Archive for August, 2001

Fixing “the fix” in professional sports

Friday, August 31st, 2001 | Robby Schwindt

It was the 2001 Major League Baseball All-Star Game and the last All-Star game of Cal Ripken, Jr.’s Hall of Fame career. On this night, he was honored along with Tony Gwynn for an amazing career in professional baseball. As if the night wasn’t sweet enough for Ripken, he proceeded to hit a home run off of Chan Ho Park in his first at bat. The crowd roared as Ripken took one final trot around the bases followed by an emotional curtain call. The scene was a perfect sports moment; unfortunately, it may have been too perfect for some people.

Immediately after home plate was touched and Ripken’s hat was tipped from his balding head, the accusations began to fly. People began questioning the legitimacy of the home run. They believed Park had served up a fastball for Ripken to deposit into the stands. A few thick-skulled writers theorized that Ripken, although having hit 429 career home runs, was incapable of hitting one without cheating. Instead of being satisfied with the night and a remarkable baseball career, they believed Ripken decided to risk his entire reputation by convincing Park to put one in his wheelhouse.

Right about now I feel like Clark W. Griswald in Christmas Vacation when he finds out he got a jelly of the month membership for a Christmas bonus. I would love to list all of the same adjectives he rattles off, but they’d fill my entire column so I’ll refrain. But if anyone ever deserved to have their shirts pulled over their heads and given a good old-fashioned hockey ass-whipping, it’s these writers.

Who do they think they are, taking upon themselves to try to ruin a classic moment in baseball history, to tarnish an accomplishment, as well as the entire career, of one of the game’s most enduring players? By running their mouths, they chose to ignore a career that spanned three decades and was highlighted by hard work and highlight-reel quality plays. They felt the need to overlook the fact that Ripken has always been one of the game’s true professionals and model athletes.

Apparently they knew something that the rest of the world didn’t. Maybe the man who hit all of those other home runs was not really Cal Ripken, Jr.? Maybe it was a stand-in. I mean it kind of makes sense. No one can play over three thousand consecutive games without a break. That’s superhuman. That would imply that he’s above average or maybe even amazing. He would have had to have an imposter stand in for him every once in awhile, right? His teammates and the organization were right there to help cover it all up also.

That sounds like a much better conspiracy theory to me. A statement like that would get your name plastered in way more places than something about an arranged home run. People in offices everywhere would be talking about that, thinking, “Just maybe.” Hey, if you’re making stuff up, you might as well make it big.

Getting back to the point: so far I haven’t even thought about the other part of this equation, meaning Mr. Park. By saying that Ripken cheated of course implies that Park cheated as well, which is absurd. Here’s Park, a young pitcher in his first All-Star Game, pitching before a record audience. This is his first real big chance to prove to the whole nation that he is a legitimate young gun in Major League Baseball. What do you think he is going to do with this opportunity of epic proportions? See if he can get shelled? Lob a couple balls down the tubes and see what happens? Let Ripken have a gimme? “Who cares what I look like, just so long as Ripken has one more moment of glory to cap things off?”

Yeah right-and food services really had to raise prices just to break even. (My grandma could feed this campus and make a fortune doing it, and we wouldn’t have to eat chicken strips every meal.)

Park stood to lose even more than Ripken if things turned sour. Ripken’s career is over. He has put in his years, had his fun, and made his money.

Park however, would be in some factory in Korea assembling McDonald’s Happy Meal prizes before you could say Pokemon. He’s not that stupid; he’s heard of Pete Rose and he knows what would happen if he got caught rigging a game. What’s worse is he realizes that he wouldn’t even have the luxury to act in cheesy commercials like Pete Rose does (but really, is that more noble than making Happy Meal trinkets?).

The bottom line is the whole conspiracy theory is bogus, not just in this case, but throughout all sports. Sports, other than boxing and professional wrestling which are as artificial as the contents of Britney Spears’ bra, are not rigged. Propaganda and stories of cheating do not belong in the sports section of the paper. I refuse to watch a game with corrupt thoughts creeping into my mind because some idiot wanted to make a name for himself by stirring up some controversy. Those individuals should stick to writing about politicians and college admissions committees. Conspiracy theories about the Kennedy’s alone should keep them more than busy.

So watch on. Think not. Worry not. Just trust, admire, and enjoy your sports.

The view from the basement

Friday, August 31st, 2001 | Dan Boyd

Far away from our purple mountains and amber fields, people do not grasp the intricacies of bowling and think that the Super Bowl serves as an American celebration of piling on top of one another in full masquerade.

While in Spain last semester, I discovered this firsthand. I remember wandering misty-minded through the narrow, elegant streets of Oviedo the first night after arrival. In the confines of a small caf‚ that smelled of salted pork I followed the gazes of a handful of older men and watched and watched as Oviedo tackled the giants of Spanish soccer, Real Madrid.

Americans know how to root for their teams, but except for perhaps Cubs and Red Sox fan, I had never seen such loyalty and devotion. Soccer in Spain enters the lungs and upon exhalation one almost feels the desperate love of the game.

The environment at games defies easy explanation. Scarves waving, drums pounding, and emotions running over; I soon became hooked.

The names of Oli, Esteban, and Danjou became more important to me than those of Warner, Edmonds and Vi¤a. The day after a match, the local newspaper never failed to place it front and center on the cover page, regardless of tragedies or impending political decisions.

In Spain, f£tbol is politics, popular culture, and perhaps even religion mixed into one steaming dish. During the years preceding the Spanish Civil War, the two clubs of Madrid became closely affiliated on an ideological level with the two sides of the bitter conflict. The red-striped jerseys of Atl‚tico de Madrid became a rallying sign for Republicans, while Franco was known as a staunch supporter of more conservative Real Madrid.

It may be hard for us to imagine that in our well-balanced, equal-opportunity society. In fact, we may be the only country that lacks a defining national sport that captures the passions of the general populous.

The Spanish importation of soccer talent from Brazil and Argentina probably eclipses other more practical products. For a country that lost much prestige since its days as a colonial superpower, this represents a soothing balm. I am a mere sports editor, but I recognize that Roberto Carlos and Pablo Aimar represent not only some serious income finance, but also new sources of inspiration. Only the truly disillusioned could call it a mere game.

Sure, there are problems with sports in Spain. Despite the modernization of society, sports remain the domain of machismo. A fledgling women’s league exists, but unspoken societal codes discourage young girls from partaking. Also, as in American baseball, several high-profile teams throw around vast sums of money that low-budget squads could never compile, thus slanting the playing field. The system has its flaws, but tell me, what mortal thing does not?

A curious thing happened after a few months in Spain. I stopped feeling like so much of a guiri (stupid American) and recognized that precious feeling of belonging. And I think some of that came from sharing a love of soccer. Normally tranquil cafes transformed into theaters of the dramatic in our presence, and yells, groans, and songs erupted in accordance with the tide of the game.

During my five months in Oviedo I learned a great deal about families, religious beliefs, customs, and more. I learned that staying out until seven in the morning drinking and dancing with Spanish girls was definitely worth the hangover. I learned that paella and tortilla stack right up there with Burger King and Steak `N’ Shake. And I learned that Oviedo could not stay in its spot in the sun.

We were all united in our suffering as the outmanned squad finally succumbed to the higher-budget teams. But they did not fall without a fight. In one of the last games of the season Oviedo shocked mighty Barcelona 1-0, prompting tears of joy from their overcome players.

I thought that I really missed not seeing the NCAA tournament and opening day of baseball season. Yet now it is the Spanish premiere league that I am jonesing for.

American sports have tradition, glamour, and worldwide publicity. But resist the urge to let all that we have blind you, or think less of other countries. Sometimes it is tough to break away from ethnocentrism, especially for a sports fan.

Q&A with stellar WU setter

Friday, August 31st, 2001 | Renee Hires

ould you explain the significance of this past weekend’s scrimmage?
Most importantly it’s just more experience, because it’s a new team with a new combination of players, so it’s really important to play with each other as much as possible to see how people would react in certain situations and to feel comfortable with the chemistry of the whole team.

As the starting setter, what sort of role must you play out on the court?
I am in charge of running the offense, so it’s my job to find out which plays will be most effective in terms of what the other team is doing on defense and what we’re best at on offense. My job is to get the ball to the hitter or to attack myself.

With setters having to call a lot of shots, how closely have you worked with the coach?
Especially when I was a freshman and sophomore, we talked a lot about different situations and what kind of plays you would run. Now, we’re getting more in depth about the game and more technical.

Since you are also a co-captain, in what other ways must you act as a leader for the women?
I just keep everybody together and focused in the direction that we want to head. On and off the court. I’ll be there for support or encouragement if someone needs it.

Has volleyball always been a large part of your life?
When I was very young my parents actually coached volleyball at the grade school level, so I was just kind of around in the gym. Then in sixth grade or so I started playing for one of the club teams in the area.

How did your high school playing days go?
At the end of my freshman year, I was starting varsity so I had four letters. We never made it to State but we came close. We won conference several times. My first two years of club volleyball I played as a defensive specialist and then my eighth grade year I was switched to center. In high school it was a fall season and then there was club volleyball in the spring.

After so many seasons what have you already taken from the sport?
Friendships are obviously a good part of it. You always wonder how your former teammates are doing and the coaches especially. You’ll always have those relationships with you. I guess in terms of life lessons, just being able to dedicate myself to something so long and to know that I still truly do love volleyball. And there’s time management and those things everyone always tells you.

How do you balance your spot with academics?
Daily you have to be on top of your schedule. You have to make sure you get your work done when you can. Use the time you have, 20 minutes here, 20 minutes there. If you use that you’d be surprised how much you got done.

What other interests do you pursue on campus?
I take voice lessons. I sing in the choir down at the Catholic Student Center, and I’ve been in the chamber choir a couple times.

Have you ever sung the National Anthem at WU?
I’ve sung the National Anthem before matches. It’s gotten to be pretty regular.

Do you sing it the same way every time or do you change it up some?
It’s mostly the same I guess, a few embellishments here or there. Actually, one of my teammates, Mia Viola, and I do a duet sometimes, and my dad came and sang so it was the three of us once with harmony parts and such. It was fun.

How will the team prepare physically or perhaps mentally for this schedule?
If the coaches have scouted a team at all, tracking tendencies that they might have, then we’ll throw that into practice. We might practice how to defend certain shots they might use. I guess that is more of the mental aspect, knowing as much as you can about the other team before hand. We also brush up on our technique.

How does the team respond to the program’s tradition of success with 7 previous national championships and streak of 12 UAA titles?
We know what’s expected. We’re striving for the top every year. We know it’s been done and can be done again, but we also know it takes a lot of dedication and hard work to get there.

After last year’s third place in the NCAA finals, what would you like to see the team accomplish this fall?
Our goal is a national championship, no doubt about it. Last year in the semifinal match we came really close to getting into the championship match, and we know we have it in us as a team. We have the skills and a lot of work to do, but it’s there.

Was that the team focus last year?
Winning a national championship was mentioned last year, but after making it to the final four it’s even more of a goal this year. We’ve got a little more confidence that we can get there. We’ve just got to put the finishing touch on it.

What level of commitment is required to maintain the necessary intensity?
It’s hard, but you really have to love the game. You have to enjoy being there all the time, because you are. You are on the road a lot and missing a lot of classes, but when you are committed to it it’s that much sweeter a reward when you succeed.

Who do you think your greatest competition might be?
I’m not really sure, honestly. I do know that we are rated fourth, but I don’t even know who’s rated above us. Puget Sound, Whitewater and I’m assuming Central will be in the running again. Actually, one of our home tournaments this year has probably four of the five top teams. Juniata and Whitewater are coming. River Falls and Ohio Northern, and they are all top-caliber teams.

Would you say that the team’s schedule is tough, and the conference is very strong too?
I would tend to agree with that. Coach [Luenemann] likes to have a pretty tough schedule so we’re used to playing tough competition all year. As for the conference, I agree it’s getting stronger, which is a good thing I think.

Do you think the that fact that there are many young players on the team will be much of a factor?
Obviously it’s going to come into play, but we’re starting with a good base. Last spring we had a really good season with a lot of growth from last year’s freshmen. With experience under our belt from last spring we’ll be in pretty good shape.

Say you didn’t play well and have a big test. Do stressful situations ever add up?
Oh, sure. A lot of times you just have to take a step back and say you know what, maybe I do have a big test, but I’m going take 20 minutes out for myself. Actually one of my hobbies is playing piano on the side. It relaxes you a bit, and you can refocus on the goals that you really do have.

With your interests in volleyball, music and academics, does one stand out as your greatest passion?
I’ve always known that I’ve had interests and abilities in all three areas, and I guess I’ve always been able to balance them in a way that I can enjoy them all. I guess that’s one way that I keep myself less stressful than I could be, because if academics aren’t going well maybe volleyball is or something is good in music. So I can balance myself.

Sports Briefs

Friday, August 31st, 2001 | Tyler Weaver


CLEVELAND-All-Star shortstop Nomar Garciaparra was put on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday by the Boston Red Sox after an exam showed swelling in his surgically repaired right wrist. Team doctor Bill Morgan said an MRI exam showed “no new adverse developments … other than inflammation.” `”The good news is there is nothing damaged,” Garciaparra said in a statement issued by the team. `’But the bad news is that the inflammation increased to the point where I have to shut it down completely and let it heal.” Garciaparra’s loss comes as the Red Sox enter a critical stretch in their quest for a postseason spot. `”We’ve played all year without Nomar,” manager Joe Kerrigan said before Wednesday night’s game against the Indians. After consulting with team doctors, Garciaparra decided it was best to rest his wrist now. Kerrigan said there was no discussion about Garciaparra shutting down for the season. “This way it removes all temptation for him (to play),” Kerrigan said. “It was the right thing to do.” Lou Merloni was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket to take Garciaparra’s roster spot. Garciaparra played Sunday night in Texas, going hitless in four at-bats after getting the day off on Saturday when the Red Sox played 18 innings against the Rangers. On the team flight to Cleveland on Sunday night, Garciaparra told Kerrigan that his wrist was sore and the club decided to send him back to Boston for an examination. “He probably shouldn’t have played on Sunday,” Kerrigan said. “But he kept quiet and wanted to play. He didn’t want to let his teammates down.” The Red Sox, who dropped four games behind Oakland in the wild card race, play their next 12 games against the Indians and AL East-leading New York Yankees. Garciaparra had wrist surgery in April. He originally was hurt when he was hit by a pitch from Baltimore’s Al Reyes in September 1999.

The 28-year-old Garciaparra returned to the Red Sox on July 29 in dramatic fashion, hitting a home run and two-run single in a win at Fenway Park over the Chicago White Sox. But Kerrigan has had to rest the three-time All-Star at least once every four days, and Garciaparra has said it would probably take a full year for his wrist to fully heal. He is batting .289 with four homers and eight RBIs in 21 games since returning. But 17 of his 24 hits have been singles, a sign that he can’t generate power because of the wrist. “He just didn’t have the ability to get on top of the inside fastball,” Kerrigan said.


The NFL’s first job action in 14 years means replacement officials on the field for exhibition games and increased concerns about player safety. Just as in 1987, when the NFL used replacement players for three regular-season contests, the games will go on. Ten officials will work each game this weekend, beginning Thursday night. They will be rotated in and out, both to provide a break and determine who are the best. League officiating supervisors also will serve as on-field officials, perhaps in more than one game each. Identifying the people blowing whistles and throwing flags will be virtually impossible after the regular officials were locked out by the NFL following stalled contract negotiations. Some players fear avoiding injuries could be more difficult, as well. “I think pro games should be officiated by professionals,” Detroit defensive end Robert Porcher said as the Lions prepared for Thursday night’s game against Tennessee. Asked if he considered officials from NFL Europe and the Arena League to be professionals, he added, “I don’t see too many players from those leagues in the NFL.” The schedule begins Thursday with five other games: Buffalo at Pittsburgh, the New York Jets at Philadelphia, Indianapolis at Cincinnati, Washington at New England, and Jacksonville at Dallas.

On Friday, it’s the New York Giants at Baltimore in an afternoon game, followed by Minesota at Miami, Tampa Bay at Atlanta, Cleveland at Carolina, Kansas City at St. Louis, Green Bay at Oakland, San Francisco at Denver, and San Diego at Arizona. Saturday, it’s New Orleans at Seattle to close out the preseason. Vikings guard Corbin Lacina voiced the concerns of his peers by admitting, “There are going to be safety issues.” “There are things with the quarterback-how long a guy’s been hit or whether he’s in the grasp,” Lacina said. “There are things on the line-high-low blocks. There are things on defense, whether a guy is hit in the head. “It moves fast. You have to be trained to handle it, so that’s a concern.” In addition to turning to NFL Europe and Arena Football, the NFL will be using some college officials, although several conferences balked at allowing on-field officials to work NFL games. Steelers tackle Wayne Gandy wonders how well the college refs and linesmen will adapt. “For safety, these guys are probably even tougher (than the NFL officials),” Gandy said. “We get away with a couple of little things out there, hits to the back. Up here, you can hit somebody in the face mask and maybe get a warning. But in college, if you hit somebody in the face mask, they throw a flag. They don’t even give you a warning.” Added Giants guard Glenn Parker: “I don’t think the rule book will be a problem. I think the speed of the game will be the problem for these guys. Ask any player who went back to his first college game after being in the pros, and he’ll say he couldn’t believe how slow it was. It’s going to be a big step up in the speed department for them.” Several coaches emphasized that who is blowing the whistle shouldn’t have an impact n the players’ performances. Of course, NFL coaches always try to eliminate preoccupations and excuses-and poor officiating can be a whopper of a distraction. “It’s not going to affect us,” Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. “These guys have been officiating college ball for a long time. I’m sure they’ll do a good job.”


Friday, August 31st, 2001 | Tyler Weaver

In the Friday, August 24 article entitled “ResTech tests wireless internet,” it was incorrectly reported that Residential Technology Services is heading up the new wirless internet tested on campus. Network Technology Services (NTS) is responsible for the effect. According to NTS, an individual’s email username and password must provide access to the university modem bank, which is used for modem connections, to access the system.

A brief visit into a freshman’s two-sided mind

Friday, August 31st, 2001 | Tyler Weaver

This isn’t easy.”

“Well of course it isn’t easy, man! Whoever said it was going to be easy? This is college, not finger painting. Don’t forget the shower shoes.”

“Oh yeah, thanks. Damn, these things are getting nasty.”

“Welcome to the wonderful world of wearing footwear whilst you cleanse.”

“I want to go back to my own world. The one with bare-footed showers and my cat.”

“You and that cat. Look around you man! There are women for miles! Living next door to you, for God’s sake! You’re living in a Pois-on video! Let the feline dependency go for a while!”

“Whatever. I miss my cat.”

“Grab the soap, will you?”

“I’m sorry, man, it’s just hard, you know, it’s difficult. Suddenly I’m floundering in this all-new world, with all-new people, without just about anything or anybody I know.”

“You brought a picture of the damn cat, didn`t you?”

“I just feel so disoriented, that’s all; like I don’t know where I’m going and I certainly don’t know where I am. It’s terrifying.”

“Dude. It’s your second week. Chill. You’re sounding like Dawson here.”

“Hey, I like that show.”

“Yes, I know, so do I. Remember, that’s the thing we’re not telling people…”

“I don’t wana wait…for our lives to be over…I want to know right now, what will it be…”

“Oh my GOD, shut UP. These are communal showers, you know.”

“Well, people are going to know we went to Catholic school.”

“Shut up.”

“Augh! What is that on the floor?”

“It’s somebody else’s hair. That’s what happens when you share a shower with a couple dozen, you know, other people.”

“Eugh…let’s just hurry up and get out of here.”

“Fine by me. You’re the one with the cloth.”

“So, where do you want to grab dinner tonight?”

“Well, there’s that `great buffet place on top of the-‘ what was it you called it? The `Wool Center?'”

“Hey, it was good at first.”

“It sure was, wasn’t it. Delectable. Magnificent, even.”

“Achem. Whose idea was it to hit on the `no way she’s not a junior’ junior? Whose brilliant plan of action was that again?”

“Shut up.”

“You even asked her what her major was. The kiss of friggin’ death. Ouch.”

“Shut it.”

“`You’re a freshman, aren’t you?’ Ooh, what a priceless moment. Frame-worthy, really.”

“You can’t frame a moment, fool.”

“Solid comeback, sport. Pass the towel.”

“Wait, you’re giving me orders? The one who wants to spend half our time on Instant Messenger? You?”

“Hey, champ, in case you hadn’t noticed, wasting precious hours on AIM is practically a collegiate pastime. Way to be up with the times.”

“Okay, this has gone too far. This is a kid who thought it might be wise to sit in the front row of the first class, despite total and utter exhaustion.”

“Hey, you’re the one who fell asleep.”

“That was both of us.”

“Okay, fine.”

“But anyway, you should most certainly not be taking shots at me. I’m your social game, little boy! You’d be holed up in that tiny room cycling Sarah McLachlan records if it weren’t for me!”

“Only because you’d have ostracized me from everything and everyone with your bridesmaid-like beer-guzzling habits.”

“Hey, that’s a battle you’ve won. Not a drink so far.”

“I know, we should keep it that way.”


“Crap. I dropped the towel on the floor.”

“Well done, HAL. Let’s dry ourselves off with stagnant foot water, eh?”

“Eugh. I miss my cat.”

“Yes, we know.”

“I miss my family. I miss everything. Somebody give me a phone.”

“Typically they don’t keep those in the bathroom, champ. Come on, let’s go.”


“Dude. Chill. We’re going to be okay. Trust me.”

After the report: environmentalism in 2001

Friday, August 31st, 2001 | Seth Garz

For those who have wandered the neo-gothic shadows of Washington University for the last week without appreciating the significance of dishware, I wish to convey the ecstasy I experienced at receiving into my sweaty palm the soft fibers of a Chinet plate from a familiar Bon Appetit staff member last Wednesday in Holmes Lounge.

Why should paper plates arouse me, you wonder? Because Bon Appetit’s conversion from use of number six plastic dishware to paper plates confirms that WU students can influence our community to consume less natural resources.

But before your hormones get out of control and your heart aflutters, I must be honest and recall the disappointment I faced when, having finished my focaccia, I was forced to dispose of that finely pressed piece of tree pulp in the garbage can. Indeed the irony of Bon Appetit’s conversion from non-recyclable and slowly decomposing plastics to non-recyclable quickly biodegradable fiber ware is an apt analogy for the ebb and flow of environmental developments on campus, which have been the source of both pride and consternation.

Catalyzed by last semester’s student-authored account of resource efficiency on campus, the environmentalist community at WU has made significant strides in improving resource utilization on campus. Recently, WU hired alum Nate Dewart as Recycling Coordinator, Professor Richard Smith of the Anthropology Department spoke to an “extremely receptive” Board of Trustees regarding non-sustainable global consumption, and Chancellor Wrighton’s office hired Kyle Thomas as a part-time summer intern to research the environmental activities of WU’s local and national academic competitors. Coupled with the formation of a Committee on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the hiring of new staff has certainly improved the administrative infrastructure that deals with issues of resource efficiency. But a deeper look into the “environmentally friendly” steps taken on campus reveal that this custom-crafted administrative machine is still lacking.

Student patrons of the WU meal plan may have noticed that their culinary contract includes a reusable beverage mug emblazoned with a new brand, “Dining Services.” This year’s mugs differ from last year’s in two important respects: Bon Appetit distributed them at no additional charge and increased the incentive to reuse from fifty cents to sixty cents. However, the improvement in mug distribution was largely due to the volunteer efforts of Samir Luther and Nate Dewart during the summer. While both are members of the CEQ, they pursued the mug strategy on their own initiative before Nate was formally employed as Recycling Coordinator. In addition, the mugs were donated in good faith only after Bon Appetit deleted – rather than provide to environmental activists – statistical information regarding the frequency with which students used their mugs.

So what? Well, what purports to be an “environmentally friendly” step was made based on intuition regarding cost and resource efficiency in response to the efforts of self-motivated students. Could it be that the constant insinuations that students are not contributing their part to the efficiency effort are as unbalanced as Bon Appetit balance sheets?

Do not misinterpret this opinion as an attempt to mock the administration’s efforts. I am mostly pleased and proud. But, as Assistant to the Chancellor Steve Givens noted in an August 21st article, “this campus [administration] is decentralized.” The existence of administrative committees does not guarantee progress. Believe it or not, freshmen were denied the opportunity of entering a campus not only blanketed with fresh flowers, but also recycling containers, because of an administrative debate over the preferred aesthetic of the recycling receptacles intended for public spaces. At least I am comforted by the knowledge that the containers, when they arrive, will match the future library fa‡ade!

So how can we efficiently marry the machinations of administrators and motivations of students while keeping the trash cans pretty? I believe that through more informal cooperation, research, and articulation of ideas we can progress from “environmentally friendly” steps to resource-efficient hops. I suggest administrators (after being invited) sit in on student meetings of Green Action and the Sierra Club, the administration empower activists with the authority to open trash bags and analyze what is not getting recycled and where, the Chancellor release Kyle Thomas’ 50 page report to the public, and the CEQ buy the head of the Facilities department a subscription to Environmental Science and Engineering Magazine. As students, we must continue to look at ourselves as resources and not bystanders.

Wolves, geckos, and the death of small talk

Friday, August 31st, 2001 | Jake Elster

I was wrangling with wolves, skinning rattlers, and eating geckos last week when I thought of today; or rather the day when people would ask me what I did this summer. It was one of those big-haired dudes (Einstein with his theory of general relativity?) who made some comment to the effect that something is lost in the conversion from the micro to the macro. I faced a similar problem with how to share what has been my life for the past three months in 200 words or less. Often I find myself numbed by the enormity of opening questions or, perhaps, the dry redundancy.

“So, like, what classes are you taking?”

“Do you have a lot of work?”

At parties.I have heard this repeated at parties! I know I’ve done it, and so have you-but think of how, well, lame it is to chew on stress at parties. There is something else less drab, less grinding, and more fulfilling that we all have in common other than summers and stress. That is why I have decided to conduct an examination into the conversational foreplay here at Washington U. with hopes of making small talk more meaningful or, at least, a tad more entertaining.

It is plain pretentious and negligent to glaze over the many exquisite individuals that we encounter daily by spewing out surface questions that reveal more of one’s situation rather than one’s self. Engaging a person’s tastes, history, and character will undoubtedly allow you to forge bonds of substance rather than perpetual `hello and goodbye’ relationships.

Establishing a common ground is clutch in dispelling this all-too-common underestimation of our peers, which is the reason why the humdrum subjects of school and stress are overused. To provide alternatives I tried to discern what fuses us, Washington University students, into a cohesive community. Big Ten schools have their sports and the University of Colorado at Boulder has its drugs, but a first look at WU only emphasizes our diversity. This is bad in the sense that the focus is on differences rather than similarities, but good in the sense that we have more stories to tell and more to learn. We didn’t choose WU solely for the city or the revelry, but rather to satiate our passionate intellectual curiosity. So, when the situation allows, appeal to that and attack the core of a stranger’s belief system. You sure won’t forget the name of one who denies the existence of the number 0, dark matter, or Oprah’s book club.

If the purpose of the conversation is more for entertainment or bawdy banter, then there are alternative segues into a stranger’s psyche that are more innocuous because of their reliability. If you can name the “heroes in a half-shell” than you are a product of the 80’s. It is quite obvious that those who favor Leonardo are leaders, those who side with Donatello are the intellectuals, Raphael fans are California hippies, and Michelangelo sympathizers are plain party dudes. The fact is, every one of us watched Saturday morning cartoons and I can determine much from an individual who sides with Garfield over Heathcliff, or who thinks Gambit could whoop Wolverine (which he could.) When I find a fellow Fragglerock fan, my connection with them is stronger than it ever was with either of my first two wives. Be innovative with your small talk by using subjects like cartoons, dirty jokes, or favorite children’s books that are general enough for us all to have in common, comfortable enough to discuss with a stranger, and that actually draw from a person’s personal taste. This will hopefully deter uncomfortable dead-ends brought about by a frantic search for similarities and will yield a tastier, more substantial conversation-with half the nuisance calories. As a general rule, remember that general questions beg for general responses so unless you expect a one-word response, don’t be too lazy to make your question specific. Ask for a particular story from one’s summer or a couple of buzz words that would describe it if the person is a bad orator. Just don’t trivialize someone else’s experiences by forcing them to oversimplify their life.

While conversation is not as complex or structured as organic chemistry, it can be as painful and unrewarding if we allow stale talk to continue unchecked because of our need for formal pleasantries. So, please, if you run into me at a party, don’t ask me about schoolwork because I would rather you tell me about what you are learning, about what excites you. Don’t be afraid to share part of yourself with a stranger. If you don’t give or take anything in the course of a conversation, you’re probably just trying to get into a person’s pants – otherwise, why would you waste your breath or strain your ears?

Questions not answers

Friday, August 31st, 2001 | Yoni Cohen

Newspapers lie (see the correction below.) They deceive and misrepresent. A student who blindly accepts the “facts” from a front-page story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch or The New York Times performs not only a disservice to themselves, but often, when they choose to publicize their ill-informed opinion, to the larger Washington University community.

The above statements are not controversial. Many college students would agree with my unfavorable assessment of American journalism. But few of us, including those cognizant of mass media’s faults, actually allow our criticisms to color our beliefs. Rather than acknowledging our ignorance, we often embrace the snapshot -the singular news story we happened to come across – as the be all and end all, the ultimate truth. In matters we can know little about, we continue to spout our opinions with increasing steadfastness, resolve, and intensity.

Take the case of my comparative politics class last Wednesday. Asked by the professor to discuss an issue of international import, a student responded with commentary on the Arab-Israeli conflict. He mentioned Israel’s crackdown in the West Bank, the recent use of military force by Israeli soldiers against Palestinians, and American provision of military supplies to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF.) Whether the student understood the one-sided nature of this “objective” news story remains to be seen. I believe he merely wished to demonstrate that he had completed the professor’s assignment. Either way, his comments did not suggest a familiarity of the context in which the picture was taken. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict must be understood within the larger, centuries-old Arab-Israeli conflict, the history of the State of Israel, and the recent Palestinian uprisings, or intifadas. The specific claims made by the student (which were factually correct), must also be understood within the contemporary Israeli psyche.

Israel’s crackdown in the West Bank is a response to increased terrorist activity. The most basic function of any state is the defense of its citizenry, and the steps taken by the IDF – often reluctantly – are adopted in the hope of preventing increasingly common terrorist attacks. Simply put, they’re meant to save lives. Similarly, soldiers’ use of force, however undesirable, has been a byproduct of conflict for centuries, and will, unfortunately, continue in the Middle East. Police cannot overcome terror with defensive measures alone. Finally, the article’s focus on American support of the IDF omits an equally troubling concern for Israelis, American support for Palestinian terror. Provisions within recent peace accords call upon the international community to financially support the Palestinian Authority (PA), including the Palestinian police. Over the past couple months, evidence has come to light suggesting that resources allocated to the PA are funding attacks against Israel. When current and former Palestinian policemen terrorize Israel, public sentiment for peace wanes in the Jewish state.

These arguments are but a few of the ones I heard during a recent one-week tour of Israel coordinated by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL.) Traveling as part of a group of campus newspaper editors, I met with and had the pleasure of interviewing numerous high-level government and military officials, peace negotiators, ambassadors, anti-terrorism specialists, senior Israeli, American and Palestinian journalists, and leaders of numerous religions, communities and minorities within the State of Israel. At the trip’s conclusion, the ADL’s Director of Higher Education Affairs, Jeffrey Ross, suggested that before visiting Israel, most people end their sentences with exclamation points, but after touring the country, they end their sentences with question marks. So it was for me.

Despite my basic familiarity with the country and its struggles, the trip to Israel prompted more questions than answers. While I continue to hold certain opinions (eg. Arafat must crack down on terrorists, if not with 100% results, at least with 110% effort) I am no longer so certain in my convictions. I recognize Jewish settlements in the West Bank as inflammatory and offensive to Palestinians, and accept the desires of the Palestinian people for a state to call their own. Previously black and white photographs have become many shades of gray.

I am aware of the inherent irony of this article; an opinion editor suggesting students be less forthcoming and resolute with their opinions. And I cannot claim that this piece is without bias. I continue to wear Israeli dog tags (sold to me by WU AIPAC) and call for the return of kidnapped Israeli soldiers. I am a product of the country in which I was born and the religion I grew up into. But I have come to recognize that my opinions, and everybody else’s, are based upon snapshots of reality. Pictures may be worth a thousand words, but to adequately address the Arab-Israeli conflict, I’d need at least a million, as would a staff writer. Next time you read a news story, read critically, ask questions, and when you’ve finished the article, read another. Don’t frame the picture as your own, take another.


Friday, August 31st, 2001 | Bernell Dorrough

Police are out to help students
To the Editor:

On the 28th of August Mr. John Gels had published here a letter to the editor which indicated that the non-campus police are biased against college students. I feel that there are two sides to this. Firstly, it must be pointed out that there are a lot of disruptive college students here at Washington University. That is a basic part of human nature. Any large body of people is going to have its antisocial element, and college students are especially problematic. As Mr. Gels wrote, all you have to do is look at the Police Beat. Who do you think is committing the crime, the vandalism, disturbing the peace, and petty theft? Many of the criminals are students. A drunk student will do a lot that a sober one will not, and increased police patrols on Friday and Saturday nights make a lot of sense.
As for Mr. Gels’ problems with the Clayton Police, I might suggest that he is unfairly extrapolating from his personal bad experience. Lots of people have had bad experiences with the police; no organization, police or otherwise, can be expected to be perfect, and some citizens will be more unlucky than others. As a student patrol and escort worker for the Campus Police I will freely admit that I am a supporter of the police in general.
However, I will not support discriminatory practices by them in any way. Mr. Gels is letting his cynicism and feelings of persecution give rise to unfounded accusations of bias because his limited experience has not been good. I suggest that the next time he feels “unprotected” he go to the Loop and wave at the cops. He might be surprised at how many of them wave back.

M. Alan Thomas II
Class of 2004

New parking garage is deathtrap
To the Editor:

The new parking garage behind Fraternity Row is an accident waiting to happen at best and a deathtrap at worst. Considering the lengthy amount of time that was necessary to complete this structure, I am shocked to see how poorly designed it is. There are significant design flaws. The first is the unsafe amount of actual driving space. There is hardly enough room for two cars to pass each other without swiping a parked car. Secondly, the turns are extremely dangerous. There are numerous blind spots that may be overlooked and a collision is imminent. I find it hard to believe that “Compact Cars Only” signs will actually keep SUV’s from parking in these corner spots. A simple addition of mirrors would easily alleviate this problem. I’d also suggest a yellow line be painted to separate oncoming traffic. Furthermore, there is no pedestrian walkway on levels 1-3. So in addition to cars coming out of a blind spot, you must also watch out for people walking to and from their cars. All of this pales in comparison to the design of the garage entrance. It is IMPOSSIBLE for a car to enter and another car to exit at the same time. To make matters worse, it is also impossible to see into the garage from Snow Way. It is very likely that a car will turn into the garage without seeing a car that is exiting. This garage is dangerous to drive in, life-threatening to walk through and miserable to live near. Maybe we should put all of the University administrators’ parking spaces on the 4th level of this garage so that they can experience each of the 5 hairpin turns. Or maybe our $325 parking fee should also cover the insurance deductible when we are hit head-on by another driver. Either way, I find it appalling that Washington University has spent $5.28 million (as reported in Student Life, 2/18/2001), or $12,000 per space, on this poor excuse for a parking garage.

Adam Schulman
Class of 2002
Support for freshman bonding
To the editor:

I am responding to Marc Dobrow’s opinion essay on freshman transition. The essay reminded me of my own pre-freshman days 3 years ago. I joined a “Step Ahead Program” designed for international freshmen and took two classes over the summer as an incoming freshman.
The program helped me to learn the ropes and meet with friends that last. I believe that similar programs should be re-introduced to the Class of 2006.
Class of 2005 is quite frightening. In Cantonese, 2 means easy or change. In Chinese, 5 means fight. At Washington University, we need to call 5-5555 if there is a fire or a fight. And my intuition tells me that there are quite a few fighters in the class of 2005. Also, the year 2005 would be a year we all have to watch – a year of tough peace-keeping.
Also, what does Marc and Dobrow mean? Remember names in vain.

Ho Simon Wang
Arts & Sciences
Class of 2002