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!

Incentives that matter

Posted in Sports by Evan Lisull on 5 September 2009

ZonaZooThe football season kicks off in just a few hours, and with it begins the new ‘points system‘, the latest attempt to draw students towards sporting events that aren’t football or basketball games. This may or may not have been inspired by former Sen. Macchiarolli, who offered the plan during his campaign and alluded to it occasionally during his tenure. However, his plan emphasized that fans earning the right amount of points would be granted priority seating; this plan grants them entry into a raffle for somewhat lackluster prizes:

August 23 – September 30
Special Edition Zona Zoo Shirt

October 1 – October 31
UA Polo

November 1 – December 18
UA Hooded Sweatshirt

January 13 – February 28
Bookstore Gift Card

March 1 – March 31
UA Baseball Hat

April 1 – April 30
UA Basketball Jersey

Such prizes are nice, but not exactly inspiring. Further, according to the email the raffle is only open to the top 10 point-getting fans for each period, which increases the odds of winning but sets up pretty high barriers of entry. In all likelihood, the same ten kids will enter the raffle each time, with only minor variations.

Yet ZonaZoo could bifurcate its current student sections, cordoning off an ‘elite’ section of the best seats – our crack marketing squad can no doubt come up with a winning name. This section would be watched over by members of the ZonaZoo crew to insure that no crashers broke through the lines. Rather than offering the allure of a t-shirt, Zona Zoo members would have the following offer: if you earn X number of points, you get to sit in these seats. You can afford to show up a half hour before the game, rather than five hours or whatever ungodly amount of time it takes to get in the first five rows on the fifty.

There is a risk that these seats will be over or underbooked, depending on how successful this program is (see: clunkers, Cash for). But at the same time, it’s not like Zona Zoo will be caught off-guard – they’re the ones administering the program. Before gameday, they can look at the numbers and see who made the cut, and perhaps even send email alerts out informing them. Based on these numbers, the Zona Crew can expand or contract the roped off section.

You could still keep the set number system – top 45 fans, or something. Yet it seems that such a system is most beneficially when it encourages the greatest number of students to attend the greatest number of events. So why go to that volleyball game if ten people are already doing that, a cross country meet, and Bear Down Fridays? By providing the point guarantee, attendance at non-football/basketball events becomes a positive-sum game, rather than a zero-sum game for those top ten spots.

Image courtesy of Flickr user uacheesehead

The boundless optimism of ZonaZoo

Posted in Random by Evan Lisull on 21 February 2009

Apropos nothing, here’s a chart from the ZonaZoo’s Wikipedia page:

Football Winning Percentage

I don’t know about you, but I cannot wait for our 1.15 winning percentage in 2014.

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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.