The Arizona Desert Lamp

Ouroboros watch: Daisy the cow edition

Posted in Campus, Culture, Politics by Evan Lisull on 31 August 2009

Cow, on car

It becomes apparent, from this enjoyable dig through the Wildcat vault, that some things never, ever change:

The pages of the Wildcat in those days featured Young Republicans accusing the Campus Democrats of socialism, angry letter writers charging the Wildcat with dropping the ball on a news story and a good, old-fashioned ASUA election scandal.

. . .

In the same issue, the Wildcat reported that a cow named Daisy from the UA’s Dairy Research Center nearly won the election for Homecoming queen as a write-in candidate and protest against ASUA and dirty campaign tactics. However, the student government’s elections chairman refused to count the ballots.

The Desert Lamp would like to preemptively announce its endorsement of all bovine candidates, in all elections, ever. Same goes for ostriches.

For other dispatches on Man’s cyclical fate, read here, here, and here. Image courtesy of the Flickr Commons.

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‘Smartest Class Ever’ hits the front page

Posted in Campus, Education Policy by Evan Lisull on 31 August 2009

Now, your author has done a lot of crazy things with a Dos Equis bottle in hand. But never – except for that one time – has he managed to break into the Wildcat office, turn a snarky post into a page 1 story, and get it to the copy-editors – all on a Sunday night!

We can’t get too miffed if Wilbur-come-lately is finding inspiration in our inchoate utterances – after all, information wants to be free. If Radley Balko is having trouble getting his propers, then we’re way down on the list. Plus, they gots more data – and quotes!

Basically, though, the song remains the same – the class of 2013 is pretty unremarkable in the scheme of things. In addition to GPA and SAT non-records, the Wildcat piece also points out that the UA achieved non-records in National Merit scholars and diversity.

The diversity point bears emphasis, considering the official definition of “diversity” from the school:

Numbers from the Fact Book indicate that this freshman class — which has about 7,000 students, according to the UANews press release — is indeed the largest ever. However, freshman diversity, measured as the percentage of the class that identifies as anything other than “White non-Hispanic,” is not record-breaking, contrary to statements in the release.

So all that talk about different viewpoints, ideas, and cultures? Absolute hogwash – actual diversity pales in contrast to statistical diversity, where the money’s at. Race certainly is important. But to even imply that it is the be-all and end-all of “diversity”-increasing measures is more than a bit insulting to those who actually want a diverse campus, rather than one that looks nice on brochures.

The other important detail that the article brought up is the “academic index” that the UA uses:

President Robert Shelton said the UA uses its own academic index to evaluate incoming students, which encompasses a variety of factors including standardized test scores and a high school’s academic standing and difficulty of curriculum.

Because prospective students are not required to take the SAT, he said, these scores can be an inadequate indicator of students’ academic quality.

Shelton added that the UA’s evaluative system is “not foolproof.”

The “academic index” is an idea originally tried out at the Ivy League schools. From the primer at College Confidential:

The Academic Index may seem like a gross oversimplification – reducing a student’s K – 12 academic record to a single number seems almost ludicrous. However, the AI does provide a quick snapshot to harried college admissions staff members. Any Ivy League admissions officer would certainly explain that applicants get a far more in-depth look than the AI might suggest.

. . .

Without going into the detailed mathematics, the Academic Index combines numeric values based on a student’s SAT I and SAT II scores plus his/her class rank or GPA. Since schools report class rankings in different manners (or sometimes not at all), the last measure can be a bit tricky. Nevertheless, standardized computation procedures have been established to allow Ivy League schools to calculate a consistent Academic Index for all applicants.

According to Hernandez, the AI is converted into a numeric ranking at most Ivies. Some use a 1 to 9 scale, others a 1 to 6, etc. Princeton, she says, uses a 1 to 5 scale, with 1 being the best. Dartmouth and University of Pennsylvania use a 1 to 9 scale, where 9 is the best. While acknowledging that many other factors play a role in admissions, Hernandez notes that students with an converted AI ranking of 8 and 9 (i.e., those applicants with the two highest categories of Academic Index) are admitted at much higher rates than lower indices.

It’s not immediately clear how the UA’s own index relates to these sorts of indices – the UA’s numbers come out as triple digit scores. Whatever it may be, though, it’s going down as well (source):

Unfortunately, I don’t yet have access to the 2009 numbers, in spite of being a member of the “UA Community.” I suppose that the index could somehow rise dramatically in spite of decreases in SAT and GPA inputs, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Remember, though, that all of this is irrelevant – as President Shelton said, the SAT and academic index are all “inadequate indicators.” The only rating that does matter comes from the President’s office – and since President Shelton says that this is the smartest, diverse-ist, and most-super-duper class in the history of everything, it obviously must be. QED.

UAPD: probably not working in shifts down at the crime lab to find your missing bike.

Posted in Campus by Evan Lisull on 31 August 2009

LAPD Officer, Big Lebowski

Given our continuing coverage of certain UAPD activities, it was jarring to read the following exchange in  their Campus Watch publication [PDF]:

What is the most common type of crime on campus, and what can I do about it?

The most commonly reported crime on campus is property theft.

Sure enough, when it comes to reported crime, theft far outweighs other crimes (source: 2008 Campus and Security Report):

Reported Crimes

Yet as Connor reported last year, the claim is distinctly not true when it comes to actual arrests, in which case thieves are arrested far less frequently than pot smokers and drunks. Comparing crimes reported (blue) to arrests made (red) reveals a pretty stark trend:

A lot of this has to do with the nature of the crime – drinkers and smokers tend to be rather stationary objects, and tend not to be “on the move” after being reported. Thieves, meanwhile, move further and further away with each passing hour, and if the object is something like an iPod it’s next to impossible to find. (As a sidenote, the 100 percent rate for DUIs is extremely odd – even for each individual year, the number of reports is exactly that of the number of arrests. Either this is really, really good police work, or police are the only ones reporting drunk drivers.)

Nevertheless, when the theft rate on this campus is as high as it is, it seems odd that UAPD would register 89.5 arrests for every 100 calls regarding drug use, and 106 arrests for every 100 calls for liquor violations – literally, more arrests than citizens wanted. (Further, given the high number of calls that result in no action, arrests almost certainly outweigh reports in both categories.)  In economics terms, there is a surplus of liquor/drug arrests, and an extreme scarcity in theft/criminal damage arrests.

Given these numbers, and seeing how Campus Watch is self-described as an aspect of “community policing,” one would think that the UAPD would stop playing cat-and-mouse on the fifth floor of Coronado, and work steadily towards raising its arrests/reports ratio for theft above 8.9%. Yet given recent reports from the police beat, it seems that victimless crime crackdowns are here to stay.

Fan cans gone wild

Posted in Campus, Culture by Evan Lisull on 28 August 2009
I suddenly feel a strange urge to drink from a plastic handle. (Accessed from http://goodbadandugly2.wordpress.com/)

I suddenly feel a strange urge to take a double-shot. (Accessed from http://goodbadandugly2.wordpress.com/)

A once quirky tale of beer cans is now a somewhat big story, and even the luminaries at the Cato Institute have taken the time to fire a broadside at the FTC.

The coverage continues here in Tucson as well. We appreciate the dap from Becky Pallack, who is taking over for Aaron Mackey at the Star‘s “Campus Correspondent” blog. Somehow we missed it in our compilation of UA blogs, but it’s definitely worth adding to the old ‘roll. As a real journalist, she actually went ahead and contacted the local Anheuser-Busch distributor, who said that there would be no fan cans in Tucson for “business reasons.”

The good – well, obvious – news here is that these cans are not at all going to change drinking habits that much. Since almost no one takes to time to study the cans of the cheap beer that they’re drinking, this is definitely a niche market. Armchair market analysis sez that this would sell best in the South, with its strong tailgate tradition and school pride. The somewhat sad news is that this is an implicit statement on the state of UA fandom – UA nation doesn’t demonstrate enough school pride to justify its own themed cans.

Meanwhile, Ben Kalafut describes this site as (I quote out of context), “[an] application of a bit of tequila to the flickering wick.” With his permission, we’ll be adapting this line as a de facto statement of purpose. At any rate, Ben not only likes the idea, but would take it one step further:

They should embrace it and even go one farther: license the “A” logo or the silly Wildcat thing, and charge a per-can royalty.

I’m guessing that the Bud Light drinkers, especially the ones who’d be more inclined to drink it because of the logo, overlap considerably with those who moan–and hop buses to the Capitol en masse to moan–about tuition fee increases (how dare they charge me more for this private good?) even as the State faces extreme shortfalls. I’m fairly certain they’re also the ones who shout “ow!” at random on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, who blast stereos from their cars, who pile five at a time into trucks and harass pedestrians, and who generally lower both the University’s prestige and, more importantly, the quiet enjoyment of the neighborhood by others.

Bud Light licensing, like a surcharge for the most obnoxious students. Fair enough, right?

Ben’s tongue seems to be at least partly in his cheek, but it sounds rather reasonable if the university stipulates that all funds derived from such licensing will go to alcohol prevention programs, alcoholism recovery programs, etc. The basic problem that underlies this entire discussion is the base assumption on the part of university officials that striving for an alcohol-free student body is possible and worth striving for. For a group of academics supposedly committed to “community outreach,” this a surprisingly disappointingly blinkered and uninformed view of history, culture, and human nature.

If instead, university officials accepted the young people enjoy, and will continue to enjoy, the consumption of alcohol, they could advocate policies that might actually have an impact on the well-being of their students. They would advocate for something like the Stony Brook’s medical amnesty program, which provides incentives for providing care to sick underage drinkers, rather than worrying about the legal trouble that they might get in. They would advocate for lowering the drinking age, removing the incentive for underclassmen to binge drink and bringing the current shadow economy of sub-21 drinking to the light (and removing entirely the need for such an amnesty program).

In the spirit of going one further, I’ll ask: why shouldn’t the UA get into the alcohol business, to provide a nice “Eller IPA” to pour into that Arizona stein you got for graduation? For liquor, “Wilbur Water” has a definite ring to it – and perhaps “Wilma Water” would serve as the Malibu equivalent. The Sage & Silver would be the scotch you drink with your uncles. In certain scenarios, students would opt for the UA’s alcohol over other options, providing the university with revenue that would otherwise go to InBev or A-B. Would university officials really argue that it’s better for that money to go outside of the school?

That being said, this will happen at around the same time that “Zona Smokes” (Inhale the Saguaro!) are marketed behind the counter of the U-Mart. But this proposal is no more insane than the current stance of the University, which denies the reality of collegiate drinking in favor of “Just Say No” pabulum that rings falsely in the ears of just about any informed student. Out of sight, out of mind, as they say.

ASUA Meeting, 26 Aug 09: Debtors’ Jailhouse Rock

Posted in Campus, Politics by Evan Lisull on 27 August 2009

1. Summer Update – a Monty Python-esque “I’m not dead yet!” reminder. Just about all the programs that you know and love – ASA, club resources, FCC, etc. – will continue operations. A few bullet-point notes of interest:

-The town hall idea still straggles along, striving for relevancy. The first one will be held September 16, 4-5 PM in the Kiva Room.

-ASUA will now be focusing the charity efforts of all its programs and services towards a single institution, which this year will be the Diamond Children’s Medical Center.

-ZonaZoo will be implementing some version of the point-rewards system that Sen. Nick Macchiarolli proposed last year. The details are still in the works, and won’t be revealed until ZonaZoo’s own press conference, but the impression is that rather than determining access on the basis of other events (i.e. students that attend non-major sports events have preferred access), attendance at these ‘Olympic sports’ will simply be entered in a drawing for a prize.

2. “Revolving Door” in 40 different languages. Jason Ernst, former ASUA senator, was unanimously approved as director of Wildcat World Fair.

3. Budget Blues. Treasurer Clifton Harris’ presentation on the budget was the obvious highlight of the meeting, and all the professional sheen in the world couldn’t cover up the damage. ASUA is highly fortunate to have received a $900,000 5-year interest-free loan – again, something to remember when you’re standing in line at the bookstore. The biggest cuts came out of Special Events (83 percent), followed by the operations budget and the executive operations accounts. It may seem obvious that special events should be dramatically reduced (if not eliminated) in light of last year. But common-sense is rare in government, and should be commended when it surfaces.

It should also be noted that ASUA now receives a full 21 percent of its funding from student fees.

Rainy-Day Wars. Most of the debate, however, revolved around the executive operations accounts. These accounts are discretionary stop-gap funds that can be spent or transferred in the event of an “emergency” or funds shortfall – the most commonly cited examples were three separate $1,000 withdrawals from President Bruce’s account, which were used to pay for buses, pizza, and t-shirts at last year’s DETHFEST. (which belies further the myth that ASA is somehow “independent” of ASUA, even though the ASUA President appoints all representatives of the UA, which are cabinet members, etc.) In effect, these function as mini-rainy-day funds.

Even though the operations budgets were reduced from $9,000 to $7,000 for each of the three executives (the treasurer has a $3,000 operations budget, and the Chief of Staff gets $2,000, but it’s unclear how these compares to years past), Sen. Daniel Wallace openly questioned why these accounts existed in the first place, moving to separate them from the rest of the budget. The measure passed unanimously, and the budget sans executive operations passed unanimously as well.

This led us to the War of the Wallaces. In one corner stood Daniel Wallace, strongly opposed to the current accounts. At the very least, he argued, the itemized budgets of these accounts should be looked over, to get a better sense of what the money is being spent on and how much is actually being spent. He was skeptical of “giving one person total control of $7,000, especially with our budget as tight as it is,” and thought that the discretionary funds needed to be more transparent before granting approval.

In the other corner sat Stephen Wallace, grizzled old lion of the Senate floor, offering a full-throated defense of the technocracy. “We’re not taking into account the experience of the treasurer… I’m a physiology major – I don’t feel comfortable making a decision about this. With our credentials, I don’t believe that anyone can do it better than Treasurer Harris.” This sounds familiar. At the end of the meeting, after casting the lone dissenting vote against tabling the debate until next meeting, William Wallace burst through the glass, face covered in blue, screaming “FREEDOM!” and bearing an axe Stephen Wallace expressed his discontent. “I was disappointed … I love you all to death, but I do not agree with what the decision was.”

Joining him in general opposition to Daniel Wallace’s scrutiny were Sen. Yamaguchi (who thought that overly controlling the funds would be inefficient). Meanwhile, Sen. James Brooks cautiously supported looking over expenditures from previous years.

(A lengthy aside here on the use – or should I say, abuse – of the term “checks and balances,” which was inserted throughout the meeting as though the Senate were playing some wonky version of the meow game. The term ‘checks and balances’ refers to a system of government, rather a measurement of powers within a government. For example, when the President has discretion over his operations budget, that’s not “one checks & balances.” If anything, it would be “one check,” but even that misses the point. In such a system, various powers that be are “checked” and “balanced” against each other – it is a system of antagonism, rather than a list of steps. It’s an easy confusion to make, given the “How a Bill Becomes a Law” catechism that is taught, but the primary point of such a system is cast powers against one another, rather than to provide a bureaucratic how-to list. It’s political philosophy, not process.)

Ersatz fiscal conservatism is no new thing to ASUA (see cards, safety), but this could very well be the real deal.

As for the issue: it’s probably a bit risky to entirely void discretionary accounts, although there’s no indication that anyone wants to do this. The bigger issue – which Sen. Atjian started to hint at – was the weird separation of the funds, dividing them in five different zones. In part, this is because they have different jurisdictions; thus, Presidential funds were used to fund ASA’s vacay, because ASA is part of the President’s cabinet. But based on this provided chart, it seems to represent a more bizarre division amongst ASUA:

ASUA Organizational Chart

In most American style democracies, the President is the chief executive, and the vice president(s) is the second-in-command, directly under the President. But this diagram shows the President and the two vice-presidents all serve at the same level, serving “ASUA” as though it were some sort of juche.  This is more reminiscent of a Roman triumvirate, with each executive doled out its zone of influence. (Yet this kind of exposes the absurdity of the non-elected operations budgets – while they have certain needs, there’s no reason those can’t be allocated directly from the President.)

This could just be a bad diagram, but it could also show how exactly ASUA sees itself. So the Senate should be livid – livid! – when it is depicted as a division of “Club Resources,” under the jurisdiction of the Executive Vice President. Any self-respecting branch of government should assert its own control – its own “check” on executive power, if you will – which brings us back to the operations budgets.

Perhaps all of these funds are needed over the course of the year, but at any given time there is no need for more than $2,000, say (again, itemized budgets of years past – and as AVP Ziccarelli was right to point out, for several years past – would help in this regard). The rest of the funds would then be placed in the Senate’s own operations budget – or, at any rate, its general budget. When any of the executives ran low on funds, they would have to come to the Senate to request the transfer.

The purpose of all this is to restore the Senate with that essentially legislative power of the purse. It’s a power that has somewhat been removed from the body, mostly with the institution of the unelected appropriations board (A sort of bizarre synthesis of pre-17th amendment Senate and the Council of Zion, made weirder by the fact that the elected body partly “checks” the decisions of the unelected body, rather than vice versa). If the Senate wants to be a relevant entity, it could do worse than transfer spending authority from the executive branch to itself.

Random Notes:

-The Sustainability Committee presented today, describing an internship with course credit (see Connor for why this is not the best idea), the plan to reduce ZonaZoo’s carbon footprint, and the implementation of “community gardens” at the dorms.

-ZonaZoo will be hosting a “ZonaZoo Power Hour.” In light of recent posts here, I fail to see how such a program doesn’t encourage binge drinking to a greater degree than any colored “fan cans.” Is it unreasonable to suggest that a student previously unaware of the proper ‘power hour’ would be introduced to the idea at the event? And, the idea having been planted, is it unreasonable to suggest that said student would be intrigued by this idea and try an actual power hour?

Which is not to say that this activity should be banned or renamed – in fact, your author’s only disappointment is that it’s somewhat false advertising. Yet if ‘fan cans’ and other such promotions “encourage underage and binge drinking,” then administrators who want to avoid hypocrisy are obligated to stop this event.

-ASUA has a Twitter, opening up a world of hashtag possibilities. We also have a Twitter, which has been utilized to provide information (with a dash of snark) from the scene.

t’s probably a bit risky to entirely void discretionary accounts

Last Smash Platinum Bash – $1.2 million in the red.

Posted in Campus, Politics by Evan Lisull on 26 August 2009

In contrast to debut meetings in the past, this year’s greenhorn legislators were granted a baptism by fire, thanks to the mess left by last year’s crew. A full report is forthcoming; the skinny, though, is that ASUA is broke. President Nagata opted to push the budget this meeting, far earlier than usual, and to include the budget in the agenda in the name of transparency. The key graph:

ASUA Budget Graf

Those who wondered openly how it could get worse – this is your answer. The rest of the agenda, which includes details about the upcoming budget, can – and should – be accessed here [PDF].

ASUA Senate Preview 2009

Posted in Campus, Politics by Evan Lisull on 26 August 2009

Jellyfish

In 2005, a swarm of giant jellyfish flooded Japanese waters, causing damage to the local fishing industry and baffling scientists. Four years later, students at the University of Arizona are about to be overrun by the new “Jellyfish Congress” (although hopefully it won’t do as much damage as the last one!), when the first meeting of the ASUA Senate takes place at 5 PM in the Ventana Room.

Last year’s Senate may have also earned the invertebrate epithet during their tenure, providing the executive branch with a squishy platform on which to step. But this year’s class has proved its spinelessness even before being called to order for the first time. Never mind that none of them thought that protecting students from future fees was worthwhile (and that one of them reneged on her pledge after reading another candidate’s letter to the editor – marking the only time in the course of human history that a letter to the editor has actually done something). Perhaps the combination of force and circumlocution overwhelmed them, although a reply back requesting clarification would have been nice. What was really astounding was the refusal by ten of the thirteen elected officials to take a basic survey on their policy stances, a simple indicator of where they stood on issues on campus. While President Nagata pledged in today’s letter that, “It is my priority to run an open and sincere organization that represents and cares about your issues,” he refused to answer a survey that solicited such openness on campus issues back in February.

Will there be any post-Bruce resistance to executive overreach? Will we hear a “nay” vote before the middle of September? Probably not, but you should go anyways. To brush up on your elected officials, be sure to read the dispatches from the executive and legislative debates, as well as the official campaign platforms at the Elections homepage.

Plus, a game! It’s not quite Battleshots, but ASUA Bingo will have to get you through until we finish our InBev-friendly version of Robert’s Rules.

ASUA Bingo

Image courtesy of Flickr user Thomas Hawk.

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Is smarterer than dumm sophomorez?

Posted in Campus by Evan Lisull on 26 August 2009

It’s less than 350 words, but try reading President Nagata’s letter to the editor in today’s paper without letting your eyes glaze over. Technical entrepreneurs take note: there is much money to be made in an English-Bureaucratese generator. University overhead could be reduced by up to 30 percent!

At any rate, I come not to mock Caesar, but to question him. Nagata’s second paragraph reads (emphasis added):

I’d like to first start off by expressing my excitement to the incoming freshmen. The nearly 7,000 students encompassing the class of 2013 represent the most diverse and academically successful entry class to date. As freshmen, I challenge you to set high academic standards for yourselves, get involved, be spirited and bleed red and blue.

 Here are the SAT scores of classes stretching back to 2005 (2005-2008; 2009):

Here are ACT scores:

Here are average high school GPAs:

You can hardly blame Nagata, though; after all, as part of the administrative apparatus he’s no doubt been reading the latest dispatches out of that great public media source, UANews, channeling Daft Punk in declaring the ’13s “bigger, smarter, diverse-r.” Or perhaps he was skimming arizona.edu as he composed the missive, stumbling across the item that literally called the class of 2013 the “Biggest and Best Freshman Class Ever.” Like car salesmen, every new thing at the university must be the Biggest, Most Spectacular, Awe-inspiring, impressive, raddest event EVER!

FTC won’t let me drink pee

Posted in Campus, Culture by Evan Lisull on 25 August 2009

The only thing worse than being on the ASUA beat is being on the Bud Light beat, but the fact that the federal government is involved in the Fan Can Affair bears a follow-up post. The story [$], from the Journal:

A Federal Trade Commission attorney criticized a controversial Anheuser-Busch InBev NV marketing campaign that features Bud Light cans decorated with college-team colors, urging the brewer to drop any plans for similar promotions.

Janet Evans, a senior FTC attorney who oversees alcohol advertising, says the federal agency has “grave concern” that the campaign could encourage underage and binge drinking on college campuses. Dozens of schools have protested the promotion, with some threatening legal action over trademark issues.

“This does not appear to be responsible activity,” Ms. Evans said in an interview Monday. “We’re looking at this closely. We’ve talked to the company and expressed our concerns.”

In reverse:

1. Is the state of trade so comfortable at this juncture that the FTC has time to concern itself with the advertising campaigns of beer cans?

2. How much “responsibility” does Anheuser-Busch owe to the federal government? Should all advertising campaigns in the future be cleared in advance by Ms. Evans?

3. Do you mean to suggest that underage and binge drinking at universities could be “encouraged” to any greater degree than they are currently, due in no small part to current standing highway funding regulations?

4. If such ties encourage drinking, does the FTC plan to crack down on the shot glasses, martini glasses, shakers, and other “drug paraphernalia” that is presently marketed by the universities protesting these cans?

5. How can you possibly possess the authority to tell companies what colors they can and cannot use for their products? Do you mean to suggest that other institutions with “colors” can restrict the unauthorized sale of products with similar colors in a certain area? If so, how far does this range extend? Can blue-red cans be sold in Phoenix? Mesa? Oro Valley?

6. Seeing how you represent a division of the central government of the United States of America, what do you plan to do about the alcoholic products that knowingly use patriotic imagery to encourage underage, impressionable Americans to break the law?

Actually looking at the cans helps to illustrate the absurdity of the argument:

Fan Cans

Now, look, I guess a UConn or LSU fan could get inspired by this. Maybe. It really does tie the whole tailgate decor together. Yet it’s rather dubious to draw the conclusion that such a can gives the impression that universities are encouraging drinking. Many Arizona fans wear colored t-shirts that read, “ASU Sucks,” but no one actually draws the conclusion that, “‘ASU sucks’ must be the official position of the university. If it weren’t, why would the message be emblazoned with the school’s colors.”

Yet even if Anheuser-Busch went so far as to slap on a block “A” and a picture of Wilbur shotgunning a beer, would this really encourage students who weren’t previously drinking to try? Are these students, whom university presidents cannot stop prizing as “the future,” rendered automatons by university colors?

According to most schools, yes:

Officials at the University of Wisconsin, University of Michigan, University of Colorado, Oklahoma State University, Texas A&M University, Boston College and New York’s Stony Brook University each said they are protesting the campaign. “It’s sending a message to students that maybe even the college is endorsing drinking,” said Jenny Hwang, an associate dean at Stony Brook.

Gosh, where would Stony Brook students get the idea that the college is actively encouraging drinking? Maybe, even, they are:

Stony Brook University’s Homecoming and Reunion Weekend, also known as “Wolfstock,” is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, October 17–18, and will offer alumni, students, faculty, staff, and the local community an opportunity to reconnect with each other and celebrate an institution on the rise–nationally and internationally. The event is presented in part by the Stony Brook Alumni Association, in cooperation with University Advancement, Student Affairs, Athletics, and the Office of the President.

. . .

Reunion Reception
7:00–9:00 pm
Charles B. Wang Center
Registration Fee: $35.00 per person (adults only). ) Includes dinner buffet, soft drinks, wine and beer, live music, and the University Expo

. . .

Beer Garden (Proper identification required)
For an additional $5 per person (with purchase of a buffet ticket), guests 21 and older are invited to the Beer Garden, generously sponsored by Clare Rose. Taste the newly-released Bud American Ale or try traditional favorites including Boddington’s English Crème Ale, Shock Top Belgian Style Wheat, or Murphy’s Irish Red Ale. (Note: Beer Garden tickets are not sold without the purchase of a Tailgate buffet ticket.)

. . .

University Café
Open 5:00 pm–11:00 pm
(Must be 21 yrs. and older)
Join your friends, fellow alums, and fans for a post-game (sure to be) celebration drink.
Free admission. Cash bar.

Even worse than that, Stony Brook gives amnesty to those dirty, rotten illegal drinkers:

Members of the Associated Student Government said NU has recently undergone efforts to evaluate its alcohol policy, specifically in regards to a medical amnesty program. ASG Student Life Director Matthew Bellassai said alcohol amnesty is an important measure to the NU student body.

“How everybody treated this topic – both ASG presidential candidates had it on their platform – so it’s obviously a big issue students care about,” the Weinberg freshman said.

Though Stony Brook does not have an official alcohol amnesty policy, people who call emergency services don’t get into trouble with the university. Students who receive medical treatment will talk to an adviser, but there will be no impact on their academic career, Hwang said.

Dean Hwang would no doubt protest, but providing this safety net of services implicitly encourages drinking. Is it so hard for a university figure to say, “Drinking is a really enjoyable activity, insofar as you don’t do it to excess”?

Like many “stands,” this amounts to little more than posturing from administrators who want to look “tough on crime,” even as underage drinking continues unabated. This in of itself is not a bad thing – the vast majority of underage drinkers are able to drink responsibility, in spite of the incentives from a federal level that encourage to do otherwise. Props go out to Louisiana State and Texas-Austin, the schools that refused to engage in such grandstanding.

Don’t go green – go Orange.

Posted in Campus, Culture by Evan Lisull on 25 August 2009

CatTran

So, Parking & Transportation loves them some sustainability – goes down real smooth a tall glass of Budweiser. Yet a non-editorial editorial from the Star included this somewhat astonishing tidbit:

The university has 16,767 parking spaces in around [sic] the main campus and an additional 1,515 at the Health Sciences Center. The total comes to nearly one space for every two workers and students.

With this many spots, surely the green PTS would have a policy of maintaining the current number of spots, if not reducing them and turning old lots into People’s Gardens. As ABOR made clear last fall, however, this was not the case:

FLAGSTAFF – The Arizona Board of Regents unanimously approved the 2010-12 capital improvement plans for the state’s universities Friday, including the University of Arizona’s request to spend $30 million on a new parking structure.

While overall spots dropped (the Wildcat link is broken for now), would it have so horrible to use the $30 million elsewhere and – horror beyond horrors! – allow the student/employee per spot ratio rise to three? Or four?

In striving for sustainability, PTS has implemented, among other things, a new Hertz rental program. Judging by their Twitter feed, PTS is really, really excited about it, as they should be – it’s a great option for a good number of students, at a more affordable rate than seemed possible. Yet the program, for all its merits, fails entirely to address the largest group of car-using students – commuters.

The commuter problem is compounded at the UA by several factors. The campus is relatively small and enclosed, resulting in less property that directly abuts campus. Further, the campus is cordoned off by heavy traffic roads, further dividing students. Tucson itself is a sprawling city in comparison to others, and as a result houses are even further away than they might have been elsewhere. And yes, walking or biking in the Tucson heat sucks, dry though it may be.

The CatTran currently only provides two basic services: rides to garages, and rides around campus. Curiously enough, neither of these really cuts down on emissions – the former adds bus emissions to the emissions from the cars that drove to the garages, while the latter provides for routes that are generally walkable (if unpleasant). As a result, the vast majority of CatTran rides are underutilized.

The Orange line stands as a notable exception. Yes, its ultimate destination are parking lots on Ft. Lowell, but along the way the route has several spots along Mountain. These stops often include bus shelters. Unlike its peers, the Orange Line appeals directly to students in the neighborhood who use the bus primarily as a way to get to campus.

The CatTran system is the implement through commuters can find a genuine alternative to driving everyday. Students who feel uneasy about using the SunTran rarely feel the same way about the CatTran. Routes to garages and lots could be rerouted in the style of the Orange Line, passing through and stopping in student neighborhoods.

How to fund such a program? Start by ending the SunTran subsidy, and using the money for the UA’s own transit. Get rid of greenwashing gimmicks like “bio-diesel golf carts.” Reduce the funds allocated to SafeRide, in proportion to the reduction in services required as a result. Rather than simply selling spots by zone, host live auctions for spots, increasing both the optimality of spot allocation and funds received. One could even sell off off the entire PTS piecemeal, using some of the funds for a stand-alone system. In fact, you could really do it up and actually sell CatTran passes to off-campus students – although I freely admit to not knowing what such a pass would even cost. CatTran buses could be chartered – as a tour bus for visiting groups, and as a party bus for Greek and non-Greek life.

The list goes on – ideas, after all, are easy. Unfortunately, PTS’s latest innovation for the shuttle is the Green Line, which essentially encircles the north end of Campus.

Your afternoon hallucination comes courtesy of arizona.edu