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DIE-HARD AGGIE FANS: Students show their Aggie colors at the home game vs. Nevada. The Aggies came so close, but lost 31-28. Click Arts&Life for a link to photos. / Photo by Heather Routh

Today's word on journalism

Monday, October 22, 2007

Can’t Scare the Old Gray Lady:

"Good journalism for an intelligent general audience is hard. And we’re really good at it. Taking on The Times is not as easy as waving a credit card and proclaiming yourself 'fair and balanced. . . .' We have every reason to feel confident that we can hold our own if [Rupert] Murdoch decides to build The Journal beyond its business-reader base. In all the Murdoch parlor-gaming, I don’t hear anyone suggesting that he would attempt to match the depth of our coverage in culture, science, education, health, religion, sports, lifestyle, etc., etc. Not to mention business coverage that even devout Journal readers find they can’t afford to miss."

-- Bill Keller, editor, New York Times, on Murdoch’s promised Wall Street Journal challenge to Times national dominance, Oct. 16, 2007

Life at 'ZooMass' was sweet, but Utah State feels like home

By Rebekah Bradway

September 18, 2007 | Welcome to ZooMass.

Above the couple thousand heads, many dizzy with drunkenness and smiling with delight over their welcoming back to school, I read these words of truth. The University of Massachusetts, or UMass, was definitely a zoo. And for now, I was only a tourist, coming to the show of animals as a sophomore from good old Utah State University, in which there was never such a large and loud gathering of people who would likely have only a blurred and vague recollection of the night when morning (or likely afternoon) came.

Although they may remember one word from that courtyard at the Townhouses: cops.

Cops? Oh no. But I only had one beer! And my new friend from today was just standing right there! And where is everyone going? How are they leaving? Where's JT?

"Oh, hello officer."

But nothing happened.

And then there I was, leaving the huge welcome party with JT, my feet crunching on another shiny beer can every few steps. "We are so lucky we didn't get MIPs. I was so scared!" I was definitely breathing easier than I had been, but my heart rate was still worthy of at least five Red Bulls.

"What's an MIP?" JT asked.

And as I explained the fees and meetings and community service a couple of my friends had dealt with in Logan for drinking while under 21, JT's face also explained some things to me: There was really no punishment in Amherst, Mass., for underage drinking. Except maybe, as she questioned, "a slap on the wrist?"

I probably shouldn't have learned such a carefree lesson on that first night of pure nervousness. But then maybe the earlier, the better. It was something easy to get caught up in, drinking, especially at one of the top 10 party schools in the nation. I met lots of friends, and did lots of partying.

I noticed when I went out the masses of girls who actually showed their cleavage, and how five of them would sometimes surround one collared-shirt-wearing, gelled-hair guy -- without them all being his wives!

And I noticed the prevalence of excitement and alcohol, the two most likely correlating in amount.

Shots were my favorite, as my friends and I would share a bottle of Seagram's lime-twisted gin constantly, and then there were "Weekends of Wine," or WOWs, full of giggles and red faces from me, my new friend Laura and others I met from the volleyball team I had made.

My volleyball team, along with the men's team, kept our drinking going by playing another sport as well: beirut, or beer pong as it's called here in Utah. We would shoot ping pong balls into cups of beer for hours to make each other drink and become dizzy and outgoing ourselves. I knew and enforced every small rule in this game, making it somewhat of a hobby of mine. And the faster the drinks went down, the more satisfied I was.

Simply put, I loved the Zoo. I loved my team, and I loved the parties. My enthusiasm for my new school could be put into just three words that I often use when talking about my time there: It was sweet.

But it definitely wasn't home. Obviously I was in a different state, thousands of miles away from the easy-going and simple Cache Valley, but it wasn't just that. There was nothing even like home -- from my crazy weekends to my lesbian roommate to the leafy hills for "scenery." And hunger started putting me to sleep. Not hunger for friends or hunger for things to do. I was plenty full of those. But it's like when you're so full from your chicken and broccoli dinner, yet there's still room to squeeze in that brownie for dessert. I was eager to fill that small pocket with something homemade and sweet.

So I thought Utah thoughts. I kept thinking of Logan and Salt Lake, but there were no mountains for me to look at, and I had to make my own fry sauce for lunches, causing a few strange looks my way.

Then I remembered when I had first arrived in Amherst, driving with my dad. He showed me that if you got onto the main campus drive, there was a left turn next to the Shop-N-Go at the corner. From that street, two more lefts would lead you straight to the LDS Church, which happened to be five minutes from my grungy dorm, yet it was the closest one for a radius of about two hours. How convenient.

My first time there, I was thawed; I went from hesitation to engulfing warmth within minutes of meeting the other 10 students from four other colleges in the area -- none of the other students were undergrads at UMass.

But several of them were from Utah, one even knowing my neighbors and talking about my hometown Salt Lake. We talked about high school rivalries and who we knew from one another's schools back home.

And the word "home" was finally present. My craving was satisfied, and I was instead put to bed by a content feeling of peace.

Yes I drank, and yes I continued to attend church as often as my hangovers would allow. And as hypocritical as it sounds, living my life with these two extremes -- I love alcohol and alcohol is not allowed -- actually kept me balanced, possibly more than I am now that I'm back in Logan for my senior year of school. Here I get enough Utah to never feel the need to even look at a church, although I'm pretty sure I could hit one if I threw a rock from my house in any direction.

So I'll keep searching for balance here -- could I say at Zoo-tah State?


Copyright 1997-2007 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-3292
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