Wednesday

March 9th, 2005

 

Opinion

Volume 22, Issue 22

Snow days for grown ups

By Carly Hawkins - Columnist

I think we need more days off.
I grew up in a house where my dad was often the principal of the school I was attending, and let me tell you – there was no greater feeling of joy and relief than when the phone would ring before we left for school, because the only reason that happened was if it was going to be a snow day and they were notifying my dad early.
With luck, it would ring before I got up in the morning, and it would wake me. I’d sit up in bed, look out my window, and see that it was snowing and we were getting a day off school. It’s a luxurious feeling to snuggle back under the covers, knowing that a long day of building snow forts, watching old movies, napping, and generally doing nothing of consequence unexpectedly stretched ahead of me.
And I loved school, so I can’t imagine how jubilant other kids must have been.
I think we need more of that feeling, and I think we need to spread it to the adult population of our country.
America works hard. We put in our 40 hours a week and then some, year in and year out. We cumulate our vacation time and our comp time. We come in when the weather’s bad, when we’d rather be outside, and when we’re sick. We’re stressed out, we’re in therapy, and we don’t have time to relax, because we’re supposed to be busy Getting Ahead. So we try to medicate things away so we can keep going to work.
So I offer that we need to help salve the burnout by giving people some more time to be away from their desks.
It doesn’t have to be spontaneous, like snow days were in elementary school. There are plenty of holidays, state and federal, that could be taken off. To celebrate, and reflect, and most importantly – sleep in.
Whatever the reason, I think it’s clear that Americans are in a bad way. A survey by Northwestern National Life reported that 40% found their jobs “very or extremely stressful.” St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Co. found that “problems at work are more strongly associated with health complaints than are any other life stressor – more so than even financial problems or family problems.”
Just imagine how much more pleasant people might be, how much better able to take a step back, a deep breath, and reduce the drama in their lives by not perpetuating their stressed out state.
And for this month alone, there are so many options. I’m not lobbying for all of these, of course – but I really believe that just one additional holiday a month would be a bright spot for harangued employees who burn the candle at both ends to look forward to, to work towards.
Some options for March:

1 – National Pig Day
3 – National Anthem Day
4 – National Poundcake Day
8 – Working Women’s Day
13 – National Open an Umbrella Indoors Day
22 – National Goof Off Day
23 – National Chip and Dip Day
25 – Waffle Day

So, Chancellor Ringeisen, I appeal to you and the gods of the Banner system – as a pioneering educational community, I think UIS should take the lead on establishing a “one extra holiday a month” policy. A chill out day, a mental health day, a sleep in day, an employee appreciation day. I’m negotiable on the language.



Expired: UIS plagued by outdated parking rules

By Stephanie Orr - Assistant Editor

“The mission of the UIS Police Department is to protect and serve the community and visitors, and provide a safe and secure environment in which academic endeavors may thrive,” according to the University of Illinois at Springfield Campus Police website.
Did they forget to add the part about harassing students by issuing pointless parking tickets?
Parking on a college campus is always going to be an issue of discontent. Either there will be insufficient space, or sufficient space located long distances from buildings or any number of other problems.
But at UIS we have a parking ticket problem. Our campus police force spends a lot of time roaming the various parking lots on campus, looking for violators and issuing them citations. But some of the tickets they issue seem unnecessary and unfair.
For example, there is a small, metered portion of parking lot A that is very close to the buildings. While attending a night class in the Human Resources Building, a student received a parking ticket for being parked at an expired meter. The story is made more fun by the fact that it was snowing, so in order to know the meter was expired the officer would have had to get out of his car to check. How is this an effective use of time?
And why is this still a metered lot? It would be understandable if admissions and such were still in this area, but since most departments have been moved to University Hall these buildings are practically deserted.
With the space available and not being regularly used by visitors any longer, why not open it up for students and faculty who spend time in those buildings? Why continue charging, or ticketing, people for using a space that would otherwise be wasted? Didn’t the university pay for the lot to be installed so that people could park in it?
Another example happened over winter break when a student left their car in a 30-minute parking space near campus housing for a whole day. Upon returning to the car the student found three tickets on the windshield, all for the offense of being in 30-minute parking for more than 30 minutes.
Let’s look at this logically; it’s winter break, meaning the campus isn’t even open. A student parks in 30-minute parking near where they live and forgets to move their car. Over the course of the day the campus police come by on three separate occasions to ticket this person. Why?
With the campus closed for the holiday it can’t be that the space is desperately needed.
Not to mention the fact that they felt it was necessary to issue the same citation three times. If you ticket a vehicle for being in timed parking for too long and you come back to find the vehicle still there with the ticket still on the windshield, the driver obviously hasn’t been out to the car at all. They’ve already been ticketed, why hit them again?
Students are already required to pay for parking decals, though it can be argued that the UIS campus is not large enough to need them. Students also deal with sections of campus parking being closed to them because of Sangamon Auditorium, even though buses could certainly drop people near the doors and park somewhere farther away. Why should they have to be ticketed for minor infractions that cause no harm?
According to documents online the money from parking tickets is used to maintain the parking lots on campus, but when was the last time a parking lot was visibly maintained? Where is the money going? Why does the campus police force insist on harassing the students they’ve vowed to protect and serve?
Moreover, why doesn’t the administration take a long hard look at the parking policies on campus and revise the outdated or unnecessary ones? To start administration should take the metered and 30-minute parking spots out of parking lot A. Once that little change has been made others should follow naturally.
Does the university need student money that badly? And have they considered that students may not wish to donate money back to the university after graduation if they feel they’ve been charged quite enough in hidden fees and parking tickets?


Discussion of the feasibility of Greek life on campus

The Greek Life Committee, a subcommittee of the SGA, is charged with exploring the potential, both negative and positive, impact of Greek letter organizations on the UIS campus community. The following represents the fourth in a four part series, where members of the committee examine the pros and cons of various aspects of Greek Life. After the guest commentaries have been presented, the committee will develop a survey to be held concurrent with spring SGA elections, to assess the student body's sentiments regarding Greek Life at UIS, after which the committee will report to the SGA and campus administrators with their findings and recommendations.

PRO

What happens when Greek life is brought to UIS? This is a difficult question to answer.

A university never sits down and says, “We’re going to plan a bad infrastructure to support Greek life.” University administrations want to create the ideal system for Greek life. They toss around words like “best practices” and look for models to copy. They might glance at statistics and design educational components to address alcohol abuse and sexual assault issues.

We can look at other examples, statistics, and information. What happens when the “best practices” at other universities become our worst nightmare? What happens when our ideal infrastructure crumbles under the weight of the problems that couldn’t be predicted?

Currently, every UIS student organization must be open to all students. Almost half of our student body is comprised of graduate students. Unfortunately, many Greek organizations do not allow graduate students as members. There is an inherent exclusivity. This poses a major problem. We have never excluded students before. How we can add a system that discriminates against half of our students?

UIS is unique to say the least. There are few examples to model when assembling a Greek system that really accounts for the wide range of students at UIS. It will be very complicated to integrate all UIS students into a Greek system. Perhaps a part-time commuter student wants to join a Greek organization. The student must take part in elaborate pledging events. Many students committed to pledging will have to choose between a mandatory event and a child’s activity.

Our state is in the midst of a budget crisis and it has had a direct impact on our university. Tuition rates have been increased and will go up at least 6 percent next fall. Where will the money come from to create a Greek system, complete with new personnel and resources? Some current campus departments have experienced up to 50% cuts in their operating budgets. We do not have the money which means student activity fees will need to increase. This fee will apply to all students- not just those who pledge.

UIS could bring Greek organizations to our campus. The quality of Greek life will be determined by having comprehensive infrastructures plans. Former Greek members can’t solely create the plans. It will require input from all students, including those against to Greek life. But we must make sure that any Greek system fits UIS and not the other way around.

 

CON

This is an exciting time at UIS. The first group of Capital Scholars will graduate in May, new freshmen will arrive in 2006, and a dialogue regarding Greek organizations has been opened.

The decision to join a Greek organization is tough. Unfortunately, UIS students do not even have that option. One could argue that students make the decision to not join by attending a university without Greek life. A student selects a university based on many different factors. However, Greek life might be important enough to dictate which school to attend. Often, Greek life is more than a supplement to campus life- it enhances the college experience.

Over the past weeks, the Greek Life committee has provided commentary on various aspects of Greek life. Intellectual development, leadership skills, and positive relationships all play a major role in Greek organizations. These are the positive aspects often ignored in a discussion regarding Greek life. We must look beyond the negative to see what Greek life can do to improve our university.

UIS has the opportunity to make a positive, controlled addition to campus. UIS will be responsible for researching Greek organizations. We can choose philanthropic, social, independent, local or national chapters. We can select the organizations that fit our student population. We do not have fall into the stereotypical Greek system.

We have the unique chance to build a Greek system based on other universities. We can pick which organizations we invite to campus. We can decide how many chapters. We can explore Greek housing. We do not have to be like other universities- we can make Greek life fit our campus. We have the potential to enhance campus life for all students.

Some may be concerned about the cost. The administration and students can work together to control that. At first, the university may call for a nominal increase in student activity fees. The cost would fall to the students that take advantage of Greek life. On many campuses, it is cheaper to live in Greek housing than it is to live on or off-campus.

The next big step is to determine student interest in Greek Life. How many students are willing to make lifelong connections that last beyond the time at UIS? Greek life can enhance our ever-changing campus community. UIS has the opportunity to create a Greek system that is not only beneficial, but also something special for future students. What an exciting time it is at UIS.

 


2005 Model Illinois Government simulation
UIS delegation performed well during MIG weekend

By Carly Hawkins - Columnist

As featured in last week’s Journal, just under 30 UIS students spent this past weekend downtown at the Model Illinois Government simulation. UIS was represented in every position available at MIG: executive board, staff, legislators, journalists, editors, budget analysts, justices, lawyers, and lobbyists. With a wide breadth of experiences, the delegation performed well overall.
The simulation kicked off on Thursday night with opening ceremonies and a keynote address from Tom Lamont, director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education. He spoke of his experiences with government and bureaucracy over the course of career, including a great story about his involvement with drafting the legislation that eventually made it legal for Illinoisans to turn right at a red light. Mr. Lamont also extolled the virtue of such a simulation – not only as a learning experience for the participants as they pattern a weekend after the real Illinois government, but also as a chance to show what an ideal government might look like.
There were a couple of changes to this year’s simulation, compared to the past few years. For one, the MIG Journal put out an issue on Thursday this year, which delegates received as they checked in. The Journal also changed its format this year and generally tried to raise the bar content-wise. Delegates from UIS spearheaded this effort, as the UIS Journal’s very own Heather Shaffer and Mallory Medved, as well as former Journal editor and current SGA President Tyson Roan, served on the editorial board for the weekend. Brad Ward, UIS junior, served as the official photographer for the weekend. His photographs should be available soon at the inimitable twosouth.com.
Another change was the resurrection of the Friday night full legislative session – usually a day reserved solely for committee meetings. The change was praised by many, and it is expected to remain a part of future schedules.
UIS students also served in legislative leadership roles, from Ben Gurga and Kyle Simpson, chair and vice-chair of the House Committee on State and Local Government & Elections, to Carrie Bauer and Jason Kennedy, co-chairs of the Senate Committee on Government, Labor, and Commerce. Kennedy won best Senate Chair for the simulation.
Dan Kovats, this year’s Governor, also won the George Perry Award for outstanding contribution to MIG. Kovats, in his fifth year at MIG, had also served as Speaker of the House, Secretary of State, and Treasurer, as well as in the Senate as a legislator.
As has been the case over the past several simulations, students from UIS ran for executive board over the course of the weekend in order to be involved with planning next year’s 28th MIG simulation. Four UIS delegates ran for positions, and all four won their elections. Brie Hudkins will be serving as Lieutenant Governor, Kyle Stevens as the Attorney General, Kyle Simpson will be Comptroller, and Samantha Drews will preside as Chief Justice of the Moot Court competition.
The strong showing of the UIS delegation as a whole lays the foundation for yet another great year in Model Illinois Government. The increase in participation by this year’s freshmen should offset the approximately 12 members leaving the group after this year.
Next year’s MIG simulation will run from Thursday, March 2nd through Sunday the 5th. Students who are interested in attending should feel free to contact any of the above listed newly elected executive board members or visit modelillinoisgovernment.org.


Comic

 

 

 

Snow days for grown ups

Expired: UIS plagued by outdated parking rules

Greek Life on Campus

2005 Model Illinois Government simulation

Comic

 

 

 

 

 
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