Liberal students make mockery of GOP convention last Saturday

Support for abortion, same-sex marriage, withdrawal of American troops from foreign bases, and amnesty (possibility of citizenship and federal benefits) for illegal immigrants all made it onto Mock Convention 2012’s Republican platform.
What ought to have been Ohio Wesleyan’s genuine reproduction of the upcoming Republican National Convention devolved into a mockery of the Republican Party, featuring the passage of truly laughable amendments that literally reversed the GOP’s stance on just about everything overnight, a feat that would put any Democratic politician to shame.
From economic issues to foreign policy, certain Mock participants zealously advocated their own opinions over what their respective states would have actually pushed for.
It was appalling, at best, to see delegations from Southern states give emotionally charged speeches about the merits of allowing women to choose abortion, as if this argument could sway life-minded conservatives.
One of Mock’s headlining ‘achievements’ was the nomination of comedian and Democrat Stephen Colbert for the Republican vice presidential ticket. Rather than voting for a likely Republican candidate, fellow participants elected the eminent Flaming Sword of Justice-wielder in a bid to do no more than have themselves featured in a segment on his show.
Mock Convention is supposed to be an exercise for those with a genuine interest in American electoral politics, with some fun elements to boot.
The remarkable intransigence of those who had their own agendas in mind was not only in poor taste, but detrimental to the experience of those who earnestly wanted to participate in a setup that was artificial yet conducive to constructive, educational debate.
I’m not asking for people to betray their conscience. I understand how difficult it is to promote viewpoints, even in a fictitious setting, one might consider heinously unjust and incompatible with modern society.
The entire point of Mock, however, is to act like someone who sincerely holds such views. It is an educational experience, not a soapbox.
Had unwaveringly liberal and/or wisecracking students not ruined the integrity of Mock Convention by at least trying to play Republican for a night, it could have been so much better.

Chartwells sacrifices for OWU: Student values quantity over quality in food choices

The Hamilton-Williams Food Court serves lunch to over 650 students every weekday.
Shortly after noon, people flood into the court, swiping sandwiches, sushi, and drinks. The cashiers and servers are awash with business until, an hour later, all students have trickled out.
Yet students’ most frequent complaint is not about the Food Court’s flow or space, but the amount of variety which it offers.
Simply looking at Chartwells’ menus can refute the notion that employees always serve the same food.
Most dishes move on a 17 day cycle, appearing infrequently on the serving line. Cooks prepare sushi, sandwich stackers and varying items at the salad bar. And the static grill items are served for a reason: the campus’ best-selling items are french fries, chicken fingers, and pizza.
Does the lunch-time rush cloud perception? Or do students only remember meals that look appetizing?
I have heard many students grumble about food presentation, taste, and texture. The pizza is too greasy, they say. Rice too dry, ravioli tasteless.
Campus food may not look or smell tantalizing, but students gain more from small sacrifices in taste.
Chartwells chose convenience over food quality, a decision which often goes unappreciated.
Ohio Wesleyan is unique in that it offers 10 different dining locations, from a pizzeria to a bakery. Nearby colleges do not offer nearly as many options.
Denison only has four locations, and Kenyon only one.
Imagine, in this cold weather, trekking to Ham-Will for every meal. No Smith buffets, Thomson grocery shopping, or Science Center coffee.
Chartwells keeps these many locations open at its own loss; to run efficiently, they should only maintain four stations.
It is possible the decreased food quality allows the school to continue funding six more dining locations than logical.
To reduce spending, Ohio Wesleyan would have to close a few locations.
How would the school decide which places to close?
Putting the choices to a vote might prove unfruitful, as each store provides convenience for certain professors, and majors.
Another complaint which students voice is about food pricing.
Yet Chartwells takes losses for the students in this area as well.
In the last year, inflation has increased food prices by 4.47 percent.
Yet OWU has only increased student food prices by 3%, saving students approximately 30 cents a day.
While the savings might seem insignificant, the implications are important.
The school could, if it wished, burden students by basing prices solely on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
But the school avoided such actions, saving students money.
Personally, I value convenience over taste. So, on the whole, I am very thankful for Chartwells and their services.

Smokers should learn the rules

The issue of whether or not to allow smoking on campus was a hot button issue last year, to say the least. I myself find smoking to be a less than healthy habit, but it is not my place to walk up to every smoker, take their cigarette and shout, “Smoker, no smoking!”
However, I do find it my place to address a few issues with said smokers. The Ohio Wesleyan Student Handbook states, “Smoking is prohibited in all University buildings and areas immediately adjacent to doors and windows. (Ohio Revised Code Chapter 3794 – Smoking Ban)” Standing directly in front of a dorm door, regardless of the weather, is in direct violation of this policy. Also, it’s just plain rude. Smoking in a doorway allows the smoke to travel inside, either through the direct openings or ventilation. If you want to smoke, fine. However, some of us don’t want to smoke with you.
The next thing to address with smokers is not a violation of school policy, but a subtle request to those students who smoke on their way to and from classes. If you choose to light up on the JAY, please be considerate to people walking behind you and let them pass, especially if the wind is blowing so that they will inevitably inhale the smoke from your cigarette. For people who do not partake, the smell of cigarette smoke can be nauseating, and in the case of someone who has breathing issues, even harmful.
For nonsmokers on campus, there is a document called, “The Non-Smoker’s Bill of Rights,” which states that: nonsmokers have the right to clean air, and this right supersedes the right to smoke when the two conflict; the right to speak out, meaning nonsmokers have the right to express – firmly but politely – their discomfort and adverse reactions to tobacco smoke and they have the right to voice their objections when smokers light up without asking permission; and the right to act, meaning nonsmokers have the right to take action through legislative channels, social pressures or any other legitimate means – as individuals or in groups – to prevent or discourage smokers from polluting the atmosphere and to seek the restriction of smoking in public places.
Whether OWU should be a smoke-free campus is ultimately up to the student body.
I believe that the option should still be available to those who wish to continue smoking.
However, for the right to smoke on campus, shouldn’t smokers also respect a nonsmoker’s right to breathe clean air?

Cure for divisiveness is learning how to talk

People like to talk.
It’s nearly impossible to find a public space, especially on campus, that is completely void of voices. It seems to be in human nature to talk to one another—it doesn’t matter to whom, or about what; we just want conversation.
Conversation is a necessity. It satiates our desire for social interaction, provides a medium for the exchange of ideas and allows us to purge from our hearts and minds the things that bear the greatest weight on us as individuals.
This is why we talk. And it’s good we make this a regular practice, because if we didn’t, we’d more than likely bottle up our thoughts and emotions and send the world into a state of perpetual silence.
Lately, however, it seems we’ve forgotten how to talk.
My experience is that the majority of conversations that involve debate, even among even the most respectful and well-meaning parties, devolve to intensely polarized shouting matches if any difference of opinion exists. This is especially relevant at Ohio Wesleyan—whether it’s in a club meeting discussing broad philosophical topics or in the Smith Hall lounge over who gets control of the TV, participants in an argument can enter as friends and exit as bitter enemies.
This pattern is by no means a positive one. Conversation is supposed to make human life easier and foster the growth of community, not further isolate us from one another. Conversation should allow new, different ideas to flourish, not eradicate them. Conversation should create solutions, not more problems.
The question, then, becomes: how do we fix this?
How do we, as scholars, as friends, as members of society, put an end to the acrimony created by simply talking to each other?
The answer is a simple seven-letter word: respect.
The overall concept of respect is certainly helpful in creating an environment conducive to better conversations, but the “respect” I’m referring to is an acronym developed by Rev. Eric H.F. Law in his “Guidelines for Respectful Communication.” Each letter in the word stands for a technique that can be implemented to make conversation more productive and respectful for all involved.
Each part of the acronym is important to meet this end, but for me, two stand out especially. One is the first E of “respect,” which stands for “use empathetic listening.”
Empathy is a difficult thing to grasp—it is often hard to understand another person’s point of view simply because we cannot be that person, and cannot fully see where their thoughts and feelings come from.
This obstacle, however, does not make it any less crucial to respectful conversation. A lack of empathy and careful thought about different perspectives results in personal attacks deeply rooted in ignorance. Having empathy doesn’t mean knowing every aspect of someone’s perspective (as that would be impossible), but it does imply making connections with others based on the one trait we all share—being human.
The human experience is an incredibly unique and diverse one, but all people are intrinsically connected in sharing it. As Rev. Law notes, society arbitrarily divides people into different categories—races, genders, political identifications, sexual orientations, etc.—but our differences should not negate our grand similarity.
This, then, leads into what I see as the other most significant letter of respect—T, which stands for, “trust ambiguity, because we are not here to debate who is right or wrong.”
According to Rev. Law, the aforementioned categories society separates us into—what he refers to as “-isms” (i.e. racism, sexism, ageism, classism, and ablism)—often lead to debate among their members. Conversations often lose their focus, he says, when participants from different backgrounds turn against each other and argue over which of their respective groups has experienced more oppression or pain. If all these prejudices and labels were removed, then, those arguments would become irrelevant, and the original focus of the conversation could be restored.
For me, respecting ambiguity is also important with regard to the topic of the conversation. In my experience many talks aiming to address broad, abstract issues often get too caught up in the use of hypothetical situations to prove a point or achieve a specific solution. This causes the focus of the conversation to often shift to determining whether or not a hypothetical situation is likely to happen or whether it is fitting to the broader topic being discussed.
This is where respecting ambiguity can play an integral role. Abstract problems and questions often don’t have any answers or solutions; that is why they have remained abstract. Acknowledging this lack of actuality can sometimes be confounding, but no less confounding than a futile pursuit of making them concrete.
I’m glad people like to talk. Conversation can be an incredibly powerful tool in strengthening our common human bond. I just think we need to remember that bond, and remember how to talk to each other with respect.

Early birds miss the worm: Lack of weekend breakfast leaves busy students hungry

The first week back on campus was formal recruitment for all sororities, as most people probably already know. It was a crazy, but exciting week full of sisterhood and new friends, but by the time Sunday morning rolled around, I was thoroughly exhausted.
Trying to follow one of my 2012 resolutions to be healthier, I resolved to wake up early on Sunday and get in a solid breakfast before going over to the Delta Gamma house for a full day of formal recruitment.
It was not until after I had gotten up and ready for the day that I realized there is not a single place to eat on campus before 11 a.m. when Smith opens.
Needing to be at the house by 10, this of course was not an option. Instead, my two friends and I decided iced coffee and bagels at Tim Hortons’ was our best bet at a good breakfast for the day, so they picked me up and we drove over only to find what seemed like every affiliated woman on campus waiting in a line that stretched all around the store and nearly out the door. Hungry and out of options, we ended up waiting in line for almost 50 minutes and getting to the DG house late.
This got me thinking: why are there so few food options on campus for students on the weekends? Aside from Smith Hall and Thomson Store which opens at noon, there is nowhere else on campus to grab breakfast or lunch.
Personally, my weekend schedule is strange. It’s full of homework, extraneous club meetings, and oddly timed sorority events. Trying to coordinate my schedule around the limited dining hall times so I can eat has gotten fairly difficult lately.
I usually end up having to take an inconvenient break to run over to Smith and catch the very end of a meal. Other than Bishop Café opening Sundays at 5 p.m. and Welch pizza delivery at 5:30 p.m., Smith is also the only option for dinner.
Don’t get me wrong — I love Smith, but twice a day is too much for this girl.
During the week I feel like we, as students, have a great variety of times and dining hall options available to us–Ham-, University cart, science center cart, Bishop Café, the bakery-which may have spoiled me in the first place and be the reason why I’m so disappointed on the weekends.
It would be nice if we could have just one location open 24/7 or if the administration could convert Welch into a breakfast buffet on weekend mornings before 11 a.m.
When I wake up for church on Sunday mornings, I cannot get breakfast before, nor directly after mass; I have to wait around until 11.
If this is my biggest problem with Ohio Wesleyan, life’s pretty good; but as a food lover, I’d appreciate a few more options on the weekends.

Transcript 2012: a new vision for a new year

The craft of journalism is one strongly rooted in commitment to community, credibility and truth. It is an honest art that seeks to inform, raise awareness and teach the population.
Many journalists have left a lasting impact on society through the enactment of laws and fundamental changes in our culture that came about as a result of their reporting.
Within each journalist, there is a desire to make a difference. I knew little about the world of journalism until my sophomore year of high school when I signed up to be a staff writer for our newspaper, The Devilier.
My eyes were opened to a whole new style of writing: writing  with  a  sense  of  urgency,  of  purpose.
Coming to Ohio Wesleyan, I knew I still wanted to be involved in such a meaningful production. Now, during my sophomore year of college, it brings me great excitement and pride to introduce myself as the editor-in-chief for the 2012 Transcript.
My vision for The Transcript is to release a publication each week at the very peak of its potential; one that my staff and I can always be proud to be associated with.
This is both a simple and daunting task, but with dedication, it is possible. I want The Transcript to be the faculty, staff and students’ primary source of campus information at OWU.
Whenever there is a silver-faced robber running around campus causing a raucous, I want everyone to be able to grab a paper off the stand and find out every juicy detail first thing in the morning.
When there are controversial changes going on, such as the switch to low-flow showerheads or the construction of the fountain in front of the library, I want the paper to serve as a student forum, where anyone can express his or her concerns through editorials or political cartoons and  find the most up-to-date information available.
I want the OWU community to feel comfortable reading The Transcript and approaching the staff with story ideas and feedback. This is why I am raising our staff standards of credibility and of coverage, making sure that we do not neglect to cover issues important to our readers.
We’re going to increase our variety of coverage and delve deeper than ever before. I am also focusing on timeliness and dependability.
The printing schedule is being resolved, meaning the paper will appear in the paper trays every Thursday morning, hot off the press.
More than anything, I am excited to be a part of the legacy that is The Transcript and to be working with my fantastic staff this year.
If you ever hear a rumor and want to know more about what’s happening on campus, or if you want your voice to be heard on a current issue, I am approachable. Don’t be afraid to get more involved with The Transcript.
Here’s to a new semester and a great year ahead.

Clean up your act, residents of Smith Hall

Urine in the elevators. Vomit, feces and piles of trash on the stairs. Overflowing garbage and spoiled food in a kitchen with Ramen blocked sinks. Sound like an episode of “Hoarding: Buried Alive?” Wrong.
It is, in fact, the state students have left Smith Hall in these past semesters.
Since this is a university, I assume most students are at least 17, meaning that the individuals residing here are closer to being adults than they are to being children.
So, I guess my question is: Why do you people insist on acting like toddlers assuming that an adult will come along behind them and clean up their messes?
Not only is it disrespectful, but it’s also irresponsible.
No one is going to unblock your drain when you shove dry Ramen noodles down it, or pick up the trash you scatter down the hallway or scoop up the dump you decide to take in the stairwell when you move out on your own.
Very, very soon, you will be thrown into the real world, and that type of behavior is not tolerated by landlords, neighbors and potential mates.
As for being disrespectful, do you think Public Safety and/or Buildings and Grounds deserve to clean up your acts of stupidity, indecency or even delinquency.
Damage of private property can land you a felony charge.
Would you want to mop up someone else’s puke? I’ve done it once or twice, and I’ll answer that for you. No.
And as for trash cans — they are overfilled filled with boxes and spoiled, rotten food on top all because people are too lazy to recycle or actually put trash where it belongs.
And crud left on the stove and in the coils is a fire hazard that is risked every single time a person turns on the burner.
Food that is placed in the microwave should probably not be eaten, considering all of the left-over gunk likely  radioactive food bits covering all sides of the interior.
Objects such as kitchens and elevators are a privilege. The kitchen can be locked and no longer available for use, and a lock and key can be easily installed so that the only people who can use the elevator are only those who truly need it.
Abusing such amenities will lead to them going away.
The university is not required to provide these things.
If they get tired of having to clean this stuff up, they can just remove the problem.
It is you and your friends who have to live in these conditions, not those who have to clean up after you.
So listen to my advice and take the Golden Rule into consideration the next time you think of doing something stupid: Don’t urinate in an elevator if you don’t want someone to urinate in your bedroom.

Good literature waiting for new readers

Whether it was while pouring over volumes of contemporary poetry over break or when I actually enjoyed a piece of Stephen Burt’s literary criticism, I think I have gone off the deep end into academia.
Despite everything going on at OWU and in the country at large, I have found myself completely overwhelmed with the state of poetry in America.
In a country that used to laude its great poets, we are now in a generation without Robert Frosts or Adrienne Richs to captivate our nation.
Or at least we don’t see any on athe horizon.
I realize this might not seem like a pressing issue when compared to the new fountain on campus or the race for the GOP nomination, but I, as a self-titled “academic,” am frustrated with the state of the contemporary American poetry scene.
That is not to say I don’t love what is being written now.
With rising stars in the poetry world like Jennifer Grotz and C. Dale Young, I think that the future of poetry has promise.
What I am most frustrated with, however, is that no one reads it.
In a generation where poetry exposure comes from Tumblr and Blogger, we are inundated with—I’ll say it—bad poetry.
I am probably not one to speak having written a fair share of the abstract and emotional high school poetry and posted it in random confines of the internet.
Or maybe I am just the guy.
I was searching through Tumblr a couple days ago and clicked through what was being ranked as popular poetry entries by some writers on Tumblar.
Almost every poem shamelessly spoke of unrequited love, high school relationships, the ever-present and unanchored “soul,” and how pained each and every one of these individuals felt (that clearly no one else felt as profoundly).
Needless to say, I was sickened.
Everyone does have free speech. I clearly respect that.
You would think, however, that people would have at least decent taste.
The collective Tumblr consciousness does not understand poetry, and I don’t think that our generation does either.
In high school we are taught to look for symbols in poetry—to extrapolate that a dying dove in a poem clearly represents both the loss of innocence and the broken heart of the speaker.
This poetic upbringing kills what students should look for in poetry.
Innovation maybe, or even a narrative that does not use any of the following unmentionables: love, soul, pain, regret, sorrow or hearts.
Poetry is about preserving the conscious experience of a time period.
We can read T. S. Eliot and understand the lens in which he viewed his Modern reality. We can go back to Sylvia Plath and see her unique experience of the world around her.
What is our conscious experience of our time?
Are the only poetic testaments to our epoch going to be angsty adolescent drivel?
I will admit that I have not always been very well read in poetry, or in any real literature.
And that’s not to say that I’m well read now because there is always more to read, especially in the poetry world with no clear frontrunner.
However, I have started to read more. After years of not being able to engage in books (without Harry Potter how is that even possible?), I found a passion for reading again in poetry.
The answer to poetry’s readership problem is just that—reading.
I know that from now on I plan on only giving out poetry books for gifts. (Sorry everyone, now you know what you’re getting for your birthdays.)
I think that there is the potential for a wider poetry audience.
There has been in the past, so I see no reason why it can’t be rebuilt today.
Whether you’re with or against me, I beg you to read.
I don’t mean skim your book for that paper in Modern British Literature, and I don’t even necessarily mean poetry.
Just read again.
I spent my entire winter break curled up in bed with a stack of books and a bottomless cup of pomegranate tea.
Who knew that before Hulu people read?
At least give it a try outside of the classroom.
Everyone has a book they have always been thinking about or planning on reading at some point. You can find the time.
Maybe you’ll have to give up a Wasted Wednesday, but who remembers those anyway?