The Arizona Desert Lamp

Elon College: a student government that cares about its students?!

Posted in Campus, Crime, Politics, Uncategorized by Evan Lisull on 28 October 2009
Elon's actual mascot until 1999.

Elon's actual mascot until 1999.

It’s been six days since we urged President Nagata to consider the REAL initiative; so far, we have yet to receive even a cursory response. No matter – how can we responsible expect him to be concerned with silly things like the drinking age when there are concerts to organize? (Perhaps he’s working feverishly on that concert survey, which was supposed to go out last week.) (Also, obliglatory LOLZ at “probes for student support” in the header.)

Over at Elon College, reporter Rebecca Smith interviewed a student government president, Justin Peterson who somehow found time in his busy schedule to sign the petition. His quote, with emphasis added:

The thing that made me make up my mind was realizing (my) role is not to represent the administration, but my role is to represent the students. I feel this is what the students want…I think that alcohol and how to promote smart behavior and a safe environment should always be discussed. Elon is doing a lot in order to encourage smart behavior on campus.”

This attitude presents the perfect foil to the philosophy of ASUA and ASA, who readily will cite their ability to capitulate and accede to all the demands of deal with the administration as one of their chief roles. They are not lying when they say that Arizona students have a greater voice among administrative functions; but they ignore that this influence rarely represents actual student interests and priorities, but rather the interests and priorities of the student governing class – Potemkin students.

As a result, Arizona students get a student regent, but he turns out to be their worst enemy. UA students have control over their student section (quite the anomaly), but their money is used to perpetuate ZonaZoo bureaucracy. Students are rewarded for their ASUA Bookstore loyalty by watching the money go to performing artists in a completely opaque deal, and watch as their fee money is used to fund the disciplinary program they will be forced to attend after they’re caught committing the unconscionable crime of consuming beer at the tender age of twenty.

This is not to say that ASUA should slavishly adhere to the vagaries of the masses (although liquidating the organization’s funds into a week-long kegger might not be the worst thing). Yet it would be nice if they remembered, now and then, that drug and alcohol laws have greater effects – both direct and incidental – than any program that ASUA has ever conjured.

Presidents Nagata and Talenfeld – sign the initiative, already!

Presidents Nagata and Talenfeld: Get REAL

Posted in Campus, Culture, Politics by Evan Lisull on 22 October 2009
Perhaps Sen. Weingartner's bottle initiative could pay for a few of these?

Perhaps Sen. Weingartner's bottle initiative could pay for a few of these?

Apparently, it’s National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week. Yet even if the need for “awareness” is somewhat dubious, the Choose Responsibility folks have used the opportunity to launch a new initiative, Get REAL, aimed at student governments around the country:

In conjunction with National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week 2009, Choose Responsibility has launched Get REAL, an initiative for student body presidents at college and university campuses nationwide that encourages responsibility, education, and leadership on alcohol issues.

Student body leaders possess the skills and real-world experience necessary to ensure that the debate about binge drinking, the legal drinking age, and campus alcohol policies is allowed to continue unimpeded on their campuses. Over the course of the coming months, Get REAL signatories will work together to foster productive discussions about alcohol that emphasize peer-to-peer accountability and explore all possible alternatives that will make their campuses safer.

In effect, this is an Amethyst Initiative for the student set. The program was just formally launched yesterday, but already has 23 signatories, including the student body presidents from major schools like Florida State, West Virginia, and Oregon State. Although this is often interpreted as some full-throated ‘Repeal!’ battle cry, the aims of the initiative are far more modest (again, like Amethyst):

By signing the statement, what am I committing to do?

When you sign on to Get REAL, you are pledging to engage your fellow students, campus administrators, and public officials in a frank conversation about all of the intended and unintended consequences of Legal Age 21. Additionally, as student body leaders, Get REAL signatories commit themselves to helping students at their schools have a meaningful impact on the direction of campus alcohol policies, and, most importantly, to making responsible decisions about alcohol use.

President Shelton choose craven defense of bad policy and worse remedies; it will probably take a few more alcohol-fueled deaths before he is forced to consider the matter seriously. Hopefully, our own President Nagata is a little wiser, and a little less busy, and will be able to focus on this issue which (to use the parlance of the establishment) affects so many of his constituents.

We hate email campaigns as much as anyone, but if you have a minute or two we’d really appreciate it if you sent an email to President Nagata, urging him to add his name to the list. Heck, we even wrote the email for you! (Just be sure to replace the email and signature with your own name.)

From: yourname@email.arizona.edu

To: asuapres@email.arizona.edu

Subject: Please Sign the Get REAL Initiative

President Nagata,

As a student at the University of Arizona, I am very concerned about binge drinking and the impact that the current drinking age has had on campus and across the country. According to a Choose Responsibility press release, “Recent statistics from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reveal that the problem of toxic drinking is getting worse on campuses across the nation: rates of binge drinking and unintentional alcohol-related deaths among the 18-24 college population increased between 1998 and 2005. Another recent study from researchers at the University of Minnesota identified 18 heavy-drinking schools and tracked survey results of alcohol-related problems on those campuses in 1993 and 2005, with little or no improvement over that 12-year period.” According to a 2007 report by Peggy Glider, heavy drinking was more predominant among those under the age of 21 than among those of legal drinking age. Such statistics do not account for the costs of imposing such an age, which requires police to devote resources to underage drinking that might otherwise be used to combat the perception – and reality- that much of the UA campus is unsafe.

Choose Responsibility has launched a new initiative directed at student body presidents, which aims to put them at the forefront of this national conversation. Signing the statement means that you pledge to do the following:

You call on your fellow students….

  • To make responsible decisions about alcohol.
  • To make sure friends who have consumed too much receive medical attention.
  • To never mix alcohol use and driving.

You call on your campus administrators…

  • To create an on-campus environment that ensures the safety of all students.
  • To provide alcohol education and prevention programs that acknowledge the reality of alcohol use and give students the tools they need to make responsible decisions about alcohol and prevent alcohol-related emergencies.
  • To engage in dialogue about the legal drinking age and its impact on campus life.

You call on your elected officials…

  • To recognize the intended and unintended consequences of Legal Age 21.
  • To acknowledge that 18-20 year-olds are adults in all respects but one—they may vote, serve in the armed forces, marry, adopt children, and sign contracts, but are not able to choose whether or not they would like to drink.
  • To consider alternatives to Legal Age 21 that will create a safer environment on college campuses, and better prepare young adults to make responsible decisions about alcohol use.

This initiative has already been signed by student body presidents at major public universities like your own, including West Virginia and Florida State. As the preeminent student leader on campus, I sincerely hope that you will use this position to take a stand on this very important issue. Please sign the Get REAL initiative, and show the students at the University of Arizona that you are genuinely concerned about their well-being as it relates to this important issue.

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME HERE

UPDATE: Title changed to reflect the fact that there’s no reason that the GPSC president shouldn’t be involved as well. Although the overwhelming majority of President Talenfeld’s constituency is over twenty-one years of age, the effects of the current regime ripple through the entire community. His email address is davidt1@email.arizona.edu.

GPSC debates walkout – a guest report

Posted in Politics, UA Transformation Plan by Evan Lisull on 17 September 2009

Brian Mori is a journalism student here at the University of Arizona. A fortuitous meeting after yesterday’s GPSC meeting led to the publication of this straight journalism – y’know, with coherent paragraphs and normal allusions, instead of lolwuts. Enjoy.

The University of Arizona Graduate and Professional Student Council decided a Dear John to administration was a better response than Defcon 1, after rumors surfaced of more pending cuts to graduate teaching assistant positions and benefits.

The council agreed Wednesday at their meeting in the James E. Rogers GPSC Logocollege of Law, to postpone all other scheduled agenda items so the Executive Board could draft and send a letter to UA President Robert Shelton requesting an immediate discussion on the topic.

“The Nuclear Option,” as representatives and execs called a potential graduate student walkout, was proposed in an anonymous email flyer distributed among public graduate level list-servs Wednesday.

The anonymous PDF flyer invited graduate teaching assistants to blow off instructing undergraduate classes Friday and join in a demonstration in front of Old Main. A second campus-wide protest was proposed for September 24th.

Though none on the GPSC could identify where the email originated, they believe it echoed the spirit of similar protests underway at the University of California system.

Though the GPSC has no official ability to organize a strike without unionizing, representatives from College of Humanities Lucy Blaney and November Papaleo from Social and Behavioral Sciences insisted the council take a stance on health benefits, class load requirements, and a student bill of rights.

“The second meeting of the year should have a clear agenda set of what our priorities are. I’m concerned we’re going to slip through the cracks,” said Blaney. “The (English Graduate Union) is constantly on the verge of strike, from what I can tell.”

“I’m not going to lose my health insurance because they want to save four or five hundred dollars a month,” said Papaleo. “There are funds out there that are actually being pillaged from our colleges. I feel like we’re dealing with pirates at this point … What happens now is going to affect me in two years when I’m defending my dissertation.”

Not everyone was in agreement about sending the letter. Interdisciplinary studies representative M’Balia Thomas abstained from voting on the issue.

“I think we need to go to them with suggestions, not the threat of walking out, not with just, you know, here’s a little bit of information about what we do and how we impact the students, but something concrete they can go with,” M’Bailia said.

“When I’ve had meetings with the President (Shelton), for example, he listens, he nods, he agrees. But . . . he’s not accountable to us,” Talenfeld said.

The GPSC chose to enter executive session following the general meeting so that they could discuss the format of the letter outside the presence of the media.

Talenfeld confirmed by phone that a letter was sent to Shelton during executive session communicating that the graduate students want immediate assurances in three areas:

-No reduction to health benefits

-Maintain deferment rates for students who teach undergrad courses

-The University will seriously re-consider the Graduate Student Bill of Rights.

Talenfeld said he would release the letter to all media for review sometime Thursday.

“I just want to be clear that I don’t desire a strike or walk out or anything of that nature. I think it would be detrimental to the mission of the University,” GPSC President David Talenfeld said in a phone interview following the session.

Talenfeld said he would not speculate on what action the GPSC will take if the requests are denied but said during the general session he will encourage the administration to take the graduate students seriously, that he could not stop them from walking out if that’s what they decide to do.