Archive for category Indiana Daily Student 2001
I wrote the following speech for a high level IU administrator to deliver at the 2001 commencement. Then I decided to share it with you readers instead.
Congratulations on reaching this milestone. Four or five (or in some cases six or more) years ago, you arrived in Bloomington to attend Indiana’s university, IU. For some reason you chose the remote Bloomington campus instead of our new main campus in Indianapolis.
We’re not sure how you lost the directions, because we have been making all major announcements from our media headquarters at the IUPUI campus an hour north of here, including some major announcements concerning our athletics programs in Bloomington. Of course, our general rule is that sad firings are announced in Indy, happy hiring announcements made in Bloomington.
Be that as it may, we are pleased you have completed your degree program and are moving on from Bloomington. This mass exodus will help free up apartments and dorm rooms for this fall’s incoming class, which probably will be the largest class in IU history.
There will not be enough dorm rooms or on-campus apartments for those who wish to live on campus, so we will arbitrarily reject all graduate students who apply to live on campus, in particular those who are moving here from Japan. They will be encouraged to live on the streets for the first several months until they find accommodations.
Enough of this focusing on the future. It is time to reflect upon the past and think about all the things that have happened in your time here. For example, did you realize that no large open space at IU has gone without construction while you were here? It took awhile, but we finally managed to dig into Woodlawn Field during spring break — so this summer it will be as muddy as Dunn Meadow. Amazingly, the Arboretum recovered from its sprinkler installation fairly quickly, although if you look closely you can see where some of the pipes were buried.
We’ve also managed to hang on to some of our other traditions — every April, like clockwork, we turn on the heating system and turn off the air conditioner, while in November we turn on the air conditioner and turn off the heat. With regularity like this, you will never need Milk of Magnesia, just lots of sweaters in the winter to help keep your fingers from turning blue.
You should also remember IU’s greatest tradition: parking operations. IU has managed to assemble the finest staff in the state, collecting $1.7 million a year from people who have parked illegally. This compares to the entire city of Indianapolis, which collects only $3 million a year from a population base 10 times larger. We can be proud of the efforts of these fine men and women, some of whom park illegally for lengthy periods of time in a valiant effort to ticket the rest of us. But for some reason, they never seem to get parking tickets.
Now a comment about our student body government: A corner appears to have been turned! We have now had a few clean IUSA elections in a row. Unethical behavior by student leader candidates is at an all-time low. We are striving to eliminate all unethical behavior in the future, but until we can manage to change the rules governing the fee review committee, the IUSA president will still chair the committee that decides what fees students are charged, including, conveniently, the fee that IUSA charges.
Which brings me to a closing thought; this would not be a commencement address if I did not ask you to remember IU as you continue through life. We ask that you keep your mailing address on file with the IU Alumni Association and with the IU Foundation, as they will mail you special announcements about alumni and foundation events. Examples of such events include golf events at $85 per person and special fundraising campaigns to help boost the Bloomington Academic Endowment Campaign over its $350 million goal. We ask that you make your checks payable to the “Indiana University Foundation,” and mail them often, or remember to donate frequently online. Remember, every cent counts.
Thank you for your attention and congratulations on your graduation. We know that your time here was well spent.
Every so often I do things that remind me of why I believe in certain things. These little explorations into my soul usually happen when I least expect them. My latest soul searching came after I accidentally stumbled upon the anti-liberal Web site LiberalWatch.org.
It was a disturbing experience. After clicking past the splash page, I was taken to a list of the top 10 liberal degenerate Web sites. My gut reaction was to laugh out loud: the list consists of the North American Man Boy Love Association, Hatewatch, Inc., Anti-Racist Action, CruisingForSex.com, the National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood, the Anti-Defamation League, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Southern Poverty Law Center and (last, but not least) MTV.
Five of these organizations are centered around civil rights issues: NOW, Planned Parenthood, ADL, NAACP and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Which leaves five to be digested. The first of these is NAMBLA, an organization with which I do not really agree. I couldn’t read up on the latest NAMBLA happenings because its Web site was down, but in general, I oppose lowering the age of consent much below where it rests in Indiana.
Hatewatch Inc. and Anti-Racist Action Web sites gave me no clue about their happenings. Hatewatch’s site wasn’t responding, and the Anti-Racist Action site was last updated in 1999. I haven’t heard of either organization and so reserve judgment.
The next listed Web site is Cruising for Sex, a site where gay men who like anonymous sex can get tips on the best places to cruise. Consider it the Internet version of picking somebody up at a bar.
It’s an interesting list: The LiberalWatch site combines five serious organizations that are doing their best to improve the quality of life for all Americans and four organizations that are not active on the liberal civil rights front. This makes all the organizations look bad.
MTV is included, according to the site, because it “works its will 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, promoting its liberal filth into the minds of young kids all over the western world.”
I was disturbed on two fronts: one, that conservative groups seem to think NAMBLA represents mainstream liberal thought. That would be akin to me thinking that the Westboro Baptist Church (most famous for its antigay protests) accurately represents mainstream conservative thought. Neither organization represents mainstream thought, so for serious people to believe these are the key representations does nothing to enhance dialogue.
The other issue I found disturbing was the sudden and overwhelming presence of racist and homophobic attitudes. In the LiberalWatch diatribe against the Southern Poverty Law Center, the site notes that the organization smears anyone who “opposes racial preferences, dislikes homosexuality” and that the ex-wife of the organization’s founder “cited in divorce documents at least one homosexual encounter, and numerous mistresses.”
The diatribe against NOW is also disturbing in its anti-civil rights stance and homophobic nature, claiming that NOW’s mission is “to secure a woman’s ‘right to choose’ whether her children should be aborted at any stage of pregnancy and to promote lesbianism.”
I also visited one of the Web sites Liberal Watch recommended for news: the New Nation. The top stories were about crimes committed by Hispanic males. Another story is about “Mexican Migrant Invaders,” and another about “Berkeley black pack hate crime attacks on white youths.” The blatant use of racial descriptors is an obvious attempt to inflame hate based on race, as opposed to trying to figure out what caused the crime.
Which brings me full circle to reminding me why I am a liberal: I believe all people are created equal and should have equality of opportunity. I believe racism and homophobia stand in the way of a better, more tolerant society. I believe America benefits from the diversity its citizens represent.
The value of having a conversation involving people of all backgrounds brought together is a synergist release. The sum of the knowledge generated by having these interactions is what has propelled the U.S. to being the lead innovator in the world.
Most of the time, I chose not to believe that the conservative viewpoint does not embrace racial diversity. Whenever I encounter people who proclaim their conservativeness out of one side of their mouth, and then say something inherently racist, homophobic or otherwise bigoted, I have to stop and remind myself that they are — I hope — in the minority.
For those of you addicted to front-page news stories and television, I just wanted to give you a brief update about some Bloomington area news that might have been overlooked: Mike Davis was hired as the men’s basketball coach.
Yeah, that news has been swept under the covers of the latest scoop about Bob Knight — he has been hired by Texas Tech University, a once highly regarded school.
Based on the news coverage around here, it’s hard to tell we’re in Indiana. At least two of the three major network stations out of Indianapolis bothered to send a reporter 1,000 miles to provide live reports back to those of us here in Indiana telling us about the hiring of Knight at the home of the Red Raiders.
Such obsessive behavior even extended to the Sunday Hoosier Times (the Sunday publication of the Bloomington Herald-Times), in which an exclusive Knight interview from Lubbock, Texas, by Lynn Houser appeared. One can only surmise that this Bloomington-based newspaper will soon be stationing a sports reporter in Lubbock so it can remain the leading source for all Knight news.
Knight has shown a clear and unmistakable pattern of behavior over the years — one that really isn’t worthy of front-page coverage in any newspaper. He’s a jerk, we all know it, and if we did not know it before, it was certainly confirmed in the March issue of Playboy magazine.
The situation is a bit unbelievable: Knight thrives on headlines, and I am sure that he is extremely happy that his hiring in Lubbock has managed to overshadow the hiring of his former assistant here in Bloomington.
So toward this end, I have a special message for the professional journalists around this area: Give it up!
Let’s wipe Knight off the front pages and relegate him to the inside pages of our sports sections — if there at all. For people who truly are obsessed with Knight, they are more than welcome to spend time on the Internet visiting ESPN.com, Sports Illustrated and Texas Tech-related Web sites to learn the latest Knight news.
Meanwhile, there are a few Bloomington news and sports stories worthy of television coverage in Indianapolis. Davis is one, but so is the woman sitting in the tree on the west side of Bloomington who is protesting development.
Or how about contestant No. 3 on the America’s Messiest College Apartments Contest, a senior named “Matt,” who from the pictures seems to like Pizza Express but doesn’t know what a trash can is. (And if you vote for him, he might win $10,000.)
The local newspaper could also show us more detailed photographs of this guy’s apartment (in all fairness, 6News did the story, and it sent chills down my spine when Matt showed us the cheesecake spouting green things). The local newspaper could also redeploy its Knight correspondent in Lubbock to Bloomington and have more coverage of lesser-known IU sports teams, such as women’s crew, women’s water polo or any of the club sports on campus. There is no point in wasting good money sending reporters to Lubbock to cover a man who no longer coaches in this state.
I doubt the local media will pay any attention to my pleas. I suspect I will have to jump over pages of Red Raider coverage over the next year before I can learn about the Hoosiers. It’s sad; the current IU basketball players deserve better.
There has always been a subtle and quiet divide on the campuses of American universities between undergraduate and graduate students. Most of the time this divide is ignored and swept under the rug by all those involved in the discussion.
Undergraduates sweep this under the rug because they don’t understand what graduate students and graduate school are about. Graduate students ignore the issue because most of them do not feel that undergraduate students have much effect on their lives. Neither one of these approaches is correct.
What needs to occur is a breaking down of this undergraduate-graduate student barrier and the building of understanding. This is a difficult task: Every year there are new undergraduate students who spend the first two or three semesters of college figuring out how to navigate the campus, both in physical terms (where is the library?) and finesse terms (how do I register for classes and get the good professor?).
At the same time, there are graduate students who are so serious about studying that they refuse to take part in campus life — objecting whenever a loud party is within earshot.
I propose a two-part solution to this problem: focusing both on undergraduates and on graduate students. As a part of campus orientation, undergraduates should be given a bigger picture of what higher education is about and how it works: the administrative structure of campus and the relationship between schools and between different higher education institutions.
Incoming graduate students should receive a similar lecture and review of the higher education system — one that focuses on the role of undergraduates at the institution.
The goal of this program would be to help prevent the misunderstandings that can sometimes occur on campus as a result of ignorance and lack of caring. Take for instance the recent example of the forum held to discuss the accidental release of names and Social Security numbers by the bursar’s office.
This primarily affected graduate students, and a sprinkling of undergraduates. John Mersch, moderator of the Graduate Student Organization, led the forum, which brought University administrators together to talk to more than 300 affected students.
Mersch said the IU Student Association offered no assistance during the organization of the forum. While I will not say that the proposed courses on University structure would have driven IUSA to organize or assist in sponsoring the forum, an IUSA leadership educated about the role of graduate students on a college campus might have taken a stronger interest in an issue that was seemingly for graduate students only.
Naturally, this can work in reverse. So many graduate students are absorbed in their own studies they often forget there is a physical and social campus surrounding them. These graduate students need to take some time and understand there are issues affecting undergraduates that they might be able to assist in resolving.
This can be as simple as participating in undergraduate student organizations and events, or as complicated as helping undergraduates fight inane enforcement of alcohol policies.
The strength of attending IU as an undergraduate is the wealth of opportunities it offers. The Bloomington campus offers more artistic activities, athletic events and class choices than a smaller liberal arts college. For graduate students, the reasons for picking IU are the same: artistic activities, athletic events and class choices. This is one thing we all have in common. A little time to understand our roles in campus life will go a long way to making this a better and more understanding campus.
Universities draw their strength from the combination of undergraduates and graduate students working together with the faculty and staff. We can have institutions of higher education where there is no campus community, but the learning that goes on at those institutions is more sterile and less involving. There are places for other types of institutions, but if we’ve chosen to attend this University, we should all be involved in the campus community.
Radio is a major part of many people’s lives, and I’ve come to realize that for many people, radio helps pass the day. Radio doesn’t help my day pass, but it does help me get the day started and has an effect on the kind of day I have.
For the first two years I lived in Bloomington, I listened to Rich Anton in the mornings on WTTS-FM, 92.3. I grew attached to this disembodied voice: he woke me weekday mornings with music, a tidbit of news and the weather forecast — including details about Bloomington.
Ultimately, what astounded me about Anton is how attached I grew to the voice. I’ve never met the man, and he was only involved in my life for two years; yet when he took the occasional morning off, my days were noticeably worse. The different voice on the dial was jarring — and the new voices didn’t necessarily do the same things in the same order.
I knew I was not going to do well when Anton announced last summer he was leaving the radio station. It was, for the first few weeks, as bad as I feared. I used to set my alarm so the first thing I heard was the news and weather, followed by music that would jar me out of bed and into the shower. After Anton left, it was anybody’s guess what voice would come across the radio waves and what time those voices would announce information.
That was until Jill Savage arrived. Savage was stability, but unfortunately the wrong kind of stability. Her voice was there every morning, at roughly the same time, providing information. But around that time I started to notice changes — subtle changes it took me a while to notice.
A radio station that used to serve both Bloomington and Indianapolis is no more, for WTTS now appears intent upon serving only Indianapolis. Although the studios are still located in Bloomington, there’s no more Bloomington weather and fewer Bloomington commercials. When they do appear, they sound out of place.
I’ll admit Savage is probably not to blame for these changes, but one thing is sure. It is no longer my radio station; it is merely a radio station, a spot on the dial that I now flip past. I can no longer listen to WTTS in the morning. I had to find a new radio station to call my own.
In Bloomington, this is no easy feat. Those of us not addicted to country music have a few sparse choices: B97, public radio and the Firehouse. I’ve had a few experiences with B97, and I listen to it every once in a while — such as when the Hoosiers are playing and I can’t be home to watch. National Public Radio has excellent national and local news, but it plays more classical music than should be allowed.
That left me with the Firehouse — WFHB — community radio. Community radio in Bloomington is truly special. The voices might not be consistent from day to day, and the music might not be consistent from hour to hour, but it is genuine and real. The people are local, doing radio for fun, and it shows through in their work and dedication. And they are local; this distinction is important to me, as I like to support local businesses and my community.
Although my old radio station still broadcasts from Bloomington, it might as well be in Indy for all the local news that gets attention. On B97, I know some of the voices are local, but much of it is satellite radio with some disembodied voice sitting in a room 2,000 miles away.
I miss Rich Anton. But for now, I have made a new selection from the radio menu, and I hope Bloomington’s community radio becomes an involved part of my life. The station volunteers will know they have been successful when I call with my pledge of support the next time they hold a fundraiser.
See an extended
Get that camera out of my face,
prepared for Student Discourse
There are times to trust our government and times not to trust our government. To be honest, I’m upset with the number of photos being taken by our government and used for investigative purposes. I’m so upset I have decided to do my best to look suspicious to anyone watching me.
To that end, yesterday I purchased 10-inch Grip-Rite spiral shank nails at Lowe’s hardware store. I used my credit card and did it within full sight of the video cameras that track every purchase and every purchaser. Should the FBI need to determine who’s been buying the nails, they have me on record.
In future weekends, homework permitting, I might start hanging out in the state forests, allowing forest rangers to photograph my license plate, documenting that my car was seen in the forest — a car owned by the same person who once, on a shopping trip to Lowe’s, bought 10-inch Grip-Rite spiral shank nails.
It seems our state and national governments have taken to watching purchases at Lowe’s and tracking license plates to determine who might have been out spiking trees in the Morgan-Monroe State Forest. The circumstantial evidence these efforts have turned up has been good enough to arrest Frank Ambrose, a local environmental activist. If convicted, he could end up with three years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Out of immense curiosity, I went to the Monroe County Justice Center and sat in on Ambrose’s arraignment hearing Friday. There was no discussion of the evidence at this juncture, so all I saw was a nervous 26-year-old man sitting behind the defendant’s table. He was there because of a security camera at Lowe’s, a photograph of his car near a timber sale and investigators with active imaginations.
I have never spiked a tree, nor do I have any immediate or long-term plans to do so. I have no idea whether Ambrose actually spiked the trees — but I doubt it. Members of the Earth Liberation Front don’t leave their cars parked near the sites of ecoterrorist attacks. If they did, the ELF attack at the Vail Resorts in Colorado would have been solved long ago.
What upsets me about this case is the invasion of privacy. Cameras are everywhere, and it is not possible to buy things without being recorded. I think too much information is being collected about people and it is not always being used in ethical ways.
It’s like when you register with an e-mail list for information you are interested in, and then your e-mail address gets sold. You start receiving e-mails inviting you to view “teenage sex stars,” or worse. You can at least ignore the spam with effective filters, but when people start taking photographs and using them against you, the photographs do not exist in a context — it is only a still image of a moment in time, devoid of meaning. Were you buying the package of condoms for yourself or for somebody too nervous to buy them? Were you visiting College Books because you wanted to buy some pornographic videos or because you got a flat tire a block away and wanted to use their telephone?
Still images only record the fact that you bought condoms and that you were in College Books, not your reason for being there. Some might argue you should be willing to explain why you were in a particular place if you have nothing to hide.
I disagree: The presumption should be innocence, and I shouldn’t have to explain to anybody why I have 10-inch Grip-Rite spiral shank nails. I bought them, and why I bought them is none of your business.
Starting this week, we will be assaulted by candidates in the IU Student Association elections, which will be held later this spring. As a veteran observer of people running for office in student governments (this is my ninth year of collegiate experience), I am willing to bet that, like the last eight student government elections, people are going to run on unimportant issues, nonissues and issues about which they could not make a difference if they really wanted to.
So instead of settling for somebody who pledges to lower tuition (something IUSA will never really change, but the state legislature might), or a group that promises to increase IU’s national ranking, think about issues student government can have an effect on and vote for the people who want to make a positive difference in our daily lives as students.
With that in mind, the key issue for any IUSA administration will be the infamous bus plan. I am a strong supporter of the bus plan, but from what was promised to what was implemented, it has been badly fumbled. The next leader of IUSA must be committed to getting the bus plan we were promised at a reasonable price. This isn’t rocket science. Whether you walk, ride, drive, take a bicycle or levitate across campus, the bus plan will benefit everyone once properly implemented.
But the rest of the details are important: rather than pledging to decrease tuition, IUSA needs to focus on real problems and offer solutions that are within grasp. So here are some simple ideas for tickets to work on:
Why do we pay $19 if we register for classes by phone? Does it really cost the Registrar more than if we trek to Franklin Hall and register in person? I’d bet it costs the Registrar less to have us register by phone, so why are we paying $19 to do this? IUSA should work on eliminating this silly fee.
The litter problem around campus needs to be addressed. More garbage cans along popular pathways and more frequent pickups of cans that overflow would be a start. Or how about working on getting the sand cleaned up after the snow has melted? During the winter, there is more than enough sand on the sidewalks around campus to fill the sandboxes of every kid in the county.
It would be nice if IUSA took the time to convince the campus physical plant to mow and water lawns at times other than lunch time. People like to sit outside and enjoy the expansive green spaces on campus, and there is no reason they should acquire a wet bottom when they sit down, or be pushed away by lawn mowers.
Another issue, and you might laugh at this one, but we do need more pencil sharpeners around campus.
We need an activist IUSA that reaches out to faculty and staff to encourage amicable relationships among everybody on campus.
IUSA needs to push for a safer campus: better lighting and snow shoveling along key pathways.
Better food options in the main library’s cafeteria and reasonable heating and air conditioning of classrooms across campus: It’s hard to learn if you’re sweating or freezing.
The election rules this year, as in previous years, seem a bit insane, so candidates probably cannot avoid violating them. Right now it is a bit early for an endorsement, because the scandals that can (and will) come about, have yet to materialize.
Some of the ideas discussed by the parties that have already declared their candidacy seem good. Of course, there are still several weeks before the election. More parties will probably appear and existing parties can (and probably will) put their feet in their mouths.
AUSTIN, Texas — This city of nearly half a million straddles the Colorado River in Central Texas and is home to two distinctly different presidential flavors: Democratic and Republican. I realized this as I stepped out of The Hideout, a coffeehouse located just off Austin’s Sixth Street (akin to Kirkwood Avenue in Bloomington), and waited for two motorcades to pass by.
That was my first Presidential Encounter in Austin last week: I got to watch President-elect George W. Bush speed down the street, complete with a motorcycle escort and a bonus traffic jam for unsuspecting motorists. I was merely an inconvenienced pedestrian trying to go shopping. I couldn’t attempt to keep walking for another 10 minutes while I waited for Vice President-elect Dick Cheney’s motorcade to depart the Driskill Hotel. Bush was waving out the window; Cheney appeared to be using a cell phone.
My second Presidential Encounter of the week was by choice: I visited the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum at the University of Texas at Austin. I also visited the Johnson Settlement located 50 miles west of Austin in the Hill Country, to see where our 36th president grew up.
I was swept away by both: taking a break in the Hill Country, I sat down and looked at the landscape that surrounded me. It was by no means a lush environment, but it was a hearty environment, one that develops character in people — Rugged American Individualism at its best — and an understanding that government serves a purpose in the life of people.
At the LBJ museum, one gains an appreciation for the former president and his momentous works. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act, the Clean Air Act and Head Start are examples of LBJ’s impressive legacy.
Although Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves, it was LBJ who gave their great-great grandchildren the freedom to participate in our democracy.
Without a doubt, LBJ was a president who desired to do good for his country. He drew upon his experience growing up in poverty to become a more compassionate and decent man whose chief domestic policy goals were to eliminate poverty and raise the standard of living for all. A war he inherited — one that right wing anti-Communists wanted escalated and one that the left wing wanted finished — hampered him. It could be said Vietnam ended up costing LBJ his job.
But the basic facts remain: LBJ was a decent man. He wanted to do the right thing for the people of the United States, something that appears to stand in stark contrast to the aspirations of the latest president-elect to come from the state of Texas.
Bush was born rich, stayed rich and only as an adult realized he was interested in politics. He wants to give the rich a tax break under the assumption that since they pay the most they deserve the biggest break — there’s nothing like a regressive tax scheme that punishes the poor for being poor. Two of the most important components of life in America face reversal under Bush’s administration: civil rights and environmental protection.
First, with former Missouri Sen. John Ashcroft as attorney general, protection of key civil rights, such as the right to an abortion, will fall by the wayside. I also suspect a full investigation into the voting rights abuses that occurred in Florida will never take place — something LBJ was active in trying to prevent.
Second, with Bush announcing he is interested in drilling for oil in the Alaskan wilderness, we have a threatened environment. Regulatory powers will be shifted to the states and the ensuing race to the bottom will be sickening
Bush’s agenda, if he can successfully carry it out, appears to be in direct opposition to the LBJ legacy.
I’m not sure, but I imagine that the people of Austin will be glad to be rid of Bush, just to get him out of their town. It’s unfortunate that we have been saddled with him instead.