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Today's word on journalism

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"Paranoia means having all the facts."

--William S. Burroughs, Beat Generation writer (1914-1997)

'Brutally Honest' lives up to its name at TSC

By Irene Hannagan

September 22, 2006 | USU students took full advantage and decided to be "brutally honest," complaining about tuition, professors' qualifications and salaries, and support for Aggie sports.

The students let their complaints be heard at 11 a.m. Thursday as part of the Associated Students of USU's Brutally Honest open-mic event in the Taggart Student Center.

A transfer student from Vermont Tech, Preston Elizarde can't stand that "out-of-state tuition is 420 percent more than in-state tuition." He said he became even more upset after earning 96 credits in Vermont and discovering USU only accepted 19. His professors do not know modern computer programs and are poorly qualified, he said.

"Professors complain about their $40,000, $50,000 income, but they're never available," he said.

Elizarde wasn't alone at Brutally Honest.

Student Advocacy VP Josh Schultz walked briskly around the HUB asking anyone and everyone if they had something to say. The tension in the room rose when the words turned to football. After some complaints and disappointment in the team were shared, Director of HURD (USU's pep club) Matt Towala loudly said into the microphone that he hates when other school colors are worn at games and on campus.

He also had a clear message for USU student Sam Bryner, who recently wrote a letter to the editor in the Statesman about the football team that expressed discontent with the players and encouraged students to wear red at the game against the University of Utah last weekend.

"Screw you," said Towala.

He followed his angry, public comments with a plea to not be quoted as he is an employee of the university. He added, "School spirit is [about] more than a team or sport."

Many students at Brutally Honest disagreed with comments about the reputation football gives to Logan and the university and the responsibility of players to keep themselves out of trouble with the law.

A more positive outlook came from USU student Jake Menotti.

"As a student body, we could come together and show more spirit," he said. "We'll have a better team if we do."

When football issues were set aside, complaints resembled Elizarde's -- the ever-present parking issue, tuition costs and student fees.

"My issue is parking," said freshman Jessica Palmer. "There just isn't enough."

One student dropped a 2006 summer course before it began but it wasn't dropped on her transcript until this semester when she filed a "Petition for Academic Record Adjustment." The un-dropped class, and resulting poor grade, were removed, but she has yet to receive reimbursement.

"That's not the first time we've heard of that happening," said Schultz.

According to Schultz, the ombudsman's committee is in contact with the registrar's office about dropped classes and class refunds.

Soji, a USU student from Grantsville, added her concern over fees.

"I've paid tuition for four years and I still have to pay a graduation fee," she said. "I don't get that."

Several students brought strong encouragement to get student voices heard in university government as well as state government.

Jacob Roskelley, ASUSU public relations director explained that college students aren't voting and the results show in the lack of higher education funding in Utah.

"In the last couple of years funding for transportation and public education has gone up but higher education funding has plateaued," he said, "because the people voting have kids in public schools and they drive on the roads."

Michelle Lundberg, ASUSU academic senate VP, supported Roskelley's opinion.

"We have a lot of apathetic students at USU. Make sure your voice is known," she said.

Elizarde said he knows what is going on at the university and there are ways to fix it. Students can join organizations through ASUSU and work to improve life at the university.

In its fifth year, Brutally Honest was designed to draw the attention of students, faculty and administration to current issues at USU, and it did, said Schultz. He wants students to be aware of decisions made every day without their approval.

"I feel that today's open mic event was a great success and an awesome opportunity for students to know…that there are actually people working in their favor," he said.

ASUSU members sat on the sidelines writing each name and complaint down so they can work this year to make changes that students are asking for.


Copyright 1997-2005 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
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