Posts Tagged University of Wyoming

Communities grieve in tragedy’s wake

It’s been over a year since I arrived at IU. To say the least, it has been an interesting year: every place I’ve ever lived in has been dragged through the media muck and is now stained a slightly different color.

This week marks the one-year anniversary of the days when Matthew Shepard, an openly gay student at the University of Wyoming, was beaten and left for dead just outside Laramie. Suddenly, and without any warning, a community I grew to love and appreciate over my six-year stay was splashed across the front page of the New York Times and the Indiana Daily Student, to name a few newspapers, when the story broke.

Having been a resident of Laramie, I read the media’s accounts of the town with a great deal of interest, even at times pausing to wonder if the reporters had visited the same town and state that I know and love so much.

They talked about this town, calling it homophobic, racist, and drunk, casting the image in such pall that I found it difficult to imagine that they were talking about the same one I lived in. It is one with a great university that has a great legacy, a warm homecoming parade Saturday morning, and a strong sense of community.

The attention on my adopted home hurt: I love Laramie and I love Wyoming. Ultimately I would love to return to the Cowboy state, a state whose residents, like those of Indiana, have a strong sense of being, who they are and the historical legacy of their state.

The second blow to my personal geography came last spring, when Denver was dragged through the muck: Columbine High School and the two gunmen. Suddenly while flipping past CNN I thought I recognized the two people sitting behind the anchor desk and on the air: people I had watched on the news while growing up. It was CNN rebroadcasting KCNC, the CBS station out of Denver.

This time, though, the media did not blame the city; instead they tried to search for an explanation. It did not matter in the end: Denver still came off looking like a “cow town,” a backward place that encouraged gun-slinging, much like the Old West.

In one sense, Colorado is very much unlike either Wyoming or Indiana. The residents have absolutely no sense of place, being or history. Nobody in Colorado cares because they all just moved in from somewhere else; usually California.

The last blow came on July 4 when Won-Joon Yoon was killed by Benjamin Smith in Bloomington. Ironically, it took me far longer to learn about this news story than to learn about the other two. It was not until I was on my way home from Bloomington’s parade that I had to detour around the three satellite news trucks that surrounded the Korean United Methodist Church on Third Street, along with the yellow police crime-scene ribbon that I had only seen on television before.

Since I actually live here right now, it is more difficult for me to know how Bloomington came across in the national media. From what I can tell, though, it has not hurt Bloomington’s national image significantly. Perhaps this was because Smith’s crime wave was exactly that: a crime wave. It ran across two states, killed two people and hurt a number of others. The real news in this case, as it turned out, was the murder of Ricky Byrdsong, Northwestern University’s former basketball coach, in Skokie, Ill.

Bloomington was left to grieve for Yoon.

The images that the media chooses to push upon the public can lead to powerful effects in the imagination and memories of the viewers and readers. Whether in Laramie, Denver or Bloomington, reporters who fly into town for 48 hours to write a story often miss the essence of the situation. The facts may be right, but the picture is left incomplete. At best it leaves an image that is only slightly distorted, at worst the foundation of the community is damaged, forcing an already hurt community to dig deeper to fix its emotional scars.

The soul searching starts at home, and Laramie is about to be dragged through the muck again as jury selection starts for Aaron McKinney, the second of the men accused of murdering Shepard, this week. When you read the news stories over the next month, pause to remember that the citizens of Laramie were not responsible: McKinney and his friend Russell Henderson are the culprits.

The citizens of Laramie, like the citizens of Denver and Bloomington, are not to blame for their community’s notoriety; they are, however, working on the healing of their community.

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Lessons learned at IU

This is my last column of this school year and the last column of my first year in Bloomington. The opportunities for this final column are endless, yet I’ve chosen to write about what I’ve learned in my first year at IU in Bloomington.

After coming to this conclusion, one of my wise-cracking friends suggested that I convince the editors of the IDS to run 15 inches of empty space. What’s really pathetic is that I actually considered this idea for awhile.

What I really have learned is that Indiana University, although three-and a-half times larger than the University of Wyoming, is not really all that different.

Freshmen attending IU are just like freshmen attending UW: scared, unsure and learning to explore the world. Virtually every freshman goes through culture shock of one kind or another as they make their transition from their hometown high school to the University.

Universities cannot coddle freshmen too much, but both IU and UW excel at providing resources for freshmen living on their own for the first time. There is a fine line, though, between providing enough assistance and too much assistance. Too much assistance and it will be as if the freshmen never left the loving arms of their parents.

I’ve also been forced to learn that senseless death can happen anywhere in America: Whether IU’s Joseph Bisanz from an alcohol-related incident, or UW’s Matthew Shepard, beaten because he was gay. Neither one deserved to die nor should have died, but between the two, IU was forced to examine its drinking policies and UW was forced to examine the environment in which it exists.

It is also clear that when it comes to the quality of undergraduate education, there is less difference between IU and UW than one might suspect at first glance. I earned my bachelor’s degree in political science from UW in 1996. There I knew my professors personally, and they took as much time and effort to work with me as a freshman as they did when I was a senior, ensuring that I was learning.

The emphasis on the quality of teaching that I witnessed at UW is here at IU as well. Recently I listened to a professor talk about how one of his undergraduate courses was going, how a new approach to an old subject wasn’t quite working as well as he had hoped and that he would have to make some changes the next time he taught the course.

Another place where there is less difference between IU and UW than one might suspect is in the quality of the students. I believe that in the end, the quality of a student’s education is not necessarily determined by the quality of the academic institution, but is instead determined by the quality and character of the student.

You can be an incredibly smart person, but if you don’t have the character and drive to succeed, you’ll fail, whether you attend IU, UW or Harvard. If, on the other hand, you’re smart and you have the character and drive to succeed, you will become a success, even if you start by attending a community college.

In closing, I want to talk about the one lesson that I’ve learned from Luke Recker. Recker was a sophomore in high school when he made his decision to play for coach Bobby Knight and to attend IU. The lesson Recker taught me was that no 15-year-old kid should ever commit to attend any given university. You’re just too young to know what you really want. Recker did the right thing by deciding to move on before it was too late to switch.

I, on the other hand, am pretty sure that I’ve made the right choice. My experiences here at IU have been positive and worthwhile. I can assure you that I will be back in the fall for round two on my way to earning my doctorate. I also plan on writing for the IDS again.

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First come, first serve at ASUW trough

By Adam Lederer
BI Columnist

Our student government is spending our money at an amazing rate this year with what appears to be little student input.

According to my calculations, ASUW has committed, or already spent, $929,400 of our money. Most of it appears to have come from the recently discovered Student Loan Fund that had more than $2 million.

Our decision-making process for spending the money appears to be a “first come, first serve” method of thinking — and only one of these ideas actually appears to have been any good.

I certainly appreciate ASUW funding the purchase of the new UNIX server for campus. It was much needed and will be, over time, much appreciated.

However, I do question the naming of the server. Was it absolutely necessary for ASUW to name it ASUWlink?

Before Plains came to campus, students used computers named Outlaw and Posse. Other major computers on campus have embraced the western theme.

ASUWlink breaks that tradition and glorifies an organization that does not need any more glorification.

At a cost of $253,000, I’ll overlook the egotistical nature of ASUW and say thanks.

However, when it comes to the $626,400 ASUW is committed for renovations to Half Acre, I’m a little bit more leery.

I’ve read a lot about the proposed renovations, but I have never seen justification for the tremendous changes that are proposed.

The proposal calls for moving the entrance of Half Acre so that it faces Prexy’s Pasture — expand the women’s locker room, add a rifle range, and move some other facilities around the place.

Realistically, I understand expanding the women’s locker room — it probably needs it. Women deserve equivalent facilities. I’d also support moving other facilities around until the improved women’s locker room fits in.

However, I don’t get why we need to move the entrance.

I don’t get why students are being asked to fund a rifle range that will be used primarily by the ROTC. Can’t ROTC fund its own facilities?

I don’t understand why we need to move stuff around. Is it necessary to move free weights to the first floor and the nautilus weight room to the second floor?

We’re also going to purchase televisions at the cost of $4,000. With cable, of course, so it’s OK.

Near as I can tell, about the only real reason being given for the renovations is because Half Acre hasn’t been renovated since 1979. I guess we haven’t been maintaining the facility.

The good news is that students are not the only ones shouldering the cost of these nifty renovations. Unexpended employee benefits totaling $175,000 will also be used. The administration is also looking for an additional $25,000 to fund its commitment of $200,000.

Of course, the money really does come from the student’s pocket, but it’s more palatable when it comes from tuition, taxes and donations.

ASUW is also spending $50,000 to fund a project yet to be determined.

I’m willing to guess that the senate is going to fund the first project that comes along. That’s what they appear to have been doing all along.

Senate should realize that the first proposed projects are not necessarily the best projects to fund.

Adam Lederer is a graduate student in political science minoring in environment and natural resources. He earned his bachelor’s from UW in 1996.

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New radio deal good for UW

By Adam Lederer
BI Columnist

Intercollegiate athletics are driven by money. No doubt about it, UW athletics director Lee Moon has been extremely aggressive in repositioning Cowboy athletics within Wyoming in order to increase revenues.

Take for example the new radio contract Moon has set up.

In the recent past the radio contract was held by Casper’s KTWO radio. The same contract also gave control of television broadcasts to the radio network.

Starting next year, the contract, without provisions for television, will be held by Cheyenne’s KFBC-AM. However, the station will not have the same power that KTWO radio had.

Moon has shifted control of the “major decisions” to the university.

In other words, the university will select the radio announcers, not the radio station. UW will also sell network advertising and produce the broadcasts.

Currently the network has 25 affiliates and Director of Sports Information Kevin McKinney does not expect to lose any with the transition next year.

McKinney told me that radio broadcasts of Cowboy athletics makes money, unlike television broadcasts.

Consequently, the television contract has been separated from the radio contract and will be going up for bid this spring.

McKinney said television broadcasts cost at least $12,000 to produce, and lose several thousand dollars each time.

However, the picture does not look bright for getting much on the air. Wyoming has only two in-state television bidders: Casper’s KTWO and the combination of Cheyenne’s and Casper’s CBS affiliates, KGWN and KGWC.

Neither potential bidder has the capability to produce the television broadcasts in-house and would be forced to hire an outside “truck” capable of putting together the broadcasts.

There is one other possible bidder: FOX Sports Rocky Mountain, the cable television network.

FOX Sports would be an ideal bidder, McKinney admitted. They have the necessary equipment to produce the broadcasts on their own and would be able to do everything while leaving only a check in Wyoming’s hands.

Any way you slice it, television broadcasts are going to be a trick for Moon to perfect. If he goes with the Wyoming television stations, UW will have to help the stations with equipment rental. But if he goes with FOX Sports, he’ll have to deal with the fact that FOX Sports does not reach nearly as many homes in the state.

In any case, Moon does have a winner with the new coaches’ shows on KTWO this year.

Produced in-house with an extremely low budget, the shows are breaking even.

The Larry Shyatt Show is at 10:30 p.m. Sundays and follows the Dana Dimel Show format.

I have to give kudos to athletics — the show is extremely well done.

–part edited out here–

Adam Lederer is a graduate student in political science minoring in environment and natural resources. He earned his bachelor’s from UW in 1996.

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A Collection of UW Problems

Note: I don’t have a publication date for this column, but from the context it’s in late October or early November 1997, Published in the UW Branding Iron.

By Adam Lederer
BI Columnist

Like every semester, there are many stupid things about UW that could use some improvement.

Perhaps the one that stands out the most in my mind in my mind is the sound system in the Arena-Auditorium (for the uninitiated, the basketball arena).

I’ve been in the A-A twice this semester and both times I have been unable to understand a word uttered by those speaking.

The first occasion was for President Philip Dubois’ installation ceremony held Oct. 4 prior to the Montana football game.

The ceremony was not memorable since I could only hear a few phrases here and there throughout the speech.

Even worse was Gov. Jim Geringer’s welcoming talk. From my seat, Geringer’s talk sounded like a subway car coming into a station, but lasted 10 times as long.

I also suffered through another poor sound experience in the A-A during Midnight Madness Oct. 17.

It was fascinating watching the ‘Pokes take the floor for their first practice. Whether it was the excitement of watching sophomore guard Andy Young or Wyoming hometown hero Gregg Sawyer, it was fun.

But, again, I couldn’t hear more than a few words at a time over the sound system. The only thing I could hear clearly was Denny Dent’s awesome painting performance.

Perhaps it had something to do with the fact they brought in a separate sound system for him.

We need an upgrade for the A-A’s sound system – preferably before the basketball season gets started Nov. 16.

Another really stupid thing about campus is the new and nearly impossible to use top web page.

In this wired world, the home page for any university is an important front door for many prospective students and other visitors.

The folks in charge of the page need to think about ease of use, not try to incorporate every neat new technological twist that is developed for the web.

Frames are one of those neat technological twists that some twisted person developed for the web. It also is one of the big problems with the new top web page.

In the right hand frame, there’s a collection of blocks that link to different parts of the university.

Too bad they don’t always link to what you expect. The image of a UW wrestler links to a collection of “UW Sports Action Shots,” not to Athletics, as I first guessed.

To add insult to injury, the collection of pictures doesn’t even have a link to the athletics department.

That’s not the only example of poor web page design.

If you actually want to connect to athletics (or research, a key component of the university), you have to go to the left hand frame and search down a long list of what appear to be randomly sorted links.

That’s almost enough to turn any cybervisitor away from the university.

Maybe it has.

Adam Lederer is a graduate student in political science minoring in environment and natural resources. He earned his bachelor’s from UW in 1996.

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Grading UW’s athletic staff

By Adam Lederer
BI Columnist

I have to admit, when it comes to intercollegiate athletics, I’m not even close to being the world’s biggest expert.

But I have to speak my mind about the current state of athletics here at UW.

While I could spend time telling you who I thought should have been named director of intercollegiate athletics, it would be pointless. Lee Moon is our Athletic Director and we have to deal with reality.

After 14 months, it’s not too late for a preliminary evaluation of Moon’s accomplishments both on and off the field.

Moon has done an incredible job at a time of tremendous change at UW both in athletics and the rest of campus. I’ll give him an A-.

Moon has been incredibly aggressive both on and off the field.

On the field, Moon took the football team to the first Eddie Robinson Football Classic against Ohio State, a game that proved to be a big pay off both in terms of finances and respect.

Off the field Moon brought Bull Riders Only to campus — helping to create excitement around the football team.

About his only misstep came in tangoing with the fraternities here on campus — he, and the administration, caved and moved homecoming to Nov. 1 against San Diego State instead of having homecoming in September.

I’m not sure what point the frats were trying to make, but the risk of a cold and snowy homecoming is a lot higher in November than in September. By caving, Moon and Co. have risked alienating a group of people important to athletics — the alumni.

But it’s also time to evaluate some of the coaches Moon has hired.

After a shaky start, football coach Dana Dimel has shown tremendous personal growth both on and off the field.

Dimel, for being a first-year coach who initially showed a bit of temper, has managed to pull together a team garnering national respect. I can honestly say that I’m proud of my football team and its showing against Ohio State University, as well as our other foes.

About my only objection comes from his interviews on television and radio. I watched the Dana Dimel show on K2 Television Sunday evening and got nothing out of it.

His comments basically fall into two different categories. The first category suggests that “we have to win home games because we spend half of the time at home.” His second category of quotes can be summarized: “Road games are important because we play seven of them.”

Maybe he’s already media savvy. If so, I feel sorry for my colleagues on the sports pages.

Overall grade: B+

Moon’s selection of Larry Shyatt to be head basketball coach was a great choice. Shyatt managed to get a respectable class of recruits with extremely short notice, demonstrating why Moon has such high confidence in the man.

Shyatt was a wee bit nervous stepping into the Bull Riders Only ring with a loose bull. Who can blame him?

He has been working wonders on other fronts, Shyatt and Co. have already made plans for Midnight Madness this fall after the Colorado State football game Oct. 18.

Last year, Midnight Madness never happened.

Shyatt earns an A for his early efforts.

Adam Lederer is a graduate student in political science minoring in environment and natural resources. He earned his bachelor’s from UW in 1996.

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Libraries Share and Share Alike

By Adam Lederer
BI Columnist

Like many people, I watched the flooding down in Ft. Collins with horror.

Cars floated down the street and a trailer home complex was totally obliterated. A total of five lives were lost in the murky waters that covered the city.

At the same time, water was doing a number on nearly 480,000 books located in the basement of Colorado State University’s library.

There are many lessons for UW to learn from the flooding. There are also questions students should be asking.

The most obvious question concerns our own libraries: Are we prepared to cope with any unexpected natural disaster?

The answer surprised me, yes.

Bruce Hooper, director of risk management, has said federal documents located in the basement of Coe Library are replaceable.

However, Hooper overlooked the existence of the microfiche, microfilms, and student theses and dissertations. Those include a priceless collection of Wyoming newspapers that I’ve used in much of my research.

I’d also like to see Hooper replace “Wildlife Review February 1938-October 1939,” one of those “replaceable” federal documents.

However, the picture is not complete until you consult with Library Director Keith Cottam. UW’s libraries have Wyoming’s library disaster recovery coordinator on staff, Cottam assured me.

The library has three underground facilities including: the basement of Coe Library, the Science Library, and storage space for the Geology Library.

Additionally, the library has dealt with floods in the recent past.

On July 28, 1994, the Science Library suffered from a flash flood on campus.

Water poured through the roof of the library on the east end, which damaged 1,270 books. Quick action by library staff and friends minimized the damage from inbound water.

The water got into the library roof, the plaza like area between the Biological and Physical Sciences buildings, while it was being reconstructed.

There were two other minor floods in the UW libraries that same year.

It is clear, however, that the libraries are well positioned and equipped to handle any floods, or other disasters, which threaten our stacks.

What is sad, however, is that some people on campus are opposed to UW libraries granting the same borrowing privileges to CSU faculty and students that UW faculty and students enjoy here.

Those opposed to sharing information must not understand the mission of universities or have never needed material that’s not located in our libraries.

I have spent many hours in CSU’s library and I can tell you the flood will hurt my research efforts. It stored much of the information I needed in its basement.

I can also tell you I’ve checked out books from its library and carry one of its library cards around with me.

More importantly, if I’ve ever needed a book that either UW or CSU does not have, I’ve relied on interlibrary loan to get me the books.

Libraries and universities are about sharing knowledge. UW’s libraries are doing the right thing by sharing our books. I am sure CSU would do the same if the situation was reversed.

Adam Lederer is a graduate student in political science minoring in environment and natural resources. He earned his bachelor’s from UW in 1996.

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The fence must go

By Adam Lederer
BI Columnist

Business College Dean Bruce Forster decided to make everybody’s life more difficult this summer.

He had “The Fence” installed at 15th and Ivinson.

Purportedly the fence was installed because of the threat posed to human life by cars and pedestrians mixing in the business parking lot.

I’m not kidding.

One has to wonder how he feels about people crossing the street or parking at Wal-Mart as students get back to town.

In an issue of the Summer BI, Forster cited different situations that had recently occurred, including:

Children too small to be seen in rearview mirrors crossing through the parking lot;

Students blocking moving cars; and

Bicycles suddenly “swooping” behind cars backing up.

Perhaps Jaque Buchanan, a Biz College executive staff assistant had the scariest incident — nearly backing into somebody in a wheelchair.

But are these incidents justification for blocking students and other pedestrians from crossing through the parking lot?


These incidents happen in every parking lot and around Prexy’s Pasture.

How many times have you seen somebody, or even you, back up without looking?

It certainly happens to me most times that I go for a walk.

The problem here is not the pedestrians, but the idiot drivers who do not look.

Forster killed the messenger instead of fixing the problem.

He pleads that the shortcut saved students only 20 to 30 feet a trip.

He left out that it saves each pedestrian, student or otherwise, 20 to 30 feet a trip.

When you consider the 2,200 students who are expected to live in the dorms this fall the numbers become staggering.

The vast majority of the students cross the intersection and through the Biz lot at least twice a day — for good measure 2,000.

That’s 4,000 trips a day, at about 25 feet a trip, or 110,875 feet total. That’s 36,958 yards, or, for those of us imagination challenged, 21 miles.

Assuming you can walk four miles-an-hour and maintain that pace, that’s five and a quarter hours of time Forster is causing students to waste.

Remember that most people who live in the dorms make multiple trips across the parking lot everyday, so the numbers are actually a lot higher.

But the parking lot in question only has 85 parking spaces.

If we’re lucky, each one of the 85 cars that parks in the lot daily carries two people for a total of 190 people who get to park a few feet closer to their ultimate destination.

Isn’t funny that Biz Dean Forster is one of those lucky few?

Forster needs to remember that the students who make up the majority of the pedestrians crossing the parking lot are also the people who drive this university.

If either pedestrians or cars must be eliminated, I think the cars should go. However, I think there’s plenty of room for both.

“The Fence” should go.

Adam Lederer is a graduate student in political science minoring in environment and natural resources. He earned his bachelor’s from UW in 1996.


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