Archive for March, 2005

There’s no ‘W’ in best

Wednesday, March 30th, 2005 | Allie Wieczorek

There are some things in life that everybody just accepts. Everybody accepts that the best Philly cheesesteaks comes from Philly. Everybody accepts that you can only see the best musicals on Broadway. Everybody accepts that Wash U has one of the best medical schools in the country. I recently learned that everybody also accepts that the best team-in any sport-is the team that wins the national championship. Well, needless to say, I beg to differ-at least in college basketball.

Each year, 64 teams compete in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The winners move on, and the losers just played their last game of the season. But one bad game does not make a team bad. And the best team in the league can have a bad game just as readily as the worst. The tournament is not like the World Series, where you can play three bad games and still have the chance to take it home. That’s why it’s so much more exhilarating.

Think about it this way: Let’s say Michigan State wins it all. I’m assuming you wouldn’t all be jumping up and down at the opportunity to start calling the Spartans the best college basketball team of this season. I’m not just being a Duke fan when I say that Duke is a much better team than Michigan State. I know you can say this about every game in the tournament, but they were lucky that Duke was having a bad night.

Of course it is possible that the best team in the league is one of the Final Four teams. Sometimes the best team ends up winning the National Championship, but a National Championship title doesn’t give them the “best” title.

This takes a lot for me to say, but North Carolina is hands down the best team in the Final Four and arguably in the league right now. Be warned that if Illinois wins this tournament, I am refusing to accept or respond to any comments, written or spoken, along the lines of “I told you so.”

I know I do a lot of Illini and Big Ten bashing, but it’s not without merit. Aside from facing Wake Forest before the Big Ten season and Michigan State and Wisconsin during it, Illinois was hardly challenged until last week’s game against Arizona. And they looked awful. Had Arizona not choked-dare I say it-like the Yankees in the ALCS last year, the Illini would have finally been put in their place. They are undeniably a great team, but they are undeniably not the best in the league.

The assumption that the NCAA Tournament Champion team is the best college basketball team in the country also brings about a bunch of “who beat who” banter. If Michigan State wins, I can say that Duke could have done it just as well. Duke beat Michigan State early in the season and beat North Carolina in one of two meetings this year. And all of the Illinois fans would throw temper tantrums because the Illini beat the Spartans twice during regular season and Michigan State definitely doesn’t deserve the “best” title over the beloved Fighting Illini.

If the best team always won, it wouldn’t be the NCAA tournament. The best part of March Madness is the Madness. Upsets are the backbone of the tournament. That’s what we all love about it. We love all of the overtimes and one-point victories, whether or not the higher seed or “better” team is the team that pulls through.

The truth is that no single game, calculator or other contraption can sufficiently determine the “best” college basketball team. Of course the champions deserve the utmost respect and congratulations-as do the overall one-seeds as well as the teams with the best records, field goal percentages, amount of points per game and other statistical “bests.” But you have to take into account how much fun they are to watch, how much fun they have playing and the character of the team. It really just comes down to personal opinion. Why do the National Champions need the “best” title anyway…they have the title that really matters and no one can do a thing about it.

Mildly comical baseball predictions

Wednesday, March 30th, 2005 | Jordan Katz and Alex Schwartz

American League

East: New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox win Wild Card (for a change)

Our apologies to “Red Sox Nation,” but we have no reason to believe that the Bronx Bombers are going to be dethroned in their quest for yet another AL East title. Despite the young Blue Jays being a year older, the Orioles’ acquisition of Slammin’ Sammy Sosa and manager Lou Pinella’s dyed blonde hair, these three clubs will again play second fiddle to baseball’s greatest rivalry. This year will be no exception to the rule that paying over $150 million for a team will almost guarantee a playoff spot. And on a side note: for all of you students who aren’t from Boston yet chose to support the Red Sox instead of the Cardinals in last year’s World Series, you can all go to hell.

Central: Cleveland Indians (The Tribe’s alive in 2005!)

Young guns C.C. Sabathia, Jake Westbrook and Cliff Lee join forces with savvy veteran pitcher Kevin Millwood and a more stable bullpen to provide pitching depth to an already potent offensive roster, which features the likes of Victor Martinez, Travis Hafner, Coco Crisp and a healthy Aaron Boone. Apologies to starting pitcher Johan Santana and the Minnesota Twins, but it does not seem likely that their shallow starting rotation and light-hitting lineup will stand up this year. The Detroit Tigers should show another marked improvement over past years, and they certainly remain a darkhorse candidate in this historically weak division. Look for the Kansas City Royals and the Chicago White Sox to make up the last two spots in the AL Central, barring abnormal seasons from White Sox “aces” Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez and Jose Contreras, former Yankees rejects. All in all, expect the Twins, Sox, Royals and Tigers to be playing the role of Colonel Custer at Little Big Horn this year while the Indians play, well…you know.

West: LA Angels? Anaheim Angels? Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim… that’s it.

The addition of Steve Finley to a perennially powerful lineup should secure the Halos a repeat performance atop the West. A vastly improved Seattle Mariners squad, an offensive juggernaut in the Texas Rangers and Billy Beane’s statistics project in Oakland make predictions in this highly competitive division speculative at best. Expect a dogfight all year long with the thunderous bat of reigning MVP Vladimir Guerrero and the thunderous appetite of Bartolo Colon giving the Angels a very small edge.

AL MVP: Vladimir Guerrero repeats.
AL Cy Young: Randy Johnson, good for making birds explode and winning Cy Youngs.

National League

East: Atlanta Braves (And you were expecting the Mets, right?)

Did the Braves offseason acquisitions match up to those of the Mets or Marlins? No. Can any of us remember a year when the Braves didn’t win? Even Alex’s grandmother can’t remember a year when the Braves didn’t end up on top. Then again, Alex’s grandmother can’t remember Alex’s name. While the Mets and Marlins did make significant splashes in the free-agent market (Beltran and Martinez to Queens and Delgado to Miami), we can’t deem it feasible for the Braves to relinquish their stranglehold on their division.

Central: St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs win Wild Card (The two darlings of the Midwest get another chance to choke in the playoffs)

Though our Redbirds replaced all-star shortstop Edgar Renteria with dwarfish David Eckstein, they added the one thing that prevented them from winning it all last year: a bona fide staff ace in Mark Mulder. The middle of the Cardinals’ batting order is to opposing pitchers what Mike Tyson is to earlobes. The pitching staff in Chicago is still very dominant and should keep them in contention for at least the Wild Card, if not the whole division. Expect a significant drop-off from the Astros as Roger Clemens, Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell are getting ready to collect Social Security. The Brewers, Reds and Pirates continue to show improvement but are a few years away from being legitimate contenders.

West: San Francisco Giants (Hearing Barry Bonds’ squeaky voice during playoff press conferences never gets old.)

‘Roids aside, a healthy Barry Bonds is the most dominant player in baseball, period. Assuming he comes back in May, as speculation suggests, the Giants will be in the cat-bird seat this year. With strong pitching and a weak offense, the Los Angeles Dodgers should cause some sleepless nights in San Francisco, but the switch-hitting fan base in San Francisco (not that there’s anything wrong with that) should expect their squad to hold off the Dodgers and the up-and-coming Padres. As in years past, assume that the Rockies will smash the cover off the ball in Coors, where the beer flows like wine. Hey, didn’t the Diamondbacks win a World Series in 2001? Yes. Now the club is drafting homegrown talent from the University of Phoenix Online.

NL MVP: Albert Poo-holes
NL Cy Young: Mark Prior

Final Four: Tough to top excitement of Elite Eight

Wednesday, March 30th, 2005 | Scott Kaufman-Ross

The city of St. Louis has been preparing for months for the Final Four to come. Hotel accommodations, taxis and restaurants will all be booked to capacity as media and fans pour into town to watch the big dance come to a close. A lot of pressure is riding on St. Louis this week to be an accommodating and welcoming host city to the Final Four. Now St. Louis also has to try and top the excitement of this past weekend’s Elite Eight games.

Four games, four overtimes. That pretty much sums up the Elite Eight action on Saturday and Sunday. For the first time in NCAA history, three of the four regional final match-ups went into overtime, with Michigan State and Kentucky providing a double overtime thriller to close out the weekend.

Saturday was the day of incredible comebacks with Louisville and West Virginia starting things off. Louisville fought back from a 20-point deficit to force overtime, and survived with a 93-85 overtime victory. The next game provided even more excitement when Illinois erased a 15-point deficit, finishing the game on a 20-5 run in the final four minutes to force overtime. Overtime ended in dramatic fashion as well as Hassan Adams could only manage an off-balance three-point attempt and Illinois escaped with a 90-89 thrilling victory.

Sunday’s action started off with a competitive game between North Carolina and Wisconsin. Wisconsin played the Tar Heels tough down the stretch cutting the lead to one with just under nine minutes remaining, but UNC’s superior talent proved to be enough in an 88-82 victory. However, any excitement lacking in Sunday’s first game was compensated for in the later duel between Michigan State and Kentucky. After another competitive game, Kentucky trailed by three with under 20 seconds to go. After two three-point attempts failed, the ball bounced right into the arms of Kentucky’s Patrick Sparks, who jumped into the air, double-clutched and released the ball just beyond the three-point line. The ball bounced several times on the rim before rolling in, sending the Kentucky faithful into a frenzy and the game into overtime. After a low scoring first overtime, Michigan State got the better of the Wildcats in the second, earning their bid as the fourth team to the Final Four.

As the weekend approaches, it is difficult to imagine that this next set of games can top the events of this past weekend. In fact, even in professional sports, it often seems that the semifinal rounds are far more exciting than the final game itself. Many times in football the AFC and NFC Championship games are more exciting than the Super Bowl, partly because the teams are more familiar with each other. In recent years in baseball, the American and National League Championship Series have been exponentially more exciting than the World Series. Over the past two years, both the NLCS and ALCS have gone to seven games both years. The World Series went six games in 2003 and 2004 was a Red Sox sweep. The excitement of the League Championship Series, headlined by the results produced by the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, greatly overshadowed that of the World Series.

Is a trend developing? If so, this means bad news for St. Louis. The city has been promoting the Final Four as if it were the only great thing ever to happen in this town. Hopefully, the games will be just as exciting, if not more, than this weekend’s games, but do not be surprised if all three games are blowouts. Anyway, here are some fast predictions for this weekend’s games.

Illinois vs. Louisville

The Cardinals come into this game still riding their anger from being a No. 4 seed. For a team ranked No. 4 overall in the nation by both the AP and ESPN/USA Today polls, the No. 4 seed placement was taken personally by Louisville and head coach, Rick Pitino. Louisville is no fluke: they can run the floor as well as anyone in the country, and have some sensational guards in Taquan Dean and Francisco Garcia, who can both shoot and penetrate. Illinois is represented well as the top overall seed in the tournament, led by a deadly backcourt trio of Dee Brown, Deron Williams and Luther Head. Illinois runs the floor just as well as Louisville, if not better, and presents superior frontcourt play with James Augustine and Roger Powell Jr. Both teams can score, but this game will come down to which team plays better defense. I believe Bruce Weber has the Illini playing good enough defense to carry them through one more round. Expect a high scoring game, with an exciting ending.

Illinois 86, Louisville 84

North Carolina vs. Michigan State

Michigan State has made a tremendous run. After receiving a break when Syracuse was upset, they upset top-seeded Duke and second-seeded Kentucky. However, neither Duke nor Kentucky possess the level of talent the Tar Heels do. What was once a young, talented, but inexperienced team has developed into a powerhouse of experienced, talented veterans. Raymond Felton, Jawad Williams, Marvin Williams, Sean May and Rashad McCants are all upperclassmen now, and are playing at the top of their game at the right time. When a team has five future pros playing smart and experienced basketball, it is going to take a heck of a lot more than a hot run and an experienced coach to beat them. Congratulations to Michigan State for making the Final Four, but have a safe trip home on Saturday Night.

North Carolina 78, Michigan State 70

The Final Four is finally here

Wednesday, March 30th, 2005 | Emily Tobias and Mary Bruce
David Brody

March Madness has officially arrived in St. Louis and the city is psyched for this weekend’s Final Four. But the tournament will not be your only chance to get in on the action. If you’ve missed out on the brackets or have bet away all of your savings, there are plenty of free events and activities in the St. Louis area that are sure to entertain. Even if you choose to experience the Madness from the comfort of your couch, the showdown is set. This Saturday Illinois will face Louisville and UNC will duel it out with Michigan State in downtown St. Louis.

This year’s Final Four will be the fourth hosted by the city of St. Louis. The city has previously welcomed three men’s Final Fours and one women’s. However, this year’s tournament is the first to be held in the Edward Jones Dome, which was completed in 1995. St. Louis, which has been called an ideal location for this kind of event because of its size and compact downtown area, was selected to host the tournament back in 1998 and has spend the past seven years preparing for this weekend.

Although tickets may be nearly impossible to obtain and all of the hotel rooms in the city are booked, there is really a lot more going on this weekend than just the tournament itself. In fact, there is so much going on in the next few days that the games seem like an afterthought… well, almost.

“There are so many things for everyone,” said Frank Viverito, the president of the St. Louis Sports Commission and one of the forces behind bringing this weekend’s events to St. Louis. “Practices are all open and free to the public, so anyone can come down and watch the teams practice.”

For Viverito and the rest of the St. Louis Sports Commission, this weekend has been a long time in the making and one that they are eager to see become reality.

“Our bid [for the Final Four] was prepared in 1997. The event was awarded to St. Louis in June of 1998. It’s wonderful that this building [the Edward Jones Dome] can produce so well for the region,” said Viverito.

Along with the honor of receiving the bid, St. Louis will profit from the immense economic benefits of the weekend.

“The economic impact… ranges from $50-62 million in that one weekend and that almost pales in comparison to the visibility [and] the excitement [and] the understanding that St. Louis is on a national stage and that we are capable of producing an event of this magnitude, its just really exciting,” said Viverito.

Doug Elgin, commissioner of the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC), the conference sponsoring the tournament, pointed out that this weekend will be a great financial opportunity for local businesses.

“[There will be] a lot more emphasis on staying open late if you’re bars or restaurants […] It’s a great opportunity to make money for the restaurateurs and bar owners.”

Furthermore, with two of the Final Four teams based within 300 miles of St. Louis, the number of visitors could be even larger than expected, as the city swells with Illinois and Louisville fans.

Elgin is anticipating larger numbers than were initially predicted.

“Conservatively [we predicted] 50,000, but I think that with Illinois and Louisville coming we’re going to see more like 75 to 100 [thousand],” said Elgin. “The influx of visitors here is going to be like nothing we’ve seen before.”

Viverito also noted that the Edward Jones Dome is one of the few stadiums in the region with the capacity to house an event like the Final Four.

“[Receiving the bid for the tournament] is not as complicated a situation as some might expect because there are only ten or so buildings across the country that can host the Final Four. It’s a rigorous procedure because it’s very specific… a lot of pieces have to come together,” said Viverito.

While the venue is ideal for the event, the seating capacity has been cut down significantly from its oval football-field shape to accommodate the smaller basketball court.

Mary Hendron, director of Public Relations for the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission (CVC), which owns and operates the Edward Jones Dome, said that the total capacity for the Dome is 70,000 people. However, the transformation for the tournament has downsized the number to around 46,700.

“The planning is mostly done, and now it’s just executing those plans,” said Elgin.

As this weekend nears, the local organizing committee for the tournament (comprised of the MVC, the St. Louis Sports Commission, Saint Louis University and the CVC) is adding the final touches and preparing for any foreseeable problems.

“The dome itself is pretty much set up, other than the technical aspects,” said Elgin, who has planned for “scoreboard problems, power outages, or major things that can go wrong.”

“The one thing that we can’t do anything about [is the weather],” joked Carole Moody, president of the CVC. “But everything else that we can control I think is well in hand.”

When asked about other opportunities and events that the ticketless fan can take advantage of, Viverito said there is a “whole series of special events, from Hoop City, which is an interactive event in the Convention Center, to Dasani Fest, which is a musical event that runs most of the day Sunday. They have artists like Kelly Clarkson and Gavin DeGraw and Joss Stone that will be performing.”

Other events include Taste of St. Louis, which includes 25 area restaurants in the city and will take place all weekend in Kiener Plaza. The March to the Arch, an event where an estimated 3,000 children will be dribbling basketballs down Market Street to the Arch, is scheduled for Sunday afternoon. According to Viverito, there is also a Nelly concert scheduled for Sunday night.

Freshman Troy Ruths, a forward on the Washington University basketball team, is excited about the Final Four being in St. Louis this year.

“I would say that it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be in the same city as the Final Four,” said Ruths. “The Final Four is more than just three games. You can see the whole city come alive.”

In a stroke of luck, Ruths got a ticket to the game from an old basketball coach.

“[The seat’s] not bad-about halfway up,” said Ruths. “Usually the good seats go to the coaches and the players’ families.”

Sophomore Sally Preminger, a diehard UNC fan from Chapel Hill, found another means of getting tickets to the Final Four.

“[My brother and I] got tickets this summer through the NCAA lottery,” said Preminger. “I knew this summer that we were going [to the tournament], and I just prayed that UNC would get there.”

Preminger also said that she is planning on checking out Hoops Village and that she has tickets to the Slam Dunk Contest at the Fieldhouse on Thursday.

The weekend wouldn’t be complete without the after-hours parties. The marketing group Synergy is throwing several parties, some of which will feature the St. Lunatics and Chingy while another will be hosted by a Playboy Bunny.

“It made sense, having one of the largest sporting events in the country in St. Louis, to put together a series of events that would successfully reflect the diversity of St. Louis nightlife,” said Andrew Mullins, one of the managing partners of Synergy. “This town has no idea what it’s about to be hit with.”

Overall, this is not a weekend to be missed, and Viverito summed it up by saying, “it’s a little bit of Mardi Gras, and it’s a little bit of basketball and it’s a whole lot of fun. There are so many people in town and there are so many special events that occur that there’s something going on all weekend long.”

Professor is Missouri Inventor of the Year

Wednesday, March 30th, 2005 | Laura Geggel
Dan Daranciang

Washington University’s Ron Indeck received the Missouri Inventor of the Year award last Wednesday from the patent and trademark division of the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis. Indeck, a professor in the department of electrical engineering since 1988, is the Das Family Distinguished Professor as well as the Director of the Center for Security Technologies. He already holds twelve patents.

“I don’t consider myself an inventor,” said Indeck. “I just like to play [with] and solve problems. We end up being at the right place at the right time, sometimes, and that ends up being something that appears to be inventive.”

Indeck is no stranger to awards. He has already accepted the 1989 National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award from President George H. W. Bush, the IBM Faculty Development Award and the Washington University Distinguished Faculty Award, among others.

Indeck’s most recent invention, which he formulated along with three computer scientists at the University, involves shortening the amount of time it takes to access vast amounts of electronically stored information. Indeck and his co-workers discovered this new expedient search method by moving the searching closer to the database and by employing a -programmable gate array, which searches systems directly instead of in chunks. In essence, this invention allows industries that have enormous databases, such as biotechnology companies, to cut their search times.

“[Search times can be cut] on the order of a hundred times or more, which means that things that would take a week to process, like a genomic application, will now be able to be done in a matter of hours,” Indeck explained.

Ron Cytron, professor of computer science and engineering at the University and one of Indeck’s colleagues on the information accessing system project, elaborated on the concept.

“Imagine a phonebook where all of the names inside are jumbled up and not in alphabetical order. Nobody’s made an index, but you want to search for your name or find your phone number,” Cytron said. “[This is for] any company that wants to search large volumes of data but doesn’t want to bother creating an index.”

Indeck is also helping federal intelligence agencies access information.

“What we’re trying to help them do, instead of just doing forensics-that is, going back and figuring out ‘who were the people that did whatever they did on 9/11’-is to find these things fast enough so we can preempt that type of incident,” said Indeck. “We’re [trying] to give them the ability to access the information.”

Procuring information from a large pool can also be applied to smaller storage units, such as iPods. Although Apple, to his knowledge, is not currently working on this type of technology, Cytron had the novel idea of allowing iPod jammers new ways of accessing the songs they want to hear.

“Imagine that you have your 20,000 songs on your iPod, but you don’t remember what song it is that you’re looking for,” said Indeck. “Wouldn’t it be great it you could just hum a few bars, and then the internals of the device would be able to parse the signal from your hum? You’re not going to hum it the same way that Aerosmith played it, but [the iPod] would be able to find, approximately, the song that it is that you’re humming.”

Cytron explained the accessing matter further.

“If you think about it, all it would take is digitizing the relative pitches that you hum,” he said. “Even if you’re not a great singer, you could still approximately pick up [the tune] and then [program] the same [pitches] for the songs that are stored on the iPod.”

Indeck was also the mastermind behind the 1993 patent of using magnetic media strip as a way to create unique fingerprints for objects like credit cards. Now used by MasterCard to test for fraudulent credit cards, Indeck’s invention is called Magneprint.

“That was very much a product of understanding the underlying physics,” said Indeck. “Because we understood it like nobody else did, we were able to say, ‘Well, if we can do that, we can solve this challenge,’ which was being able to authenticate any kind of object that we wanted.”

Cytron, however, raved about his colleague’s efficiency and thinks that Indeck has the potential to accomplish even more.

“He has this sort of thing like, ‘Oh, I have something, it’s not a great idea but…’ said Cytron. “He’s sort of not pushing himself forward enough, given all his good ideas.”

Taco Bell gives itself the boot

Wednesday, March 30th, 2005 | David Tabor
David Hartstein

Due to a contract dispute, Washington University students will see a replacement for the Taco Bell in Mallinckrodt Center’s Food Court sooner than expected-possibly as soon as this fall.

The results of a recent survey conducted by the Student Union Food Committee found general dissatisfaction with Taco Bell among students. Acting in accord with that finding, Bon App‚tit, the dining services company used by the University, had sought to replace Taco Bell by the fall of 2007. Rather than sign Taco Bell to a full five-year contract extension, Bon App‚tit had planned to offer a one-year contract, with plans to seek a replacement during that time.

Negotiations over the terms of that one-year contract fell through, and Bon App‚tit has announced that it will not renew Taco Bell’s contract for any length of time.

“Taco Bell has refused to sign a one-year lease and insists on another five-year lease with costly renovations to their space in the Food Court. Dining Services and Bon App‚tit are committed to their promise not to sign another five-year lease with Taco Bell,” said Director of Dining Services Marilyn Pollack.

Taco Bell’s current contract expires this November, explained Food Committee Chair sophomore Jeff Zove. Bon App‚tit is left with two options: either buy out the end of Taco Bell’s contract and make the replacement in August, or make the replacement in January and let the location go unoccupied during December. In either case, a replacement franchise will have to be found sooner than expected.

“One dilemma that the Food Committee is dealing with is balancing the need to get a franchise in there as soon as possible with the need to take student input into account,” said Zove.

The Food Committee had intended to conduct a student survey following the selection of Taco Bell’s replacement in order to give students the opportunity to approve the choice. Zove explained that one drawback to replacing Taco Bell as soon as this fall would be that students would provide less input into the selection. Dining Services has indicated it will conduct a survey to assess student opinion if time allows.

“If viable options are identified before the summer, a survey will be sent to all undergraduate students to choose a new franchise. In the event that this unexpected time constraint precludes us from conducting another survey, Dining Services and Bon App‚tit will make every effort to choose a franchise that represents the majority view expressed by students in the previous survey,” said Pollack.

One section of the recent Taco Bell survey asked students to give their preferences for a type of replacement. Chinese food was the most popular response.

Lee 3 punished, now sub-free

Wednesday, March 30th, 2005 | Rachel Streitfeld

Less than two weeks after a Lee 3 RA discovered human feces in her dorm room, Residential Life responded to “ongoing concerns regarding the alcohol and drug policy” by making the floor substance-free.

During a floor meeting Monday night, students received a ResLife document informing them that the floor would now be sub-free as a “community consequence” for substance-related disciplinary problems. The floor will be substance free for the rest of the semester.

Traditionally, students are not assigned to live on a substance-free floor unless they request one. While on these floors, students cannot use or possess tobacco, alcohol or other drugs.

Floor residents have come under fire several times this year for unruly behavior. Most recently, on March 18, someone unlawfully entered the Lee 3 RAs’ rooms, vandalizing both rooms and defecating in one. WUPD is continuing to investigate these break-ins and is still sifting through the evidence.

“We have some leads, and we’re continuing to make progress,” said Police Chief Don Strom.

Last November police also investigated the aftermath of a “large, unauthorized” party thrown by some residents of Lee 3 during Thanksgiving Break. Strom would not answer questions about past disciplinary problems on the floor, instead referring inquiries to ResLife.

Associate Director of ResLife Rob Wild could not be interviewed by phone yesterday.

In addition to their activities on the floor, some Lee 3 residents have taken the party online to Students started a group called AbsolutLee 3, and 42 residents are now members. In place of a group photo is a lewd chalk sketch of a bear performing a sex act on itself.

On the site, residents keep a tally of their drinking exploits. They count all calls from their floor to the Emergency Support Team (EST)-five in one semester-as well as the number of “pukes” (33) and “DRs” (disciplinary reports-numbering 19).

The group’s description dubs Lee 3 “The Penthouse” and reminds residents to “Keep it Classy.”

One Lee 3 resident said that ResLife was “reasonable” to punish the floor. But he did not agree with the decision to go sub-free, saying ResLife “could have gone about [punishing the floor] differently.”

The student said none of the residents’ pranks had caused substantial harm-other than to the RA’s floor-and that the students are all “really chill” and get along well together.

“No one on my floor is out to get anyone,” he said.

When asked if students would follow the restrictions, this resident said he couldn’t speak for anyone else on the floor.

“I know I will,” he said.

Students with “documented violations” of the University Drug and Alcohol Policy will be subject to removal from Lee and referral to the Judicial Administrator.

Why we still need affirmative action

Wednesday, March 30th, 2005 | Aaron Seligman

By the end of the next month or so, most students will finalize their summer plans. I don’t need to emphasize how important a quality internship and ensuing letter or recommendation can be when it comes to getting into grad school, a transitional program, or a real job after graduation. Some are even so forward-thinking they’re considering study abroad and internship opportunities for next year.

My brother attends the University of Minnesota and is trying to arrange for a semester in Washington, D.C. to work on public policy during the spring of his junior year. However, he did not apply for a specific program or submit “cold call” r‚sum‚s and cover letters to congresspeople or lobbying groups or federal agency.

My brother had the privilege of not having to do any of those things. He did what any smart person would do, and went with his connections.

Our mom recently attended a speech by a U.S. senator from Wisconsin at the University of Wisconsin Law School (I won’t name him as he’s likely to run for president and I hope everyone votes for him). After the speech, she said hello to the senator, with whom she had participated in temple youth group activities growing up and worked with on legislative issues when the senator was in the Wisconsin senate.

The senator greeted her with a warm hug and kiss, and after some small talk my mom brought up that her son was looking for a D.C. internship. The senator said of course, and with his aide right there jotting down my brother’s name, told my mom he would be happy to offer my brother a position based on “his parentage.”

So that was it. My brother did not have to send in a formal application or worry and weigh various options and potential opportunities for next spring. After an appropriate thank-you follow up, he has the internship all set.

My senator, like my brother, happens to be a white Jewish male. However, he did not give my brother the internship based on his racial or religious background. My brother got the internship based on what I believe is the accepted, non-controversial form of affirmative action we have always had in our society, better known as networking.

The Washington University Career Center regularly, and rightly, offers seminars and provides tips on how to network. Or as it is known in Yiddish: schmooze.

Plenty of undergraduate political science majors are well qualified for any position like my brother’s internship, just like in cases of affirmative action based on race or gender. Having a connection simply opens the door for him; he still has to do well on the job. Just as any minority feels the pressure of representing an entire race at a job, my brother realizes he must do a good job for not just his reputation, but our mom’s as well.

The system then perpetuates itself because those already up in the system help out the ones they know, and having that first internship is obviously a r‚sum‚ boost to get the second and third position. There is no way to correct for or even the playing field for everyone and disallow these types of connections, not to mention preferences for legacies and big donors.

Instead, we need to continue programs that allow minorities to get in positions to make connections with and give breaks to their children, friends and co-workers.

I’m not saying this is the only way to do things. Plenty of people legitimately get great jobs completely through their own hard work and perseverance. It’s just a lot harder when you’re applying against others who have that edge before they even begin the process.

This semester, I’m interning at the public defender’s office. Every day I see people accused of crimes or convicted of crimes, plenty of whom have children. I doubt the clients I work with did many youth group activities with their senators, and their kids will not have a connection to get a good internship.

We have to keep affirmative action programs because the world doesn’t compete on even ground. The connection system may not be fair, but it’s what we’ve got to play with, and everyone should be included.

International court crucial for justice in Sudan

Wednesday, March 30th, 2005 | Surdas Mohit

A crisis is unfolding in Sudan, and it is getting worse. Almost two years ago, the Sudanese government began responding to a rebellion in the western Darfur region by attacking the civilian population of the region on a massive scale. They created and armed militias known as the “janjaweed,” who have pursued a campaign of rape, murder and ethnic cleansing, enjoying air support from government warplanes.

More than 1.6 million people have been forced to flee their homes, while estimates of the death toll range from 180,000 to over 300,000. Reports by Human Rights Watch and other organizations show that the attacks have not abated. A UN commission of inquiry reported on Jan. 25 that massive crimes against humanity are taking place and recommended that the UN Security Council refer the situation to the recently established International Criminal Court (ICC). On Wednesday, in closed session, France called on the Council to do exactly that. Though President Bush has opposed the court with every means available to him since taking office, he must not cast his veto if he is in any way concerned about the welfare of the people of Darfur.

The ICC was established by the Rome Statute in 1998, and entered into force on July 1, 2002. Currently, 98 countries have signed and ratified the Rome Statute; notable exceptions include the United States, Japan, China and Russia. The court was established as a “court of last resort.” Its mandate is to ensure that “the gravest international crimes do not go unpunished” when national courts are unable or unwilling to prosecute. In addition, it only has jurisdiction if the crime is committed in a country which is a party to the treaty or by a national of one. The Security Council may also refer cases to the court. It is intended to replace ad hoc war crimes tribunals, such s those created to prosecute crimes in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, with a permanent and consistent system of justice. It has already begun investigating crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and the Central African Republic.

Under President Clinton, the United States signed but did not ratify the Rome Statute. However, President Bush rescinded that signature and has made every possible effort to sabotage the court. Threatened with a veto of all peacekeeping missions by the U.S., the Security Council twice passed a resolution exempting U.S. troops serving on peacekeeping missions from prosecution by the ICC. The U.S. has also negotiated bilateral immunity treaties with several countries, often under the threat of withholding financial aid. Congress has even passed legislation (dubbed the “Hague Invasion Act”) authorizing the use of military force to free any Americans or citizens of allied countries held by the court. These measures are all unnecessary: the court cannot prosecute Americans since the U.S. is not a party to it and holds a veto on the Security Council.

Prosecuting the perpetrators of massive crimes against humanity has always been an elusive, yet vital, goal. Following in the footsteps of Nuremburg, the ICC provides a permanent venue for such cases, offering hope that the first step in ending impunity has been taken. No case is more pressing today than that of Darfur, where rape, murder and destruction occur daily. Prosecuting these crimes in a timely and consistent manner is an important step in preventing future occurrences.

If President Bush is sincere in deploring the crimes of Saddam Hussein and calling for justice, he must not now abandon the people of Darfur for political purposes. If he wishes to help them and prevent similar catastrophes in the future, one of the most important (and easiest) steps is to allow these crimes to be prosecuted at the International Criminal Court.

Stressed? Get out!

Wednesday, March 30th, 2005 | Anna Dinndorf
Brian Sotak

Now it may just be me, but I’ve noticed that college life is pretty stressful.

I’m pretty sure every person attending this school has had his or her fair share of “hell weeks.” You all know what I’m talking about. Three exams, four papers due and a five hour organic chemistry lab all contained in one, joyful five-day period. And often, several of these weeks will conveniently fall right in a row.

Everybody obviously has their own ways of unwinding, or else we’d be a campus full of psychopaths. But as summer draws nearer, one option becomes more prominent: the outdoors. The days are getting longer and warmer, and people can be seen at lunchtime playing Frisbee on the quad.

A couple weeks ago, I went camping with members of the Outing Club at Greensfelder Park, about 45 minutes west of St. Louis. I know that camping is not everyone’s cup of tea necessarily, but a lot can be said about the benefits of getting away from Wash U and the stresses that go along with it for a day or two. For me, and probably for a lot of other people, having time away from my responsibilities, even for 24 hours, is a really good way to gain some perspective on my life and issues I’m dealing with at the time.

Aside from the time away, I’ve found that being outside with people in and of itself is a great way to relax. Something about being close to nature has a definite calming effect. According to, spending time outside is an important part of having a low-stress lifestyle. In addition, when you are put in such a setting with people you don’t necessarily know really well you tend to bond quickly, which is an incredibly rewarding experience that makes for long-lasting friendships.

While going on a weekend camping trip is something that I find helpful, others who don’t particularly love sleeping in tents in the woods probably would be more stressed out if they were placed in such an environment. If you’re one of these people, you don’t even have to leave campus to escape for a couple hours. Spring is quickly approaching, so get outside and move around. With as much time as college students are known to waste, I think almost everyone can spare an hour or two to give themselves a break and enjoy the weather. Whether it’s taking a walk in Forest Park with a friend, playing a game of Ultimate Frisbee or just taking your books outside and studying, you’ll feel refreshed and you’ll be in a much better mood.

Spending time outside, whether camping in the woods or just hanging out on campus, is a perfect solution to the stressful lives that we as college students experience. It’s refreshing, it’s distracting and it doesn’t leave you with a hangover the next day. What more could you ask for?