I hate the phrase "the American way." Over the course of our country's history, it's been used to justify animosity toward just about anything that's different. We had a period of Communist Party witch hunts, for example, just because communism wasn't the American way. Blacklisting ruined lives, and sometimes the people who were hurt weren't even communists. Today, this kind of paranoia and knee-jerk reaction is still going on. Take the recent health care bill. One of the major complaints I hear against it is that it's socialism, which isn't the American way. Our way, apparently, is all for one and none for all. About 6.9 million people in this country are uninsured, according to the journal Health Affairs. Almost every other industrialized country in the world uses government-funded health care and manages to make it work, albeit with a few hitches. No system will ever be perfect. But many people here aren't willing to make the changes necessary to put publicly-funded medicine into practice, simply because that's not the way we've always done it. If the way we've always done it isn't working, then maybe it's time to stop doing it that way. It seems like it's actually the change factor that most people have a problem with. Schools are essentially socialized, but no one complains about that because it's the way we've always done it. For as many people as Obama inspired with his campaign message of change, he probably alienated almost as many who are afraid of change. This only applies to the big things, of course. Another smaller and more ridiculous example of American pride gone wrong is the time some genius decided we should change the name of French fries to freedom fries. Freedom, of course, is the American way, and foreign things are not. Does it really matter what we call them? Are the French going to take them back if we keep their name attached? Did renaming them make our country stronger? Obviously not, and we all know that. Yet it's somehow more patriotic to name them after our country's ideal – an ideal that has led us into several wars, just because we can't stand the thought of another country doing something different. If it's not a democracy, they're not free, right? It's ridiculous to denounce something just because it's different. The only justifiable reason for opposing the health care bill is having a real problem with one of the new policies. Saying that it's bad because it's socialism is absolutely not a valid reason. Americans need to remember that although we're a world power, we're not perfect. We shouldn't call ourselves the greatest country in the world when we're not even willing to help our own uninsured citizens, as so many other countries do. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Although the UB libraries are supposed to be a peaceful place for students to study, many have been interrupted by rowdy students. Fortunately for library-goers, a new group has been formed to combat this problem. Ryan Schaub, a senior electrical engineering major, got the inspiration for the Quiet Study Program when he was working late at night in Lockwood Library. "There was a guy sitting in the next cubicle over, talking really loudly on his cell phone about what a terrible hangover he had," Schaub said. "After a few minutes of this, I was so annoyed that I just got up, walked over and punched him in the face." A nearby student was so grateful that he handed Schaub $5, which gave Schaub an idea. "I figured that I could make some money in my spare time by beating up annoying and stupid people," Schaub said. Schaub recruited two of his friends – Tim Hoth, a senior anthropology major, and Lee Spengler, a senior chemical engineering major. Together, the three of them formed the Quiet Study Program. "It's been working out really well so far," Hoth said. "People who are being disturbed while they're trying to study call Ryan's phone to tell them where they are and what offense is occurring. Ryan calls Lee and me, and we go as a group to silence the person." The Quiet Study Program's territory includes all libraries on North Campus, as well as study areas such as the Blake Center in Ellicott and the Jones Center in Governors. The cost is $5 for each person that needs to be silenced. For an additional $3, they will also insult the person. So far, the trio has earned $352. "Most people are willing to pay the extra $3 to have us insult the person before we silence him or her," Spengler said. "My favorite one to use is, ‘Your mother Susan is a whore.'" Schaub, Spengler and Hoth feel that the Quiet Study Program is an excellent use of their time and are pleased to be able to contribute to making North Campus a more pleasant place to be. They have received many requests since the program's inception, but some days are busier than others. "Business was really booming during midterms. In two hours alone, I silenced fifteen people in the Jones Center," Hoth said. Since the response to the program has been so positive, Schaub is considering branching out and allowing students to contact him with requests to punch any nearby dim-witted or aggravating person on North Campus. "Sometimes you're just trying to eat lunch and have a conversation with a friend, but then you hear someone at another table say, 'Face the facts – 90 percent of this campus cares more about petty topics than bigger issues.' A comment like that can't go unpunished," Schaub said. However, due to the hectic schedules of the members of the Quiet Study Program, Schaub is unsure of how soon this will become a reality. "We really like what we do, but we're trying to limit our exposure to these people," Schaub said. "With finals and graduation so close, we really can't afford to catch the dumb." The Quiet Study Program can be contacted at 716-359-1644 between the hours of 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. E-mail: email@example.com
A two-car accident took place between 10 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. Sunday evening on Sweet Home Road and Chestnut Ridge Road. According to Amherst Police Officer Dean Swoger, one car was making a left-hand turn onto Chestnut Ridge Road when it was struck by the other car, which was on Sweet Home Road. National Grid was called because one car hit a telephone junction box, which was at first taken to be a National Grid transformer, according to a National Grid worker who was present at the scene. According to Swoger, there were no fatalities or serious injuries. It is unknown whether or not anyone involved is a UB student. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
A two-car crash occurred at the corner of Audubon Parkway and St. Rita's Lane late Thursday evening which sent a female student to the hospital.According to University Police Department Lieutenant Urbanek, the accident occurred when one car cut in front of the other to turn left from the Audubon onto St.
Monday night, a forum was held that allowed students the chance to voice their opinions and concerns about the UBreathe Free initiative, something that student leaders felt that was never looked into prior to its implementation. Nicole Jowsey, president of the Graduate Student Association, spoke first, saying that the purpose of the forum was to garner information about the program and how it can be improved. Ernesto Alvarado, president of the Student Association, then clarified that the SA and GSA were neutral parties who were concerned about the lack of student voices in regard to the policy. Alvarado then introduced the main speaker – Dr. Gary Giovino, the chair of the Department of Health Behavior. Giovino started out by letting the audience know that the deaths of several close friends and relatives, including his mother, led to his rejection of smoking as a valid lifestyle. Giovino advocated for UBreathe Free and believes that it can be very effective in helping people quit smoking. 'Policy-based initiatives are the ones that make the most difference,' Giovino said. As proof, he cited the changes in sanitation that have come about over the years as hospitals have instituted certain policies to prevent the spread of germs. Giovino feels that the best way to get people to quit smoking is to change the culture of acceptance, or 'default' attitude, that currently exists. '[UBreathe Free] is not meant to be punitive … it's meant to change the default,' Giovino said. According to Giovino, the policy has three main goals: protecting nonsmokers from secondhand smoke, encouraging smokers to quit and protecting the environment. When asked about how the policy is being enforced, Giovino said that he feels the best way to change the default is for individual students to respectfully remind smokers they see that smoking is no longer allowed on campus. 'I quit [smoking] when I realized I was up against a chemical,' Giovino said. 'It won't work to nag people to quit.' In terms of official enforcement, Giovino said that signs have been placed around campus, events have been held to help smokers quit, and around 400 volunteers have been recruited to give smokers cards reminding them about the policy, as well as to pick up any cigarette butts they see on the ground and educate the people around them about why they are doing it. In response to a question about the repercussions for students caught smoking, Giovino said that everyone is subject to a 1994 law that prohibits people from smoking in, or at the entrances to, buildings. 'UBreathe Free expands that law to all of campus,' Giovino said. Therefore, theoretically, people should be 'subject to judiciary processing.' However, this has not been enforced. In regards to designated smoking areas, which many students have advocated for, Giovino was opposed. 'The more exceptions you make, the less compliance you get,' Giovino said. When asked whether a plan is in place to enforce the policy among the staff, Giovino said that one had been discussed, but offered no further details. Amanda Ayler, a graduate student in the Department of Health Behavior, supports UBreathe Free and feels that forums such as this one are important. 'It's good for students to keep talking to policy makers,' Ayler said. 'I think UBreathe Free has been effective; I've definitely noticed a change. I intern in the Wellness Center, so I know the things they know. No one notices the people who aren't smoking anymore because they aren't standing [around campus] anymore.' E-mail: email@example.com
Someone passing by the Student Union Theater on Feb. 6 might have assumed from the sounds of scattered, sporadic applause that a small, unenthusiastic group was gathered inside. However, this could not be further from the truth. ASL comedian Keith Wann took the stage last Friday to Deaf applause, which entails waving both hands silently in the air. From beginning to end, he had both hearing and deaf viewers in stitches. Francisco Olivera, a Peruvian ASL comedian and Taylor Lautner lookalike, opened the show, with Wann providing a translation. 'I know what you're thinking,' he began. 'How did UB afford Jacob Black from the new Twilight movie?' Olivera signed about his experiences becoming an interpreter and the difficulties he had in making his sign language look authentic. Olivera has been performing with Wann for one and a half years. 'I love it; I wish I could do it full time,' he said. When he's not performing, Olivera works as a video relay interpreter – someone who translates telephone conversations between deaf and hearing people. 'I'm also a writer. I'm working on my epic poem – ‘Ode to Cookie Monster,' Olivera said. Wann took the stage next, to both Deaf and audible applause. With Olivera acting as his interpreter, Wann signed about the differences between hearing and Deaf families, peppering the show with hilarious anecdotes about how his mischief-making got him in trouble over the years. One of his best tales was about the incident that got him banned from Deaf church. He explained that Children of Deaf Adults are called upon to interpret so much that they tend to shorten most messages. When his father asked him to translate a lengthy explanation of how sinners will be condemned to hell, Wann's response to the hearing student was, 'My father says, ‘Go to hell.' Wann also incorporated music into his show by illustrating the difficulties involved in translating songs such as 'Baby Got Back' and 'Ice, Ice Baby.' To prove this point, he asked for two student volunteers to come up and be taught how to sign 'That's the Way I Like It.' Deirdre Carter, a sophomore accounting major and one of the volunteers, found the experience to be enjoyable rather than embarrassing. 'It was a welcoming atmosphere … Keith did a great job of setting the crowd's mood and I felt comfortable being engaged with the performance,' Carter said. 'I felt a little nervous about my signing, but I looked out into the audience and saw that the Deaf community was jut glad to see that we were having fun on stage. After a few seconds, I was having a whole lot of fun.' Wann has been performing his comedy show for 10 years and can't imagine doing anything else. 'It's what I do for a living,' he said. 'I've done lots of shows; I love hearing the laughter, I love hearing people relate. I do it for other CODAs, but there are things everyone can relate to.' Both Wann and Olivera agree that Buffalo is a wonderful city to visit and that the Anchor Bar chicken wings are the best part. Olivera, who lives in Florida, also enjoyed seeing snow for the first time. The audience, both hearing and deaf, was extremely enthusiastic throughout the whole show. 'They're super. [I loved] everything – they made me laugh [through] the whole show,' said member of the Deaf community Debbie Salruto, 47, of Williamsville. Ryan Julius, a 14-year-old CODA from Buffalo, let it be known before the show that it was his birthday and was publicly congratulated by Wann. Julius enjoyed the show and felt that it was very relatable. 'I loved the deaf driver part – it was very true,' he said, referring to Wann's bit about deaf drivers using their knees to steer so their hands would be free to talk. 'I would go back [to one of Wann's shows].' Julius's friend Elizabeth Laubenthal, 13, enjoyed the show as well, despite having no ties to the Deaf community other than Julius. 'It was good; I liked the songs,' she said. Despite not being able to relate personally to the jokes, Laubenthal felt that the show was 'funny; I would go see it again.' Emily Glenn-Smith, a professor of ASL who helped the ASL Club organize the show, was very pleased with the way the event turned out. 'CODAs, students – everyone loved it. It was about half and half [deaf and hearing]. One man said, ‘We need to have this kind of thing more often; we need to educate people in a fun way,' Glenn-Smith said. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org