The Arizona Desert Lamp

Mob Rule and ZonaZoo

Posted in Campus by Evan Lisull on 27 October 2008

The Wildcat rightly highlights the madness that was last Saturday’s ZonaZoo in today’s paper:

The ZonaZoo rush may need another look by stadium officials to ensure safety as fans enter. It was a firsthand look for many students as to what can happen in such a high-intensity environment when a large number of people fail to comply with rules.

Wait, they publish opinions on the first page nowadays? The article contains a first-hand anecdote, but I prefer the write-up from The Jealous Athlete:

I tried my best to attend the 7 o’clock game, and I can safely say this: the U of A’s student body was, in a word, terrifying. A late start time for a football game allows for excessive drinking in preparation for kickoff, and this partially explains why, in a remarkable feat of humanity, a wrought-iron fence protecting mass entrance into the stadium was literally toppled by those unlucky ones, myself included, who were turned away (due to a sold out student section). This victory was an illusion, however, because we were then subjected to removal by mad-eyed bouncers cops, who had no qualms about literally throwing us in whichever direction they deemed appropriate. I emerged from battle without having gained entrance to the game (my lucky roommates, who I lost amidst the crowds, somehow made it in successfully), shoes covered with vomit, and slight bruises on my left temple and right forearm. Others were less lucky, however – I witnessed at least three unfortunate souls trip and fall during the mass stampede, only to be trampled by the wildebeasts communication majors behind them

I personally saw fences torn down, metal grates scaled in a fashion that would impress Spiderman (after all, he always did his work sober). My CatCard was never scanned, and I never saw any security until I was safely inside the section. Others reported Taser use.

Contra the opinion-article in the Wildcat and the first-hand anecdote, I don’t think that the students are entirely to blame for the collapse of order. Students have always gotten drunk and wild before football games, and Homecoming is most popular game — this should have been anticipated by the local authorities and the ZonaZoo. Check-in points should have been shifted further into the street to minimize crowding within the stadium. Extra check-off points could have been added to control the flow of the crowd. Authorities in hundreds of different college towns have dealt with crowds of even greater sizes than the ZonaZoo’s — rather than blaming the students (who, let’s be frank, aren’t exactly about to change their behavior after 750 years), the various authorities involved should learn from this year’s fiasco to prepare for next year’s Homecoming.

Also, let this serve as a lesson to those considering purchasing a ZonaZoo next year: admission is not guaranteed.

Thanks to the CollegeOTR for the picture.

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“3 swords, 3 helmets, 2 shoes. Will all of these be in the Tornado?” — ASUA Meeting 7

Posted in Campus, Politics by Evan Lisull on 9 October 2008

So of course, the main story from yesterday’s ASUA meeting was the painfully vapid dispute over expenses for ASUA’s Homecoming float, produced by the Freshman Class Council. And while the issue in of itself is “full of sound and fury/signifying nothing,” it helps to illustrate some basic principles of how ASUA actually operates.

First, though, a brief summary of the issue. Traditionally, the FCC has traditionally been assigned the role of designing the ASUA float for the homecoming parade, which  manages to teach the essential skills of leadership and exterior design. The FCC presents the budget for the float before the ASUA Senate, who then decide how much to ultimately allocate. This year, the FCC requested $1200 for the float, and “only” received $850. Here’s what we learned:

1. The Ruling Class: There is no better display of the incestuousness of ASUA than the freshman class council. Six out of the ten sitting Senators are FCC alumni. VPs Anderson and Patel were both members as well. President Tommy Bruce waxed nostalgic about his FCC presentation, so many years ago. The Elections Commissioner who composed last year’s draconian Election Code, Amy Adamcin, is the current FCC director.

Folks, the revolving door doesn’t simply apply to the government in Washington; it also happens right here in Tucson. This is why the motto of “YOUR student government” rings so falsely; it is in fact the government of a striving pseudo-ruling class, colluding for the  purpose of padding resumes and allocating funds, many of which go right back to these selfsame individuals.

2. Porkies! In his seminal anti-ASUA piece, Connor Mendenhall noted that, “Many students interested in future political careers are involved in ASUA. Unfortunately, our student government sends them a terrible message: government is about creating programs and allocating other people’s money.” And while ASUA cements these principals, you can see it in foetus  as the FCC prepares to dole out YOUR student money for a pair of fog machines, and allocates $275 of your student dollars for T-shirts. . . for the FCC itself.

There were some paeans given to fiscal responsibility, and it should be noted that the Senate did force the funding. But there were also some very bad ideas that need to be highlighted. Primary among these was the defense of a $1,000 spending cap, offered by Sen. MacKenzie: “Whatever is not spent, will be given back. . . . Don’t be afraid to give them more money.” This argument has actually been used verbatim by earmark kings and queens in the Beltway, who claim that, “That amount is the money authorized, not the money spent.” This naturally begs the question — where does the other money go? Contra MacKenzie, I don’t this money will “just come back”, and certain expenses will “arise” (another point brought up by the Senate), such as brand name clothing or paint. Furthermore, suppose the FCC goes hog-wild with the rest of the funds. What then? “Shame on you?” It’s a little late at that point.

(The title is in reference to the sickly-sweet nickname for FCC members. Your author humbly offers this nickname as an alternative.)

3. Journalism 101. I’ve tried to avoid discussing issues involving the Wildcat, for reasons both personal and aesthetic. However, the paper’s article on the ASUA meeting offers a nice example of how not to write objectively:

After more disagreement, Sen. Emily Fritze entered the conversation as the voice of reason.

4. Abolish the FCC? I know anarchism is almost becoming clichè (that’s an odd phrase to write), but not only is it more feasible than a complete ASUA shutdown, it will probably result in a lot more instantaneous good. This is the training ground for the kind of ASUA members we’ve had; this is why UA doesn’t see a whole lot of variety in ASUA representation. Eliminating the FCC, in my humble opinion, would lead to a far greater variety of Senate and executive candidates — because no one would get a bump from being on the ASUA fast-track, the nominees would come from all sorts of different places; more importantly, the winners would as well.

It’s also worth considering the ostensible reason for the FCC’s existence: to represent the freshman class. But wait — ASUA represents the entire student body. Why isn’t there, say, a Sophomore Class Council? One may argue that freshman aren’t able to walk onto the University as Senate members, and thus are denied representation. Yet if being condescended to by overly nostalgic higher-ups (VP Anderson’s fawning was particularly grating) and designing floats counts as “representation”, perhaps it’s time for an (freshman) class uprising.

-The Notehall resolution passed, declaring that: “RESOLVED: ASUA supports NoteHall.” This is, in short, a statement of sentiment, kind of like the absurd resolutions Congress will pass from time to time condemning so and so or praising the Heroic Six-Pack of the week. This clearly wasn’t the subsidy that I feared, but I still question the motive behind it. But hey, it’s their business, and I wish them the best of luck, even with the anchor of the ASUA logo tied around their neck.

–News Flash: Apparently the “B” in LGBTQA stands for “bi-affectionate”, not bisexual. If you want pointers on how to turn a legitimate social movement into a parody of itself, this is a good place to start.

– UA Votes is still waiting on numbers, but it sounds like it’ll be around 4,000. The “Education Phase” is coming up next, so this blog will be on the lookout for that.