Where’s the Gold: Fool’s gold

Discover gold. It’s the slogan of our wonderful university. this place where Griffons stomp the yard and non-trads roll around with their backpacks, the place that every other university laughs at. “Haha, open enrollment!” Don’t get me wrong, I love this school. But it’s not what I was promised. And that’s what this column is about. My junior year of high school I was determined to attend Mizzou. I was told by counselors that it was the premier journalism school in the midwest. “And it’s a great college experience.” College experience is just a fool’s gold universities use to attract, well, fools. Mizzou has a rock climbing wall and they used to have tanning beds in their rec center. I’ve been told of (and seen first hand) the underground party scene of Truman State University. It’s all glitter on the biggest turd ever crapped out. But more often, I see fools on this campus buying fool’s gold. This university no longer values education, but instead the “college experience.” We have an online remedial math program but we have six different greek organizations (and a rock to honor them). We have increasing class sizes but we also have exquisite overpriced coffee in half our academic buildings. We have three counselors to help students transverse growing up but we have nine armed officers hired by Western. This column is about priorities. It’s time someone answer for all the things wrong with this place. All the things I was told were supposed to prove that Western is gold and all the other universities are just expensive hogwash. I want my gold and if I can’t get it, I’m going to make sure that the freshmen this year get theirs in four years. This isn’t journalism, at least not like you’ve seen it before. I’m biased; I have an agenda. There will be no apologies for my disillusionment of your fantasies. If it takes me removing the mascot’s mask to make people realize the truth, then that’s what I’ll do. Some of you will see this as an affront to something you hold precious. I don’t blame you. Western is a magical place. It has some great qualities that other universities don’t have. I’ll leave that pandering up to our Public Relations department. More importantly, I want to be clear, this isn’t a soap box. I don’t plan on standing on top of a high moral podium lecturing to students who have already been lectured enough. This is a funnel. Who know the illusions of Western better than me; you. As students, you should be willing to join with me in this metaphorical “pitchfork and torch” march of of truth. Cause we’re not after Frankenstein's monster, we’re after Frankenstein.

Where’s the Gold?: It’s time to own up to dorm life

Let’s be real for a minute. They’ll called dorms. When I look back on my four years of college, nothing amuses me more than the attempt to re-label the buildings I lived in as “residence halls.” There is nothing residential about them. Let’s ignore the fact that you can’t have pets. Let’s also remove that drinking isn’t allowed in our rooms and let’s also ignore that Logan (the building I live in) has a non-smoking policy, even on our balconies, on the books. What makes the term “residence halls” so ludicrous is that it makes Juda, Logan, Bashears, Vaseloakos, Leaverton, Scanlon and Griffon Hall sound fancy, as if when you move in, people will be greeting you with a smile, a warm towel and—if you live in Griffon Hall—a full set of kitchenware. None of this is true. The dorms, as everyone else in reality likes to call them, are the places you have to live in. The only reason anyone lives on campus is for the convenience of not having to pay rent and bills. Maybe they also like being close to their classes. Every student I have ever known with the financial ability to move off campus, does so. And they do it fast. What makes these places so horrible? Well, they aren’t horrible. I’m not going to complain about my 8x10 foot room while I know there will be several people living in St. Joseph’s downtown parking garages this summer. But what I will complain about it is the need for some people in residential life to pretend that living in the “residence halls” is a glamorous life. There is nothing glamorous about sharing a toilet and shower with three other men. There is nothing wonderful about moldy heating and AC units. There is nothing magical about door locks that break every time it rains. This is dorm life. During my freshmen year, a Resident Assistant—using an extremely snooty voice—corrected me when I called Scanlon a dorm. I was on the phone with one of my friends from high school and the RA, who was eavesdropping on my conversation, yelled as I walked by, “You live in a residence hall, not a dorm!” The fact that you lock the front door of the building, each wing of the building, and tell me that I can’t have a toaster does not make this a place of residency. The dorms are a few steps above a prison and several steps down from a $10-a-night motel. More than anything, living in the dorms is a nuisance. It seems that every time I’m doing something important, RAs have to stop by to put “door deck” on our doors. For those of you who don’t live in campus housing, these are tiny pieces of paper they place on our doors with our name and some glitter or other fifth grade left over art supplies. To be honest, I’d much rather prefer our G-numbers be placed on our doors so we can stop pretending that residential life actually cares. If you’re still in your early years of living on campus, I figure you have two choices. Either move off campus or move to the suites. Logan, Juda and Beshears have the most privacy and most space per student. Yeah, all your locks might break at once or your bathroom light might go out and mold starts to move in within 24 hours, but at least it’s less like prison. Since living in Juda, no one has checked my ID as I walk into my dorm and no one really cares what we do. As long as we play nice with our neighbors, everything is copacetic. Doesn’t that sound like the real world?

It’s a close one

Most students probably fail to realize how some of the current happenings in Washington may cause us to take a sucker-punch to the wallet; those issues are sometimes overshadowed by the tug-of-war across the aisle and other issues that target larger publics. One such event was the recent “fiscal cliff” debate. Simply put, this “cliff” involved a series of Bush era tax cuts that were set to expire on January 1st. If that deadline were to be reached without some sort of compromise to keep some cuts in place, or for there to be a system-wide reform, it could be devastating to the middle and lower class, given the current economy. The debate was between President Barack Obama and Congress and due to what appeared to be a downright childish refusal to even meet for discussion, no compromise was found until literally a few short hours before the deadline. Wrapped up in all of this political drama was something that could be easily overlooked but would affect college students across America. Low to middle income families currently enjoy a tax cut of up to $2,500 a year for up to four years. That comes up to a possible total of $10,000 shaved off of a four year degree; while one may not even realize that one receives that now, one would certainly feel it if that cut were allowed to expire by these irresponsible individuals in Washington. Even with the compromise over the fiscal cliff, students aren’t in the clear yet. According to an article in The Huffington Post, written by Tyler Kingkade, changes may be coming that could drastically change who qualifies for help with tuition. “The federal government's continuing budget resolution comes due at the end of March, and Republicans in Congress are demanding budget cuts in exchange for any raise in the debt ceiling,” Kingkade said. “Federal research money would be the most likely casualty of future budget cuts, along with changes in who is eligible for financial aid programs.” That means that some students who may be on the edge financially for tuition may not receive the aid they need, depending on what kind of deal is reached, and thus they wouldn’t be able to afford classes. These officials that are making all of these decisions that are so crucial to some of us are supposed to be working for us. They are civil servants and we write their paychecks. They need to stop letting things come down to the final hour; these things they debate are far too important, balanced and complicated to be decided at the very last second. We pay these people to work, not to sit on a beach in Hawaii for months on end or refuse to come back from break on time for discussions. Collectively, we are these individuals' bosses and they need to know that they will be held accountable for their actions, just like any employee should.

Smoking should not be an issue

I'm Nick Brewer, an economics major here at MWSU and a non-smoker.  That being stated, a smoke free-campus robs students of possibly the most valuable lesson college has taught me; opportunity cost.  That life is full of choices and tradeoffs between goods and services.  These past four years have been a safe place to experiment with those choices and tradeoffs with less dire consequences than in the real world. The traditional student comes to college to live alone for the first time.  Finally, personal freedom triumphs over paternalism.  I, the scholar of MWSU, am finally able to make choices on my own (Freedom) as opposed to some authority making that decision for me. (Paternalism) I came to college to experience less paternalism and more personal freedom. Not to have mommy western slap a no-no stick out of my hand.  MWSU is not for children and it is not an equitable practice prohibit an activity that students are willing and able to participate in. I took part in that "Scholarly Research" Dr. Suzanne Kissock claims supports her smoke free campus.  The study that claims "student majority indorses it." (smoke-free campus) That survey/study, which I participated in, would be a shame to any statistician.  According to that survey, I support a smoke-free campus.  "Why" you ask? The free tee-shirt.  Not from my ardent opposition to smoking on campus. As for Dr. William Russell statement that a new tobacco policy "allows us to make it easier for people to engage in healthy behaviors,”  I say: "Say what you mean, and mean what you say."  You aren't suggesting we "make it easier for people to engage in healthy behaviors," as if we are being done a favor, students will be forced into a particular way of life that they may not have chosen themselves. Lastly, I am surprised this article didn't bring up the Murphy/Eder smokers.  This has been the only viable argument in this whole discussion because it brings up the negative externality presented when smoking close to buildings and brings John Stuart Mill's "harm principle" into the argument.  As my rebuttal to this point I make a very simple observation; if you don't want people smoking by the doors, don't put the cigarette dispensers by the doors. I agree with Dr. Daniel Trifan in that smoking areas are a "perfectly reasonable compromise." Cheers, Nick Brewer

Innovation Campus comes to Western

This fall Missouri Western will be one of nine universities awarded a grant of $1 million to establish an Innovation Campus. Thanks to the partnership of the state of Missouri, Gov. Jay Nixon, Missouri Western, Metropolitan Community College and several others who made these projects possible, students will now have the chance to discover endless career possibilities. President Dr. Robert Vartabedian stated in a press release that Western would be working closely with its partners to help the participants in this program become aligned with job openings and career opportunities in high demand. Due to the current condition of the economy, the innovation campus will include fields that need high demand employment such as human health and animal health. The partnership includes businesses such as Heartland Health, Hillyard Industries, Lifeline Foods, Altec Industries, Blue Sun Biodiesel, Albaugh, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica and Gray Manufacturing. This program will cut the time it takes to earn a degree for these students. Western has wanted to increase their number of college graduates in recent years and with this project, it will ensure that Western will uphold their commitment. The project shows that they will work with adults in a timely manner. Cutting the time it takes to graduate in half could possibly ensure more college graduates. Many high school students dislike the idea of a four-year commitment and possibly having to endure even more education depending on their choice of major. Vartabedian stated in a press release that this project will provide students with real-world applied learning opportunities. The project itself is very symbolic in the fact that it gives many individuals dual credit courses to earn their post-secondary degree in a shorter manner than the average college student. Western has been handed a golden opportunity to show not just the St. Joseph community, but the entire state that we have something to offer everyone. Only nine universities in the state have this project and with Western being cut hard last year by the state in funding this may be just what the university needs. It also gives students the option of financial aid up to $7,500 to finish this college degree. It is a great moment and come this fall we might see more students at Western thanks to this project. Participants in this program should be thankful for the opportunity that Western was selected for this grant and for the possibility of a higher number of graduates in the future. Students who decide to be part of this project will receive on-site training and mentoring beyond what would otherwise occur within the company by the partnering business.