Archive for category Indiana Daily Student 1998

Creating new traditions

Last week marked the first time in my life that I did not go home for Thanksgiving dinner.

This was a very different Thanksgiving for me. Instead of a two-hour drive, home is now 1,200 miles and a $325 round-trip plane ticket away. Consequently, I am choosing my trips home more carefully. Like many students, Thanksgiving break did not fit into my budget this year.

The small window of opportunity often limits travel plans for students who live out of state, or even out of the country. I was one of the few students who chose to stick around Bloomington for a celebration that is almost purely American in history and in scope. Left to my own devices in Bloomington, I had to create my own traditions. Many of the changes seemed positive at first glance.

Instead of listening to (and participating in) the traditional annual family arguments, I slept until 9 a.m. Instead of sitting around a large table with my parents, my three siblings and my two nephews eating turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes, I watched movies on television and read books while listening to music. Instead of wondering how soon dinner would be finished so I could escape the chaos, I found myself yearning to stretch the day out and make it even longer. And instead of playing cards after dinner while somewhat tipsy, I found myself at a friend’s apartment drinking wine and having an enjoyable conversation about post-World War II European politics.

But despite this pleasant experience, breaking from my family traditions wasn’t easy. Thanksgiving is my mother’s favorite holiday of the year. She starts preparation for the dinner two weeks in advance. I remember calling her the first week of November, and while I was barely aware November had started, she was already preparing the yams.

I found myself missing her cooking: there is no substitute for Mom’s pumpkin pudding. Even after all of us kids grew up, we fought over who got to lick the bowl she made the pudding in. There is also no substitute for Mom’s stuffing — so popular that she’s forced to prepare several baking pans full in order to have enough. There is never any leftover stuffing to enjoy Friday, no matter how much she makes. I also found myself missing the day after Thanksgiving — a day filled with eating roast turkey sandwiches, going shopping and the traditional post-Thanksgiving Chinese food dinner.

Instead, I found myself in my office trying to figure out why I couldn’t solve a statistics problem. It’s not quite a fair trade-off, no matter how you do the calculation.

There is an up side to being on campus during Thanksgiving break. Not once did I have a problem finding a parking spot. I was also able to drive across town without the tremendous traffic hassle that typifies Bloomington when everybody is still around town. I was able to get some Christmas shopping done during the break. I went out to the west side of town for the first time in two months, visited Lowe’s and found my father’s Christmas present. (I’d tell you what it is, but I don’t want to spoil his surprise.)

As students, part of our education is becoming independent, even at holidays. But it doesn’t have to be a sudden break. This Thanksgiving, I enjoyed creating my own traditions, but I’m not ready to leave behind the traditions of my childhood.

I’m still searching for the presents for my siblings and nephews. I need to ship them home so they’ll be waiting under the tree for another family tradition: opening our presents on Christmas Eve.

I will be there for that tradition.

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New bus plan benefits all

It is rare for a group of students to put forward a proposal that actually has merit. The Universal Transportation Proposal is one of those gems. Everyone — students, faculty and staff — needs to support this proposal.

Here is the basic idea: Every student on campus will pay a fee of up to $35 fee per semester. In return, every student will be entitled to unlimited bus trips around town.

It’s not a new idea. I saw a variation of this proposal at work a few summers back when I took a class at the University of Colorado at Denver. Once I had my student ID, I had a bus pass. I used the bus a lot that summer. Not only did I save myself gas and parking money, I reduced my share of Denver’s infamous brown cloud.

The system was so simple and logical, I thought that a lot of other universities would have already worked with their local communities to expand bus service. Yet IU and the Bloomington community are just now getting around to this pollution stopper of an idea.

The situation in Bloomington seems a bit more bizarre than most other places because two different bus systems operate: the Campus Bus Service and Bloomington Transit. The Campus Bus Service offers students a bus pass when they register — at a cool $120 a semester. Unfortunately, it’s only good for the Campus Bus Service, thus limiting you to unlimited round trips out to the stadium, if you’re looking for entertainment.

Bloomington Transit, on the other hand, has been around since 1973 and is designed to serve the local community. If you only want to ride the BT system, it costs $82 a semester for the bus pass — but it’s good only on BT buses.

A third option does exist for those who want to ride both types of buses without having to think about it– you need to purchase both bus passes for only $202.

The new proposal will change the situation. For only $35 a semester, students will be able to ride both BT buses and campus buses — thus saving everyone, including the strict anti-car environmentalist, a whopping $167 a semester.

Many of you are already saying, “I’m not an environmentalist. People in Oregon have the right to be lumberjacks and to have good paying jobs.” You might be the same person who lives five blocks from campus but drives anyway.

You might also be one of those people who complain relentlessly about the lack of parking. This proposal should please you to no end because yahoos like me will stop hogging the parking spaces when we get out of bed late.

One of the key components to this mandatory fee is that it will help the bus systems purchase more buses, provide more frequent service, as well as service later into the evenings. These new features will mean that I’ll never have an excuse for tardiness. If I get out of bed too late to catch the bus I normally catch, I won’t have to wait an eternity to catch the next bus.

Faculty and staff will also be able to buy into the program. Imagine sitting next to your favorite prof the next time you ride the bus — the individualized attention you’ll receive is worth more than the $35 you paid for the entire semester. Of course, this plan will also help improve the status of our environment in the Bloomington community.

This is a win-win proposal for everybody at the University. It is also a major victory for our community. We need to remember that IU is not an island surrounded by Bloomington. IU is an integral part of the Bloomington community, and it is incumbent upon the University to help make the town better.

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Traffic courtesy lacking

Now I am not quite sure who are the rudest people on campus. Drivers, bicyclists or pedestrians take first prize in that dubious category. It really doesn’t matter, although it would be nice if all three would improve their acts. Fortunately, it is fairly simple.

Take drivers, for instance. Late one night a couple of weeks ago, I was driving home along 10th Street. I was immediately behind somebody on a moped — I think. The only clue I initially had that somebody was ahead of me was a very small red taillight. This person (I know not the gender) was wearing a black jacket on a dark night. The combination hardly eased my ability to see this person, although I noted when he or she passed under a light that no helmet was visible. Stupid on two counts, I guess.

Next on the stupidity list are the bicyclists who hurl their way across campus at high rates of speed on paths both narrow and marked as “Walkway Only.” Take, for instance, the Arboretum. I trek across the Arboretum several times a week dodging the bicyclists who have decided to ignore the walkway-only signs. It’s hard to get a read on their minds, but I get the impression that they’re cursing me for blocking the sidewalk as they detour on to the grass.

As a final entry in the extremely inconsiderate category, pedestrians crossing the street at 10th and Fee Lane take the cake. I cannot count the number of times that I have been waiting to make a left turn from southbound Fee onto eastbound 10th when the following occurs: The light turns green and I edge my way out into the intersection, only to be stopped by hordes of people crossing the street when the red hand is clearly telling those on foot to stay put.

I understand that people are eager to cross the street on their way to class, but by crossing when they choose to cross, all they manage to do is force cars on Fee to sit and idle for yet another light cycle. For all the people on foot at 10th and Fee Lane, do note that drivers are not completely innocent at that intersection. As a pedestrian, I have been annoyed by those in cars that heed not the big black and white signs right in front of them that clearly states, “No turn on red.”

Finally, I want to make one last case for people stuck behind a bus that is stopped to drop off or pick up people: Do not pass the bus unless it is pulled completely off the road. When you do pass a stopped bus, please make sure that at least 90 percent o f your car is to the right of the yellow line. When driving the opposite direction, it has unnerved me to see people passing the bus when there clearly is little space available.

But as a frequent passenger on the bus, I suppose I would prefer you pass the bus on really narrow two-lane stretches of road when traffic is heading the other direction — the resulting accident might be interesting to watch. The increase in your insurance rates and resulting fatalities will be on your head.

Folks, whether you’re driving, riding or walking, there is one really simple way to make everybody’s life easier: Pay attention out there. Signs are there with a purpose. If the sign says, “No turn on red,” it really does mean just that. If the sign says, “Walkway Only,” it really does mean that bicyclists have to find an alternative route. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

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IU not consumer-oriented

IU needs to focus on becoming more consumer-oriented when it comes to services on this campus. As an incoming graduate student, I have had experience at two other universities and, while neither was perfect, both were far better at providing parking, athletic tickets and student ID cards than IU has been.

Last summer I visited Bloomington twice to find an apartment and to become oriented to the IU experience. While visiting the campus, my greatest challenge was not actually parking, but getting the visitor parking permit. Once I got to parking services, I had to tell them my name and my license plate number, as well as which building I was planning to visit. In exchange for all the information I gave the folks in the office, I had to pay $3 for a visitor parking permit that was good for only one day.

One would think that IU would be interested in welcoming visitors to campus and to make a positive impression to those visitors. The current method of giving out visitor parking permits surely fails this test.

Another place where IU fails to be consumer-oriented, both to visitors and to students alike, is the athletic ticket office. When one of my friends and I decided that we wanted to see one of the upcoming football games, I called the ticket office. One minor hitch — if I wanted to buy student tickets, I had to go to the athletic ticket office. So I went to Assembly Hall and parked my car, only to discover that I had parked on the wrong side of the building.

After walking around the building I entered the north doors looking for the ticket office. The sign indicated that I needed to go to the elevators, but did not say what floor I needed to visit. It turns out the athletic ticket office is located in the basement of Assembly Hall. The elevator doors didn’t open for me when it finally creaked to the basement — I had to press the “Open Door” button.

To top it off, the athletic ticket office held an inquisition that made parking services look like a bunch of amateurs. In order to get two football tickets, I had to supply my name, address, phone number and social security number. I guess it was not enough for me to show my friend’s and my student ID cards.

Why does IU make its students go find some office in the basement of Assembly Hall, when they could sell student tickets in the Indiana Memorial Union? Wouldn’t that make a tremendous amount of sense? Perhaps a one-stop ticket office for all sorts of tickets could be put in the Union, thus making at least that aspect more consumer-friendly for both students and visitors alike.

I could rant and rave about the registration procedures, the worst I have encountered at the three universities I’ve attended, but I will not. Instead I want to say something about the inconvenience of the placement of the registration office vis-a-vis the campus ID office.

As a new graduate student, I got to register in Franklin Hall the Thursday before classes began. My next priority was to obtain my student ID at Ashton Center.

It makes absolutely no sense to put these two offices a mile and a half apart. Well, maybe they’re not quite a mile and a half apart, but it sure is one heck of a long walk on one of those hot and humid days that seem to characterize August in Bloomington.

Please, couldn’t IU at least put these two office in relatively close proximity? Now that would be consumer-friendly.

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