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University of Vermont

April 23, 2009

Students Stand Up...on Twitter

So, I probably don't need to tell you about the ongoing protests by students and faculty at UVM over budget cuts for next year and the lay-offs of 109 faculty and staff. It's been really captivating to watch the situation unfold (and makes me glad that the biggest controversy at St. Mike's revolves around student government leaders treating themselves to chicken wings).

What I've been most impressed with has been how the UVM student group leading the protests, Students Stand Up, has done a great job presenting solid, well-considered ideas. Even if you disagree with their mission, you certainly can't call them a bunch of college hippie psuedo-activists protesting for the sake of it — the group has a real plan to fix the university's budgetr.

Yesterday I started following SSU's Twitter account (@studentsStandUp), which has been been providing constant updates since the rally/sit-in. It's kind of surreal knowing that there's somebody sitting in Waterman, Tweeting away from his/her phone while getting threatened with arrest for trespassing, but it's been a fascinating read.

And if I may offer a bit of advice to future sit-in participants: Next time the police begin to get involved, just have someone start a pillow fight across Burlington. That will keep them distracted.

March 18, 2009

UVM Springfest Tickets on Sale Today

The super-awesome instrumental hip-hop/electronic band Ratatat is headlining the 2009 edition of UVM's Springfest, with more bands TBA.  Tickets are set to go on sale today on uvmtickets.com and at the ticket office in the Patrick Gymnasium, and cost $5 for college students with ID and $20 for the general public.  Major, major props to UVM's SA Concert Board for making the student discount price good for all college students and not just UVM students--us St. Mike's kids have to rely on UVM to bring cool music to Burlington-area colleges, after all.

(If 90s nostalgia is more your bag, Higher Ground just announced that Third Eye Blind is coming to town May 5. Have to admit that band hasn't crossed my mind in about eight years, but uh...glad to see they're still alive.)

March 11, 2009

UVM and New Yorkers: Not Fond of the Heartland Institute

University of Vermont student Connor Gibson spent last week as one of the 204 UVM students in Washington D.C. as part of Power Shift, where 12,000 students from around the country convened at the Capitol to demand a shift towards greener environmental policy. After the conference he traveled to New York and helped to film and edit this video, asking New Yorkers what they thought of the International Conference on Climate Change, a gathering of global warming skeptics being held near Times Square by the Heartland Institute. The results are amusing.

I don't see what's so bad about global warming myself — it'd allow us to catch a nice tan year-round even in Vermont, right?

December 01, 2008

Why Can't We All Just Get Along!?

Homeprogdem_2 Welcome back to all you students who trekked home for Thanksgiving.  Today marks the beginning of the hellish two-week sprint to the end of the semester. Now's the time when words like "library," "Adderal," and "my damn professor" begin circulate more frequently in the university lexicon.

But mark this date:

Seven Days will be hosting a live debate between some important Progs and Dems following up on some voter concerns raised in the November election. Seven Days political columnist Shay Totten will moderate.

Here's the names: 
Donkeys — Rep. Johanna Leddy Donovan, D-Burlington, Jake Perkinson, Chairman, Burlington City Democrats
Moose — Rep. David Zuckerman, P-Burlington, Jane Knodell, City Councilor, P-Ward 2

Here's the details:
This Thursday at 7 at the Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center down by the waterfront at Lake and College.

I'll be liveblogging from the event with Seven Days Online Editor, Cathy Resmer.

Here's some links:
Seven Days - Facebook

Continue reading "Why Can't We All Just Get Along!?" »

November 16, 2008

Weekend Reading: The Last Word on Personal Attacks in Chitty 3-4

Some reading for the weekend:

A few readers have been wanting to hear more about the personal attacks during the Chittenden 3-4 campaign that I mentioned a few days ago.

Personal attacks or tough campagining? Draw your own conclusion.

  • John Odum at GMD sheds some good light

Cynic coverage over the past months:

Regardless of the conclusions you draw on the tone of this election, and on-campus coverage of it, both winning candidates have drawn their own. Judging from my correspondence with the the two, I can say that after two weeks, considerable tension between Ram and Zuckerman still exists. Hopefully, they'll be able to move forward in a positive way for the people of Chittenden 3-4.

Ed. note: Ed Adrian, who commented here on one of these Chitty 3-4 posts, has just withdrawn from the Burlington mayoral race, citing family obligations — and a need to "work on repairing" some bridges...

November 05, 2008

Ram, Zuckerman to Represent Chitty 3-4

Zuckerman Kesha_headshot Former UVM SGA President Kesha Ram will join Representative Dave Zuckerman in representing Chittenden's 3-4 district in the Vermont State House in Montpelier.  "The first reaction I had was humbling," she explained to me in a phone call, "It's incredibly humbling that people from all walks of life will actually circle your name."Or, you know, fill in the oval next to your name.

In securing victory, Ms. Ram has defeated incumbent Chris Pearson, a Progressive.  This comes at a major blow to the Vermont Progressive Party; Mr. Pearson served as Caucus Chair.  For Representative Zuckerman, victory has extended his decade-plus tenure of service in the State House.  I have contacted both Representative Zuckerman and Mr. Pearson for comments — I'll post them when they get back to me.

October 23, 2008

UVM: Stomach Epidemics and Window Creeps

The past few days have been tumultuous to say the least at the least here at the University of Vermont.  Just look at our inboxes. On Tuesday, we got this from Jon Porter, M.D., Director of the Center for Health and Wellbeing (my Apple Mail labeled it as junk):

In the past 24 hours approximately 24 students have consulted UVM Health Services for gastroenteritis, an illness characterized by symptoms of nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. University of Vermont officials — in close collaboration with the Vermont Department of Health — are in the process of investigating the cause and tending to the immediate needs of our student body.

Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea? Sounds like Friday evening, Friday night, and Saturday morning at college. That happens like, 2400 times in 24 hours at UVM, Doctor Porter.

By Wednesday, we were about to make a run on Brooks (agh, Rite Aid) for all the Pepto-Bismol we could find, but our inboxes had other plans. This time from a Mr. Garry Derr at Police Services:

Since October 17th 2008, during the early morning hours, numerous incidents of a male subject looking into windows and entering into residences have occurred in and around the neighborhood of UVM’s Trinity Campus. Trinity Campus is located off from Colchester Avenue in the city of Burlington. Several screens and/or windows in the area were found to have been tampered with.

Additionally, an incident of unlawful entry also occurred in a residence around the area west of the campus in the city of Burlington on 10/21/08.   

Oh, Great! Now we're really screwed. Not only are we all going to be vomiting our brains out, but our screens and/or windows are going to be tampered with too!

Then, Wednesday evening, another twist in the plot. Something to say, Dr. Porter?

Thus far, approximately fifty students have made contact with us over the last 36 hours.

Fifty?! Maybe the guy who has been tampering with all our screens and/or windows is clandestinely passing along a secret vomit-diarrhea-puking virus. But wait! Can't we get some advice on how to deal with this menace? Mr. Derr of the UVM 5-0?

-Lock your doors and windows at all times
-Draw your window shades at night and when privacy is needed
-Never allow unauthorized persons into the residential halls
-Report suspicious persons or circumstances immediately to UVM Police @ 656-3473 or 911

Yes. Excellent advice. Oh, and I assume you have something to add, Dr. Porter.

In the meantime, we recommend the following precautions:
-Regular hand washing
-Avoid sharing utensils or glasses
-Seek medical advice if you become ill

Thanks guys. And we all thought it was a good idea to sleep in flu-infected sheets with the front door wide open. We appreciate your concern for our health and safety, but give us some credit, okay?

October 20, 2008

Chittenden 3-4: Competing Circles

Downsized_1020081253 UVMers began the week walking by these flyers side-by-side all over the Davis Center. Big dominating circles seem to be in vogue —looks like Dave and Chris opted for the Progressive-inspired Japanese flag look (post-WWII of course), while Kesha is going for the Vermont color-esque Bangladesh-ish look. 

Content-wise, Dace and Chris sport a prominent endorsement from Senator Bernie Sanders, "Outstanding Representatives in the VT Legislature..." (ammo for my spirited Progressive commenters).  Kesha's circle contains an off-centered Obaman slogan, "we are on the cusp of a new era."

15 days till the election.  Thoughts on the race? 

October 14, 2008

Chittenden 3-4 Election Update

Kesha_headshot Chris_2 Zuckerman As election day approaches, Vermont's hottest statehouse race is reaching a hearty boil. Both tickets are stepping up their efforts to court the lucrative UVM on- and off-campus votes.

On the donkey side, Kesha Ram supporters continue to keep a vigilant presence on-campus, tabling at campus chill spots, distributing materials. I was even invited to a "Kesha for Vermont House Party" last week. Invitations via Facebook, of course.

On the moose side, Chris Pearson and David Zuckerman are holding a press conference today (Tuesday) outside UVM's Bailey-Howe Library to talk about their environmental creds. (And oh, how we UVM-ers love all things green...) Plus, they've been flexing some money muscle, buying ad space in some of UVM's weekly student publications.

The Cynic has already published some rather tame profiles of Dave, Chris and Kesha but expect both sides to continue to regularly appear in on-campus media up through election day. Some more in-depth interviews with The Water Tower, UVM's alternative newsmag — yes, I'm one of the editors — are planned to take place in the upcoming weeks.

This election, like its national counterpart, is stirring up a great deal of emotion as B-Town grapples with its own battle of change versus experience. I'll be speaking again with all three candidates before Catamounts hit the polls on November 4th, so check back for more updates.

October 03, 2008

Chris and Dave: We Started This Whole "Change" Thing

Zuckerman "It's not how long someone's been there," says Rep. Dave Zuckerman, referring to the 12 years he's spent representing B-Town in Montpelier. "It's how long they've been there, and what they have been getting done."

Smooth jazz tunes bounce off the rustic wooden walls of Muddy Waters Coffeehouse, making this downtown Burlington chill spot an even more inviting refuge from the cold and overcast Friday morning. As we talk at a table by the window, Dave leaps from his chair mid-sentence to open the door for a farmer burdened with two tremendous sacks of carrots. He sits back down with a smile. 

Dave, a farmer himself, is running alongside Rep. Chris Pearson against challenger Kesha Ram in an election that liberal blogger John Odum of the Green Mountain Daily describes as "culturally/socially speaking...the most fascinating race in Vermont this year."

Both Dave and Chris bristle at the suggestion that their time in the State House should make them casualties of the national mood — frustration with government inaction. Instead, both men cast themselves as the original gangsters of change. Their comments to me are reminiscent of when Dr. Dre and Eminem reminded a forgetful public of who really started the 90's rap explosion in "Forgot about Dre."  But instead of railing, "I was strapped with gats when you were cuddlin' with the Cabbage Patch," Dave and Chris (who graduated UVM when this year's senior class was about eight years-old) replace the former with "I was an agent of change when you were..."

Chris_2 But there is indeed much to be said in support of that claim. As Progressives, Pearson and Zuckerman have a history of challenging the traditionally partisan gridlock in Montpelier. These two men see their role, as Chris describes, "as an anchor," to force conversations in the legislature on issues that the Democrats and Republicans would otherwise ignore. They take great pride in forcing debate on IRV, Vermont Yankee, and campaign finance. "Pass good bills," argues Dave, "make him [the governor] veto them."   

They wasted no time in explaining their frustration with the Republicans and the Democrats in the State House, and their inability to promote anything beyond the party line. "Our role," says Dave, "is to be a much more activist caucus. And I think the Republicans have turned that into a bad word, and the Democrats are afraid of that word."

It should be noted that Ms. Ram is running as a Democrat, and although I pressed both Chris and Dave as well as Kesha to espouse policy differences between the two tickets, I got non-answers on both sides. It's clear that this election is not a debate on policy.

So what does any of this mean for us college students?

Continue reading "Chris and Dave: We Started This Whole "Change" Thing" »

September 28, 2008

Update: Kesha Doesn't Care About Lawn Signs

Kesha_headshot On Saturday I got the chance to sit down with Democrat Kesha Ram at her apartment in Burlington. Kesha is running to represent Chittenden 3-4 (the Hill, Old North End, and University District) down in Montpelier come November. We met so that she could challenge the idea being asserted by some people (ahem) that her small market-share of supportive lawn signs indicates that the race is not boding well for her.

Needless to say, she doesn't buy it.

In fact, Kesha tells me that she believes the race is going well. She is confident that her challenge to the Progressive ticket of Chris Pearson and David Zuckerman will break this district's two-cycle tenure holding the "lowest turnout" title.

The smell of change is in the air this autumn, and Kesha wants to ride the tide. While she wouldn't come out and explicitly say that David Zuckerman, who came into office "all those years ago" as a fresh-faced UVM graduate, is not too old and out-of touch with the young and growing student population, she does drop some serious hints: ""Twelve years. That's a long time, and there's turnover for a reason."

I ask her if she thinks lawn signs are the best real-time polls available. "No," she says. "I don't even have a sign on my lawn." She doesn't. Her warm, clean, and surprisingly new (for Burlington) apartment, with its signless front lawn, sits directly between the end of the UVM Central Campus and the beginning of the off-campus housing sprawl — perhaps a metaphor for the two communities she's trying to bridge if she wants to win this election.

Continue reading "Update: Kesha Doesn't Care About Lawn Signs" »

September 25, 2008

Few Signs for Kesha

Downsized_0925081403 If lawn signs are an indication of anything, the race for representing Chittenden 3-4 in Montpelier is not boding well for my friend Kesha Ram.

It was April of this when I first found out that then-Student Government Association President Ram was going to run for the statehouse in the fall. "Interesting," I thought, "that would shake things up." After all, Kesha, the highly effective first African-American woman to head the SGA prez, is no stranger to shaking things up.

But then I thought, "Is the Burlington public really going to put their faith in someone who has spent an entire six months out of college come November?"

Well, it looks like off-campus front-lawns have the answer to that question. I took a walk today. From my house on Hyde Street, down North Willard, up Henry, to North Prospect and then to class on Main — only one lonely lime-green Kesha sign in a sea of red Chris Pearson and David Zuckerman signs. 

It doesn't help that incumbents Pearson and Zuckerman have the backing of VT pol heavyweights like Senator Bernie Sanders...

---

Random BTW: For the politically inclined who just can't get enough Sarah Palin humor...

Ed. Note: Max mistakenly referred to Kesha as African-American. But if he had read the bio on her fancy campaign website, he would have seen that she has a father who came here from India and a Jewish mother. D'oh! Max and What's Good apologize for this boneheaded error. -- Cathy Resmer, Online Editor

September 16, 2008

Sodex-Poo

Last month, Seven Days published an article lauding the "green" credentials of UVM-contracted campus food mega-corp Sodexo.

Lots of things come to the minds of us UVM students when we think about Sodexo. Sometimes "green" pops into my head. For example, green is the color my face turns after eating a greasy Sodexho burger sandwiched in a stale bun. Green is the envy I felt towards off-campus students when I lived on-campus and was forced to eat garbage three times a day. Green is what the lettuce in my off-campus fridge looks like, as opposed to to the brown lettuce that sits out all day at the Sodexo salad bar in on-campus dining halls.

The author of the article, Kevin Kelley, did hit all the points of Sodex-dissent among college students.  Yes, Sodexo employees don't get paid livable wages. Yes, Sodexo is a far cry from "local," operating in countries from North America to Europe. True, Sodexo used to sell its services to prisons. But the article did miss one thing: The food sucks. 

Of course, food quality is somewhat subjective, so I won't get into the dull and repetitive menu options,  the low-quality meats, the undercooked pasta, or the fly-filled dining halls. If you want to hear about that, go to Simpson Dining Hall on Redstone campus and ask anyone what he or she has had for dinner for the past two weeks. Or check out what Urban Dictionary — the raw and explicit pulse of American youth — has to say about Sodexo. It's good for a laugh. 

But one thing that is totally objective, totally undeniable, totally known to anyone who lives on campus, and totally gross, is Sodex-Poo.

When you eat Sodexo food, you will take a trip to the bathroom within thirty minutes. Guaranteed. Some think they put laxatives in the food. Others say that our bodies are so disgusted by what's inside it, it pushes it out super-quick. Regardless, Sodex-food becomes Sodex-poo in a matter of minutes. Without fail.

Honestly, some overpaid government bureaucrat should do a study on how much toilet water is used by Sodexo campuses vs. non-Sodexo campuses. I bet all the UVM Sodex-poo flushes alone are grounds for disqualification from the "green" label.

Now that I live off-campus, my bowels are finally back in order. True, I no longer have the privilege of being served prison-quality food by a greenwashed corporate giant, but that's the price I have to pay to go to the bathroom on a regular schedule. And at least I can take solace in knowing that I am helping the environment by not eating on-campus. Now that's truly green.

September 13, 2008

Public Radio...what! what!

Carl Kasell. Garrison Keilor. Eye on the Sky. Sound familiar? If yes, then congratulations, you are a nerd. A VPR nerd, that is. zing. No, but seriously, it’s cool, there are a lot of us, whether we admit it or not.  I mean, come on, there’s nothing like waking up to the beautiful voice of Renée Montagne in the morning, or doing homework to VPR Classical or Jazz with George Thomas…not that I would know or anything.

If you understand/are getting seriously turned on by my name-dropping, have I got a something for you! Saturday, September 20, VPR is throwing a listener picnic at the adorable UVM Morgan Horse Farm in Weybridge. With a special appearance by Tom Ashbrook, host of On Point, music by Banjo Dan and the Mid-Nite Plowboys and Mike Martin and Trio Gusto, AND a giant mug give-away, it is guaranteed to be a great time. Plus, admission is free…perfect for the college student budget!

September 11, 2008

Bad Cats, Bad!

Some email scorn from the UVM administration:

This weekend has been called by some Burlington residents "the worst ever" in terms of noise, public drunkenness, etc. An e-mail to me highlighted that the behavior this past weekend "disturbed families with young children; working people; and elderly folks. And, in some cases has caused issues for off-campus students who have had groups of people they do not know and have not invited to their homes trying to enter or hanging out outside drawing the attention of neighbors and police."

Citations and tickets for public urination, noise ordinance violation, minors in possession, furnishing for minors, disorderly conduct etc. are no joke at all and besides draining your pockets will remain on your permanent record. I know several people who have experienced this and it's sad to think of something like that defining your time at UVM.

A new semester at the Universitas Viridis Montis wouldn't be complete without an email relaying B-Town's horror at the spectacle of prides of thirsty Catamounts descending from the top of the hill. The same "we had no idea this was coming and now we're totally shocked" attitude from University and City officials is a staple of these electronic scoldings.

But the big Burlington and UVM boss dogs aren't the only ones who experience annual amnesia in this regard. Over the summer, party-hungry Cats consistently forget what to do when a burgeoning Burlington bash gets busted by the bad boys in blue.

Some tips (2012, listen up):

1 - Do. Not. Freak. Out. There's a reason this is at the top of the list. All too often, an early-semester off-campus rager actually gets exacerbated when the po-9 arrive. Amidst the incomprehensible roar of voices comes "Cops!" The birdcall spreads like wildfire: "Cops! Cops!" Before you know it, a stampede ensues. People are running to the back doors, jumping fences, bolting to the basement, trampling over passed-out girls, hiding under tables, breaking shit... Not necessary. If you don't live at the house and you're not completely shit-wasted, just wait patiently. In a few minutes, the po po will ask you to leave, go home, and be quiet. No names, no numbers, no nuffin.

2 - Don't say "Shhh!" I hope this dumb phenomenon is not unique to UVM. When the police arrive, it's because the party is too loud. Cops may not be the sharpest knives in the drawer, but they're not going to be fooled if a 10-alarm rager suddenly goes silent. And besides, when everyone starts yelling "shh," the house doesn't get quiet...it just sounds like there's a serious gas leak coming from everywhere at once. And that sucks. Same goes for turning off all the lights. Just keep your voice down and be patient (see tip 1).

3 - Drop your damn drink.  There's always someone at a busted off-campus party who can't bear to part  with his or her drink and absolutely must smuggle it out of the house, past the watchful eyes of the 5-0. Don't do it. Not only will you look like a total tool, but you'll probably get caught and get slapped with an open container violation ($50) or an underage possession violation ($200-$300). BPD like to shine flashlights on the exit parade, so anything you're concealing will be quite illuminat