Entries in the Category "Case"
New Case Logo! Finally!
Much better! The modern look for the logo represents the school as gaining experience and maturity. Keeping the rising sun was definitely the right choice.
I look forward to seeing the fatsurfer retire without much fanfare.
A fellow alum
Dorm Room Cleaniness & Etiquette
It can be quite a challenge for any dorm roommate, living with another student who is lazy, messy, or being irresponsible. In a double, you have to deal with the person because both of you are occupying one entire room. For those that live in suites, that one person can upset the rest of the occupants by not keeping the common area and kitchenette clean and tidy. It is especially difficult when that messy roommate is your best friend.
It is true that we all have different living standards. It depends on the environment, parents' upbringing, and their self-conduct. You might get the roommate who does not know he or she is a slob. You may get another roommate who knows he or she is a slob, but makes no attempt to clean after himself or be somewhat responsible. Or you get a roommate that tries to be clean and considerate but is not always consistent.
If you know there is going to be a problem, be proactive! I know some have suggested that you have to give some sort of financial incentive. It is kinda ridiculous because you're paying quite a lot for attending Case, and now you are paying $20 bucks to your suitemate to clean up after himself. That's pretty lazy. Maybe you can offer him a share of the empty soda and beer cans. He can take them to Dave's or Giant Eagle and get them recycled and he can pocket the nickels. Who knows if you have a penny pincher living in the suite.
Whether you are living in a double, triple, or a suite, start by drawing up a duty list at the beginning of the semester. Rotate on cleaning up the trash, the dishes and sink, dumping out the ashtray, and keeping the place just a bit tidy. Draw up some penalties like $5 bucks for missing your turn or you have to buy pizza for the suite or something.
It seems simple enough. But we do have to acknowledge that there are some people out there who are so lazy that they won't clean up the area until the ants and cockroaches start infesting the place. He could be the person that would hold impromptu social gatherings in the suite, but does not clean up the place afterwards. He won't partake in cleaning up the vomit and spilled beer on the carpet.
Yep, it's University property, but you and your suitemates have to live in that place for the whole entire semester, if not the whole entire academic year. Could you really deal with the smell for that long?
If it really gets bad, then your RA or RD should get involved. I understand that the suitemates have to take responsibility and learn to resolve the problem themselves, but there is always the situation that will require action from the "folks upstairs."
Or you can do it yourself, but in a nagging way. If the suitemate is really a slob, be extra anal with the cleaniness. If he left a piece of clothing with some trash, throw it all out, and apologise for the "accident." Use air freshener on a consistent basis. Start vacuuming the suite during the hours when he's sleeping. If he left some beer cans on the table, drink it all, and dump the rest and tell him that he probably drunk it all since he was passed out. Be literal in throwing his food out of the fridge one day after it's been there.
If they start complaining, then they can either deal with it and fuss up, or just transfer to another dorm suite or room next semester.
Improving Student-Alumni Relations
The need to build and solidify relations between students and alumni of Case Western Reserve University has been important then ever before. There are so many opportunities for both to interact with each other, to help each other, to inspire, to advise, and so on and so forth.
The steps taken by some students to establish a Student Alumni Association is one such example. In a way, having an official undergraduate student organisation as a counterpart to the Alumni Association is an efficient and more effective step.
In the past, there used to be a UAA-Student Alumni Relations Committee where undergraduate liaisons from the major groups met with alumni to coordinate joint events such as Hudson Relays and Senior Week. In 2000, the Student Turning Point Society (STPS) was established dedicated to maintaining close ties to alumni. They had an advantage of meeting with university administrators and prestigious alumni at various luncheons and receptions.
An overall student group dedicated to the Alumni Association would be the best ideal medium to have in order to coordinate and assist events for both constituencies. This group should hold special status and cannot be treated as a standard organisation (i.e. getting recognition). Such a group should be co-sponsored by the Student Executive Council (SEC) and the Alumni Association. Know that STPS is the formal student rep for the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs, and is sponsored by the Office of University Alumni Affairs.
In fact, perhaps the Student Alumni Association should be created as part of the alumni arm of the Student Executive Council. It will assist the major groups with events such as Homecoming, Senior Week, and Hudson Relays. In addition, it can host local events with the Cleveland Chapter at Alumni House.
It's one step to give students a better understanding of what the Alumni Association is.
$110,000 available for usg groups
Clearly, it's the highest ever amount made available to groups in one semester. Rollover from the Fall was a measly $16,500. At least groups are somewhat spending their money efficiently. Hope that continues.
Student Executive Council Reform Required
As noted in the USG Briefs section on the February 2, 2007 Observer issue, there was discussion about two USG members writing a letter to the editor in the Jan. 26 issue calling for University intervention in the current Student Executive Council (SEC) structure. Please note that ideas and suggestions to reform the SEC is not new. Student leaders in the past, including myself, have attempted to change the existing structure, but without success.
Under the University's Grant of Power to the major governing groups that comprised the SEC, the Council was envisioned as a place where USG, UPB, Media Board, and IFC/Panhel can meet to share information about their projects and issues, cooperate in major events, govern the Student Activity Fee allocation, and resolve disputes. From the document, each major group had a different form of obligation and responsiblity to the students. At that time, the SEC was never used in any official capacity. If you wanted to complain about campus issues, go to USG. Programming and concerts was UPB. Television, newspapers, magazines, and newsletters fell under Media. Greeks were under IFC/Panhel.
In the late 1990's, student leaders from the major groups convened the Student Executive Council for the first time in years. It was definitely a surprise when the student leaders of that time did not know they had a SEC though the grant of power document stated the existence of one. The groups were just using standard liaison representatives to attend each other's meetings.
It was realised (obviously!) that the SEC could be used as a forum for inter-communication between the major groups. It was also the first time the SEC got officially involved in major projects such as the Heart of the Campus and the Student Center Project via the Student Life Coalition (SLC). Another first was the invitation of the Residence Hall Association (RHA) into the Council as a non-voting member. One major achievement of the SEC was the funding of SpringFest via the student activity fee. UPB introduced such a proposal in 1998, and the rest of the boards agreed to a permanent percentage in 2001. This was the first ever change made to the SAF fee structure.
Cooperation and respect were probably the only ways to get substantial progress done through the SEC. While most members wanted reform, no one wanted to be seen as invading someone's turf, or trying to increase one board's prestige and power over the others. Even discussion on the fee structure was hard. One time, as USG Vice-President of Finance, I introduced a resolution in the SEC to give USG a 0.5 to 1.0 percent increase in next year's fee structure. Much of the increase was supposed to come from the increase of the SAF overall revenue since it was tied to our tuition rate. UPB and Media Board rose in disagreement. They suggested that USG review its books and see if student groups were not accountable in their funding, and should watch their spending. IFC/Panhel were quite protective of their share of the proceeds so they did not want any change. Thus, the resolution died pretty quickly. The reason why SpringFest passed was the overall positive impact it had on the University community and that every Board had to give up something for it.
Of course, with eight members (2 USG, 2 UPB, 2 Media, 1 IFC, 1 Panhel), USG, UPB, and Media could just get together and decide the SAF percentages, locking out the Greeks. Or USG, UPB, Greeks versus Media, and so on. Unfortunately, it would not improve campus relations at all.
Realistically, we cannot ask the University to intervene and force-change the existing SEC governing structure. One, it shows that the student leaders that you have elected are unable to resolve their differences. Two, it is bad sportsmanship. It is similar to asking the linesman if there was a penalty after the referee decided there wasn't any. The students must solve their own problems.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
After many years of reflection, I have a proposal for this:
1. Based on the assumption that USG is our primary governing authority on campus, the Student Executive Council should not be held to a higher level. Thus, the Student Executive Council should be renamed the Student Administrative Council.
2. The new Student Administrative Council shall cover:
3. The membership of the new Student Administrative Council:
4. The Council shall organise the SAF fee structure (year to year):
This is a drastic proposal, but it should be able to start effective discussion on the right solution to address this. We cannot just put on several band-aids and hope it will work. Substantial action must be taken to show the willingness of our student leaders to combat favoritism, turf battles, and personal ego to give the students what they want.
While it is factually true that only members of SEC can decide what changes they can make to it, it does not mean that they can enjoy a free ride within the Board organisations themselves. The officers that represent the Boards to the SEC are also accountable to the members of the group itself, as well as the entire student populace.
I understand it is a big task to take. Over my years as a member and officer of USG, I was chair of the Constitution Committee that pushed through changes in our constitution for the first time in a decade. I threw out the Funding Bylaws, and wrote a new set instituting categorical recognition (of course, that got replaced several years later), and a new set of Operating Bylaws. These things will take time, but they are not impossible.
Former Vice-President of Finance, USG (1999-2000)
Class of 2000
Will you please not show my SSN?
I would like the campus newspaper, The Observer, to write an article about the difficulty in changing your social security number as your primary identifier. I want to see the reporter try to document his or her attempt to go to the Registrar's Office and submit a change for the Student ID number.
Does Ohio have any law in place regarding the use of social security numbers?
Many other colleges and universities are implementing unique ID systems to replace the SSN as the primary way of identifying a student.
Pretty Even for Smoking Referendum
The results are in and a little over 1,100 Case students responded to the USG smoking referendum questions.
Resolution A calling for a smoke-free campus barely passed with 50.68% (562 yes to 547 no).
The other two resolutions B & C calling for designated smoking areas and limits on smoking around buildings failed, but it was pretty close. 51.67% against for C and 52.93% against for D.
Turnout was 27.69%, based on FTE equivalent of 4005.
Obviously, a complete smoking ban may not be possible. Would the campus police department be able to enforce such a ban and would that take away from their purpose of protecting students from robbery, theft, assault, and other more dangerous situations? I know smoking is bad for your health, but we could focus on counseling programs and offering support for smokers to kick the habit. Banning them to the suburbs is not the ideal way to foster community and unity. Would the ban cover all university-sponsored housing? Being able to smoke in your own residence hall room will be a thing of the past.
Smoking is a social ill. After this is done, alcohol will be next on the purists' target list.
Smoking Referenda at this stage not conducive
More work and discussion is needed before an attempt is made to present a referenda to the student body.
USG Comments for Dec 15
Academic Integrity Board
Let's clear this thing up. The board is comprised of three students (voting members) that are appointed by the Undergraduate Student Government, two faculty (voting members) appointed by the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate and two administrators (non-voting members). One administrator will be a dean from the office of undergraduate studies. The other administrator, the assistant vice president for student affairs or his or her designee, will chair the board.
USG does not approve all members to the Integrity Board, it only approves the three student positions on it. Now, if USG has not been doing this, then there is a failure of communication. I would have thought the VP Academic Affairs would be aware of such a thing. Perhaps maybe it should be included in the officers' manual for next time.
Archives Still Nothing
I am a strong advocate of giving students the ability to access all USG documents because we are supposed to be a public entity. Come on here, the students elected the government, and they are accountable to them. After two years of politely asking, the Archives section is still saying "Coming Soon." The only place a student can check USG legislation, agendas, and minutes from 1999 to 2004 is here.
It's not that hard. Yes, the creation of the online funding system took up manpower and lots of hours, but uploading scanned copies of minutes and legislation is not that difficult.
As a New Years' resolution, please, pretty please, get all the archives online next semester.
Restricting number of student groups next year
How many active groups are we at currently? A quick look at the groups list off the USG site shows about 144. Five to six years ago, we had roughly 95-100 groups. The increasing trend rate is not too bad, but does this mean we should start restricting people from forming new groups. Not really. We had about 4,300 undergrad students enrolled for the Fall semester. This is up from about 3,400 to 3,500 from several years ago.
Being an officer and member of the Finance Committee is a very hard job, and you cannot put a cap on group membership because there are just too many of them. Obviously, there should be more of an effort to determine if a new group should be recognised by USG and whether it helps improve student life. With an increasing SAF fee every year and a larger funding budget, the Finance Committee should be expected to handle this. This is why we still continue to justify that any candidate running for VP Finance must be a member of the Finance Committee for at least one semester.
A restricted cap on the number of groups is an easy cheapshot solution. Another more effective solution needs to be made instead of this.
It would also be nice to know how much money has been requested from all the student groups. Every mass funding bill that has been passed only shows what has been allocated. A summary report of what was requested and funded should be available off the USG web site. If it is, let me know.
The Smoking Open Forum
First, an open forum is a place to communicate and exchange ideas for anyone concerned. Now, I would have thought the forum would be the initial starting point to bring up solutions and debate them to tackle the issue of smoking on campus. By introducing the three USG draft resolutions on the subject, it would seem to me that you have already "mostly" decided on what should be the solution to this problem and the forum is used for just feedback. Observer's take on it showed that the forum could have been used more effectively.
The forum should have just focused on three areas regarding smoking: an outright ban on it, designated smoking areas, and areas where smokers are not allowed. No draft resolutions should have been introduced. You want to give the sense that "everything is on the table for debate."
After this, a task force study group should been created to debate the finer points of writing up the draft resolution. The smoking topic would undoubtedly affect everyone on campus, so it would be favorable to include graduate and professional students. This would give an united student viewpoint to the administration. Of course, future open forums would also be needed.
Giving students to vote on three separate smoking referendums seems friviolous. First, an outright ban is not the ideal solution and should be subsequently dropped. Sufficient smoking shelters should be erected throughout campus, and designated certain floors or residence halls for smokers should be considered. This would make quite a lot of sense to most people. Areas that should be off-limits to smokers such as ventilation systems, building entrances is obvious.
Imagine if the outright ban was the winning resolution, it would make resolution two and three unnecessary, but for the University, it is not the ideal way to solve this problem, so then it is a waste of time for USG.
Eastwood's suggestion of a program to help end smoking addiction is a great idea and should be included in any USG comprehensive resolution.
In any case, more work is definitely needed on this hot topic.
A smoking referenda during the first two weeks of classes is much too soon and will NOT be conducive. How can you have an open forum on Nov 21, then decide two weeks later to hold a referenda when students get back?
Student turnout will not be high. Students would not have all the facts to make the right decision. It would show that the open forum was meaningless. I would actually want to see the draft that was presented at the forum and the final version. Was there any change? =) =) =)
Greek Life: ??????
With so many different aspects to speak about, I could not find the right title for this post. I graduated as a Greek alum, a proud brother of Phi Kappa Theta. During my last year at Case in 2000, our chapter won the Agnar Pytte Greek Cup and the National Founders' Cup, having excelled in philanthropy, academic achievement, campus involvement, and our overall rush program. By joining such an organisation, it has helped me become a more outgoing and successful person today.
It is unfortunate to hear that the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity, an established chapter at Case since 1905, was de-recognised by the University because of its past history and alcohol violations. It follows other sad stories of other chapters such as Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI) which was kicked off-campus around 2003-2004, and they were founded at Case in 1876. It seems interesting to note that there was no coverage on FIJI being de-recognised by the University at that time. Another chapter was Pi Kappa Alpha (Pike) fraternity which was ousted around 1994-95 for a series of violations. If you did not know, the Pikes trashed their house after they knew they were being kicked out. Ultimately, that house was repaired and renovated and became home to the Alpha Phi sorority.
Throughout the years, the Greek Life Judicial Board has tackled drug and alcohol violations, hazing, and other incidents. From time to time, chapters are found "responsible" for those actions and are sanctioned. These sanctions can range from required community service, risk management and alcohol seminars, dry parties, social probation, or even "going dry" permanently.
Yet besides all of this negativity which is figured prominently in the media, Greeks have contributed much to the University and the community. Our philanthropic efforts are second to none. Greeks tend to do better academically, and they are most likely to be involved with campus life and hold a leadership position. Somewhat recently, both Panhel and IFC were recognised nationally for their achievements and efforts at Case.
It would seem that the Greek image at Case is pretty good. Greek involvement has remained at around 30 percent of the undergraduate student body.
Yet, could the loss of SAE increase further scrutiny on the rest of the fraternities and sororities? It does not help the fact that Greeks have a negative stereotypical image across the country. We have all seen news stories of fraternities being suspended or kicked off campus for violations across a wide spectrum. In April 2006, a Phi Delta Gamma fraternity has been suspended by the University of Vermont because of homophobic hazing and underage drinking. In August, Theta Chi fraternity at Miami University at Oxford was suspended for hazing and underage drinking where a fellow student had to be taken to the hospital. At the beginning of this month, a SAE chapter at the University of Central Florida has been suspended when police found young men crawling on hands and knees, screaming profanity and wearing women's underwear, fairy wings, and a diaper at their house.
It should not be a surprise when a Case chapter does a pledge trip to another college or university, they would likely encounter a higher level of hazing and alcohol usage. If you try to compare a state school like OSU to Case, we look pretty tame to them.
So should Case Greek Life maintain strict adherence to its policies and regulations? To a certain degree, yes. I am aware that these rules are supposed to ensure the safety and well-being of students, but not to the point of assuming they are guilty until proven innocent, and not the other way around. I find the current judicial bylaws skewed to favor the prosecution. As such, the rights you would find in a regular courtman are not found in a greek judicial hearing. While I have been reminded that this is a private university and certain rights are not afforded to the defendant, then why hasn't it been changed to reflect that? Should it be time for a committee of students and faculty to review the existing judicial bylaws and see if any necessary changes should be made? Has there been any review of said bylaws in the past five years?
With so much legal scrutiny, some chapters are considering having closed parties or holding them off-campus. With the latter, it creates a more dangerous situation where there is no controlled risk management. But if you want to hold an open party, you got to follow the guidelines. Even though it is necessary and supposedly meets University, Greek Life, and FIPG regulations, it is certain to cause trouble for the fraternity or sorority if something goes wrong. I believe that these rules are even more complex and stringent than in years past. No wonder some groups just do not want to deal with it anymore.
I could still remember when the guidelines require fraternity members be limited to two guests at a party. Now, chapter houses are expected to hold 150 people. This previous rule was always cited as a charge against the Greek chapter. I find it unfair because it was a given that parties did violate the 2-person limit and it only comes up when an alcohol violation occurs.
Is it even possible to hold a perfect open party? Perhaps. That would depend on the security officer's report on the event. What remains unsaid is that there could be an off-chance of a report filed by a fellow GLA or judicial member that happened to be at the event. It is not a surprise there. Whether you can explain it could be a concerned student or some plainclothes police person, it is a possiblity to consider.
Having said all of this, it does not mean the rest of us are off the hook. We are expected to safeguard our chapter's well-being and trust one another in doing that. We should be fair and do our very best to preserve our accomplishments and our unique traditions.
But I also call upon Greek Life to be watchful but to be fair and reasonable. Trust is something that we all need to keep our wonderful Greek community together.
Case Technology Tax
I applaud Greg Szorc's efforts to point out the truth behind the Case Technology Fee that is being levied upon the whole student body, undergraduate, graduate, and professional, next academic year.
The fee will increase from $400 to $425. Instead of limiting the fee to on-campus undergraduates, it will now cover undergraduate commuters, graduate, and professional students.
The original intent of the tech tax was to cover the costs of networking equipment for students. This makes obvious sense why only on-campus students had to pay it. Lev Gonick has stated that the revenues from this "fee" will cover a broad range of ITS services. It's short-speak for general operating budget.
Applying the one fee with no specific criteria is unfair to students. The usage levels of an on-campus student versus a commuter student is quite different, and places an additional burden on the off-campus student since he or she would have their own Internet connection setup. The windfall from such an increase is expected to generate at least $4 million in revenue for ITS.
Also, on-campus undergraduates were told in the beginning that the fee was to help cover the cost of all networking equipment in the SER rooms in the residence halls. This was part of the building of our gigabit network. The fee did not cover the Internet pipe or support. These features would be covered by the University budget through ITS.
Thus, the original intent of the Tech Fee has changed, very likely with no student input in the matter.
Another problem is whether this Technology Fee will lead to other "separate" fees being levied upon the students. Only the Student Activity Fee was a fee created and voted by students. Will there be a new student center fee? A new dining tax to support the Silver Spartan? Intramural fee for participating? Yep, it's all speculation, but it can happen.
The University could be doing this just to avoid giving students another double-digit increase in tuition.
Commuter students should feel upset since they now have to pay the University ISP in addition to their local ISP. Hmm, another way to pressure them to move on-campus?
More details to come...
Case Forum - IT Tech Fee Coming to All Students
The "graffiti" Expression Wall - Part Deux
As you can see above, Delta Gamma is the first group to "advertise" on the expression wall with their upcoming event Anchor Splash.
I was mentioned in the Observer's September 22 edition about the wall expressing my skepticism to the idea. You see, I am more supportive of the original intent of the Spirit Rock. The idea was pushed forward during my last year at Case and a petition was submitted to Student Affairs with several hundred signatures. Of course, it was not until 2004 when a rock was finally located and installed outside the Silver Spartan.
The picture above is evidence suggesting that the installation of this "wall" was not fully discussed or planned out. The wall reaches 13 feet at its highest point, so a ladder would be needed. The ground at the base of the wall is not level, so a catwalk needs to be set up. Plus, there is space between the "expression" wall and Thwing so someone or something could be hidden behind it. The solution removing the bottom panels of the wall is only a short-term fix at best.
It is not a permanent fixture and it is certainly obvious that the wall is not fire-resistant and eventually, it will slowly degrade over time. Plus, when Thwing gets rebuilt, the wall will need to be taken down.
It would have been great to see the Spirit Rock located in the KSL Oval, but because there is a parking lot below ground, it cannot support the weight of the Rock.
The "wall" is just an unoriginal idea. I understand the intent of the idea, but can we just be a bit more creative? It's a billboard!
A Waste of Money example
Exactly who paid for this? Could we find this person and give him a smack on the back of his or her head?
Are you telling me that a regular crosswalk was too difficult for everyone to notice? Inserting a brick walkway was to do what? Improving the aesthetics of Euclid Avenue?
What's next? Putting painted advertisements on it? That's one way to increase accidents.
Wall of "Expression"
It is assumed that the wall was set up to be similar to the "Spirit Rock" turned Doc Oc memorial near the North Residential Village. Further evidence has been obtained from a construction worker that the wall is intended as a "graffiti wall" for students.
Here's the picture (thanks to Andrew Witte)
How unoriginal! Did we happen to have some extra building materials left around, and just decide that a "expression / graffiti" wall was in the best interests of the University community? I honestly could believe that parts of the wall could be devoted to commerical advertising, you know, just to add a bit of cash flow to our strapped fiscal budget. Or maybe we just wanted to prevent people from vandalising the back brick wall of Thwing?
I am quite concerned that this was done without any student input whatsoever. This is probably the one difference between this "wall" and the Spirit Rock. But look at it! It is just like a bulletin board, but bigger! I don't even believe it can ever be a permanent fixture. Can the sheeting survive in a winter storm? Remember master plan? New student center? Right, let's go back to the reason why a Spirit Rock was created in the first place. (BTW, the Spirit Rock is located at Juniper and 115th, next to the Silver Spartan.) The Rock was not only there to advertise about group events, student government elections, and Greek parties, but to be used as a platform for free speech and the power of expression.
While it is memorable to see the Spirit Rock remain "in memorium" for Doc Oc, we do need to move on. As an example, Carnegie Mellon's version was the Fence. On September 11, 2001, the Fence was covered in names of loved ones with unknown fates in the attacks on our country. Out of reverence, no one would paint over it. It was weeks until the student government finally took the plunge and blanked the Fence. Every year since, the Fence has been painted in some memorial fashion.
Why do we argue about painting and blanking out Doc Oc's memory on that rock? He is really inside ourselves, in our hearts, and no one can take or erase that from us. He instilled his sense of energy, enthusiasm, and dedication to teaching thousands of students that have taken his chemistry classes. We remember him as an active member of the community, serving as a celebrity judge on Mr. CWRU, and Hudson Relays coach for the first-year class.
Let the Spirit Rock fulfill its original goal. It has dedicated itself to a fine and beloved professor for more than a year, and it's time to move forward. Already, Housing has removed the posting rules for the Spirit Rock, assuming that the Rock is no longer in use. This is a mistake.
The "expression / graffiti" wall is just boring. Any college or university can put up a wall and call it like that. What a nice, boring way to define our University spirit to everyone else.
Please, Tear down this wall!
It looks like some students have repainted the Spirit Rock in memory of "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin, who was killed by a stingray during filming yesterday. May he rest in peace.
One idea for a permanent Doc Oc memorial. It must incorporate the Hudson Relays rock that is in front of Adelbert Hall. As the first-year coach, he strived so hard to push every class to win the Relays race during their first year.
38th in US News
Case Western Reserve University is also ranked 38th in US News 2007 College Rankings. It is tied with UC-San Diego and Georgia Institute of Technology.
Carnegie Mellon is ranked 21st.
Princeton is 1st, followed by Harvard, then Yale.
But really, does an Ivy League education on your resume gets you a better job? Much has changed from the 1990's, and corporations/companies are looking a lot at internship, work-study, co-op as major factors towards job employment.
Plurality v Majority Voting
The battle over which governance practices are best keeps on going. Recently, USG amended their election bylaws where all races will be decided by plurality. Before, candidates running for USG Officer positions (President, VP-Development;Finance;Academic Affairs;Public Relations) were decided by majority. The aforementioned election format has been in place for probably decades.
The reasons for changing the election rules might have ranged from choosing plurality voting because it is the most common winner method to avoiding the need to waste time and energy to conduct runoff elections for any of the officer positions.
A bit of overview between the plurality and majority methods. Plurality voting is the most common winner method used in the world today. Basically, the candidate that receives the most votes win. Majority voting means a candidate wins if he/she receives at least 50% of the votes. If none of the candidates do so, then a runoff election is held between the two candidates that had the most votes cast.
I ran for VP Finance for the 1999-2000 year and fortunately I won unopposed. I would still prefer the majority voting method for the officer positions because of the importance of electing the proper candidate for such a high-level position. In most cases, we have had 3-4 candidates run for an officer position, and one candidate managed to acquire the necessary majority threshold to win the election. Before I ran for VP Finance, I did run for VP Academic Affairs. I managed to secure a plurality of the votes, but I did not attain a majority victory. In the runoff, I lost to the candidate that received the second most votes after me. I was not really unhappy about the loss nor was I upset that I managed to get the most votes in the first round, but lost in the second round.
I believed that majority voting for the officers gave them a special place in our student governance structure. It seems quite difficult to comprehend if you had five candidates running for USG President, and a person won the election with only 25% of the vote. It can only be a proper result if the candidate is preferred by a majority of the student body, rather than the plurality of the minority.
Some may argue that the plurality method works well in our congressional and senatorial races, but we are talking about a two-party system which bascially ensures that most of the votes cast will be for the top two candidates (Republican or Democrat). In a few places, you may see an independent third-party candidate win. Plus, in a substantial number of races the candidate that won the plurality of the votes also won a majority of the ballots.
My concern is that plurality voting gives the advantage to certain groupings in the student body to take over the government. While I am sure it would not happen, the possiblity is there. Certain groups can ally together to ensure that their candidates will win the election. Since there is no worry to attaining that 50%, all you can do is to get a few more votes than the other candidates, and you're set. How can a student feel confident if a person that won USG VP of Development with only 19% of the vote? It just does not feel right.
If we are so interested in plurality voting, why not amend the criteria that is set to amending the USG bylaws or the constitution? Why is there a need for two-thirds approval? Why does it take a two-thirds vote to recall a USG rep or officer? I am confused to how we make it to so easy to elect a person, we make it so difficult to remove that person or change our governing document.
Plurality makes the most sense if there are only two candidates running for a position. It does not work out for all if you get a low voter turnout and a winning candidate that does not command a true majoritarian mandate of the student body. While we do have several candidates running for the class officer positions, they do not exact more importance than the officer positions.
USG should review its electoral format and reinstate the majority voting method or something similar to the USG officer positions for the next executive elections.
James Chang '00
Former VP Finance 99-00
Magnolia House Rep 98-99
Constitution Chair 97-98
Tyler House Rep 96-98
Abolishing Categorical Funding May be Problematic
Note: The comments made do not represent the views or opinions of the Undergraduate Student Government.
After six years, the categorical recognition and funding system, used by the USG Finance Committee, was abolished on February 28, 2006. The need to present 10, 20, or at least 30 student members of your membership roster is no longer needed. New groups will be limited to only $500 in the first year. In the year thereafter, groups may request for unlimited funds.
Here's a bit of background. During the Spring 2000 semester, as Vice President of Finance, my committee and I were quite concerned about the increase of funding requests from the larger student groups, fiscal accountability, and the lack of resources to help build up the new and small to mid-sized clubs. One major club had problems with their financial budgeting, resulting in USG picking up the tab. The cultural, ethnic, and religious groups were swallowing a large percentage of the funding budget, and it was quite difficult to decide how many events we can truly fund for each student group. We stood at around 95 student groups (today's number is approaching 130-140).
It was decided that a categorical system was needed to help slow down the large groups, to solidfy the middle groups, and still be able to give new groups a chance to hold a decent few events. We also placed restrictions on how much funds can be requested from the Category I and II groups. III groups are the larger-sized clubs that have been on campus for many years. In the past, we have seen groups requesting quite a lot of funds, but would overestimate their costs or they may decide to cancel their events for different reasons. Other groups would underestimate ticket revenues or materials costs.
Despite these guidelines, the rules did include some measure of flexibility for special one-time funding, or for extra spending for special cases. We wanted to maintain a measure of accountability, a more balanced field between the big and small groups, and to keep improving campus life.
Having categoricals placed some measure of control to help the Finance Committee. It made it easier to know which groups were level I, II, or III. It actually made student group officers and members work themselves to submit the forms on-time and with accurate information (in most cases).
It is unfortunate to see such a system be thrown aside. Going back to the old set-up (in some sort) does not help the current funding situation. With over 130 groups putting hundreds of requests for events and banquets, the Finance Committee will have a hard time deciding who to fund. The categorical set-up gave a semblance of order. Without it, the larger groups will grab a larger share of the funding pie. It now rests on the members of Finance Committee to use their "impartial" judgment but that is always hard to do.
Picking the Right USG President
For those that have served in USG in years past, Case's student government has undergone major structural and constitutional changes. It has transition itself from a residence-type representative system to a more academic one. It chose to move itself from Thwing Center to Adelbert Hall to provide a more formalized setting for its meetings. Steps were done to ensure that the agencies and committees of student government were explained in detail and to ensure a smooth-running organization. Almost every governing document has been updated to adapt to these new situations.
Though these changes have been done to improve USG's organizational and structural ability, it still depends on the students that are elected by the student body to fill those positions. Experienced representatives compete against popular students over the right on who's the person to best represent the undergraduates. Candidates try to exhibit some form of mastery in their campaign speeches and plans in order to persuade any student willing to cast his or her vote their way. Campaign flyers and posters are plastered against every known posting space. Chalking covers mostly every entrance to every University building. Regulated mass e-mails talk about the need to support a particular candidate. Anything that can be taken out of a political how-to-book in winning an election is being used.
It is pretty likely that over 50-60% of the undergraduates have already made up their minds come election day. They will make their choice based on friendship, allegiance to a certain student group or fraternity or sorority, or perhaps a political alliance designed to elect a certain slate. In Case's situation, there are no student political parties. The only thing that matters in these cases is whether you are an independent, a current student leader, a Greek person, or a STPS / Honorary student. The only possibilites before the online vote is whether at least one candidate will get disqualified by the Election Commission based on an accusation from another or an internal investigation made by USG members. This will only depend on the ability of maintaining an impartial Commission. Of course it is sometimes quite difficult to find those type of people. Almost everyone has an agenda of sorts. The only way is to figure them out and then you are on your way to being elected.
With regards to the USG Presidency itself, we have all witnessed bad and good officers. We have seen candidates offer grand schemes of an effective government on behalf of the students. Some have given ideas of reforming the organization itself to root out financial and organizational problems. Others have focused on the need to communicate to the students. Some students will run to oust the current officers because of their lack of action or perhaps wrongful actions during the academic year. This is something that has happened almost every election. It is really not a surprise. There will always be students that will feel that the current USG officers may not have done a good performance, and the officers themselves will think otherwise.
The candidate that is right for the job as President must know that he is only accountable to the undergraduates, not to the University administration. While it is true that being an officer will undoubtedly give you access to the upper echelons of the campus staff, the various administrative offices, and the Board of Trustees, you are there to represent the STUDENTS, not yourself, and not on the other side. This has been lost a few times during each new group of officers that has taken over the reins of USG. Sometimes, you have to know when to put your foot down.
The candidate must also know how to treat the other major organizations (UPB, IFC, Panhel, Media Board, RHA) as a respectful equal in terms of overall governance. USG is a member of the Student Executive Council (SEC) where the President and Treasurer of USG, Media Board, UPB, IFC/Panhel [presidents only] and RHA as a non-voting member meet. This committee is quite important. You will need this forum to exchange ideas and to update each other on issues and problems that may affect a substantial percentage of the student body. The SEC also oversees the distribution of the Student Activity Fee (SAF). Fund allocation and distribution will become a top issue with an expanding student body and a higher flow of revenue from the Fee.
The candidate must learn the difference between having a personal relationship and a professional one. He/she must learn that teamwork is the only solution to a more productive USG. The new President must learn how to handle the personality and behaviour of their Vice-Presidents (Finance, Academic Affairs, Development, Judicial). There will be a difference in this relationship if the President is a graduating student versus a student that is currently a sophomore or junior. Chances are that any one of those Vice-Presidents may look towards the top seat next year so be prepared.
Even despite the reasons above, the undergraduates can be quite unpredictable. It could take a slogan, an incident, rumors, or an argument to change the vote. In the end, it could really be that the most popular person out there will win the Presidency. Even though there are rules in the Election Bylaws that only allow current USG members or past members that have served for at least one semester to run for President, the major factor involved will be the popularity of the candidate running. Social status can never be ignored. That's life.
Past elected Presidents have turned out to be productive, organised, personable, and have the quick ability to sort out the minor and major problems/issues that have surfaced. On the other hand, we have seen poor Presidents that were control-freaks, unorganised, narrow-minded, lazy and unreliable, and were just there for personal gain only just to have their resume say "Student Government President." They know who they are.
Sometimes the dark horse candidate can turn out to be one of the best USG Presidents. Sometimes that good-looking candidate can turn out to be one of the worst. The familiar saying "Don't judge a book by its cover" comes to mind. I do not really care if it is cheesy or not. If you are interested in seeing an effective student government to help get through the bad times the University is going through, you will have to vote for the candidate that can best do that.
Suggestion: Pro-student candidates obviously. Being way too aligned with the administration could be a negative in this case (i.e. STPS).
If UPENN can do it...
This was an article about the University of Pennsylvania investing in the community around them. The Washington Post January 9th article "Urban Colleges Learn to be Good Neighbors," talks about how UPenn lived in an area of industrial wasteland, filth, and soaring crime ten years ago. Their neighborhood McDonald's was nicknamed McDeath. Students were virtual prisoners on campus.
The University began to worry that enrollment was threatened as one of the nation's oldest and most prestigious schools was fast developing a reputation as unsafe. They could choose to build a moat around the campus or they could reach out and save the community. They saved it.
Over the better part of a decade, the University invested about a billion dollars in security, retail, schools, and the local housing market. It also made sure the community and minority companies got a piece of the success (known as "economic inclusion"). The result is making UPenn one of the hottest schools in the country, sitting in a neighborhood where crime has been reduced by 49 percent in the past decade, and where students swarm the streets shopping at upscale stores. This is a new national trend where Penn and other universities are aggressively trying to bridge "town-gown" tensions by investing heavily in adjacent troubled neighborhoods and making a connection with local civic life. Since 1996, over 100 schools have visited the Penn campus and surrounding area (hmm, I wonder if Case made a visit...).
Other schools have followed suit. Yale University has developed retail and office space nearby, offered financial incentives to employees to buy homes in the neighborhood, and tutoring programs for local schools. Trinity College spent more than $100 million to turn a run-down area in Hartford, Conn into a 16-acre Learning Corridor with four local schools. Temple University is involved with running local schools and is working with developers to bring in restaurants and retail. Clark University in Worceester, Mass is opening a middle school, renovated housing, and funding to refurbish storefronts. Howard University agree to rehabilitate 28 run-down houses that the school owned for 30 years.
But it is amazing to what UPenn has done. It moved its bookstore off-campus to encourage foot traffic and brought in Urban Outfitters and the Gap. They got 1,000 University employees to purchase nearby homes through extra financial incentives. The biggest highlight of their plan was to build a school, the Penn Alexander School for K-8 students. Quite a success story.
* * * * *
Looking back to the first year at Case and today, has the neigborhood surrounding the University improved greatly? Current students will definitely say a lot has changed with the new NRV residences and the eventual tear down of Baker Hall. The recent grads will talk about Case buying out the former Mount Sinai campus and the Silver Spartan. Going back another few years, students witnessed the demolition of Pardee Hall and the building of Veale Recreational Center. A bit before that, we saw the dedication of the Peter B. Lewis Management building. Keeping on going, the Agnar Pytte Center was built for a great outgoing President. Finally, the MSASS building, Dively Center, the razing of Freiberger Library and the opening of the Kelvin Smith Library and the Smith Biomedical Research Building. All of this happened on campus.
Then, looking back again off-campus wise, we were still afraid of going beyond E. 118th Street, students still wanted to get off at University Circle Rapid station and take the Greenie northside, and the McDonald's on Euclid was considered a risk on certain nights. If you live in the NRV buildings and want to take a jog outside, would you do it on the track or around the Village? We still call the Taco Bell on Euclid (if it's still there), "Ghetto Bell" because of the thick bulletproof glass at the drive-thru window. If you travel from Case to the Cleveland Clinic, it's like seeing a island of modern buildings. The streets adjacent give the opposite comparison. Shopping is still very limited with only the shuttle to take you to Coventry, or the car to get to Beachwood and the Legacy Village, Severance Center, or downtown to Tower City. It is granted that Northsiders can barely reach Southside to get to Giant Eagle, Aladdin's, or Jillian's.
I really hate to criticize, but look at this...if you ask grads from last year, 5 or 10 years ago, the compliants are still the same. I know people will tell me things are improving...yes, on the campus, but we still have that feeling of uneasiness walking 2-3 blocks beyond the campus boundary.
Please, prove me wrong.
The Formation of a Campus Hate Speech Code?
In 1990, there were approximately 75 hate speech codes in place at US colleges and universities. In the following year, the number grew to over 300. Today, it is practically certain that every major university, both private and public, has a type of code of conduct or campus hate speech code in place.
They all have different formats. Some codes may prohibit speech or conduct that creates an intimidating, hostile, or even offensive educational environment. Other campuses may ban behavior that could cause emotional distress. General harassment and threats are also outlawed, but not all schools would specifically define their limits in those areas. As such, court rulings have prohibited state-run schools from enacting codes that restrict the constitutional right to free speech based on content. Unfortunately, private institutions such as Case, in contrast, are not subject to these decisions. As a private university, it can choose to ignore public law rulings and draft whatever policy it wants to implement.
In Case's Student Handbook for 2005-2006, on page 94, the Standards of Conduct, where conduct is subject to University disciplinary action. For the first clause, it states that it will include "interference with freedom of speech or movement, or intentional disruption or obstruction of teaching, research, administration, or other functions on University property." However, on page 100 of the Student Handbook, which covers Housing, Residence Life, and Greek Life policies, it shows that your right to freedom of speech may be "construed" as abuse, disorderly conduct, or even harassment. Each of these sections focus on the wonderful world of anti-social behavior. Now, these clauses are for our protection, but it really depends on how it is interpreted by your Resident Assistant (RA), Resident Director (RD), Area Coordinator, or any member of Housing staff.
An attempt to regulate our behavior concerning homosexuality is just another hate speech code. On one end, its purpose is to ensure there is fair and equal access to freedom of speech and other rights when there is an imbalance of power between them and students in the majority. In opposition, the attempt is just a violation of our fundamental right to freedom of speech, or a facet of censorship.
Clearly, a person saying that such a thing is "too gay" or "you're such a fag," cannot automatically be assumed to be a racist statement. In fact, I don't think we would believe that a student listening to "Keep it Gay" from the soundtrack of the Broadway show "The Producers," is indirectly making fun of homosexuals. Of course, please do not think a Brit is being racist when he/she asks you "for a fag" (cigarette).
How can we be sure that our RA's are trained in determining whether such conversations are harmful to homosexuals? Today, we have states passing state constitutional amendments to ensure that marriage is between a man and a woman and some are tryting to legalize them through civil unions or other arrangements. Such events would clearly become a subject topic in conversations between students on campus, in the lobby, hallway, or residence room. Obviously, there will be opinions, both popular and unpopular. The problem is that the new arrangement to combat homosexual discrimination will suppress the unpopular view. We would now have to follow the "politically correct" view on the subject regardless of whether we agreed with it or not.
Gerald Uelmen, Dean of Santa Clara University School of Law, and a fellow of the Center for Applied Ethics, stated that "if these codes shield students from dissenting opinions, how will they learn to respond to such opinions after they graduate? Hate speech codes encourage an artificial reality on campus that prevents students from learning effectively to tolerate diversity."
It is prudent that USG and RHA discuss the new policy concerning the topic of homosexuality with the Housing staff to discover what is the "actual" intent of the new rules, to ensure that students are not restricted to their right to free speech, and to ensure that the Resident Assistants are properly trained in determining whether such language concerning the topic of homosexuality is "offensive and harmful."
I am still paying off my college loans unfortunately. Some of my colleagues are in the same bind, but why are we so reluctant to use a good chunk of our paycheck to pay it off? Back in the day, we were fortunate to lock in our repayment rate at 5-6%. Today's graduates have managed to get theirs locked in at 1-2%.
In any case, the one thing that do remain in our minds after graduation is that five or six-figure loan to pay back. For the Class of 1995, CWRU was first with average per-student debt of $26,031. For 1996, we dropped to third with average debt at $23,756. Of course the University claims that the figures incorrectly calculates the debt load for their nursing students, and that parent loans were not counted. Nevertheless, the data is mostly accurate.
For the 2006 edition, US News has found Case Western Reserve in eighth place with average debt at $27,780. 54% of the class graduated with debt. The top school laden with debt is the University of Miami in Florida with $31,723. Carnegie Mellon came out at 32nd with $22,902. Only NYU out of the Ivy League schools is just below CWRU with $27,639.
Undergrads are fortunate though than their counterparts attending medical and dental schools. Cost of education for them are $50,044 and $60,885 respectively so debt load will be quite higher after they have completed their study and go into residence. For them, the ratio between grants and loans will flip-flop in favor of the latter.
Some may try to work a few years before starting into the medical field, others have to go right into it and graduate with a debt load of over $100,000. At what cost do students and/or families decide that certain schools are just priced way out of their range?
Case will always say that they are priced lower than the other Research I institutions, but we have to understand the financial reality of dealing with the end result.
Blog the USG meeting
Remember back during the election in 2004, we had bloggers on every political pundit web site giving almost real-time news on the latest events coming off the news wire, the mood and reaction of the crowd as each state's electoral votes were being announced, either for Bush or Kerry. It is basically a hacked version of your 24 hours live coverage. Of course, a blogger trying to do that in the middle of Hurricane Katrina may have trouble holding on to his/her laptop.
Since USG meetings are public to the students (unless they vote to close it), it would be kinda interesting to blog the meeting as it goes on. Obviously, because of one reason, there is currently no access to their agendas and minutes of their meetings of the web site. It is much like the press box in the U.S. Senate and House at the Capitol.
It would introduce a different perspective to how the meeting is run by your elected reps instead of reading the formalized minutes. Think of it... reading about how the reps argued for most of the meeting about whether the chairs should be arranged in a classroom or circular configuration (that has happened 2-3 times in the last several years). Get the reaction of reps as they scrutinized the huge mass funding bill and get antsy over funding a series of weekly discussions for a student group for just 80 dollars. Read the rundown as reps argued about constitutional amendments. Perhaps a few insults here and there, though a fight would highly be unlikely (except in the Indian and Taiwanese parliaments).
Who knows, it may get students more interested into USG to do their part, or even get some to run if they felt the meetings are going all wrong.
No gaming in the computer lab
Honestly, if you want to play a multiplayer online game (WoW, Counterstrike 2, etc etc etc), do it in your room, not in the computer lab.
Hundreds of students need them for printing out reports, checking out course schedules, download notes, and e-mail.
It's simple as that. I think for any student, if you see someone playing WoW on a lab workstation, go ahead and turn off the power switch.
Tuition Goes Up, so does the SAF
It's time to open those checkbooks and check on your latest investments. Case tuition for undergrads will go up again for the 2006-2007 academic year, but with a new twist! Upperclass students, or those that entered the University in Fall 2005 and earlier, will pay $30,240, an increase of 6.48 percent. For the first-year students coming in for Fall 2006, they will pay $31,090, an increase of 9.47 percent from the previous year.
This year's tuition (2005-2006) was $28,400. The year before that, it was $26,500. Thirteen years ago, tuition was just $14,500 for the 1992-1993 academic year.
As for the Student Activity Fee, the SAF remains the same as usual 0.8% of tuition, but because of the annual increases, the SAF fee goes up every time. This year, each student is paying about $227. Next year, the upperclass students will pay almost $242 per student. The incoming freshmen class will pay almost $249 each. With a larger student body, the revenue coming into the five major groups (UPB, USG, Media, IFC, and Panhel) is much more higher than usual. Two years ago, most of them estimate their budgets based on a FTE of about 3,100 undergraduate students. With the student body exceeding 4,100 this semester, that estimate is now probably up to 3,800 to 3,900 (since the full total includes part-time students).
So for next year, let's say based on 3,900 full-time students times $242.00 (to avoid any complex calculations with the frosh rate) would generate $943,800.00 dollars! That's even more than two years ago when the SAF brought in over $650,000.
Ok, so the SAF is bringing in almost one million dollars. Where does it go to? The Observer would usually publish an article after next year's tuition rate is announced listing the breakdown of where your money is spent.
Up to now, right off the top, 4.3% of the total revenue is set aside for Senior Week, and a further 2.8% is given to the annual SpringFest event in the Spring. After that, it is divided between UPB, USG, Media Board and IFC/Panhel. Depending if the percentages have not changed recently, UPB gets 42.5, USG has 27.5%, Media 22.5%, and IFC/Panhel 7.5%.
Now who is accountable to who? In its constitution and bylaws, USG is required to publish an annual budget based on the estimated revenue given. The other three groups are in no obligation to do the same unless they are doing it voluntarily. Only the members of the Student Executive Council would be privy to such amounts and the specific budgets of each major organization. While we all may have a sense of how much each group is getting, we do not know how it is broken down from a public standpoint.
Since every student is paying the SAF fee, we all have a right to seek the specifics of each major group's budget figures, and these should be made readily available. USG should take this lead since they are the primary representative body for the students.
New Greek Village's Impact on Current Housing
As current Greeks debate about the future of a new Greek Village area on north campus, we need to look at how it will affect Greek chapters that live in actual mansion/houses and those that do own their own property.
The plans for the new Greek village houses would provide modern furnishings, work/study area, network-connected with wireless, and would offer different sizes depending on the membership of the chapter. Each house would also be designed individually. This would avoid any problems with the village becoming just a block of identical residence halls.
Even though this would greatly help those chapters that do not live in a house (i.e. certain floors of a residence hall) or live in University-style houses (the old res halls at the top and bottom of the hill on south side), there ought to be some concern among the chapters that do live in a house that is either owned or leased from the University. Along Bellflower Road, Phi Mu, Alpha Chi Omega, Zeta Beta Tau live in houses that are owned by the University. [Corrected] For these houses, Phi Mu and Alpha Chi Omega are owned by the University. ZBT is owned by the Lambda foundation; and the former FIJI house is owned by the Xi Deuteron Building Association. In the Magnolia Area, we have Theta Chi, Delta Tau Delta, Alpha Phi, and Phi Kappa Theta. The Alpha Phi house is owned by the University. Theta Chi, Delta Tau Delta, and Phi Kappa Theta own their respective houses, but the land underneath Theta Chi and the Delts are leased from the University.
In any case, these chapters above actually live in a "house." While it is true that a new Case Greek village will bring a sense of getting all the chapters together and to encourage a sense of spirit and brother/sisterhood, the ones that do have houses have made quite an individual footprint on their current location on campus. Should they be "encouraged" to move to the new Village?
For my own personal view, it is best to establish a student population around a specific area, namely the north side, but we should not further segment the undergraduate population. Ideally, the plan would create a three dimensional picture. On one end are all the first-years living in the current residence halls (with a few staying on south side due to higher than expected rate of enrollment), the second area is the NRV housing the upperclass students, and the third are all the Greeks. Yes, there is some mixture of different classes, but we should not explicitly divide them up this way.
For one thing, we are pushing mostly all campus activities to north side because that is where all the students are. Of course, there are events being held at Thwing, Emerson, and at Fribley/Carlton, but for student groups, they have to arrange an event where they can get the most turnout. Moving all the Greek chapters to one area would guarantee that most social events would be held on one end of the campus. The other end result is a more regulated social environment because the University would own the houses and all events will be even more strictly controlled. Who knows if the University decides to have a RA live in each Greek house.
Also, why should they round up everyone into one area? Since we know that the South side residence halls would continue to be used, and that they are in the process of being renovated, why can't we re-develop the bottom and top of the hill areas? We should tear them down and build house-style buildings for the South side chapters and chapters that do not have a house. In addition, Fribley and Carlton Commons should be renovated. We also understand that South side would house both professional and graduate students. The South residential village could become quite a place for social and cultural events. This is one great opportunity to take advantage of.
A lot of things are changing on campus. The new logo, the new buildings, a larger student body, and a different learning environment. But if we are to change our living style, let's choose to expand and mix instead of dividing and setting everyone apart. We should know that besides the more than 4,000 undergrads, there are thousands of grads and professional students too. Let's take this opportunity to build the new Greek village as a step to re-develop the rest of the housing areas.
Residence Hall v. Academic College Representation
As I compare the new USG representation system with the previous system when I was an officer, I am trying to figure out what type of advantage it is giving to everyone.
The previous model was that representatives were elected by residence hall, the four Greek areas, and a determined number of commuters. The new model is where the freshmen class gets to elect their reps by residential college, the rest of the students elect theirs by academic discipline. The Class Secretary of each year now gets to vote in the GA.
The freshmen get to elect 13 (3 x 4 residential colleges + 1 commuter). Upperclassmen elect 9 from Engineering, 9 from Arts & Sciences, 2 from Nursing, and 2 from Management.
Granted, under the old model, there have been problems of getting interested reps from some of the residence halls. Every year, we may get 2-3 halls with no rep at all, and it takes a semester to find one person who wants to do it. A few times, it would be hard to get all the Greek areas represented. Electing commuter reps has been the worst pain of all. We have almost 1000 commuters, but on average, we have been only able to get at most 5-6 of those spots filled. Getting a good turnout of candidates for a USG election rests on the ability of the Election Commission to get "the word out!" I have been involved with seven USG elections and I have seen good and bad Commissioners. Their performance would usually mirror the turnout of the candidates and election. Often enough, we have not done a good job in getting commuters to come out and vote. We should have worked closely with the Case Commuter Club and ESS on that.
The new model that we have here basically throws the problem with the apathetic residence halls, the Greeks, and the commuters under the rug, and putting a brand new carpet over it. I have to assume in order for the freshmen candidates to be able to campaign at the three residental halls of their specific residential college, they have access to all three buildings. Otherwise, it is pretty much a residence hall rep system for the first-years. A candidate would not need to go over to the two other halls. He/she would just need to get enough people in one building to get him/her elected. Plus, I guess it won't help if all three reps from a residential college all came from one building.
For academic discipline, it's an easy model for representation but does not provide enough accountability. The only two flaws in an election would be for students that have not declared a major and those that are pursuing a double or triple major. I am sure the voting system would likely prompt a student for their choice into which constituency they want to be a part of. For campaigning, how can you rely on the candidate's ability to talk to their constituents? First, who exactly are they? How would you know if a student in your engineering class is actually an engineering major? He/she could be an Arts & Science or a Management major taking an engineering elective? Would the EC provide a list of current students in their major core of study to help "level the playing field?"
Another weakness is how to inform the constituency. For example, we have 9 reps for the College of Engineering. How would they handle the communication? Do they select one of their number to be an acting spokesperson? Do they divide up the students into mini-constituencies? The worse case here is getting overlapping e-mails. But really, who is accountable to who? In addition, how would a "recall" situation work out? You ask a fellow engineering student that elected rep C has not been doing a good job, but he would reply, "Oh I voted for rep A, why should I need to get rid of C?" I think it's just make it harder for students to attempt such a petition (if it is needed).
From what I can see, the new model dilutes the ability of representation. It hides the fact that your commuter population may not be represented by the GA. Plus, it does not help when your first-year commuter rep got elected with 6 out of 11 votes casted. It also hides the presence of a Greek population. I am sure this was created to reflect a better outlook of the student body, but at the sacrifice of accountability? At least you got the Class Officers formally involved with the GA. That was one thing that was needed.
Perhaps this model is needed since we are going with a new Case but somehow the size of the student body does not justify the change. I would expect a size like OSU to do this since their large student population would warrant such a system like this. I wonder how much debate was done on this, and why Greeks/Commuters did not amount any opposition. Anyway, what's done is done, but I hope that the new system gets strongly reviewed by the end of the year. If there are glitches that need to be fixed, they need to be fixed by the end of the year. Students will understand that not everything is perfect on the first try.
Mass E-Mails are useless, better web sites needed
When mass e-mail was first used, it was designed to inform a large number of people about the latest events or announcements that are deemed important for the University community. Today, with the flood of spam, chain joke messages from friends, and after a message from your college department/office, student group, and the occassional alert from Protective Services, we have treated the wonderful idea of mass e-mail as trash. Electronic communication has become impersonal and unwanted. We are more likely to delete such a message or filter it out from our Outlook/Eudora. USG has gone so far as to ban the use of mass e-mail during election campaigns and restricted candidates from sending their campaign message via third-party mailing lists (i.e. student groups).
When an event is coming up, you may get the flyer in your post office mailbox, and see the poster about it on the wall, then the student group that is sponsoring the event sends you the details via the mailing list, and then another student group sends you the same message as a forward from that same group. If it is a major event, your USG rep may send you a reminder or UPB may do the same thing. Next up is your hall council sending a notice about it. Oh wait, then your RHA rep sends you as a forward from another major group. It keeps on continuing until the event is finally over.
For myself, I am getting tired of the text-based mass e-mails themselves. It is boring, really, it truly is. I think we are more interested in how people send us e-mails with essential and effective content. For newsletters being sent via e-mail, they should be designed with HTML coding. Attaching a word or pdf document just takes up more space. People want to see pictures, bold-faced lettering, tables, just like the paper version. You would think that years later, we should be able to produce better e-mail than the occasional plain-text format. If you want to send a message with one announcement to a 1,000 people, step back and think about it. If it is a security alert, then you are justified in sending it. Otherwise, think long before hitting that "send" button.
My other problem is with the groups for not utilizing their web sites as a major portal site. Students frequently went to the UPB, USG, RHA sites in the past to get the latest info because it was updated on a periodic basis. Why send the newsletter through e-mail or post when you can post a PDF version of it on the site? At least UPB changes their info on a weekly basis because of their event schedule. The Observer is primarily a print publication and they are working on re-designing their site, but their emphasis should be equally concentrated in both print and web publication. If the Observer had a kick-ass site, then students would flock to their web page every Friday because that's when the new issue comes out. If the USG post their agendas and minutes after each meeting and update their list of new campus issues, students would visit their site more often. Or how about we put some sort of interactive component on that site? How about "Ask the President" column or a weekly opinion piece by a fellow representative? Or perhaps a web extra edition on the Observer that you cannot find on the paper version?
If these groups and depts want to get the word out, they should learn to showcase their events and issues on their respective sites, then we could just deal with that mass e-mail message about next year's tuition rate going up another 10 percent.
Your Right to Free Speech is not really "Free"
The rights and responsiblities in the Undergraduate Handbook have not changed much in the past several years. Even though the wording has remained the same, the interpetation of them has changed. As our society becomes more embroiled in the spectre of "political correctness," people are using these rights and responsibilities to create a "Brave New World."
Yes, we have the right to air our grievances, but to be free from intimidation? I think all of us have been intimidated in some sort of way. Of course, we need to be challenged mentally, physically, and emotionally in order to handle the world after college. Undoubtedly, the statement would refer that someone would try to use intimidation that will result in physical and emotional harm, but it is vague enough where it can be thought out quite differently.
The responsibilities encourage the need to respect each other views. To guarantee them individual rights and making sure a person's personal rights are not violated can also be interpreted differently to suit the offending party. While I have to respect your opposing viewpoint, I cannot make any counter-statements that may be considered to be racist, insensitive, degrading, humilating, or even upsetting. This is why people should read the Grrrr! column off the foxnews.com site or tonguetied.us to see acts of "PC" in action. In addition to all of that, we have to be aware of the laws of the State of Ohio. I have to wonder if anything within the state civil code is in conflict with Case's policies and procedures.
In light of this, I have to be surprised (if it is true) that there is some sort of ban on certain words in two residence halls. From the grapevine, it seems that if a staff member hears you say "rape" or "retarded" in a public conversation for example, you can be written up. So I guess using the words "sexual assault" or "mentally challenged" are accepted instead. I could be wrong, but this is clearly a restriction on the way we can talk to our fellow colleagues and friends. Somehow, these words are now considered to be an automatic offense to everyone.
If this is the way to contribute to a lively discussion between students, it is a bad decision to make. Instead of people sitting in the lounges, everyone will be in their rooms behind closed doors because Big Brother is listening.
One bad apple in the group faults all
Never before have I seen a member of Residence Life staff writing up an entire floor of students for not giving up any information about a missing letter in their hall entrance name.
Every year, an individual or a group of pranksters have managed to pry off a letter from the residence hall name title outside. Sherman, Raymond, Hitchcock, and Smith have all been victims. Unless you had a security camera watching each entrance, you can only have a 50/50 chance of deciding whether the alleged person was living in the building or somewhere else.
Even if you had it narrowed down to a particular floor, why the threat of writing everyone up? The easiest way is probably having each room checked since we already have given up our right to privacy by living in the halls. Threatening to penalize everyone for one bad individual is an unfair tactic. Does this person think everyone on the floor are colluding with each other? Is there a conspiracy to hide the truth? It is like walking near an intersection where a vehicle accident has occurred and the officer is writing you a ticket for not providing any information (i.e. obstruction of justice) regardless if you did not witness the incident. To me, it sounds like it was an attempt to get the other residents to "tattle-tale" the offenders out.
Why have we reached this level?