Bus meets car: Blue Line bus collides with student’s car

The driver of a Blue Line bus has been issued a citation for failure to maintain a safe lookout after a collision that occurred about 2 p.m. on Wednesday. The bus was actually part of the Grey Line, which includes the Park Avenue campus loop.

Perry Wade, junior international business major, was stopped in the left lane at the stop sign located on the corner of Southern Avenue and Patterson Street. Wade said he was starting to proceed through the intersection when he was sideswiped.

Darryl W. Smith, the driver of the Blue Line bus, was in the right lane and began turning right from Southern Avenue over the railroad tracks when the rear bumper of the bus collided with the side of Wade’s car. Both vehicles were westbound when the accident occurred.

“My mirror was completely broken off,” Wade said.

The police report detailed the damages to Wade’s vehicle as “moderate,” while the Blue Line bus’ damages were “minor.” The only damages sustained by the bus were located on the rear bumper, while two areas of Wade’s car, the front right side and the passenger side, were damaged.

According to the police report filed, Smith “looked in his rearview mirror and saw no vehicles, [then] started a right turn and heard a crushing sound.”

Captain Kevin Langellier of Police Services said the campus police procedure for handling motor vehicle accidents is the same, regardless of the people involved.

“We handle car accidents [involving campus or state employees] the same as two students or two people unaffiliated with the University,” Langellier said. “The only difference is we will wire a copy of the report to the department involved.”

According to the police report, the buses are actually owned by Groome Transportation, a company located in Chattanooga, Tenn. Wade said he hasn’t heard anything from Groome Transportation, the Blue Line or Parking Services.

“They didn’t give me any details or anything,” he said. “They have to pay for it because they were at fault.”

The Blue Line and Parking and Transportation Services could not be reached for comment.

This article was previously published in April 2013.

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Elevators getting down with upgrades

Next semester, students may see some upgrades on the elevators around campus, part of the second phase in the Elevator Modernization Project. The Physical Plant is implementing the project, but the entire modernization project is facilitated through Campus Planning and Design department.

Also included in the specifications for the project were requirements to upgrade the wet sprinkler system on campus, as well as the sleeves and sleeve seals for fire-suppression pipes.

Pam Cash, manager of facilities projects at the Physical Plant, said the elevators that weren’t updated during phase one will be completed during the summer.

“The primary focus of the project is to correct any mechanical issues and upgrade to tab lighting,” Cash said. “Some will be getting new jacks, others will be brought up to code and new standards.”

According to Cash, the total cost of the project is $1,721,200, paid to the R.L. Campbell Contracting Co.

“Some of the elevators were put in 30-plus years ago before [the Americans with Disabilities Act],” Cash said. “The height of the buttons needs to be updated.”

Ralph Albanese, professor and chair of the Foreign Language department, said he filed the complaint for the elevator in Jones Hall, which was squealing loudly enough to disrupt classes.

“It did not sound comfortable,” Albanese said. “It was bothering a lot of people. It undermines education by distracting students.”

Albanese said he wasn’t sure if Physical Plant deemed other projects more urgent, but issues with the elevator went on for weeks.

“It was under construction for at least a few weeks before spring break,” he said. “We thought after spring break, it would be done.”

However, the elevator continued to have issues until last week.

Sherry Bryan, professor of architecture, said she and other professors were happy to see the elevator in Jones Hall fixed.

“Most of our students and faculty are still taking the stairs,” she said.

Bryan noted that while some changes were made to the Jones elevator, the modernization project hasn’t completely upgraded it.

“[The lighted arrows] were replaced with LEDs,” Bryan said. “They replaced the ceiling, but they didn’t replace the floor.”

While floors are not included in the elevator modernization plans, lighting is a major factor in the entire project.

“It is working great now,” Bryan said. “But the bad thing is still the smell of it and that it’s very slow.”

The project will officially begin May 13 and continue into the summer.

This article was previously published in April 2013.

Fifteen-minute late professor policy is a myth

There you are, sitting in a classroom with a few classmates. Class was supposed to start five minutes ago, but the professor hasn’t shown up yet. Usually, someone remarks that there’s ten minutes left before everyone can leave. Someone else gets an attendance sheet started. If you sign it, they say, the professor will know everyone was in class, and nobody will be docked for attendance.

Thomas Nenon, vice provost for institutional research and reporting, said he has heard this rule, and some variations, for more than 25 years, and students have fallen for it for just as long.

“I’ve heard you had to wait five minutes for an instructor, 10 minutes for an adjunct [professor], and 15 minutes for a full professor,” Nenon said. “I don’t know how students are supposed to keep track.”

If students leave after 15 minutes of waiting, professors have the ability to give those students zeroes on a quiz that may have occurred that day, even if they never told students about it beforehand, but it’s up to the professor.

Toni Davis, sophomore German major, recently had a professor for a general education class exact revenge on students who left after 15 minutes.

“He gave us extra credit answers that would be on our exam,” Davis said.

“If I’m [teaching] an hour and a half class and I show up after 15 minutes [to an empty class], I don’t think I’d be very happy if it were an important day or exam,” Nenon said. “The expectation is that professors are supposed to be there at the same time as students. Normally, they will find someone to let you know what’s going on [if they are running late].”

William Dwyer, psychology professor, said he doesn’t believe a policy exists.

“I think that ‘rule’ has been around for half a century,” Dwyer said. “Each professor handles it differently.”

The faculty handbook only mentions when a professor misses a class entirely.

“A faculty member who must be absent from class for any reason is responsible for seeing that the class receives instruction,” the handbook reads. “If the absence is unanticipated, the chair will make emergency arrangements and notify the college dean as soon as practicable.”

If a professor is habitually late, Nenon said, be sure to meet with the dean of that department and let them know the situation. However, no rules are clearly specified or named in the handbook or anywhere else for when a professor is late due to unforeseen circumstances.

“There’s no rule,” Nenon said. “There’s just using common sense.”

This article was previously published in April 2013.

Card game aims to offend

This isn’t your mother’s board game — unless your mother’s board game has answers like “dick fingers” and “genital piercings.” This is Cards Against Humanity, the ultimate politically incorrect game that’s been sweeping across college campuses. The game is either $25 or free — if you’re willing to print out the cards on cardstock and cut them yourself.

Each player starts out with 10 white cards. One player is randomly chosen to start out as the Card Czar and plays a black card. The Card Czar then reads the black card out loud, which will have either a question or a fill-in-the-blank phrase.

Stephen Louie, a mechanical engineering senior, plays about once a month with his friends.

“It’s kind of like Apples to Apples,” Louie said. “Every player has seven cards. They put down the card that fits that [category].”

The black cards, which have a category, are seemingly innocent at first. One category, for instance, is “The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History has just opened an interactive exhibit on…” The white cards, which have the answers, can range anywhere from “menstrual rage” and “smallpox blankets” to “a Super Soaker full of cat pee.”

“Games are usually meant to be kid-friendly,” Louie said. “It’s an adult game where you can be as immature as you want to be.”

After each player has played their white card for the round, the Czar shuffles them all and reads them out loud. He or she then picks the best answer to the category — either the funniest or the one that fits with the phrase the most. Each winning card gets an Awesome Point. The first player with 10 Awesome Points wins the game.

In December 2010, Cards Against Humanity started out as a two-month fundraiser on Kickstarter.com with a $4,000 goal. Eventually, 758 people backed the project, with a total of $15,570 pledged to the team.

Last year, the group did an Ask Me Anything, or AMA, thread on Reddit, where users — often with previous experience playing CAH — could have an online question-and-answer session, no holds barred.

Due to the game’s overall politically incorrect phrases, words and jokes, many of the questions dealt with the content on the cards themselves.

“We often have disputes about whether or not the ratio of funniness to offensiveness is high enough for any given card,” David Pinsof, one of the designers, wrote on Reddit. “No matter how offensive something is, we’re always willing to put it in if it’s funny enough. So it’s not about how terrible it is. It is about whether the funniness outweighs the terribleness.”

Even though users touted the game as being easy to explain, using Apples to Apples as a jump-off point, the CAH team doesn’t define their game as such.

“Honestly, our game is very different,” Max Temkin, another designer, said in the AMA. “We both use the idea of someone asking a question and everyone answering, but many other games use this mechanic as well.”

According to players online and arguably the developers, CAH is meant to be as offensive as possible when played, but it’s not all social jabs and offensive jokes. The team recently donated the entirety of their holiday expansion pack profits —over $70,000 — to the Wikimedia Foundation, the organization that runs Wikipedia.

The founders and designers do have a target, however: everyone.

“Nothing is off limits, provided it is funny enough,” Pinsof said to users. “We are an equal-opportunity offender.”

This article was previously published in March 2013.

PSA announces rally to protest Raines’ raise

Members of the Progressive Student Alliance began congregating in the University Center, found seats in the food court and dispersed randomly throughout the tables and chairs. Suddenly, one of the members stood up and began shouting, eventually turning into a chant from the group saying, “On one side, Shirley, there’s poverty — on the other side, there’s you.”

Internal outcry from PSA members erupted after The Daily Helmsman published an article on March 27 reporting University President Shirley Raines’ 15.8 percent raise — about $50,000 dollars added to her $339,610 salary, according to the Tennessee Board of Regents.

Vanlyn Turner-Ramsay, co-chairman of the Progressive Student Alliance, said the organization had to take action after the news of Raines’ salary raise graced headlines Wednesday.

“It was a slap in the face,” Turner-Ramsay said.

Members stood up and started handing out flyers, announcing a rally happening on April 17 at 11:15 a.m. on the Alumni Mall. Memphis-area unions will also be joining the PSA for that rally, according to Turner-Ramsay. During the flash mob, protesters also expressed solidarity with campus workers who were currently working within the food court, handing them flyers and inviting them to the rally.

Campus worker Tony, who was in uniform and didn’t want his full name released, watched the flash mob with flyer in-hand as it unfolded in the UC.

“A lot of people don’t know what’s going on,” he said. “It’s good what [these protesters] are doing. You’ve got [Raines’] raise compared to our 1.5 percent raise.”

The PSA has met with Raines twice this academic year. During those meetings Raines stated that she cared about living wages and that she’s doing all she can to bring campus workers out of poverty, according to Turner-Ramsay.

“It would take $860,000 to bring all campus workers out of poverty, yet they’re giving administrators and coaches raises,” she said.

Artice Carter, a senior non-profit development administration major, was sitting in the lobby during the second round of the flash mob. She said she respected the protesters.

“It’s bold and needed,” Carter said. “You can’t start anything until you have a catalyst. People don’t start things on their own. They need to follow someone.”

Not all students agreed with the PSA action. Some students raised concerns that the protesters were too loud and bystanders couldn’t clearly hear what was actually being said. Others who could hear didn’t see the point.

“[Campus workers have] a cushy job,” Hibba Kira, a junior political science major, said. “I wouldn’t complain. There’s a lot going on for students to protest — unless you come up with a solution, stop talking about minimum wage.”

Turner-Ramsay said living wages on campus affect the entire community, not just workers.

“With lower wages, people aren’t able to afford things for themselves, [their] house, or stimulate the local economy,” she said. “When people don’t make enough to live, they often work two jobs — which often means parents of households have less time to spend at home with their kids, [which can lead to] them getting into trouble. It affects the community, the city of Memphis.”

This article was previously published in March 2013.

Author compares life and fiction

Award-winning fiction author Lee Smith will be explaining her writing methods in an upcoming discussion called “A Life in Books” on Thursday, Feb. 21 in the University Center Theatre.

In the discussion, Smith will be reflecting on the correlation between her writing style and growing up. Her most recent book, “Mrs. Darcy and the Blue-Eyed Stranger,” will be available for sale after the event, along with her other fiction works and collections of short stories.

Throughout her career, Smith has won an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the North Carolina Award for Literature and a Southern Book Critics Circle Award. She has written 12 books, both fiction and short story collections.

Cary Holladay, director of the River City Writers Series, said the event is beneficial to writers and non-writers alike.

“It’s for everybody,” Holladay said. “Students, faculty, people who love writing, books—They can be enriched [by this event]. They’re fun and educational.”

The series, which has existed since 1977, is the longest-running visiting writer program, according to Holladay. The Creative Writing Club, the Department of English, Student Event Allocation and the Heisenberg Foundation sponsor the series.

“The program brings top contemporary writers to the University,” Holladay said. “It’s a wonderful tradition of bringing outstanding writers here.”

Courtney Santo, instructor of English, has taught one of Smith’s books for her novel oral history class. According to her, students have responded positively to Smith’s work, which has a strong down-home voice that students can relate to in subject matter, Southern language and locations. Parts of Tennessee are sometimes showcased in Smith’s work, providing a tangible place in which many U of M students know.

“She tells generational stories,” Santo said. “‘Southern folk’ is a good way to describe it.”

Not only does Smith connect with Southerners, but women, too. Smith is also a women’s writer, Santo said, writing about women’s roles and what it means to be a woman in itself. Family comes up in Smith’s work frequently, along with the decisions that women make in the home.

U of M students, particularly ones who may be just delving into the world of literature or reading, will benefit from this type of event, Santo said. An entry into the world of Smith would help students learn how to tell their own stories.

“She is an accessible writer,” Santo said. “She writes beautiful sentences, not sentences that will take you three days to figure out. It’s subject matter you’re interested in and it’s a wonderful example about how to tell stories, which college students are just learning how to do.”

The River City Writers Series and the Marcus W. Orr Center for the Humanities are sponsoring the event, which is free and open to the public. A reception begins at 6 p.m. and the program starts at 6:30 p.m.

This article was previously published in February 2013.

U of M art students featured at “Venue for All Voices” exhibition

University of Memphis art students are the main focus of the annual “Venue for All Voices” show this Saturday. The show will begin at 4 p.m. at Self+Tucker Architects, located at 505 Tennessee Street in the South Main district. The exhibition is organized by Karen Maggs, junior studio arts major.

“We have so many juried shows in the art department that keep a lot of students out,” Maggs said. “The people judging the show have their own biases. I don’t like that there isn’t another opportunity for people to show their work.”

“Venue for All Voices” started three years ago in Maggs’ home studio. Since its inception, it has grown to 20 artists being featured and studio space at Self+Tucker. All mediums are represented, Maggs said, except digital work. Sculpture, paintings, print and other types will be exhibited.

Gwendolyn Barnes, junior fine arts major, will be one of the many University of Memphis students featured at the exhibition. Barnes said organizer Maggs has been an advocate for art students.

“She, at one point in time, even offered up her own garden and studio in the back of her home to be able to show student work,” she said. “She’s very passionate about giving us an opportunity to show work in an unbiased way, unlike juried exhibitions.”

“I use nude figures often in yoga poses to perpetuate the natural essence of a healthy existence,” Barnes said. “Nudes are also a way of alluding to the way we were born, naked, which is great for the reiterating the natural nature of the lifestyles I paint. I prefer to show my larger paintings because I see them as a huge triumph.”

Barnes has been featured in juried exhibitions, a show at the Orpheum Theater and another exhibition organized by Maggs.

“My work is meant to conjure up ideas about the fragility of human life and why we as humans exist,” Barnes said. “It’s so crucial for society as a whole to have constant reminders about what their intentions are in life. Often I create work that is meant to empower people during trying times.”

Barnes said everyone should be paying attention to art and explore their creativity.

“Everyone needs an outlet, and going out and seeing shows like this will hopefully help induce epiphanies that later lead to perpetuating other forms of self expression,” she said. “Art is something every single person could benefit from, even if they haven’t figured it out yet. It’s just another form of communication.”

The full list of artists for the “Venue for All Voices” exhibition has not been released, but includes Gwendolyn Barnes, Robert Kyle, Meredith Olinger, Aimee Gundlach, Michelle Evans, Caitlin Hettich, Ellery Nief, Anna Roach, Caitlin Leggett, April Pierce, Joey Camp, J.P. Graham, Marlon Turner and Britney Boyd, among others.

During the exhibition, pieces being shown will also be up for sale.

This article was previously published in March 2013.