Archive for April, 2008

According to a handout that I recieved today from an Allies in Action advocate, every 5 hours a LGBTQ person will commit suicide and 20 more will attempt suicide due to homophobia.

In february this year a 15 year old boy, Lawrence ‘Larry’ King was shot dead at school by a fellow class mate. It is alleged that King was shot because he was openly gay and sometimes wore ‘feminine’ clothing to school.

Thousands of people accross the U.S. came together to honor and remember King. A number of vigils and marches were held accross the nation in his honor. MU held its own vigil for King and MU sorority Gamma Rho Lamba and the Triangle Coalition held an open forum discussion focusing on hate crimes.

Allies in Action is another group in Columbia that is working towards bringing students and faculty together to develop allies of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer community.

Allies in Action meet every Tuesday at 6 pm in room 308 A&S – Everyone is invited to join.



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On April 21, Columbia Missourian reporter Rose Raymond wrote an article about the newly filled Kenneth Lay Chair in Economics at MU. Along with that article was supposed to be a timeline of events from Lay’s life. Unfortunately, there was no room for it in print and for reasons unknown it never made it to the website either. Here is that timeline.

  • 1942: April 15, Kenneth L. Lay is born
  • 1958: Lay moves to Columbia
  • 1964: Lay graduates from MU as president of Beta Theta Pi and with a bachelor’s degree in economics
  • 1965: Ken Lay graduates MU with a master’s degree in economics
  • 1986: Lay is named Enron’s chairman and CEO
  • 1992: Beta Theta Pi awards Lay a position on their Wall of Fame and records indicate that Lay was also awarded an honorary doctorate of laws from MU in the same year
  • 1995: MU is the first university to invest in Enron’s one-year electrical plan; it saves $200,000 buying wholesale power. Also, Lay family sponsors the renovation of Bethel Baptist Church in Columbia
  • 1997: Ken Lay is inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame
  • 1998: Lay helps to raise $500,000 for MU Pinkney Walker Endowment Fund for student aid
  • 1999: Ken and Linda Lay Family Foundation donate $1.1 million to establish the Kenneth L. Lay Chair in International Economics
  • 2000: Lay donates at least $100,000 to become a benefactor in MU’s Cornell Hall
  • 2001: Lay gives undisclosed amount to MU Honors College to purchase individual one-year subscriptions to an Internet research service for students and Enron files for bankruptcy.
  • 2002: Ken Lay resigns as Enron’s CEO
  • 2003: The Lay Chair in Economics at the University of Houston is filled, however, MU’s chair is not
  • 2004: Lay indicted on criminal charges at the age of 62 and MU decides to keep the endowment until Lay is officially charged
  • 2005: Sept., Lay asks MU to steer his donation toward Katrina relief
  • 2006: Chair not yet filled. February: Lay asks MU for his donation back to cover his legal expenses. May: Lay is convicted of conspiracy and fraud but will be sentenced in the fall. July: Lay dies of coronary artery disease on July 5. October: Lay’s conviction is erased
  • 2007: Chair remains empty
  • 2008: Kenneth L. Lay Chair in International Economics is filled by MU professor Joseph Haslag

Note: All information and dates have been gathered from previous issues of the Columbia Missourian or Vox Magazine. Since the time of its donation there were applicants for the Lay Chair but it was never filled.

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Earlier this month an essay was published in Time Magazine entitled “Affirmative Action for Boys.” The piece raises awareness around the issue that the number of women on college campuses in the U.S. is starting to surpass men; noticeably at some universities. As mentioned in the essay Gibbs spoke with Jason Zelesky, associate dean of students at Clark University in Mass. which is currently initiating a program to help the men on campus.

Taking a local look, I was able to go through the University of Missouri’s registrar to look at enrollment trends from over a century. Unfortunately, such in depth information is not available for Columbia College. The gender gap on MU’s campus is not very large at the moment, therefore the admissions office will not comment on the chance the gap can increase. Based on MU’s most recent data which is from the fall of 2006, the women only slightly outnumber the men 52.9% to 47.1%.

Columbia College has a larger gap, however, their admissions office reminds people that Columbia was originally an all female university, so there is a chance that their campus still has a larger attraction to the female population. The most recent information given from Columbia is from fall 2007. Their numbers list females at 61% males at 39%.

This could just be due to a population trend. According to the 2000 U.S. Census Bureau, females make up 50.9% of the country’s population. As of Oct. 2005 females made up 56% of college undergraduates and 59% of graduates.

Because there was so much information available from MU’s registrar, memorable years from American history were taken to create a timeline to correspond with enrollment. Columbia College was also added for the years that were given.

  • 1862: Civil War, 64 students enrolled
  • 1867: The first woman enrolls at MU, 87 total enrolled
  • 1892: Academic Hall fire, 631 students enrolled
  • 1900: 1,038 students enrolled
  • 1911: MU’s first homecoming, 3,063 students enrolled
  • 1912: World War I begins, 3,287 students enrolled
  • 1917: The U.S. enters WWI, 3,287 students enrolled
  • 1941: The bombing of Pearl Harbor, 5,725 students; 73.8% male
  • 1943: 1,938 students; 59.5% female
  • 1944: 2,239 students; 61% female
  • 1945: World War II ends, 3,936 students; 53.4% male
  • 1961: Vietnam, 12,949 students; 69% male
  • 1963: Assassination of JFK, 15,004 students; 66.2% male
  • 1967: MU reaches 20,000 students
  • 1969: Woodstock, 21,082 students; 61% male
  • 1970: Christian Female College changes from a two-year all-female college to Columbia College, a four-year coeducational college
  • 1975: Vietnam War ends, 23,524 students; 58.1% male
  • 1986: Hands Across America, 22,532 students; 51% male
  • 1989: Berlin Wall comes down; 24,220 students; 50.9% male
  • 1994: Females officially surpass males on MU’s campus, 22,136; 51% female
  • 2001: Gary Pinkel becomes head football coach for the Tigers, 23,666 students; 52.2% female
  • 2003: Columbia College, 10,152 students; 57% female
  • 2004: Columbia College, 11,017 students; 61% female
  • 2005: Columbia College, 11,737 students; 58% female
  • 2006: MU, 28,253 students; 52.9% female. Columbia College, 12,281 students; 58% female
  • 2007: Columbia College, 12,955 students; 61% female

The other piece from The New York Times that was mentioned in the Time essay can be found here.

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Ward Connerly, former University of California regent, a black man raised in the Jim Crow South, spoke to a crowd of white Republicans during a Columbia Pachyderm Club meeting Friday, March 21, in support of the Missouri Civil Rights Initiative, an anti-affirmative action initiative that will be on the November 2008 ballot if it gets enough support.

During his speech, he made many statements supporting MoCRI, which the crowd appeared to enjoy. One statement supporting MoCRI was if a person walked onto the MU campus and saw 100 black people, the assumption would be that all of them are there because of race-based programs like affirmative action when the reality is that maybe only 20 of them are there due to such programs, and the rest have earned their place at the university.

He said MOCRI would place the 20 in a college that would allow them to better compete on their level, and it would eliminate the stereotype about the other 80.

Although his viewpoint may seem controversial, he replied to a question from an audience member asking how he felt about being called an ‘Uncle Tom’ (a reference to Uncle Tom’s Cabin of a loyal slave to his master despite harsh and unfair treatment) by saying he was confident in who he is. After his speech Connerly agreed to speak with the Missourian and here is a little more insight into his argument.

(Since the questions were not written down before the interview, many have been recreated for the purpose of this blog.)

Q: What is your central message in support of MoCRI?

“The central message is that it is time to look beyond stereotypes,” Connerly said. “We can’t get rid of the stereotypes that people have about us without getting past the belief that I’m being treated differently.”

Q: You spoke about your experience at Truman State University, what was the general reaction of the audience?

At Truman there were 100 blacks who disagreed and spoke about institutional racism, which I don’t believe in. We need to get race out of the equation.

“They were saying we understand where your coming from, but your view is an ideal. We’re not there yet; there is still racism.”

The students were saying we should get of racism first and then change. (However, pubdef.net said his two hour speech was met by a mostly “hostile” crowd, and at one point he was quoted telling a woman to “please just shut up.”)

Q: Why do you think the current generation of college students hold these beliefs?

I think there was a shift in what is seen as needed to be marketable – a shift from working hard. There is no longer an emphasis placed on academic excellence. I talked to a teacher who wanted to know when the focus shifted from learning.

“Learning is not acting white, like Obama said.”

Q: Why do you think some in this generation view the issue differently?

This generation is divided on the question.

“Some don’t disagree about the idea, but disagree about the timing.”

Q: Do you think there is a disconnect between blacks today and those from previous generations?

“Black kids today expect to be discriminated against, so they don’t work as hard.”

They have a chip on their shoulder. Some students at Truman are there with a scholarship for being black and have a problem with discrimination.

Q: Do you think race relations have improved significanlty enough over the years?

Look at Obama. He shows that things have changed.

“We tend to look at the bad and not at the good.”

Q: Do you think delivering the type of message you have to a crowd like this reinforces resentment of afirmative action?

(Referred to the example given in the introduction). “What I’m trying to do is to start off with their frame of referance and change minds.”

Q: Will the initiative actually take away students scholarships?

It will effect those getting a scholarship soleley on the basis of race. Scholarships should be based on income or being a first generation college student. Private organizations would fill the gap. What we oppose is the use of government money used for programs based on race.

Q: For years white males have been privileged in this country, what is the difference in using affirmative action to level the playing field for mintorities?

“It isn’t governemnt policy that has contributed to white male privilege, but it is largely connections.” (Connections such as the Rotary Club, of which he is a member) “If that’s the way the system works, join the rotary club… It’s good social networking, but you join these clubs for business purposes.”

“People have to join the process in order to benefit from the systems that exist.”

Q: Do you think it is time to get rid of afirmative action, or should it be put off until other problems are fixed?

“How long do we play minorities need to catch up?”

Q: For years there have been qualified minorities who aren’t getting hired because of discrimination, do you think MoCRI will make hiring processes revert?

“Secure the process to make sure a number of women and blacks could enter the process to see the bid on their own.”

But, the process may be a set-up and no additoanl black people are hired. (Example: ABC-minority owned and JJ- white owned, but ABC is controlled by JJ’s.) ABC may be hired, but it is under JJ’s control. ABC can’t compete against JJ.

Q: Do you believe that eliminating afirmative action will eliminate negative stereotypes?

It’s the chicken and the egg.

“My view is that we need to be changing those perceptions… Those things go away if we change the perception.” 



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In a town such as a Columbia that could give Washington D.C. a run for its money on a journalist-to-citizen ratio, it’s interesting that there could potentially be a case of quote fabrication.

It has come to the attention of aspiring journalists across the University of Missouri campus that a publication in Columbia could be facing a case of quote fabrication from one of its young reporters. That is why publications across the country have what is called an accuracy check policy; this forces someone to double check the facts and quotes in stories before they are published.

From day one of their education, MU journalism students are told that cases of fabrication are one of the main things that can ruin a career. If a journalist is caught lying in a story they face the consequence of losing that job, which in turn hurts their chances of getting another. I have only one possible explanation as to why any journalists, but especially young ones feel that they should fabricate or falsify a story; they have done it before.

Some students who come to MU to make their career as a journalist have come fresh off of high school papers. The news at a high school paper is generally easier to do, and most sources you have had contact with before. In order to avoid talking to strangers, which can be slightly uncomfortable, student reporters will often go to their own friends first for interviews and quotes. In that case, some friends will just say “you can just write something up and put my name on it,” and to save trouble, some reporters go along with this. They turn in their story and it then runs with the fake quote from Susie Highscool. Because the reporter knows their friend would never go to their editor and confess that they were not technically a source, the reporter gets away with fabrication which can potentially set them up to do it again.

A scenario such as this is what can set up an aspiring journalist for problems later on. Upon arriving at college the audience more than triples in size. There are now 28,000 people that can read your work instead of 2,000 and your options for sources jump in numbers too. Then there’s the thought that “maybe not everyone I interview will read this” and some begin to think they can get away with embellishing certain parts a bit.

A word of advice to all of those who really want a career as a journalist; never publish anything false. Saying “the number in attendance exceeded the amount expected” sounds better than “100 people arrived instead of the expected 50,” however, they are saying the same thing; it becomes a situation of word choice. If you’re afraid of talking to new people either find a new major or take a moment to collect yourself before going into an interview. Hands down students are always easier to talk to than professionals, but that does not mean ignore the professional altogether.

Most, especially in Columbia are very accepting that they are in a place swarming with journalists. If you need a moment to breathe and collect before calling or walking in to an interview, take that moment. Everyone gets nervous and there is no shame in acknowledging that. Be a professional in interviews and think outside the circle of people you already know. MU’s journalism program goes to great lengths to help make the next generation of journalists more comfortable in their future surroundings and make them a success.

This business is not something to be taken lightly. If you truly believe that you can get away with writing false stories, ask any journalism professor and they can tell you numerous cases of people who thought the same thing and can no longer get a job. Be brave, talk to new people. Stories can be frustrating and there is no shame is starting over to make something better.

It is situations like these that give people a poor opinion of the media. Sources become unwilling to cooperate because they feel they have been burned by the media at some point are are no longer sure who they can trust. Bottom line; be honest, no one likes a crooked journalist.

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Last week University of Maryland police began investigating Delta Tau Delta fraternity because of alleged hazing incidents, the Maryland University newspaper, The Diamondback, reported.

The investigation began after a document that detailed a six-week hazing program surfaced according to the Diamondback article. The hazing program included forced consumption of alcohol, forced consumption of a vomit inducing liquid, forced exercise and multiple days in a closet known as the “cave.”

The police and Delta Tau Delta declined to comment. However, Delta Tau Delta revoked the local charter and the university disbanded the fraternity.

Despite anti-hazing efforts in recent years, hazing is still a problem at many universities. Even MU has issues with hazing.

In 2002 the fraternity Sigma Chi was suspended for four years for violating MU’s anti-hazing policy. An investigation revealed that pledges sat for as long as two hours with a pillow case over their heads while members shouted abuse, drank spit from a tobacco spitoon and had ammonia poured over their heads, among other things, reported a 2002 article from the Missourian.

In 2006 the Sigma Chi was reinstated at MU.

In 2004 Sigma Phi Epsilon was also punished by MU for hazing, although they were not suspended. In response to being reprimanded, Sigma Phi Epsilon eliminated “pledging.” Pledging is the period of initiation that sometimes includes hazing. The fraternity also instuted the Balenced Man program that is meant to promote growth and development among members.

Hazing doesn’t happen in all fraternities but it happens in enough for it to be a problem. So, the question I have is: Why does hazing persist? Some people say that it’s tradition and all members have had to go through it. But is that really a good reason continue abusive and harmful behavior.

I don’t belong to a fraternity, but I am under the impression that fraternities are about brotherhood and building bonds and connections with others. It seems like young men should not have to be pysically and mentally abused or degraded to be apart of that bonding. There must be healthier way to accomplish this.

Besides that, hazing incidents and the secrecy that often surround them do not help stereotypes of the greek system.

Universities and fraternities’ national headquarters need to work harder to prevent hazing and the problems that come along with it. There are measures in place but clearly they’re not always effective.

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The old adage that quitters never win and winners never quit certainly could apply in Hillary Clinton’s campaign’s effort to reach college-age voters in the 2008 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The numbers haven’t changed all that much since the start of the campaign. Barack Obama still holds a comfortable margin among voters aged 18-24 in many major polls, and the New York Times mentioned in an article last week that around 60 percent of voters in primaries under 30 have chosen the Illinois junior senator. (For what it’s worth, the article talks above young people influencing their parents on occasion in this year’s election — interesting read.)

But you can’t say the Clintons aren’t trying.

Both Hillary’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, and her daughter, Chelsea, have visited the MU campus at different points during the campaign. Chelsea visited January 28th, and Bill spoke February 2nd. Furthermore, the Washington Post reported Thursday that Chelsea’s visit that day to Villanova (Pa.) University marked her 100th campus visit since the start of the campaign.

Truth be told, the efforts aren’t seeming to make much of a dent in the pollsters’ numbers. But if Hillary were to be named the Democrats’ nominee for president, will the Clintons’ attempts at outreach spur younger voters to her side? If Obama is nominated, will the young voters come out in full force in the 2008 election? (Predicting the 18-24 turnout is akin to forecasting the weather a week in advance, in my opinion). Even though the interest for this term’s election seems to be at an all-time high, what is the true pulse of younger voters? How much more  beyond a general interest do they really care?

While we’re always interested in reader feedback here at U.Town, I’m especially interested to hear both younger and older voices in this case. Chime in and help spark some conversation!

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