February 26, 2010 - 8:51 PM
Unless it's signing day for new recruits, your football program usually wants to keep a low profile during the off season. This has not been the case recently with the Ducks football team. We've got a record building that trumps the one on the field: violations of team rules, theft, assault, domestic abuse, and DUI. It sure makes me proud that the nation sees my fellow Ducks representing our school so well.
This is an embarrassment. These players are faced with tremendous expectations to win, play with pain, practice and train every day, and constantly perform under media scrutiny. However, that doesn't mean one's outlet for stress or frustration is beating women or DUI. Now granted some of these cases are still pending, but one should not even put themselves in a position to be scrutinized to begin with.
Eugene is a fairly sleepy town when it comes to problems with the law, so this recent string of arrests has been quite a rude awakening to the community. As my friend Ted commented, "these are violent crimes." Beating women, assault, and driving a car, a deadly weapon, drunk. Ted, an avid cyclist, put it in perspective, "This is a threat to the community. As a cyclist, it's dangerous to have people driving drunk because he could have easily hit someone, like me. They should take away his scholarship and get bike lights for the entire student body with the money they'd save."
Ted's assessment may be radical, but it does raise some interesting dilemmas with scholarship athletics. Eugene is a tight community, and, frankly, there's no need to drive in this town. In fact, many students don't own cars and bike everywhere (myself included). However, many students, as Ted suggested, do not own bike lights, and that's dangerous when biking at night (especially if idiots are driving drunk). Thus, there's a valid argument for reprioritizing allocation of university monies. If the University was to revoke scholarships for athletes that could not be decent members of the community or University, we'd easily have a pot of several hundred thousand dollars right now. Just think of the projects, scholarships to deserving individuals, and/or deferred upgrades to this campus could be realized! Unfortunately, this will most likely not happen because UO's budget and the UO Athletics budgets are separate entities. The UO's Athletic program is one of the few self-sufficient NCAA athletic departments (which is not entirely bad), but it would be nice to see more reciprocity between athletics and academics. To reiterate concerns I've emphasized, this is just another reason for donors to invest more in academics and student life.
As I've discussed before, athletic scholarships are a great way to allow many students to gain higher education that would not normally have the opportunity. Furthermore, it's an unfortunate business that college athletics bring in big money that exciting research or quality academics often can't match. Thus, the U of O works to find a balance between the two. As a student though, it's becoming increasingly difficult to accept that balance when the football team is rewarded with exclusive, beautiful facilities to train and study when they can't achieve the simplest task of being decent human beings.
I condemn their actions without question, but I also want to see them redeem themselves and represent this school positively. Chip Kelly is again faced with a difficult scenario dealing with discipline. I feel for him because it is not his job to babysit players on the weekends, they are [immature] grown men. However, he can instill values and life lessons that prevent this behavior in the first place. Nonetheless, I have learned through my experiences in Inside-Out (a class I took with inmates in the Oregon State Penitentiary) that people deserve a second chance. That said, there should be high expectations and a quick learning curve established from the outset so this behavior is minimized and remedied immediately.
The University is a pristine utopia of sorts with intellectual academia, diverse population, peaceful people, and beautiful grounds; let's maintain that dynamic. Absent from that equation is violence 359 days of the year (only 6 Saturday afternoons a year we permit it in Autzen Stadium). At the very least, let's keep the violence between the hash marks, and I suppose I should also specify within the 60 minutes of play (i.e. LeGarrette Blount).
February 21, 2010 - 8:24 PM
It's pretty scary how well this Broadway musical captures my whole consciousness in song (and foam puppets). Today my roommate Jeff, my girlfriend Melissa, and I went downtown to see Avenue Q. Avenue Q is the story of a puppet named Princeton, a 22 year old recent college grad, that moves into an affordable New York City neighborhood because "Avenues A-P were too pricey." Princeton and his newfound neighbors struggle with matters including love, employment, idealism, racism, and internet porn. As the last struggle may suggest, this is a comedy.
The Hult Center audience was rolling the entire show with the well scripted humor. With songs such as "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist" and "The Internet is for Porn," Avenue Q was very well done. It was absolutely incredible to see the the creators take the Sesame Street/Muppets aesthetic and convert it into adult humor.
Although it was a comedy, the musical does have serious undertones of race relations, coming out of the closet, settling down, and finding contentment with your career. In many ways this hit very close to home. The play both begins and ends with the song "What Do You Do with a B.A. In English?" In 15 weeks I'll have my B.A. in English, and I have many of the same inner struggles as Princeton: moving to a new city, starting a career, maintaining a serious relationship, and finding my "purpose."
Though the musical elicited many feelings of discontentment and confusion both in the characters and myself, it was a realistic snapshot of life that concluded with an optimistic message. Plus, I feel that I'm in a much better position that Princeton: I have a job lined up (that I want), and I have more direction. Nonetheless, it was a great way to confront some of my uneasiness while laughing at puppets portraying my uneasiness and putting it all in perspective. Without a doubt, I strongly recommend getting tickets to Avenue Q if it comes to your city.
February 16, 2010 - 5:53 PM
With the first "Can I get an amen?!" it really hit home that the Reverend Jesse Jackson was in the house. The Multicultural Center brought Jesse Jackson to campus to speak today, and it was a pretty special opportunity to be in the presence of such a prominent American icon. Whether you agree with the man's politics or not, he's definitely accomplished some amazing things in his 50+ years of working towards social justice: pursuing Civil Rights alongside Doctor King, forming the Rainbow Coalition, running for president, and helping Barack Obama get elected (to name a few).
The Reverend's commanding yet warm demeanor was evident from the instant he took the stage, raising his clenched fist above his head and the standing ovation in a sign of solidarity. It was a symbol that sent shivers down my spine. Reverend Jackson then soothed the crowd and began to speak earnestly about the history of Civil Rights, class struggle, and achievements through voting. Reverend Jackson then shifted the tone of his speech towards urging students to register to vote in Eugene so we can have more of a voice in local politics to advocate for change such as no-interest student loans. Reverend Jackson invoked his preacher-esque style with some "repeat-after-mes" to drive his message home.
Transitioning from student issues, Reverend Jackson then discussed partisan politics that are hurting Washington, Haiti relief, and the need to cooperate globally. His drive home messages were student empowerment through the vote, the need to work together globally regardless of race or religion, and to fight for justice for all Americans.
I agreed with the majority of Reverend Jackson's points, but I did take issue with his view that we need to work towards a globalized economy. Many view globalization as inevitable, but the recent economic collapse has shown that the U.S. economy is reliant on a global market, which is precarious. The U.S.'s economy is largely supported by the financial sector, and we are removed from actual production in many respects. If we want to be self-sustaining and environmentally sustainable we must transition away from global economics to local economics that are bioregionally appropriate. In other words, we need to focus on the essentials such as local, organic agriculture, reusable energies, green buildings, education, and health care. If these goods and services are contained on a local level, we will achieve self-sufficiency and wealth that is maintained on the local level, not dependent on so many unpredictable global patterns.
Nonetheless, Reverend Jackson did layout many points I agreed with regarding foreign aid, student empowerment, gay marriage (which he supports), and working towards equal rights for all. He concluded with a question and answer session in which he fielded questions about gay marriage and hate crimes with the poise of a compassionate, veteran activist. And finally, his concluding statement brought the entire crowd, myself included, to our feet: "You've got these people that hate the current administration for spending. But they've got their social security card in one pocket and their Medicare card in the other. And then they hop in their cash-for-clunker car, head down the interstate to pick up their unemployment check. But then they tell you they don't want "Big Government?"" His voice trailed off to a quick silence that was abruptly met with thundering applause. Reverend Jackson thanked the crowd and made his way offstage. It was quite an experience.
February 14, 2010 - 9:57 PM
What do you get when you stuff seven people, cases of banquet beer, birthday cake, and leftover Chinese food into a hotel room? Well, other than a lot of gas, an awesome birthday weekend.
My roommates, friends, and I rolled to Newport this weekend to check out the Rogue Brewery and celebrate my birthday. Newport, for those of you not familiar, is about two hours from Eugene, pretty much due west from Corvallis by about an hour.
Once there, we explored the downtown, grabbed dinner at the Rogue alehouse, and walked down to the water. At midnight we hightailed it up from the beach and into Moby Dick's to have my first legal drink. The bar was a local hangout, but we managed to make friends. In fact, I met my new best friend, Wade, who gave us $100 to put towards drinks. We tried to convince him otherwise, but he forced it on us insisting "I made $7,000 crabbing today." So in the event that Wade reads this: thank you.
Yesterday we fought off hangovers by sampling beers at the Rogue Brewery. Rogue is one of my favorite microbreweries in Oregon, and it didn't disappoint. I sampled their Yellow Snow IPA and their Chatoe Dirtoir. They were both pretty decent, but Rogue definitely makes better darker beers than lighter ones.
Following the Brewery, my roommate Aaron and I wandered over to the Oregon Coast Aquarium. With low lighting, ambient music, abundant drinking fountains, and slow moving fish, it's the perfect hangover remedy. The highlights of the aquarium were seeing the sea otters and sea lions getting fed. The sea lions did tricks for their food, and the otters went through an interesting routine balancing their food on their chest, rolling 360 degrees to dip their food in the water, and then eating it.
Finally, we capped the weekend at the Rogue Alehouse in downtown Newport. I am a member of the Rogue Nation, so I was treated to a free beer and t-shirt for my birthday. However, it is quite an understatement to say they treated me to a free beer. It was more like a free vat. They served me a giant Chocolate Stout, and I followed it up with free drinks from from my friends and others in the bar; on top of that, it was trivia night, so I traded answers for drinks. The manager, Rueben, was also extremely generous with free drinks, samples, and laughs (I recommend the Alehouse if you ever find yourself in Newport).
The weekend was quite memorable (from what I'm told), and it was a nice way to celebrate with my best friends. We slowly devolved into sea lions by the end of the weekend: belching, bloated, smelly, and moist, and it was nice to come back to the comforts of home in Eugene. It's exciting to finally be legal, and I look forward to discovering a new side of Eugene that is now open to me.
February 10, 2010 - 7:30 PM
I've been dreading it for weeks. About a month ago, I had to take (and pass) the Praxis II Math Content Knowledge test so I can teach high school math in Tulsa next year. It was extremely difficult considering that I haven't taken a math class since high school. Adding to the difficulty, the test covered ALL high school math from algebra to geometry to trigonometry to calculus. It was not an easy test because there was so much to study for.
I did my best to prepare for the test, but my pre-test scores were not promising. I left the test with expectation that I would not pass. Thus, I was not optimistic when my score was posted today. I went to the ETS website and entered my login information. I found the link saying that my score was posted. My heart rate started to increase, and my finger quivered as I clicked the link. The bars inched their way across my browser as the pdf downloaded.
I was amazed by what followed. I was greeted by a 145 out of 200 score. That was not an impressive score, but the word "PASSED" was next to it. I was shocked. However, my surprise and joy was not yet complete. Technically, I passed in the State of Oregon, but I was unsure if Oklahoma had the same standards as Oregon. I clicked around the ETS website, but I could not figure out if I passed or not. Finally, I discovered that the Teach For America director for Tulsa emailed me explaining that Oklahoma recognizes whatever Arkansas recognizes-it was going to be a lock. I knew at this point that I had done it, I passed. To confirm my suspicion, I checked out the ETS website again. It was true, Arkansas recognized a 125 out of 200, I passed with flying colors.
However, this doesn't mean I'm in the clear. I only got a 32 out of 50 raw score, so I have a lot of studying ahead of me so I can be a great teacher. For now though, I'll let go a big sigh of relief.