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On Apr. 2, my fellow Opinion columnist Jared Fogel advocated for lethal injection to remain the primary means of capital punishment. He feared a Supreme Court decision in Glossip v. Gross on the constitutionality of certain drug cocktails and decreased availability of lethal injection drugs would lead more states to turn to the firing squad, a method Fogel considers “inhumane and immoral.” This assumes lethal injection is a morally superior form of capital punishment. It is not. The firing squad is likely more humane, despite its gruesome appearance. Also, removing the medical theater from capital punishment will help people realize they are uncomfortable with the death penalty.
On March 25, Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed Executive Order 40, which outlined steps to improve the law enforcement practices of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Board’s “special agents.” This order dictates the crucial re-training of ABC special agents on the use of force and increased collaboration with local law enforcement agencies. However, Virginia would be better off without any ABC special agents at all, as they hurt local police departments and serve an unnecessary purpose.
The 2015 student elections results proved endorsements are insufficient for and unnecessary for winning. Of the 16 Cavalier Daily-endorsed candidates in competitive elections, only nine won. Without a single endorsement, the fourth-year class president and vice president, second-year class president and vice president, a College Honor representative, a Commerce Honor representative and a College University Judiciary Committee representative won in close and competitive races. It is clear that inherently impersonal endorsements cannot compete with personal vouching.
Last semester, Opinion columnist Hasan Khan heralded Buddies on Call as “exactly the type of reaction students should have to tragedies that affect our University,” in “An end to slacktivism.” Founder Jack Capra quickly coordinated a HooApps app, Google Voice technology and secured The Women’s Center as a nighttime headquarters. He interviewed 150 candidates, selecting an executive board and 96 buddies. Yet Buddies will not be operational in the near future: in January, Capra learned Student Council could no longer facilitate the initiative. Buddies’ predicament alters our conception of what activism and “slacktivism” can mean at the University. While student self-governance give us more ability to enact change, our efforts face delays by practical barriers, the necessity of sustainability and a culture of tradition.
Amidst College GameDay, Boy’s Bid Day, the Duke game, Boy’s Bid Night and Super Bowl Sunday, umpteen text messages sent to University students last weekend did not receive immediate replies. While this lack of response is entirely defensible, for coordinating plans with friends it would have been useful to know whether their content had been viewed. For iPhone owners, enabling read receipts allows their friends to see exactly that. However, the University faces a rampant read receipt opt-out culture, which I fear indicates a greater reluctance to reveal the truth.
A write-up on theCourseForum claimed the work-heavy politics class was “rewarding;” an Amazon review called the Haitian history book “indispensable”; and the list of “115 Things to Do Before We Graduate” recommended indulging in Spudnuts, Carter Mountain apples and the “Slop Bucket.” Thus, I enrolled in the class, read the book and ate the local favorites.
When exiting the Aquatic & Fitness Center after a difficult workout, you would expect to feel accomplished. However, I — along with many other students — instead regularly face feelings of shame and inadequacy. Lining the wall of the AFC and every other gym on Grounds in prominent letters is a quote from University founder Thomas Jefferson: "Give about two hours everyday to exercise, for health must not be sacrificed to learning. A strong body makes the mind strong." At its sight, you ask yourself, “did I really work out for two hours today?” Invariably for me, the answer is no. While the shame at failing to live up to Jefferson’s ideal is illogical given the busy lives many students pursue, the plaque’s suggestion of their inadequacy is unwarranted. Take down the quote.
University students are annoyed and angered by the construction of a seven-foot fence along the railroad tracks between 14th Street and Rugby Road. Some see this reaction as unjustified, such as Jim Tolbert, Charlottesville’s director of neighborhood development services, who commented: “It’s humorous to me that so many people are getting so upset over a safety project.” This perspective represents an inaccurate understanding of the extent to which blocking the cut-through behind the Corner affects students’ daily lives, both logistically and psychologically. Unfortunately, this flawed perspective led to insufficient communication on the part of the City of Charlottesville and the University about the project, further irritating and insulting the students whom it affects.
Recently, Viewpoint Writer Hasan Khan advocated the legalization of Adderall for academic use, suggesting that neuroenhancers are the next logical step in harnessing technology to improve our lives. He argued that side effects of Adderall are rare with typical use, its performance-enhancing effects do not create competitive unfairness as do steroids in athletics and legalization would eventually lead to a drop in prices, making Adderall accessible to all. Yesterday, Brennan Edel addressed some flaws in that argument. I take issue another one of Khan’s assumptions. When Khan concludes, “only by decriminalizing neuroenhancers will society enter a new era of productivity,” he implies that such a new era is desirable for humanity. I disagree.
On October 2nd, my fellow columnist Jared Fogel argued University professors should reduce their use of multiple-choice exams. He criticized the test format for preventing professors from effectively judging students’ understanding of the material, eliminating the possibility of partial credit for students whose work is nearly correct and causing students to feel less obligated to study. While these criticisms are valid for some administrations of multiple-choice tests, I disagree that these are inherent drawbacks of the format that recommend against its use. Multiple-choice exams are a valuable feature of many introductory courses at the University.
The Inter-Sorority Council’s “no contact” policy is often perceived as tedious, but can it also be dangerous? A recent blog post suggests it can. The author claims the “no contact” policy causes sorority women to appear cold and prevents them from making first-years’ partying experiences more comfortable and safe. She concludes the policy is overly restrictive while ineffective at preventing “dirty rushing,” so its restrictions should be lifted. I disagree with her critique, but her writing illuminates common misperceptions surrounding the policy that reduce its value and, unfortunately, can cause situations in which a first-year in distress fails to see sorority women as a viable source of help. The solution is increased awareness of the restrictions of the policy, not its elimination.
Last Thursday, President Teresa Sullivan sent students an email requesting they complete the “Hoos Making a Safer Community at the University of Virginia” online training program. Aside from the obvious drawback of a program whose viewing is altogether optional, the effectiveness of this program is limited by the phrasing it uses. Namely, it teaches intervention techniques to use in the context that the student in trouble is a “friend.” While this word choice was likely one of convenience, it is problematic for new first-year students.
As Final Exercises do not bestow diplomas, what is their purpose at the University? A purely symbolic one. Therefore, when filling out the survey of how graduation should be altered during Rotunda renovations, we should choose the option that best maintains the symbolism that makes Final Exercises worthwhile. We should elect to preserve graduation on the Lawn and keep all graduates together by voting for option one: “Stay on the Lawn, Sharply Limit the Number of Guests.”
While the Facebook- and Tumblr-based campaign #WeAreAllUVa features many images of members of the University community holding white signs which proclaim a love of diversity or reveal blatant discrimination they have faced, the most powerful parts of the campaign are the signs saying, “Your dad’s an immigrant? I can see that,” or “Being from a small town and having a country accent isn’t ‘cute,’” or a black student’s “Contrary to popular belief, I am not an athlete.”
For anyone who managed to miss the spectacle of sneaker-clad sorority women chasing Sigma Chi pledges up trees in pursuit of crazy hats, this past week was “Derby Days,” the competition between sororities that is Sigma Chi fraternity’s national philanthropy. This year at the University, the week consisted of a coin drop, merchandise sale, house decorating contest, eating contest, hat grab, pledge lip-synch, blood drive, obstacle course, powder-puff football game, dance skits and online donations to support the Children’s Miracle Network.
Seventy-five percent of Americans oppose legacy preferences in college admissions, including my fellow columnist Nazar Aljassar and the late Senator Edward Kennedy, who attended Harvard College as a legacy. Kennedy introduced a bill in 2003 that would require colleges to report legacy admissions statistics, hoping to shame them into ending any favoritism. Opponents of legacy preferences decry the advantage given to a group of applicants who are predominantly white, affluent and — by definition — have a college-educated parent.
I walked past the mock wall between Newcomb Hall and Monroe Hall dozens of times the week of February 24, and on each occasion was both bothered by its obnoxious presence and was obliged to pick up a few of its ideas. I was surprised that a brightly painted piece of plywood activism stuck in my mind, compelling me to seek more information on Israeli Apartheid Week and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a whole.
Recently, my fellow columnist Alex Yahanda argued against the value of online physician reviews for patients looking to choose a doctor, a practice that a University of Michigan study found to be on the rise. He explained that since the average patient is under-informed about medicine, reviews value a physician’s charisma over his talent as a clinician. Furthermore, he claimed medical care is too important to be influenced by anonymous strangers’ opinions. He concluded by calling for everyone to treat such reviews skeptically and instead to choose doctors from recommendations of their family, friends and other physicians.
Months before I decided that I would accept a bid to a sorority, I had to pay $95 just in case I wanted the chance. While I could have paid only $75 if I registered for January’s Inter-Sorority Council formal recruitment before the end of September, at that point in time I was not sure if Greek life was for me. However, the common advice is for women to try recruitment out just to see, a sentiment obviously shared by 297 of this year’s 994 potential new members (PNMs) who dropped out of recruitment before submitting a bid card.