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Thursday, June 20, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

Adrian Finch


Festivals of fun

As the semester comes to an end and the University at Buffalo campus becomes a desolate wasteland, students living in the surrounding areas will begin the search for inexpensive ways to enjoy their time away from books and lectures.Luckily, Buffalo is host to a variety of art festivals during the summer months.Perhaps the most well-known and popular festival, the Allentown Art Festival, will be celebrating its 53rd year in the Allentown Historic Preservation District on Sat.


Funding failure

I've had an epiphany. When I was younger, I would complain daily about how I hated my school and everything about it. My mom used to tell me that someday, I would really appreciate the school that I attended and the people who were there with me. Well, as much as I hate to admit it (really, I hate it), I guess she was right. I realize now that I was lucky to be a student in the school district that I attended for most of my teenage years. Growing up, my parents always wanted me to attend small, intimate schools where the teachers actually cared about their students and the class sizes were no bigger than 15 to 20 students. I had every opportunity available to me during elementary, middle and high school. Whether it was drama club or joining the volleyball team, I had the chance to do it all – and I took advantage of it. I was lucky enough to attend a school system that invested thousands into building a new high school for its 300 students, added a pool to the gym, and built a truly incredible addition to its elementary school. I was taught by the same teachers throughout my middle and high school years, and was able to develop a relationship with them that I don't think many people can say they had the chance to do. (I used to drink juice boxes and take naps at my English teacher's desk during class.) And with all that was provided to me at school, I never once thought about where the money came from to fund it all – until now. According to an article that was published on Tuesday in the New York Times, educational funding has never been as bad as it is today. On Monday during an interview, Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education, estimated that state budget cuts put 100,000 to 300,000 public school jobs at risk for termination. He stated that the nation was undergoing an "educational catastrophe." "Districts in California have pink-slipped 22,000 teachers. Illinois authorities are predicting 17,000 public school job cuts. And New York has warned nearly 15,000 teachers that their jobs could disappear in June," the article said. And the cuts don't stop there. According to the article, the American Association of School Administrators conducted a survey and found that nine out of 10 superintendents expect to lay off their employees this fall. And sooner than you'd think, kids might have to say goodbye to a five-day school week. This same survey found an 11 percent increase in just one year of schools considering reducing the school week to just four days because of funding problems. I've only been out of high school for three years, and already school districts like mine might have to lay off teachers, cut athletic programs and possibly eliminate music and art programs all together. We have seriously skewed priorities. According to the article, the economic stimulus bill passed last February set aside $100 billion in education financing. However, states spent almost all of it this year to save 342,000 school jobs (only about 5.5 percent of school positions nationwide). It is estimated that states will spend another $36 billion of the stimulus money next year. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, this still leaves their budgets short by almost $144 million dollars. "Is the federal government going to try to prop up states and districts forever?" said Michael Petrilli, a previous member of the Education Department. "If not, we're just kicking the can down the road. Eventually, districts need to learn to live with less." So, why should we care? After all, UB students are currently suffering from a portion of the $90 million of SUNY budget cuts. But, think of it this way – does a 5-year-old deserve to deal with the same financial worries of a 21-year-old? For schools to be required to "live with less" is unimaginable to me. A solution to end the cuts to school programs and the layoffs of teachers needs to be a priority. Education is too important for it not to be. E-mail:


Patriotic barbequing

Chris Irwin isn't an average 22-year-old college student. He's a veteran. Last August, he returned home to Horseheads, N.Y. after a year spent in Iraq with the United States Army. While other students were packing their clothes and preparing for a new year at school, Irwin was unpacking his uniform and embracing the family that he hadn't seen in 12 months. Two days later, he arrived at the University at Buffalo to work towards a mechanical engineering degree, and slowly began to make the transition from a sergeant in the military to a student in civilian life. Like most veterans, Irwin found the change to be difficult, but manageable. "When you sign that line on the contract, you know what you're getting into…they could pull me right now and I could be on a plane going somewhere…you have no choice – I've just adapted to it," Irwin said. As Irwin took his first step onto campus, he realized that he was just one student out of 27,000, and was just one Veteran out of the roughly 600 that attend UB. "I got home from Iraq two days before classes started [and] moved up to Buffalo to a new apartment. It was a new place, I knew absolutely nobody and I was trying to get into the swing of things with classes," Irwin said. However, Irwin quickly found a niche in the overwhelming Buffalo community with the Military Members Association. "The group invited me in and it gives you that military feeling without being in the military anymore. It kind of gives you that camaraderie that you don't get with just your typical friends," Irwin said. Irwin had difficulty relating to students that hadn't been through the same challenges, the successes and the adventures that he had in the military. "[In the club], you can share your experiences that you've had. Whether it's some hard times or some type of stress with being deployed or combat related, it's the place that you can talk about it because you can't just talk to your normal friends about it…they have nothing in common with that," Irwin said. Soon after joining the Military Members Association, Irwin noticed that the club was struggling. Formed in 1997, the association attracted many veterans, but once the war in Iraq began in 2003, it slowly unraveled. "Right when the war started, a lot of people just became [unsupportive of their troops]… a lot of people looked down upon the club, and from there, it was just about [finding people to join]," Irwin said. Last February, Irwin asked the Student Association if they would recognize the Military Members Association as an official SA club. "The SA was very supportive in keeping the club active, but there was no one who was active in taking charge of the group because over the years…you're being deported or with your family…[and] there was no one really ready to step up to the plate," Irwin said. Irwin decided to become president of the club and work towards accomplishing the member's goals of a stronger Veteran's community, recognition and presence on campus. Under Irwin's direction and dedication, the club has expanded to over 60 members and continues to become more active, both on campus and in the community. Currently, the club's ultimate goal is to raise funds for a memorial to be erected on campus. "[We'd like to] really establish a veteran's memorial on campus...I really think that there's got to be some type of patriotism added to the campus because I feel right now that it's not veteran friendly at all," Irwin said. Past club president and pre-health student Nick Hoffman is finishing his eight-year contract with the military. When he arrived to UB, he too felt that there was not a steady support system for Veterans, and decided to become involved with the Military Members Association. Hoffman has been a member of the club for two years, and is in full support of raising funds to keep the association active and build a memorial. "I don't think [veterans] are represented very well on campus. In terms of UB recognizing military commitment and members here for educational purpose, it'd be nice to see some recognition from the school for members who are coming back from war," Hoffman said. "[Many] have given up a lot when they come back to campus and to not be able to find the veteran's office or find a helping hand, is [disappointing]…I think we're providing a [guiding] hand, and that's encouraging." Irwin hopes that the memorial will become a centerpiece on campus in the Flint Loop area or around the Student Union. He explains that it would be a tribute to all Veterans, specifically fallen alumni soldiers. Veterans from the Military Members Association will be grilling hot dogs outside of the Student Union tomorrow between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. to raise funds for the memorial. If it rains, the event will be pushed to Thursday. According to the events Facebook page, for $4 students and faculty can purchase a hot dog meal with chips and a drink, and can also buy a baked good for $1. During the barbeque, club members will also hold a raffle. "It's a great way to get some exposure on these beautiful, sunny days…I think a barbeque is a fun way to do that because everybody – especially when you're in the military – enjoys a good barbeque," Hoffman said. Irwin plans to transfer to North Carolina University in the fall while he finishes the last two years of his military contract. He remains certain that new members will continue to work towards the completion of the memorial. "It doesn't stop with just me – the other members of the club are very supportive and I'm very confident that they'll keep all of this going," Irwin said. The Military Members Association meets on Tuesdays in room 145E in the Student Union at 4:30 p.m. Irwin encourages all students to join, even if they're not veterans. For more information, prospective members can reach him by E-mail at "I think that by coming by and supporting us as a group, you're saying ‘Listen, I believe in what you do and…it's good to see that you're here in school trying to better yourself and become part of society,'" Hoffman said. E-mail:


In memory of Orrange

On Jan. 14, Nicholas Orrange, a senior University at Buffalo student and the special interest service and hobbies coordinator for the Student Association, was tragically killed in a one-car accident at the intersection of Harlem Road and Sheridan Drive. On Sunday at 9:30 a.m., friends, family, students and community members will gather together at Baird Point to honor him during the first Nick Orrange Memorial Scholarship 5K Run. "Nick was the SISH coordinator and he was someone we worked with very closely. He was known as very happy and very active and we thought that this would be a great way to honor him and raise funds for the scholarship that his parents set up," said Katherine Ruiz Meneses, assistant sports club coordinator for the SA. Sports clubs and the SA have joined together to sponsor the event during Sports Club Weekend. Meneses explains that it is a time for the 31 recognized clubs and four temporary clubs to recruit new members and explain to the student body who they are and what they do. "We thought it'd be great to introduce this now because it's a weekend associated with Sports Week…and we thought it'd be a great [tribute to] Nick," Meneses said. Shervin Stoney, SA sports club coordinator and vice president elect, explains that normally an event of this size takes a year to plan. However with the help of other SA members, he and Meneses have been able to put together the event in only a few weeks. "It's coming together fairly well, which is probably due to the Linda Yalem run because with [the previous event], I had a model to go off of," Stoney said. Stoney will act as the race director on Sunday. He explains that he wanted to create a 5K run in respect of Nick and the great friend and student that he was. "We lived together and we were pretty good friends. We [also] worked next to each other," Stoney said. "I know he wouldn't have run in [the 5K] because he hated running. He was a swimmer…but I'm sure he would have appreciated it." According to Meneses, 70 volunteers have registered to help with the event from security to clean-up. However, only 40 runners are currently registered to participate on Sunday. "The turn-out is not as big as we've expected, but it's the first year that we're doing it…we hope in future years that it will grow bigger and be repeated," Meneses said. Stoney is confidant that more students and community members will sign up to run as the event gets closer. However, Meneses feels that students may not register for the event because of the cost. According to the event's Facebook page, students can purchase tickets for $20 at the SBI ticket office until Friday, or they can pay $22 on the day of the race. "It's a little bit expensive and it's something that not a lot of people want to do…I'd like to lower the price [for next year] and get incentives," Meneses said. For those who choose to participate, Stoney explains that the course will begin at Baird Point and will go around Alumni Arena, loop around the Academic Spine and will finish back at Baird Point. Medals will be awarded to the top three male and female runners in the seven age categories. The event will take place until 12:30 p.m. where there will be a post-race party at Baird Point for all runners. Those who did not participate may pay $5 for food, beverages and raffle tickets for door prizes. After registering, students will receive a packet of coupons from businesses that have donated to the event, a bracelet and a T-shirt. The packets can be picked up on Friday at 350 Student Union from 12 p.m. until 5 p.m. For those registering the day of the race, they will need to arrive at Baird Point between 8 a.m. and 9:20 a.m. to receive their packet. "[As the] sports coordinator for next year…I plan on having this event again…and hopefully we'll get more people [to participate] and start advertising sooner than we did this year," Meneses said. Stoney hopes that the run will be a success and will become an annual event to honor Orrange and the free spirit that he was. "All proceeds go to the Nick Orrange Scholarship Memorial Fund that his parents set up at [St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute]…whether we raise $100 or $500, it will be a success because it's for charity," Meneses said. E-mail:


A dirty secret

As the University at Buffalo continues to make strides toward a more environmentally friendly campus with programs like RecycleMania and groups like the Student Association Environmental Department, students remain skeptical of their efforts. According to the UB Green Web site, state agencies are required by law to recycle at least 50 percent of their "solid waste stream." However, offices in the University complex recycle only 30 percent of their waste, and the Residence Halls recycle even less. Mike Dupre, associate vice president for University Facilities and current chair of the UB Environmental Task Force, hopes to increase these numbers. "We are working toward creating more green projects on campus to combat the recycling problems," Dupre said. "We, as a community, need to bring awareness to the issue and continue our fight toward minimizing our environmental impact." Environmental advocate Chris Llop, director of SA Environmental, also finds the university's lack of recycling to be a serious problem. "I can't tell you how many times I see students throwing plastic bottles, cans or paper into the trash can," Llop said. "The recycling bins are clearly labeled, yet students don't seem to care, or they don't want to take the extra time to do their part in supporting the environment." Llop explains that once a recycling bin has been contaminated with roughly ten percent of other garbage, the janitorial staff is instructed to throw out the entire bag. "It really upsets me when I see a janitor mixing recyclables with other garbage," said Bobbi Taylor, a senior botany major. "I try to do my part toward going green with recycling, but it feels like a wasted effort." Even if a bin remains clean, both Llop and Taylor remain curious about whether the bag escapes the landfill and makes its way to the recycling center. Robert McLovin, a third-year member of the janitorial staff, admits to emptying the recycling bins for his own use and taking the items to the nearest bottle return. "On a good day, I'll collect from the bins, head over to Wegmans, and walk out with $60," McLovin said. "But lately, I haven't been doing as well. The recycling bins are empty by the time I get to them." Llop and Dupre are unsure if the decreasing number of recyclables is due to students recycling less, or if someone else has discovered the potential profits in collecting from the bins. Although Dupre explains that the university does not receive substantial profits from the recycling center, this doesn't stop big names on campus, like Vice President of Student Affairs Dennis Black and President John Simpson, from engaging in a little late night bin raiding. "I was in Capen last Thursday night studying for an exam when I saw President [John] Simpson and Dennis Black come into the library. They emptied the recycling bins into a big trash bag, and then quickly ran away like giddy school girls," said Andrew Ham, a junior political science major. Some of the duo's coworkers explain that Black and Simpson were feeling pressure from members of the campus community to decrease the university's spending and increase its available funds. "I'm a straight shooter – UB 2020 isn't going to happen," Simpson said. "We don't have any money to do the things that we planned to do. But in an effort to save face, so that I don't have to admit that I drastically underestimated how long my plan would take to implement, I'm trying to find and save any extra money that I can." Simpson explains that although stealing recyclables from the school wasn't his best idea, he was doing it with his students and the benefit of the university in mind. "Since we throw half of our recyclables away anyways because students are too stupid to read the labels on the bins and the janitors are too lazy to remove a couple of bottles from the garbage can, I figured it wasn't a big deal," Simpson said. "I put all the money from the bottle returns into a secret drawer, cleverly concealed in a sock." However, Black explains that he went along with President Simpson's recyclable stealing plan for a different reason. "President Simpson said that he wanted to steal recyclables for UB 2020. To be honest, I have little to no idea what that is," Black said. "I was just looking for some extra cash to put toward my next Mister Universe Pageant." E-mail:


Environmental awakenings

In a time where "going green" has become more of a fashion statement than an actual initiative, student run groups like the University at Buffalo Environmental Network are taking a stand and working towards a better environment for their campus and community. The UBEN is a group of networks, organizations and individuals who work towards ending injustices on the environment through education, action and change, according to their Web site. On April 16, 17 and 18, the group will come together with schools throughout Western New York to join 400 environmentally active students for Power Shift NY 2010 at UB. "[UBEN wants] to push the message that this is about students and youth who are meeting to exchange ideas and promote an environmentally conscious and environmentally sustainable future," said Kristina Blank, a sophomore environmental study major and vice president of outreach for UBEN. In March of 2009, Congress recorded the largest student environmental lobby day in history when students, including those from UBEN, gathered together in Washington D.C. during the environmental Power Shift conference. Esther Dsouza, a senior environmental design and geography major, vice president of activism for UBEN and coordinator for the summit, explains that the group felt inspired by their time in D.C. and decided to form the first NY breakout of Power Shift and the largest environmental summit that any UB club has hosted. "I went on the environmental conference [in Washington, D.C.] last year … it was empowering to see so many people who are environmentally aware and active, and it made me realize how powerful we are as a student body," Blank said. The Power Shift movement is an event for Define Our Decade, a project of the Energy Action Coalition that works with college and university students to encourage environmentally friendly changes on their campuses. "In 2010, through a set of strategically coordinated local actions, we will define our decade. We will define it with youth leadership, community empowerment, and a unified vision for the clean and just energy future we will collectively create," according to their Web Site. In collaboration with environmental organizations of other schools, UB Green, Campus Dining and Shops, and Student Life, UBEN will host panels, workshops, concerts and local environmental advocate speakers. The speakers include Lois Gibbs, an environmental activist who advocated the Love Canal cause in 1978, NY Senator Antoine Thompson, who serves on the Environmental Conservation Committee in the Senate, Walter Simpson, a past Environmental Officer at UB, and Margaret Wooster, a Buffalo native, ecological activist and author of Living Waters: Reading the Rivers of the Lower Great Lakes. UB professors Sara Metcalf of the geography department and biological sciences professor Dr. Mary Bisson will also be featured speakers during the 3-day conference. "It's going to be very educational. Many students don't read the top issues of today and we go through school taking in the information taught in classes, but we don't apply it … we're going to teach students how to put these ideas into action," Blank said. Neighboring environmental organizations will also take part in the summit, including Buffalo ReUse, Grassroots Gardens, Buffalo Car Share, the Community Foundation and PUSH Buffalo. On the first day of the conference, UBEN has scheduled a Day of Action. Blank explains that after receiving hundreds of environmental policy violations in Pennsylvania for crimes of environmental distress, the Amherst development company U.S. Energy Development Corporation has decided to move its operations and drill oil in Allegany State Park. Members of Power Shift NY and concerned community members will meet at 3:00 p.m. on April 16 outside of the corporation to peacefully protest its actions and plans to take oil from the park. "All we want to do is to let them know that it's not OK to drill in any park and there's other green measures that they should be taking," Dsouza said. To take part in what Blank describes as a perspective altering event, students can visit the Sub-Board Inc. ticket office during business hours to reserve tickets, or they can visit to order tickets in advance for $15. Blank and Dsouza encourage students to purchase tickets in support of UBEN and to take the first step towards a greener planet by attending the conference. "The environment is among us – we can't segregate ourselves from the environmental issues of the day. They are an integral part of our lives, and will continue to be so in the future," Blank said. "It's up to the youth to step up to the plate and counteract that." E-mail:

The Spectrum

Technical fail

I have one cell phone, a simple iPod Nano and an average PC laptop. These basic devices are as advanced as my technological gadgets get, and I like it that way.


Idolizing notes

Fourteen contestants battled it out for a cash prize and the title of UB's favorite singer in the third annual UB Idol competition Wednesday night. As the line of fans circled throughout the Student Union, many wondered if they would find a place in the crowded theater. Unfortunately, the Student Association staff had to turn some students away, which left many of them clamoring for a new location for next year. 'I think the event was successful, but we're at a point now where UB Idol is a more popular event,' said Di'Monique George, SA entertainment director. 'But next year, we'll look for a bigger space.' With three judges and a decibel meter measuring the audience's response, contestants were judged on their vocal performance and crowd reaction. Those with the six highest scores moved on to the second round, and the final three with the best scores fought for the first-place prize of $500. 'We have both judge and audience participation [to determine their scores],' said Lauren Skompinski, SA entertainment public relations manager. 'It's good for the audience to participate and support [the contestants], and we have the judges for people who don't have a lot of support in the crowd.' As the lights dimmed in the theater and fans held up neon-colored signs cheering on their friends, many contestants struggled to fight off their nerves and find the necessary confidence to command the stage. While the first three contestants weren't able to find support from the audience, Josh Tobias, a sophomore psychology major, took to the stage with his guitar and sang 'I Don't Need No Doctor' by Ray Charles, to the applause of many. Tobias was the night's first glimpse of talent and left the audience wanting more as he walked off the stage. Katie Bryant, a freshman vocal performance major, was another great talent of the competition. She sang the popular song 'Vegas' by Sarah Bareilles, bringing to the stage her keyboard and unique voice. Passing through the second round flawlessly with an R&B-themed performance of 'American Boy' by Estelle, Bryant made her way to the finals and took home third place and a cash prize of $100. Although she didn't win, the young performer had a number of fans in the audience who expressed the hope that she'll return for next year's competition. Last year's third place winner, Daniel Shaw, a sophomore psychology major, proved to be a crowd favorite after a few less-than-stellar performances by other contestants. Shaw was confident, soulful and appeared to be having a great time performing for the audience as he sang 'Come Together' by the Beatles. With the support of friends and family, the contestant had the audience on its feet and quickly progressed to the second and third rounds. 'I thought everybody in the second round was really good,' said Mike Huffman, a sophomore business major. 'I liked Dan Shaw and the version of the song was good. He's a great singer.' Shaw sang 'Ordinary People' by John Legend and 'Hallelujah' by Jeff Buckley to guitar accompaniment in the final round. Although a popular choice, Shaw simply wasn't able to do the song justice and took second place for $250. Avian Haviv, a senior communication major, followed Shaw's performance in the first round and demonstrated her range and talent with 'Superwoman' by Alicia Keys, making it to both the second and third rounds with overwhelming support from her fans. With a soulful performance of 'Don't Let Go' by En Vogue and a high-energy solo of 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody' by Whitney Houston, Haviv deservedly took first place and the title of UB Idol. 'I'm extremely happy [with the event]. I didn't think we'd get a good turnout because we usually have it in March … but the entertainment staff did a good job of pulling it together,' Skompinski said. After three long hours of supporting the contestants, the audience dispersed. Many were pleased with the event and the talent that was showcased in the intimate setting of the theatre. 'There were a few people that I [didn't think were good] … but the final six were great,' said Jillian Dobson, a freshman pre-pharmacy major. 'I'm glad I came and I'll be back next year.' E-mail:

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