, it is ultimately society that ends up bearing the burden of the drug war. Anybody who has ever taken an introductory economics course understands the law of supply and demand. In its most simplistic form, the rule states that when consumers demand a good or service, suppliers will come about to meet the needs of those consumers. As a good becomes profitable, more players will enter the market, which subsequently increases the market supply of the product while driving down the price. In a well-regulated market system, standards are put in place to protect consumer rights and to ensure fair economic competition. For example, when you buy a food product from the grocery store, you know exactly what ingredients have been put into said product. You can also be reasonably assured that the grocer will not sell a pack of cigarettes to your four-year-old daughter. Fair competition is ensured — in theory — by firms gaining an advantage over their competitors in price or quality. Anti-trust laws and the civil system exist to ensure that these advantages are gained equitably, although their effectiveness is questionable. However, there are some markets that have no regulation whatsoever. Periodically throughout history, legal bans or prohibitions have been placed on the manufacture, sale, transportation and possession of consumer products that have been deemed harmful to the public good. The most notorious example of prohibition occurred in the United States in 1919 with the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment. The amendment made the manufacture, sale or transportation of liquor illegal in the United States. The economic effects of the law were largely unanticipated. Since the demand for alcohol was so high, players entered the market despite the prohibition. However, these players were not firms that were subject to regulation:Theywereorganizedcrime syndicates. Competition between
these syndicates was not economic — it was violent. Furthermore, consumers were not safe, as bootleg alcohol often contained the poisonous methyl alcohol, as opposed to the ethyl alcohol found in liquors, which resulted in thousands of deaths. By the early 1930s, alcohol prohibition was deemed a failure and was repealed. Anyone who cannot see the parallels between alcohol prohibition in the 1920s and drug prohibition in the present is simply blind. Prohibition of drugs, especially marijuana and cocaine, has led to the rise of Mexican drug cartels, illegal drug sales by gangs in the U.S. and the sponsorship of terrorist organizations. In 2009, the Justice Department declared Mexican drug cartels to be the single greatest organized crime threat to the U.S. Hillary Clinton stated that “the United States bears shared responsibility for the drug-fueled violence sweeping Mexico.” Aside from the thousands of Mexicans who have been killed as a result of Mexican drug violence, no fewer than 19 Americans have been killed as a result of it. There is no consumer protection in the illegal drug market. Drugs are often diluted with other drugs — like marijuana laced with crackcocaine — without the consumer knowing. Furthermore, there are not restrictions as to whom drug dealers can sell to. No one is stopping them from selling cocaine to a four-yearold, assuming she has the money for the product. In this sense, the illegal drug market is the epitome of an unregulated free-market. The UN estimates that the value of the global illegal drug market is approximately $321 billion annually. How does our government choose to deal with the perpetuation of drugs in our society? Since the early 1970s, the main solution has been a large increase in law enforcement. In 1970, President Richard Nixon declared a national war on drugs. This declaration led to the subsequent creation of the Drug Enforcement Agency in 1973. Currently, approximately one-fourth of all of the people who are incarcerated in our prison system are there as a result of a drug offense. It costs more than $6 million per year to incarcerate drug offenders. In fact, the drug war costs taxpayers $40 billion dollars per year. Considering that this large investment in law enforcement is financed by our tax dollars, an obvious question arises: Is law enforcement an effective deterrent for drug use? Most research suggests that it is not. The landmark study on this issue was conducted by the RAND Corporation in the early 1990s. At the time, it was estimated “Domestic
enforcement costs four times as much as treatment for a given amount of user reduction, seven times as much for consumption reduction, and 15 times as much for societal cost reduction.“ Furthermore, the Justice Policy Institute estimated that every dollar spent on treatment returned about $18 back to society. The National Institute of Drug Abuse estimates that treatment can potentially reduce 80 percent of criminal activity and 64 percent of incarcerations. However, only 30 percent of the federal drug budget goes toward treatment, while 61 percent goes toward law enforcement. In this context, it is easy to see that our tax dollars are being wasted in ineffective law enforcement programs. The final point I want to make is simple: The war on drugs perpetuates racial inequality in our society. A prime example of this is the cocaine disparity. The U.S. sentencing guidelines for possession of a gram of crack cocaine have historically been 100 times higher than for a gram of powder cocaine, even though they are different forms of the same drug. The law has largely hurt black communities, since 85 percent of those who are sentenced for crack cocaine possession are black. This sort of inequality is not uncommon. Although only 13 percent of identified drug users are black, they constitute 74 percent of those who are sent to prison for drug offenses. Furthermore, black Americans are often assigned longer prison sentences than white offenders for similar offenses. The war on drugs is one of the many vehicles that perpetuate institutional racism in our society. The fact of the matter is that everybody is hurt by the drug war. Drug prohibition inevitably leads to violent organized crime. It gives the control of drug sales up to drug dealers who sell drugs indiscriminately to whoever will buy. Our government attempts to deal with drug abuse by spending billions of tax dollars on law enforcement, despite evidence that treatment is far more effective. The inevitable result is that people of color are disproportionately affected by the drug war and institutionalized racism is maintained. In the words of the Drug Policy Alliance: Drug abuse is bad. The drug war is worse.
MARK GOLDSTEIN -president, students for sensible drug policy
Society needs a more actively caring culture at every level A
s stated in “Suicide rate increases in teens as an effect of bullying” (CT, April 28), columnist Brooke Leonard wrote that “if school officials will not take responsibility for the safety of their students, someone must.” This someone must be you. So, how do you fit in “the Bullying Circle?” Dr. Dan Olweus defines the role of each individual in this circle: students who bully, followers, supporters, passive supporters, disengaged onlookers, possible defenders and defenders. Data collected from many schools participating in the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program found that only 25 percent of fourth graders and 22 percent of fifth graders say they “often” or “almost always” stop bullying. Do you have the courage to tell someone to stop when you see or hear bullying? If you are like most elementary school students, then you don’t do anything either. For bullying to stop, we need a shift from watching to acting, from disengagement to engagement, from hurting to helping. More laws will not solve this issue.
Zero-tolerance policies have been shown to be ineffective, particularly among teens where negative consequences are not part of their decision-making processes. Punishment and reactive programs have shown to reduce the unacceptable behavior but not extinguish it. Suicide caused by bullying has become so prevalent in recent years that the word “bullycide” has been coined. Suicide is not the only danger as health concerns, school violence and other disconcerting behaviors result as well. According to the “Final Report and Findings of the Safe School Initiative” by the Department of Education, of the 41 individuals in 37 school-based attacks occurring between 1974 and 2000, “most attackers felt bullied, persecuted, or injured prior to their attack (on others).” Those who bully often are more likely than peers to get into frequent fights, be injured in a fight, vandalize or steal property, drink alcohol, smoke, be truant from school, drop out of school and carry a weapon (Nansel et al., 2003; Olweus, 1993).
Given the drastic effects that bullying has on individuals and had on institutions such as our campus on April 16, 2007, undergraduate and graduate students have spent the last year in the Center for Applied Behavior Systems of the Psychology Department developing an intervention to create a caring climate in schools. The “Actively Caring for Elementary Schools” intervention empowers fourth and fifth grade students to look out to their peers as models when they perform kind acts and then share their caring stories. The teacher reads three caring stories at the beginning of each day and selects one student to wear the green “Actively Caring” wristband as the Actively Caring Hero of the Day. At the end of the four-week program, everyone in the class receives a wristband if he performs an act of kindness. The concept of “Actively Caring,” or any discretionary behavior that goes above and beyond for someone else, was developed for the safety industry by professor Scott Geller. The center has applied his work in a new way to reduce a bullying epidemic.
On a collegiate level, Geller and the center, along with members of the Student Government Association, have passed out more than 7,000 green “Actively Caring For People” wristbands on this campus as a way of recognizing individuals, who perform acts of caring. Similar to the elementary school students, Hokies are looking for others to do kind acts. When someone is caught doing a good deed, he receives a green wristband as a token of appreciation. Then he is encouraged to pass it on to someone else that is seen doing a kind act. This wristband serves as a tangible object that represents caring and connectedness. Students have been posting their wristband interactions and stories on ActivelyCaringforPeople.org. A 2004 study found similar brain responses to physical pain as to social isolation. It’s fair to say that the old adage of “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me” is just untrue. Human beings strive for social acceptance, so consider including a stranger when eating at D2 or asking how a classmate is doing if he looks down.
“For every thousand hacking at the branches of a tree, there is only one hacking at the roots,” said Henry David Thoreau. We need to hack at the roots of all problems and develop an actively caring culture, where individuals look out for one another, not because we have to do so, but because we are self-motivated to do it. At Virginia Tech, we have a special community. We have redefined the word “Hokie”: an individual who puts more into a relationship than he or she receives in return. Caring isn’t enough. We need to actively care and do something to demonstrate our attitudes and commitment. The effect is that then “every act of kindness has a ripple effect with no logical end.” Perform a kind act, watch it spread and allow the world to see Tech as an Actively Caring community. Is it possible that your act of kindness could change the world today?
SHANE M. MCCARTY -business marketing major -research assistant, center for applied behavior systems
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april 29, 2010
Men’s basketball team loses assistant Courtney to Cornell
From left to right: Virginia Tech men’s basketball head coach Seth Greenberg and assistant coaches Bill Courtney, Ryan Odom and James Johnson, look on during the ACC Tournament this season.
AFTER JUST ONE YEAR ON STAFF, TECH ASSISTANT BECOMES HEAD COACH WITH IVY LEAGUE CHAMPS GARRETT RIPA sports reporter Virginia Tech men’s basketball assistant coach Bill Courtney was named the 21st head basketball coach at Cornell University on Friday. The official announcement came at an afternoon press conference in Ithaca, N.Y. “I feel very fortunate to find this place and I am very, very excited to be here,” Courtney said. “I could see that Cornell represented not only a first class academic institution but an institution where people are allowed to grow as individuals.” Courtney departs Blacksburg after just a single season as an assistant on the Hokies’ coaching staff, yet short coaching stints are nothing new to him. The 39-year-old spent two months as an assistant at Virginia Commonwealth University in spring 2009, after spending the 2008-09 basketball season at Providence. Prior to his stint at Providence, Courtney was an assistant at the University of Virginia. However, he first made his mark working under Jim Larranaga at George Mason University. Courtney was the associate head coach at GMU
from 1997 to 2005. Especially through his recruiting, Courtney helped build George Mason’s program into a strong team, which during the 2005-06 season, was a Cinderella story of sorts, appearing in the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four. Unfortunately for Courtney, he departed for UVa right before that special season. Tech head coach Seth Greenberg hired Courtney in June 2009 after losing assistant coach Stacey Palmore to Georgia in early May of that year. “I think he’s a very good teacher,” Greenberg said when Courtney was hired. “I think he brings energy, and he connects with our players, and when you connect with your players, they get to play harder and those types of things.” While Courtney has a deep resume, his first head coaching job was not an easy one to land. “Everybody understands that an exciting run in the NCAA tournament is going to result in high profile applicants for a Division I head coaching basketball job,” said Cornell athletic director Andy Noel, who is in his 11th year at the position. Yet, Courtney managed to impress Noel and his staff.
“Out of a large pool of very confident and qualified candidates, there emerged an individual who captured our focus, and in all honesty, captured our heart,” Noel said. “All this experience provided a foundation for a young coach to take on an amazing responsibility.” Now that Courtney has the job, he has extraordinary standards to live up to. He replaces Steve Donahue, who was recently offered the head coaching position at Boston College. Donahue had spent the past 10 years with the Big Red, coaching Cornell to three consecutive Ivy League titles over the past three seasons. His most remarkable accomplishment came during this year’s NCAA tournament. He led 12thseeded Cornell to victories over fifthseeded Temple and fourth-seeded Wisconsin to reach the Sweet 16, where the team ultimately lost to Kentucky. After such success, it is hardly surprising that Donahue was offered a higher-profile coaching job. But the Big Red has no intentions of letting the Ivy titles and NCAA appearances it has grown used to drift away without Donahue. “It is also vitally important because of our desire to maintain the momentum that we have achieved over the past three to five years,” Noel said referring to hiring Courtney.
The success will be especially hard to repeat immediately as Cornell graduates eight seniors this year, including its big three: Ryan Wittman, Jeff Foote and Louis Dale. All three players were first-team AllIvy selections, while Wittman was an Associated Press honorable mention All-American. Adding to the difficulty of replacing such stars, Ivy League teams are not allowed to award athletic scholarships. Potential recruits will have to decide between a free education or an Ivy education.
Courtney’s coaching and recruiting abilities will certainly be put to the test, but he does not appear to be phased. “I look into the eyes of our guys and I see that they’ve tasted that success and that they want it again,” Courtney said. “And there is no person in this room who wants it more than I, so we’re going to work our tails off to make it happen again. “Our goal is to win Ivy League championships and we’re going to make the sacrifices to get to that level,”
he added. While Courtney has his hands full at Cornell, Greenberg has some serious work to do at Tech in an effort to replace his depleted coaching staff. Besides Courtney’s recent departure, fellow assistant coach Ryan Odom left in April to take a similar position at University of North Carolina-Charlotte. Finding two well-qualified assistant coaches will be essential to the Hokies’ recruiting, along with fulfilling the great potential of the upcoming season.
april 29, 2010