Category: college life


In my art appreciation class we are studying architecture, and as one of our final assignments we had to drive around town to various addresses and describe the buildings. I have lived in Kearney for almost four years not, and I was seeing many of these homes for the first time. There are a variety of houses that do not fit the cookie cutter mold I expected. I will not go into detail and describe the architecture, because I’m no expert. Instead take a look for yourself. I took pictures of most of the homes with my phone on my tour.

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[Warning: this post recounts brutal acts of violence that some readers may find disturbing. I did. All names have been changed to protect the innocent.]

In my political science class, human rights and democracy in Colombia, we discussed this quote, “One must always try to be as radical as reality itself.” I did not give it much thought at the time, but on my way home from the class trip to Bogota I began to understand, and realize I had not lived up to the ideal set by Lenin. While in Colombia I heard some gruesome and appalling real life stories and could not bring myself to write about them. I plan to fix that here.

Maria with a picture of her murdered daughter Ana.

Maria spent the day wearing her daughter’s picture like a necklace. It was the only way she could keep Ana close, and keep her memory alive. Maria walked to Villavicencio that day to share her daughter’s story, which was cut short by the Colombian military.

Ana wanted to be a doctor, and she was smart enough to do it. She left her home in a rural area of Colombia to attend medical school, and after she finished, Ana returned to provide care for members of her community. They were some of the tens of millions of Colombians who live on less than $2 a day, and as such were subject to physical and sexual abuse at the hands of members of the military.

Despite her vulnerable position, Ana would not keep quiet. She traveled around Colombia to voice her concerns. In a country that has been fighting an insurgency group since the 1960s, and a variety of armed groups have emerged travel can be difficult, and it was not made easier when Ana became pregnant. Despite the human rights abuses by paramilitaries, the military, and the insurgency groups Ana continued to voice her concerns until she met the abuses she was fighting first hand at a military checkpoint.

Maria recounted the event from her investigation. Pregnant Ana was pulled from the car and gang raped by the soldiers. A knife was plunged into her stomach and her unborn baby was removed and killed. The soldiers proceeded to cut Ana into pieces before finally decapitating her. When they finished, they played a game of soccer with her severed head.

Listening to Maria’s story, in the hot humid upstairs room with a circle of people, it seemed unbelievable. But person after person stood up to share their tear filled stories. Victims were often selected at random, with much less provocation than in Ana’s story. Many lost family members who were tortured and killed, simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

At the Colombian equivalent of the FBI these stories were confirmed for our group. Colombia passed a peace and justice law that allows paramilitary members to lay down their guns and confess to all their crimes, in exchange for a maximum jail sentence of around 7 years. At one point in our tour we were able to step into a back room where a law officer was watching a paramilitary member’s confession on closed circuit television.

The confession was translated to me by one of our Spanish speaking students. Paramilitary members were sent to convince the population of a small village to move, and used violent force. They rounded up the villagers and forced them all away from the village into the forest. Because the Colombian Navy had a group in the area the paramilitary group had to be quite and couldn’t use guns. Instead they got metal pipes and beat the villagers to death to make less noise. The particular paramilitary leader this person was describing was called ‘the German.’ He earned the nickname for his use of ovens to burn the remains of his victims, as was done in Nazi Germany.

Video commentaries

I was trolling around the internet today, searching for some good video commentaries, and I came home with four. Now, some people might think this search was fruitless, but I encourage you to watch all four videos in their entirety.

First up is a youtube video from the world renowned sigafoo. His video takes a how to angle and aims to pass on the golden rules of creating a successful video blog on to you. I assume this is pretty much what was discussed in class Thursday.

Given my obvious struggles to find a video commentary worth posting, I decided to show a hometown hero next. The Kearney Hub’s Cody Riedel writes Casual Sports Fan, which includes some video commentary. In the first video Cody wears a wrestling singlet and if you can fight through the Scottish accent, the second video has a best of clip at the end.

http://hubvideo.kearneyhub.com/?p=4261

http://hubvideo.kearneyhub.com/?p=4389

Finally I wanted to add a parody commercial about GM. The commercial address the bailout money spend on the company. I’ve been writing a parody commercial of my own, so hopefully this gets us in the right mindset.

Campus Crime

How much crime occurs on campus? Criminal exploits at UNK rarely grace the pages of the school newspaper, or the Kearney Hub. Kearney has a rather safe reputation when it comes to crime, but some activity is reported.

Each year the university publishes an annual security report that details various crime statistics. The numbers show a fair number of assaults (around 10 on campus in 2009), and larceny (more than 50 in 2009). The numbers seem believable, but how much crime goes unreported on campus?

It seems likely that some small crimes like petty theft or simple assault would, through apathy or confusion, go unreported. After all, many students would not even know how to report a crime if they wanted to. Common sense says to go to the Police and Parking Services building, but many newer students have trouble finding it even just to pay a parking ticket.

It would be interesting to find out what percentage of students know how to report criminal activity on campus, and how they gained that knowledge. If knowledge of the process is low, some corrections should be made.

Monopoly is a fun game that comes in a variety of versions, such as Star Wars, Pokemon, Batman and Robin, Bible, and Family Guy. At UNK we have our own edition of the game, except we traded the Parker Brothers for Chartwells.

In Monopoly: UNK Edition the game is food on campus and Chartwells holds all the properties. By contract, no organization, or class can bring outside food for an event on campus without Chartwells approval. Donated and home cooked food is excluded by the ban.

Groups are expected to have Chartwells provide food for events. Not only is the catering below par, but the price tag is excessive. Complaints aren’t hard to find if you ask around campus, and neither are rule breakers.

Whether it’s pizza in class or snacks for an organization’s meeting, people all over campus are breaking the rule. Others avoid it. A few years ago high school students from across the state flocked to UNK for SIFE’s (Students in Free Enterprise) New Venture Adventure and Little Caeser’s offered to donate pizzas. The donation saved a fair amount of money, but couldn’t be eaten on campus. At lunch time the enterprising young students marched across campus to a church across the street and ate there.

New Venture Adventure hosted hundreds of high school students on the Kearney campus, providing UNK with a great recruiting opportunity. But campus policies punish SIFE by forcing the organization to waste its budget, which does not exceed $2,000 annually according to former student body president Cade Craig, on food. Between paying for regular expenses, events and trips student organization budgets are stretched thin. Blocking donations and forcing organizations to buy expensive food only reduces the number of events organizations can host.

Price differences might seem small, but for big events prices can fluctuate greatly. For example, if Little Caeser’s donated 50 pizzas SIFE’s bill would be about $0. A Chartwells pizza costs between $9.95 and $11.95 according to the company’s website. That means a lunch tab of between $497.50 and $597.50. Chartwells’ bill is far too high for an unnecessary expense. Even if SIFE purchased the Little Caesar’s pizzas at $6 a piece, lunch would only cost around $300. That’s a savings of $197.50 to $297.50.

As any good entrepreneur knows, spending approximately 25 percent of the budget on one lunch is a recipe for failure. At best the campus food monopoly forces students to break the rule; at worst it could limit the activities of student organizations.

University policies shouldn’t force students to take a hike. The monopoly over food on campus has led to sub-par food at high prices, forcing the campus community to break or avoid the rule. When the new food service contract is negotiated this year the university should let this monopoly go bankrupt.

When it comes to public transportation Kearney has a few options. Kearney Cab, R.Y.D.E. Transit, and UNK’s Creating A Bridge program (CAB) all operate in town. But these programs are somewhat expensive or inconvenient. UNK students would benefit from the creation of a more convenient and less expensive busing operation.

Kearney Cab usually takes less than 15 minutes to pick up patrons and its business hours make it pretty convenient. But calling a cab costs $2 a mile. That means students who want to go grocery shopping will pay more than $8 for the roundtrip from campus to Wal-Mart, not to mention the cab bill other off campus ventures could rack up. A campus established bus system could provide the same ride regularly for less money both for individual trips and by offering a semester bus pass.

UNK’s CAB program offers free rides to students on Sunday afternoons. Initially designed to reach out to international students, CAB offers free rides via volunteers to any student, on or off campus. Despite the excellent price, CAB only offers rides one afternoon a week. A bus could operate a much more extensive schedule for a minimal cost.

R.Y.D.E. Transit operates on an appointment basis, and makes trips in town and to some surrounding areas. Appointments have to be made 24 hours ahead of time and the pickup time is a 30 minute window. Rides cost $1.50 each way. The main flaw with this program is convenience. Making an appointment 24 hours in advance does not facilitate a spontaneous trip to Wal-Mart, the mall or the movie theater. It would also be a hassle for regular trips like work or classes, but a regular bus schedule could cover each of these issues.

Establishing a Loper bus route could save students a great deal of money, and it wouldn’t be hard to set up. One bus could cover a simple route from campus toward downtown on 25th Street, and to popular spots on 2nd Avenue. The bus could return to campus every hour or so and routes and times could be adjusted as the operation developed. Students could purchase individual rides for a low price or a semester pass and nonstudents could purchase the same options for a slightly higher price.

To kick off the Loper bus the university should encourage incoming freshmen to purchase semester passes, in the same way options such as parking passes are promoted. The program would allow students to go shopping, have a safe ride home from the bar, or provide rides to class for off campus students.

When established, students could study, work, and go out in Kearney without a car. This would save money on parking, and gas and leave more parking spaces available for students who have cars. Ultimately this bus could become a source of revenue for the university and fund other programs for students.

Monopoly: UNK Edition

Monopoly is a fun game that comes in a variety of versions, such as Star Wars, Pokemon, Batman and Robin, Bible, and Family Guy. At UNK we have our own edition of the game, except we traded the Parker Brothers for Chartwells.

In Monopoly: UNK Edition the game is food on campus and Chartwells holds all the properties. By contract, no organization, or class can bring outside food for an event on campus without Chartwells’ approval.

Groups are expected to have Chartwells provide food for events. Not only is the catering below par, but the price tag is excessive. Complaints aren’t hard to find if you ask around campus, and neither are rule breakers.

Whether it’s pizza in class or snacks for an organization’s meeting, people all over campus are breaking the rule. Others avoid it. A few years ago high school students from across the state flocked to UNK for SIFE’s (Students in Free Enterprise) New Venture Adventure and Little Caeser’s offered to donate pizzas. The donation saved a fair amount of money, but couldn’t be eaten on campus. At lunch time the enterprising young students marched across campus to a church across the street and ate there.

University policies shouldn’t force students to take a hike. The monopoly over food on campus has led to sub-par food at high prices, forcing the campus community to break or avoid the rule. When the new food service contract is negotiated this year, the university should let this monopoly go bankrupt.

Every college student knows the great thing about multiple choice tests is that the right answer is always right there on the page. Unfortunately for UNK students the campus meal plan options don’t offer much in the mold of a right answer.

Students living on campus are required to purchase a meal plan and are only given two options. The first is 15 meals a week for $1,749, and the second offers 21 meals a week for $1,783. Both choices cost more than $100 a week. With only $34 difference between the plans it makes little sense not to spend the extra money and opt for the 21 meal plan, even though it is close to impossible not to waste some meals.

On campus students aren’t the only ones left with no real options. Those living off campus have no reason to buy a meal plan. The task of even attempting to eat 15 meals a week on campus is as daunting as the price tag for students who are likely working in addition to attending classes. Beyond the semester-long plans, the price of individual meals is too high. For the same price students can eat a meal at a decent restaurant in town.

If the university would like to bring in more money through campus dining, it should create a more flexible meal plan, for less money and fewer meals. Such a move would give off campus residents a reason to buy in to campus dining.

Anyone who has ever had a meal plan on the University of Nebraska at Kearney campus can tell you the food defies the expectations set by a price tag that’s over $1,700. Part of the reason is because only a fraction of the more than $400 charged for each month of meals goes to Chartwells.

Approximately 1/3 or around $500-600 from each student’s meal plan goes to the university. That means only $1,100-1,200 of your money has to be divided between paying the staff and buying food — No wonder the food doesn’t taste like $1,700.

It’s an outrage right? Not exactly.

The university rents out its own kitchens, and dining areas, so it has a legitimate expectation of payment. In addition, the money from these meal plans has gone toward improving the student union and adding dining options like the café in the student union. Funding such facilities with money from the meal plans makes sense because these facilities are typically only frequented by those who have meal plans.

Even though the arrangement makes sense, it’s not the best option. Such high priced plans, which are more costly than plans at Nebraska University schools and state colleges, push students off campus because the campus residents are required to purchase them. In a time of declining state aid and rising tuition prices the university should look out for students’ already ransacked budgets.

By lowering the university’s cut of each meal plan to only what’s required for the upkeep of current dining facilities, the school may convince more students to stay on campus longer, instead of leaving campus residence halls dormant.

Run with it!

Loper history is teaming with vibrant, passionate, and timeless opinion, and debate. Of those debates that have raged on throughout the school’s history, some have shifted the very core of this Kearney campus, and the students that live here. Shifts in the river of UNK’s history have never been short on causes, but one of the most influential currents at this school has always been the university newspaper.

Who can forget when in its first issue more than 100 years ago the Antlelope editorial board demanded Kearney invest in our youth and train the future teachers of the heartland? Decades later the paper rocked the foundations of the school when, after a particularly one-sided football game against the cornhuskers of Lincoln, its editorial asked, “Is it time to face easier competition?”. And surely no one needs to be reminded of the key role the Antelope played in spurring Mr. Edward R. Murrow to challenge the angry wave of McCarthyism that was sweeping the country in the 1950s.

More recently the Antelope has shifted toward columns instead of editorials, but its opinion pages have lost none of the fire that has been burning for more than a century. In only the last few years a now famous blogger warned the campus of their technology dependency through the Antelope editorial page. The Antelope has challenged the nation as linguistically malnourished, through the writing of a renowned linguist, and even expressed disappointment with the Chief Justice of the Nebraska Supreme Court.

Now is no time to let up. Several topics are ripe for discussion on campus. It is time for the Antelope to make its opinion known.

A topic that is always hot, unlike its food, is Chartwells, which runs campus dining.

Even though someone could blog on this topic for longer than it takes to digest the burgers and chicken sandwiches served in the Commons, I would narrow my topic to what college students learn from buffet style eating. Another offshoot could be pricing, which is outrageous in light of the food quality.

Safe driving conditions is a second potential topic. Perhaps it goes unnoticed, but there are several intersections with limited visibility. Putting new students in uncomfortable driving situations isn’t fair and could be deadly.

Whether opinions about driving or eating find their way into ink, the Antelope is sure to continue its storied role as the center of debate on Kearney’s campus.

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