Archive for category Indiana Daily Student 1999

A discourse on cellular etiquette

It’s time that we have a discussion about cellular phones and proper usage of said devices. There are many people using them and most of them have no idea how to use them politely.

I was recently at a small café that had a sum total of nine tables, in an intimate setting, eating breakfast. It was an enjoyable affair, except for the fact that somebody at one of the other tables was busy chatting away with a friend on a cell phone at the top of his lungs. The whole experience was a disaster. What could have been an enjoyable experience in a pleasant morning setting was wrecked.

There are other times that I see cell phone users acting in a reckless manner: while driving. It was a sobering experience a few years back when my car was hit by a drunk driver: while at the body shop, the elderly gentleman who been in the business for 30 or 40 years said when he started out in the business he used to walk around the shop and point at cars saying “drunk driver, drunk driver.” Today he walks around the same shop, pointing at cars and saying “cell phone, cell phone.” His casual observation in the body shop was backed up by a New England Journal of Medicine study in 1997 that found people using cell phones were four times more likely to be involved in an accident than people not using their phones.

As such I would like to make two proposals: First, that a group be formed to combat accidents caused by cellular phones. Modeled after MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, it could be called MACE: Mothers Against the Cellular Epidemic. Secondly, a conversation about cellular etiquette needs to be held, both in our community of learners and in our society at large.

I suggest the conversation within our academic community because as the number of cell phone users expands, I anticipate trying to listen to a lecture (whether a class or public lecture) while an audience member (student or otherwise) talks on their cell phone.

As such specific etiquette is needed, and there seem to be some easy suggestions:

  • Phones should be turned off unless you are expecting an important phone call. Finite math is not the time to be speaking with your pal Muffy about your date last night.
  • Should you expect an important call, audible phone rings should be turned off, vibrating rings are acceptable if your phone has that feature.
  • If you do have your cellular phone turned on, sit by the aisle and near the door to leave should the phone ring.
  • When the phone rings, you should leave the room before answering the call.
  • Apologize to the professor after class and explain the nature of the emergency. Most professors are more sympathetic when they have an explanation of why you left the room abruptly.

Finally, in society at large, we need to recognize that cellular phones are a vital part of the world but it is important to be polite when using the phone. Clearly driving while talking on the phone can have just as deadly results as driving while drunk, but there are other times and places that cell phone etiquette needs to be followed. Here is an outline of some basic premises I would suggest:

  • As noted before, do not drive and talk on the phone. There ought to be a law enforcing this objective, and there is: in Brooklyn, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, it is illegal to talk on a cell phone while driving.
  • Do not talk on your cell phones in restaurants, unless you have gone outside. Recently one New York City restaurant installed a cell phone lounge for people who are more interested in talking than eating.
  • Finally, do not shout into your cell phone. Shouting defeats the purpose of having a cell phone, since most people who shout into their cell phones shout loudly enough for the person they are calling to hear without use of the phone.

Cellular phones are here to stay, and the convenience and safety they offer is amazing, but along with technological progression comes the responsibility to use them carefully and politely.

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Can eight minds think alike?

In just under a week, I, like thousands of other Bloomington residents, will head to the polls to decide the fate of the Bloomington City Council and the school system. This election has already been one of the most interesting elections I have witnessed in years due to a controversial referendum involving the schools. There is also, within the city, a city council election that has proved to be amusing.

In terms of the city council elections, I have really only given it substantial thought twice: once about a month ago when I had a strange revelation and this past weekend when I had a complete reversal in my thinking.

About a month ago while I was driving across Bloomington from one place to another, it occurred to me that until that point I had only heard from the Republican candidates. At the time I thought to myself that it was really neat. Imagine, a political party being unified enough to get nine candidates to run for office as a block, in the hopes that they would prevail and control city council. They also had given up on the mayor’s office, opting to let the incumbent Democrat retain the seat unchallenged.

Ironically, shortly after I returned home, Pam Service, the incumbent Democrat City Council member from my district (District 6) who is not running for reelection, rang my doorbell and encouraged me to vote for the Democrat running in my council district, thus shattering my brief notion that the Democrats were not going to be visible at all this election season.

I was still impressed enough with the Republicans that I continued to ponder whom I would actually vote for. Neither of the candidates running in my district are so inspired that I feel compelled to run out and vote for them early, nor so dastardly as to have caused me to run out and campaign against them.

I pretty much stopped thinking about the issue until late last week when I viewed the results of a City Council candidate survey in the Bloomington Independent and quickly realized that I was in the presence of something strange and improbable: Eight of the nine Republicans on the City Council ticket answered the questions as a group.

The odds that two people will ever agree on every issue 100 percent of the time is somewhere near zero, even if both people are Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians or (even) members of the Reform Party. So if I wasn’t actually witnessing this event, then I must have been witnessing the world’s first eight-headed body that is not completely physically connected. Think of it as a new type of Siamese twin, if you wish.

Naturally, that is improbable as well, so there’s something fishy going on with the Republican side of the City Council ticket. This running as a group thing has gone too far: the last time I witnessed a group of people running together, at least they had the decency to admit that they didn’t completely agree on every subject. Of course, it was a marathon.

It is true that there have been a couple of occasions when the Indiana Daily Student and Herald-Times have cornered the candidates separately and interviewed them separately from the groupthink approach that they as Republicans seem to have undertaken this year. My impression at the time was that the individual candidates acted more like deer caught in headlights than individuals. Of course that held for the Democrats as well: the inane profiles published by the IDS and the H-T are exactly that: inane profiles.

This impressive show of “groupthink” has managed to turn me off. I still do not have any strong opinions one way or another about the two candidates running for office in my district. But since I have strong doubts about the ability of eight men and women to agree on every issue, I am disinclined to believe the Republican ticket’s unified answers to all the questions. Which means that by default, the Republican in my district is facing an uphill battle to get my vote during this last week.

Which presents another problem: I never vote a straight ticket. As such, I have to find at least one non-Democrat to vote for. I can either vote for Michael Schitt, the Libertarian running for City Council At Large, or one of the other two non-party mayoral candidates.

That decision is one I’ll be mulling over between now and Election Day. I hope that those of you registered to vote in Bloomington will do the same and remember to get out to the polls next week as well. It is important that students are involved in the city as residents, not just be visitors passing through.

Oh yes, and about that other vote I’ll be casting: I already know that I support quality education in public schools and I will vote accordingly.

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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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Homeowners’ complaints futile

Whine, whine, whine is the word of the day coming from local residents who live in the Garden Hill neighborhood, and although I sympathize with their complaints, they are clearly speaking out of turn.

It is my belief that when you move into a neighborhood, you take responsibility for knowing the pre-existing conditions of the neighborhood and therefore lose your right to complain about problems unless there is a significant change in the conditions.

That is to say, if you live in a quiet neighborhood 50 miles from a major international airport and then one moves in, you have a right to complain. But if you move into a neighborhood and a major international airport is only five miles from your doorstep, you lose your right to complain.

And that is the issue between the Garden Hill Neighborhood Association membership and the hundreds of student renters who live in the neighborhood.

According to a Saturday Herald-Times article, “Neighborhood group seeking peace, quiet,” the neighborhood bounded by 17th Street on the north, 14th Street on the south, Walnut Street to the west, and Indiana Street on the east, has a sum total of 20 owner-occupied homes and more than 100 rental addresses (many with multiple rental units). In other words, homeowners are outnumbered by a significant margin.

Yet these homeowners are whining about party noise, including one local resident who is going so far as to remodel a room with thick layers of insulation and ear plugs with rifle-range ear protection and pillows so that he can sleep. I really do sympathize, but the whiners moved into the neighborhood knowing that IU was right next door.

Maybe they bought their houses 15 years ago when there were fewer renters, but then again my parents bought their house in Denver, five miles from an international airport before the advent of large jumbo jets and planes landing every few minutes, and they never complained: it was a fact of life.

My parents bought their house knowing about the airport nearby and they never once complained about the jumbo jets screaming over the house, despite the fact that you could hear the noise from jets even at 1 a.m., or the fact that the noise got progressively worse as the years went by.

That’s not to say that I do not sympathize with the homeowners. I do not doubt that many of today’s student renters are noisier and more obnoxious than student renters of years past. The party noise levels probably have been rising since the ‘50s, although I suspect the bulk of the decibel increase came in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s.

The probable truth of the matter is that some of the homeowner’s reported increase during the past 15 years (since 1984) is probably more reflective of the fact that they have less tolerance for noise today than they did when they moved in. Most people in their twenties are far more willing to withstand the rattling windows than most people in their forties.

That’s not to say, though, that the student renters who are causing problems don’t need to be stopped. I admire the Garden Hill Neighborhood Association for trying, but they should realize that they made the choice to live where they live.

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Recker jerseys for sale, cheap!

It’s always interesting to learn the side effects of major news stories. Sometimes they don’t crop up for months. Take, for instance, when Luke Recker left IU last spring. Without a doubt this was one of the major news stories of the past year.

To recap for the new students among us, Recker was a member of the men’s basketball team and a Hoosier native. This potent combination made Luke’s departure all the more dramatic and frustrating for Hoosier basketball fans.

Certainly men’s basketball coach Bobby Knight felt the effects of Recker’s untimely departure from IU; although nothing ever came of it, Knight was vilified by the local media and by fans for driving a rising star out of the state.

Another group of people who felt a tremendous sense of loss with Recker’s departure was the media itself. The media had lost its hometown hero who had assured them of improved ratings whenever Recker showed up on their newscasts.

Of course, there was another actor in this game: the IU Athletics Outfitters stores.

It seems that the very day Luke announced his departure in April, a shipment of basketball jerseys with the number 4 appeared on the loading dock of the Outfitters.

The decision to restock jerseys with Luke’s number was based upon comments Recker made at the end of the season that he was planning to stick around and play another year at IU.

Consequently, for those of you interested, the Outfitters shop at Kirkwood and Indiana has a huge sale on Indiana Basketball Jerseys. For $16 you can get a bright red jersey with the number 4 on it. That’s half off the regular price of $32.

Naturally a lot of people wouldn’t be seen in a jersey that bares Recker’s number, but I think for any true Hoosier basketball fan, this is an opportunity that ought not be passed up.

The list of men under Bobby Knight who have worn the number four jersey consists of only three players: Lyndon Jones (1988-91), Chris Rowles (1996) and Luke.

But there is the future to consider as well. IU basketball and its amazing tradition is not going to vanish overnight. Other players will wear this jersey and will shine in it as well.

Not to mention the women.

Described as an “unselfish player who has the ability to find an open teammate with a no look pass,” Dani Thrush wore number 4 for the women last year. Certainly she was a credit to the team, playing more than 30 minutes per game for most of the games and averaging 9.8 points per game. In the basketball media guide, she even listed “Playing with my dog Fulton” as her favorite way to spend free time, so she can’t be all that bad.

And for those who care, she was a better free throw shooter and rebounder than her fellow number 4 of last year.

With her eligibility up, she won’t be on the team this year, but if I were her, I would run down to the store and stock up on these jerseys that will hold much significance to her memories as time goes by.

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Reconnect with the actual world

As this is my first column of the year, I wish to extend a warm welcome to you, whether you are a returning student or a new student. Indiana University has a lot to offer you, but I’d like to offer some words of caution.

What you’ve heard is true – IU is one of the most wired campuses in the United States, if not the world. There are e-mail stations in the cafeterias, hallways and in other random spaces. The campus offers dial-up network connections that are fast and efficient.

IU also offers an incredible deal that allows you to acquire Microsoft products at only $5 a CD-ROM. You can not go wrong with that deal: if a new upgrade goes wrong it probably didn’t cost you more than $20, the price of the Office 2000 Premium 4 CD set. (And, at least in my humble opinion, Office 2000 is a major improvement over its competitors and predecessors.)

The lure is great. For only a few dollars you too can get on the Internet and surf all day; many research journals are available online with the click of your mouse. Hometown newspapers keep you in touch with the places you are from. Networked games offer the lure of winning games and prizes. Chat rooms offer the potential for new friends in interesting places.

And IU is making it even easier for you to avoid stepping in the classroom. The University now offers Oncourse, a Web-based instruction system that, in some cases, could mean that you will never have to step into a classroom or physically meet your professors.

No doubt about it, this technology is grand! It is making life a whole heck of a lot better.

But I want to remind you that you are here in Bloomington, a city of 70,000 people in Monroe County, in the state of Indiana.

So I wish to offer you some advice: TURN OFF YOUR COMPUTER. GET UNWIRED.

And I don’t mean you should purchase a cellular phone. I mean lose the technology.

Bloomington and the surrounding areas offer a number of splendid attractions that are well worth the trip and worth getting offline and outside for. For those of you interested in fall colors and a tourist-trap shopper’s Mecca, head east to Nashville and Brown County State Park. It’s well worth the trip, even if you must pay to park during the prime tourist season.

Every train buff in town ought to take a trip west to Solsberry and the world’s third-longest train trestle. It is an interesting site, and any one wishing to marry a person named Melissa has a built-in proposal painted on the south side of the trestle (at least it was there when I visited it earlier this summer). Both of these sites are well worth the time away from your Web browser, and there are many more places to visit in the area.

But for those of you who want to stick closer to town, or even want ideas for the upcoming weekends, Saturday, Kirkwood Avenue will be home of Hoosierfest, an annual concert and street fair. It starts at noon and the tunes begin at 2 p.m.

And Labor Day weekend will bring the Fourth Street Festival of the Arts & Crafts to Fourth and Grant Streets. Another opportunity to get outside and have some fun, you will be able to find stuff to hang on your walls and enjoy live entertainment.

For those of you who cannot wait for the weekend and have a few minutes to spare between classes, here’s an idea. Sit outside in the Arboretum or make the trek to People’s Park. Each provides their own kind of unique entertainment: plants and people at their best and worst, case dependent.

In any case, there are opportunities to get offline and outdoors. Don’t waste your time in Bloomington only seeing the walls of your apartment and the street between home and campus. Get out and live a little.

Your computer will be waiting for you when you get home.

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Carding not the answer

I was on my way to a friend’s house last Tuesday night when I heard the startling news — NATO is going to start carding youngsters.

NATO? The North Atlantic Treaty Organization needs to card youngsters? It seemed to me that having NATO card underaged kids trying to buy alcohol would be overkill: why do we need to send a bomber to do the job when the guard at Big Red Liquors already cards customers with unerring efficiency?

Besides, why on earth would NATO, an international organization currently concerned with preventing Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic from committing more genocide, be interested in pausing from its efforts to card youngsters?

Naturally, I was intrigued with this breaking news story, so I turned the radio up and listened carefully.

To say the least, I was surprised to learn that there are actually two NATOs in existence. The first is the aforementioned North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The second is the National Association of Theater Owners, an organization of movie theater owners that represents, according to the New York Times, about two-thirds of the movie screens in the U.S.

It turns out that the latter organization is the one that will start carding teenagers, but not for alcohol. Instead, the theater NATO is going to start carding teenagers who try to attend R-rated movies without an adult. The theater NATO agreed to start carding teenagers after a meeting with President Clinton, one which took place in the aftermath of the Colorado school shooting.

Two words immediately sprang into my mind — good grief.

The entertainment industry is not responsible for violence in the schools of America. If this were the case, any place that American culture dominates the entertainment industry, we should find violence in the schools. Yet Europe and Asia remain free from violence in their schools.

We need to blame the people at fault, not the American entertainment industry whose products are distributed around the world without ill effects. Continuing to blame the entertainment industry instead of irresponsible parents, educators and law enforcement officials in Colorado who could miss a pink elephant standing in front of them, is pointless.

I want to know — when will the madness stop?

It’s been clearly demonstrated with the silly drinking age limits that banning products for certain age groups does not work. Because there is a thrill at the prospect of breaking the law for many, the prevalence of fake IDs among those under 21 is widespread and can, in some cases, lead to tragic consequences.

Applying the same treatment to movies will just mean that even younger kids will get fake IDs so that they can go and watch “Instinct” or “The Matrix.” But who really cares?

At least for watching R-rated movies, there are no long-term consequences for teenagers unless you count the possible nightmares they might get from seeing the many dumb and pointless R-rated movies out there.

If this theater NATO really wants to win friends, I think there are a few changes that would make the movie watch experience truly pleasurable.

First, all theaters need to lower their prices at the concession stand. $2.50 for a small bottle of water at Showplace 11 is too much. I won’t even mention the prices of everything else it tries to hawk. I realize that attendees are a “captive” audience, but that shouldn’t mean the theater can rook us on every aspect of the movie experience.

Secondly, ban small children from attending any movies except those rated G. I had the misfortune of sitting near a couple with their young child when I went to see the PG-13 rated movie “Entrapment.”

The child cried.

The child ran around.

The child talked.

“Entrapment” was a good flick. It would have been better without the kid.

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Indy 500 should crash and burn

I am quickly closing in on the first anniversary of my Hoosier experience and can honestly say that Indiana is the state I now choose to call home. In fact, I am seeking out Indiana experiences in order to ensure that I’m ingrained in the Hoosier lifestyle.

Last fall I listened as Hoosier politicians told me all about Hoosier values and how they supported them. Unfortunately, nobody ever bothered to define them for me, so I took that to mean that I should do the things that other Hoosiers do.

Obviously, I’ve gone to a few Hoosier basketball games. Near as I can tell, the only people who haven’t been to a Hoosier basketball game are babies who have been born since the end of the basketball season in March.

I also made it a point to attend the Little 500. I was fortunate enough to be sitting right behind the Sig Eps. When they won the race, I immediately felt like I was a proud Hoosier, and why not? The team I was sitting behind won the race that defines IU in the minds of bicycle racers across the nation.

Another proud Hoosier tradition is going over to Brown County and touring the state park when all the leaves change color. I found the fall leaves to be spectacular, although I found the fact that people in Nashville, Ind., are able to charge for parking in their tourist trap a bit galling.

But I have to admit that I’ve failed the Hoosier values test in one critical category. I cannot stand car races. Simply put, I have no clue why anybody would ever want to go to the Indianapolis 500.

In fact, Sports Illustrated ran a story about a crash at another race this year and then had its credentials withdrawn for a day or two until the race officials had a change of heart. Ironically, this freedom of the press issue might be the most exciting story to come out of the Indy 500 this year.

Before anybody accuses me of being completely ignorant about the sport (they would be 90 percent correct), I want to point out that I went to the Speedway on my very first trip to Indiana, two months before arriving in Bloomington.

I took the little bus around the track listening to a recording about the history of the Speedway, while at the same time looking at all the seats and looking at the golf course in the middle. I have to confess it was very impressive seeing row after row of bleachers. Eventually, we made our way around the track to the finish line, where the bus came to a halt. I got a little thrill when the voice on the recording talked about the significance of the bricks.

The thrill did not last very long. I realized that most people who pay to see the race never get to see the finish line. They’re doomed to learn the winner by listening to announcements. They can never be sure who is in first place unless they check the gigantic rotating informational boards. Simply put, auto racing is a boring sport to watch and it is joined at the Speedway by the only sport that is possibly more boring to watch — golf.

After we finished listening to the recording, the bus started up again and chugged its way around the rest of the track and back to the museum. I spent the next hour and a half looking at the cars on display and looking at the visitors to the museum, who were obviously racing fans.

It was then that I realized I do not understand and will never understand auto racing and will never be a full-blooded Hoosier. I can assure you that come race day, while all of Indiana is on its way to the race track, I will be heading in the opposite direction. Look for me on the shores of Lake Monroe or at some other relaxing spot. I just hope the rest of you have as much fun as I do.

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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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Nunn, God hurt by new law

Award Winning: This column earned the IDS Best Column of the Week award, April 5-9, 1999.

The March 29 front page of the Bloomington Herald-Times announced that the “Mayor envisions city without billboards.” This is one of Bloomington’s many efforts at beautification. Another example of beautification efforts has included work on Kirkwood Avenue.

But this particular mode of beautification is going to be particularly expensive, both for the city, the owner of the billboards and for advertisers who use those billboards. It is expensive for the city because the city must compensate Hoosier Outdoor, the billboard company, for the eliminated billboards. It is expensive for Hoosier Outdoor because they will have their business significantly reduced.

Last but not least, and perhaps the most expensive proposition of all, it is expensive for those who advertise on billboards and are dependent upon the people who respond to those ads for their business. Two people immediately come to mind: Ken Nunn and God.

Odd, isn’t it? In many respects they are diametrically opposed. One is good and one is, many people would argue, bad. Without pointing fingers, I’ll leave it up to the reader to decide which one is which.

Ken Nunn, a local personal injury lawyer, is a significant advertiser around town. He is probably the number one advertiser in Bloomington with four-color ads in the Herald-Times, the phone book and billboards.

But if billboards are eliminated from Nunn’s advertising mix, the number of injured clients who seek his assistance from him will probably drop dramatically, perhaps even forcing him out of business. Naturally, we wouldn’t want to let that happen, because it is important that everybody knows their legal rights.

God, a universal deity, seems mainly to advertise on billboards, although his message is usually sponsored by a number of people in the newspapers Fridays. One of his billboards can be seen on North Walnut as you approach State Road 37.

“Keep using my name in vain, I’ll make rush hour longer,” signed God.

It would be immensely interesting to find out what kind of response rate God’s getting from his ads. This turned out to be impossible to find out, because there are fifty different kinds of churches in Bloomington, according to the Ameritech Yellow Pages.

That’s not counting the fact that five different Lutheran Churches exist: Faith Lutheran Church LCMS, Lutheran Campus Ministry ELCA, Lutheran Church Shepherd of the Hills, St. Thomas Lutheran Church ELCA and University Lutheran Church.

To top it off, that doesn’t include Jewish people, who are relegated to look under “Synagogues — Jewish” instead of the churches. (Before I get any howls of protest that this is indeed appropriate, let me point out that one of the categories under Churches is “Churches — Buddhist.”)

Of course, to get to this point in my logic, one must assume that God is an all-encompassing God and that he does not care which place you go to worship. Whether it is a Jewish synagogue, a Christian church, Buddhist temple or Muslim mosque (although I did not see any in the phone book), God is just happy to have you praying for Him.

Regardless, conducting a survey of these churches and asking about the increase in attendance as a result of God’s billboards around town would be expensive, time consuming and difficult.

Given all the potential problems that come from the elimination of billboards around town, Ken Nunn’s bankruptcy and reduced prayer for God, this is not a decision the mayor should take lightly. The repercussions of this decision could last for an eternity.

In all seriousness, hats off to Bloomington Mayor John Fernandez for undertaking this bold initiative.

I sincerely doubt that the advertisers in this town will suffer tremendously from the loss of this space. Injured people will still make their way to Ken Nunn and God will still win the hearts of many.

The big winners in this decision are the people of Bloomington who will live in a city without billboards — a place where you can see the sky, the trees and historic buildings without a big, ugly billboard getting in the way.

– – – – – –

Ken Nunn and God on the same line
(published April 22, 1999)

Adam Lederer did a good job on his April 9 editorial “Nunn, God hurt by new law.” I must confess that this is the first time my name has been on the same line with God. I am absolutely flattered.

Keep up the good work

Ken Nunn
Attorney at law Nunn and
Green Law Offices

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