Tag Archives: James El-Mallakh

Photo: Flickr/RicymarPhotography

Sobering stats released on spring break safety

Photo: Flickr/RicymarPhotography

By James El-Mallakh–

Spring break can be a time for college students to relax and forget about school, but it can present dangers. Many well-intentioned students will travel to destinations such as Fort Lauderdale, Daytona Beach or Panama City, Fla. but will come home with an arrest record or a hospital visit.

The dangers that spring break presents to students are well-known, but some universities have been criticized for not doing enough to educate students about how to avoid these risks.

In Panama City, Fla. during spring break of 2011 there were 1,310 arrests total. A study by the American Medical Association found that, “three out of five (women) had friends who had unprotected sex while on a spring break trip and one in five regretted their vacation sexual experiences.” The figures regarding harmful encounters on spring break are well documented and there have been several television specials that spotlight stories of teenagers who have died on spring break while under the influence of some type of drug.

In response to these realities, some universities educate their student body about the dangers that can occur.

The University of Louisville has a web page with spring break safety tips. It addresses things like drunk driving, getting separated from friends, being robbed, sexual assault and avoiding balconies. It does not make any reference to safe sex practices. It alludes to date rape by telling students how to avoid “altered drinks.”

The information on the web page is “borrowed and adapted from the University of Wisconsin–Madison” and was last updated February of 2010.

In contrast, the University of Arizona has an annual spring break safety week. It includes multiple events including the chance to drive a golf cart through a course of orange cones to simulate impaired driving. Programs like UA’s spring break safety week is not common at universities.

Because of the lack of programs or educational opportunities offered by U of L, some fraternity and sorority members take the initiative to teach their peers about potential dangers. One such person is Ali Serrano, a member of Alpha Phi Omega.

“Another brother in the fraternity had actually requested the workshop. At first, I was a little hesitant because we are a dry fraternity, and I didn’t want it to seem that we were endorsing it, but I also realized that this is the real world and people drink,” said Serrano, a sophomore communications major, in an email.

“I hope that all of the members will know how to safely consume alcohol and gain an awareness of what and how much they are actually consuming,” Serrano said. Alpha Phi Omega will be holding their group discussion next week before spring break.

The history of spring break goes back to the 1950’s when Ft. Lauderdale was becoming a travel hotspot. A graduate thesis from the University of South Florida wrote that, “Fort Lauderdale struggled to maintain an image of sophistication while catering to a notoriously raucous but financially lucrative onslaught of teenage spring-breakers. Spring break determined the development of (Fort Lauderdale), and many others in Florida, by influencing municipal law, local industry, and, eventually, the cities’ own senses of identity and public image.”

The conscious intention to make dangerous decisions is almost a part of the culture of spring break. “If it happens, it happens. I don’t plan on it,” said Houston Lundy, a senior physical education major, refering to having passed out after overdrinking. He says he has taken his break in southern hotspots before, where he said he had witnessed his friends being arrested and getting into fights.

“It’s fun. Kids like to have fun, but fun things aren’t always good for you,” said Lundy.

According to a study published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, “Nearly one in four students had an understanding that they would get drunk during spring break and five percent had an understanding to have sex with someone new during Spring Break.” The study examined 651 college students, male and female, not all of whom took a spring break to a party destination; only 23 percent of the group sample took a spring break trip with friends.

For student who are going to party destinations, some studies put the number of intentional sex-seeking behavior much higher.

“More men than women intended to have casual sex but similar percentages of men, 15 percent, and women, 13 percent, had actually engaged in casual sex,” a study by the Journal of Sex Research said. The study said a bulk of these intentions were created by social norms expressed through peer groups.

Daniel Johnson is a sophomore CIS major who will be going to Panama this year for his first spring break trip. He says he learned of the dangers that spring break can bring from “watching movies, hearing about it and talking to friends.” He says he is prepared for what may happen but is still concerned. “Knowing about the danger, it makes me concerned for me and for my friends’ safety.”

Photo: Flickr/RicymarPhotography


That Foreign Land



That foreign land

That land that only exists as a concept in my head. It’s all a dream that I want to wake up into. I want to run my fingers through its soil, to smell its wind, to meet its trees. I often wonder what the people are like, their social makeup, their ideologies. Soon I will know. It must be so fascinating. It must be. It is. That’s why I’m doing this.

The pictures I’ve seen tell a story. They capture a life outside mine. They’re rich with history, I carry them with me and now they give heat to my fire.

I spoke to my friend who’s getting married. I asked how he can give up so much so early. He says he knows what belongs, “we just get along,” as though that’s all there is to it.

I ask my dad if he has any regrets. He does but it’s not that simple. He says they’re not regrets so much as they’re choices and I know I’ll soon face the same thing.


My mom is worried

She loves her children and is concerned about my safety. I don’t expect there is much I can say to sooth her. After all, I’m a little concerned about my safety as well. But my mom knows the reality of the situation; she knows she can’t stop me from being independent and from having my own desires, no matter how crazy they may seem.

In a way she is telling me goodbye when she speaks to me. It’s as though she’s worried I won’t come back. It’s not like that at all.

But Maybe she’s saying goodbye to the son she knew, the one she raised for so many years. That son is leaving and He’ll never be back. Now I think I understand what my mom is saying.

“You know I love you very much,” she says in a very concerned way. I try and reassure her that it’ll not be for more than a couple of months and I’ll be with a companion. Where not really doing anything particularly dangerous, but my mother is always concerned about me when I’m not within sight. Maybe when I have kids I’ll understand where she’s coming from, but I don’t and I’m only confused, she’s just hurting herself by being so worrisome. I think she’ll be okay.


I sing songs to myself because I’m so excited

What does it hold? What does it say, that darkened plane a dream away?

What does it want? When is it cold, to warm the hearth with stories told?

How clear their peaks? How cold their streams, through trees of tightly woven seams?


Let’s hope I know what I’m doing

What is an adventure? An adventure is such because it’s not a vacation. It’s not easy, you don’t do it to relax. You do it to push yourself, to learn new things and to be challenged. It’s as much a way of facing yourself as it is of facing the world.

I think of my friends who don’t want the same things that I do. They don’t want to find themselves in a foreign land, hundreds of miles away from home, with no food, carrying all their possessions on their backs and be at the mercy of strangers who don’t even speak the same language. It only sounds bad, but trust me it’s a thrill! Don’t they want to find how life is different beyond their shores or to learn that great mystery? What is that great mystery? I don’t know. But I know where I can find it. I comes when it’s hard fought. It comes when you’ve spent days in mental and physical exhaustion. It comes when you feel how close you are to yourself and to the humanity of others after all the illusions are stripped away.

I imagine where I can find it. I imagine finding it in other people, in strangers. Why couldn’t I find that mystery in people at home? Because when you’re away from home it’s different. I can feel it.

I’ve always found my answers in others. That’s why I’m leaving, to go and learn some more. Hopefully then I can find why I’m leaving at all.

Professor Jasmine Farrier spoke to an audience at the Univerisity Club on Jan. 10 at noon. The subject of her lecture, the first in the university’s Meet the Professor series, was “Rethinking the Place of Congress in the 21st Century.”

Prof. Jasmine Farrier examines congressional flip-flopping

Professor Jasmine Farrier spoke to an audience at the Univerisity Club on Jan. 10 at noon. The subject of her lecture, the first in the university’s Meet the Professor series, was “Rethinking the Place of Congress in the 21st Century.”

By James El-Mallakh–

University of Louisville political science professor Jasmine Farrier kicked off the University Club’s “Meet the Professor Series” with a speech called, “Rethinking the Place of Congress in the 21st Century.” The speech on Thursday discussed several reasons why the current Congress has experienced gridlock and dysfunction.

She began by examining the constitution’s role in the legislative process, “My point of view is that the enduring feature of the constitution that is with us today is … the structure,” said Farrier. “So when we read the document we should look for structural cues and structural room for dysfunction.”

Farrier then asked the audience to consider their role as voters in the dysfunction in Congress. Farrier discussed several ways in which voters may send confusing signals to elected representatives.

“[Kentucky] gets about $1.50 in direct benefits for every dollar we send to Washington as a state, but even more than that, 38.29 percent of the Kentucky budget comes directly from the federal government… Do we vote that way as a state?” Farrier asked rhetorically, indicating that Kentucky’s voting patterns are aligned with a smaller federal government despite the benefits.

Farrier said seemingly irrational voting patterns may be attributed to other cultural, non-economic issues.

Farrier took one last step in examining Congress by taking a look at its, “strange view of itself.”

“Congress does not like itself… they actively pass law that limits, shrinks and constrains their constitutional authority.” Farrier cited examples such as Congress never successfully ending a military conflict against the will of the president, despite the fact that the constitution grants more power to Congress to regulate war.

“A sufficient number of senators were willing to say they regretted their vote [on the Iraq war] to such an extent that the war vote would not have passed in 2007 at all,” said Farrier.

“When we think about people who changed their mind on the war, we have quite a selection.” Farrier cited Hilary Clinton, John Edwards, John Kerry and Chuck Hagel as political figures who regretted being in favor of the Iraq war.

The solution to Congressional gridlock, Farrier said, is for politicians to have courage and for voters to give them some slack.

“I do believe we have to let politicians be politicians and let them fight, let them have conflict and let them realize their skins are in the game because we’re going to allow them that measure of courage.”

Farrier’s speech lasted an hour and afterward she took several questions from the audience.

“I thought it was a really good talk, Dr. Farrier is always very good. I’m a student of hers, we always enjoy her class,” said Byron Fisher a junior in political science. “I learned a lot about the different aspects of Congressional ambivalence, different examples of that, and about inter-branch lawsuits.”

“I would have liked to hear more about the effect of media,” said John Little Sr., a 1974 alumni of U of L.

Farrier said that she would like the audience to understand that the voters and Congress need to have a different view of the legislative branch.

“If we think about the diversity of views in Congress and we think about the narrowness of views in the White House, of any president, sometimes we are not giving Congress enough credit and they’re not giving themselves enough credit that they actually have the lion’s share of our voices in Washington.”

Photo: James El-Mallakh/The Louisville Cardinal

U of L Medical Center

U of L Medical and KentuckyOne to partner

By James El-Mallakh–

The University of Louisville Medical Center, UMC, have announced that University Hospital and KentuckyOne Health will be partnering. The agreement has been signed by both partnering entities and Governor Steve Beshear.

The partnership follows a yearlong pursuit by UMC to find a counterpart to help the hospital financially. University of Louisville Hospital is the teaching facility for U of L medical students and is overseen by UMC.

The partnership will allow the state and university to retain control over assets of the university. “This agreement is fundamentally different than what was proposed this time last year,” said Gary Mans, the director of the health sciences center communications and marketing. “The assets that are University Medical Center’s remain the assets of University Medical Center and are overseen by the university and the state.”

Beshear rejected two previous attempts by UMC to merge with other hospitals because the state would have lost control over assets of the university. Attorney General Jack Conway said in a press conference that the governor has the right to step in again if there are any changes in the partnership.

The new partnership will see $1.39 billion of investment by KentuckyOne health over the next 20 years. The new partnership will also allow U of L to expand its range of care it provides to Kentucky residents in more rural parts of the state.

The benefit that KentuckyOne gains in the partnership is access to greater levels of medical care facilities. “KentuckyOne gains access to a facility that has quaternary and tertiary care levels,” said Mans. “That means that they immediately have access to the highest levels of care that can be provided in health care.”

According to the press release by U of L, the partnership will allow, “All current UMC policies for women’s health, end-of-life care and its pharmacy [to] remain unchanged.” These issues were a concern to community members in the past and were some of the reasons cited by Beshear when he chose to reject past mergers.

KentuckyOne Health is a composite of the organizations that attempted to merge with UMC in the past. The organizations are Jewish Hospital and St. Mary’s Healthcare and St. Joseph Health System. Initially, UMC was going to be a part of the group but when the governor rejected UMC’s part in it, the organizations merged independent of UMC to form KentuckyOne.

The two previous merger attempts were rejected by the governor in December of last year and in January. In February UMC issued a request for proposals, RFP, that sought to find a new partner for UMC. Of the two respondents to the RFP, Health Management Associates in Naples, Fl. was the other one.

University Hospital is a public institution. If it engages in a deal that involves a new lease or amending or a new affiliation agreement for the university, it needs permission from the governor. During the press conference, the governor said that he did not have any decision in picking the partner for UMC.

In the press release, UMC President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Taylor said, “Our joint operating agreement ensures that we not only maintain our current academic and medical services, but that we have the financial resources and statewide network to continue to expand and innovate those services for the future.”

Photo courtesy of WDRB


Actor and filmmaker Jesus Nobot talks voting trends

By James El-Mallakh–

Jesus Nebot, an actor and filmmaker, spoke at the University of Louisville’s Chao auditorium on Monday about voting trends in young people.

“For a lot of international students and for a lot of people coming from other countries, we know what it means to be in a country where you don’t have the right to vote,” Nebot said. Nebot was born in Spain under the dictatorship of Francisco Franco. It is for this reason that Nebot speaks about democracy and promotes world peace. He has conducted over 200 speeches at universities domestically and internationally.

During his speech, Nebot talked about voting trends in the past.

“As soon [the twenty-sixth amendment] passed…over 50 percent of young people voted. And that never happened again,” said Nebot.

According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, in 1972, 52 percent of young people ages 18-24 voted in the presidential election. In 2000 that number was 36 percent and, according to civicyouth.org, that number was 48 percent in 2008.

“To the extent that we do not engage, do not participate [in the political process], we lose. We’re letting others decide for ourselves and that’s just pretty sad.”

The rest of Nebot’s speech was very engaged with the three dozen audience members in attendance. Nebot passed out a survey that ranked each respondent more liberal or conservative based on the answers given. After this, he instructed the ones who were more liberal to gather on one side of the room and the conservative ones to gather on the other side. Then he asked members from each political orientation to debate three topics for the audience members who were not categorized as liberal or conservative. The topics debated were the hot-button issues of abortion, taxation and the environment.

“I think that he did a really great job with engaging students and getting people to think about things we don’t normally think about,” said Lauren Nehus, a senior marketing major and communications minor. “He created a really good environment and talked us through the hot topics and issues.”

KT Kennedy, a senior political science major, said, “I really think he just wants you to know it’s all about being well informed and involved, because everybody’s vote does count.”

The speech was hosted by SAB and Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. The speech was given as a two-part event, the first of which was a catered lunch in the Red Barn that allowed attendees to learn about the presidential candidate’s platforms.

Photo courtesy jesusnebot.com


Superstorm Sandy strikes

Photo courtesy Boston University

By James El-Mallakh–

Hurricane Sandy, though it was almost 700 miles away, still affected the weather in Louisville and across Kentucky after it made landfall last Monday, Oct. 29 in New Jersey. Overall Sandy’s impact on Louisville was little, but several days while Sandy was making landfall, the hurricane sent rainy weather with cold winds to most of the Eastern U.S. By Tuesday, cloud cover was over most of the Eastern United States, which helped reduce the winds in the area, according to Louisville’s branch of the National Weather Service.

On the East Coast, however, the impact of the storm was high. At least 40 storm-related deaths had been attributed to the hurricane on Wednesday. By Thursday that number had climbed to 76 and continued as additional deaths were found during storm clean up. In addition to the human toll, there were still 4.7 million homes without power by Thursday. While the hurricane was making landfall on Monday, about eight million people lost power.

Tim Dowling, the director of the atmospheric science program at U of L, says that hurricane Sandy was, “the largest hurricane seen in the Atlantic, ever.”

By Tuesday in Washington, D.C., at least 100,000 people were still without power, and several areas of the city remained flooded.

That same day in New York City, railways had been suspended due to flooding and power loss. Railway suspension forced commuters to resort to cars or taxis, which created additional traffic, leaving highways across the city crowded for hours. The flooding also had an impact on the city’s rat population, and people reported seeing “clusters of dead rats” in the streets.

Judy Goodman, a student at New York University and a graduate of Ballard High School, tells The Louisville Cardinal about her experience with the storm and Manhattan’s widespread lack of power.

“All of the NYU buildings lost power and most were evacuated because they’re older and don’t have backup emergency systems. Kimmel, the student center, had power and wifi, so thousands of students spent their days there, charging their electronics, using their Internet and watching Netflix. They put like, a thousand cots there, so you could just find a cot and live there — it was crazy.”

“We didn’t realize how bad it was going to be…We realized how important street lights were because our dorm is a thirty minute walk from Kimmel, and we had to start taking a taxi to go there at night — it’s way too dangerous to walk in the dark without streetlights to light the way.”

In Philadelphia, UPS had to close a sorting hub for packages. This led UPS, which is headquartered in Louisville, to increase its traffic to their worldport hub in Louisville.

Louisville is home to UPS’ worldhub, located at Louisville International Airport. Traffic increased here as a result of facility shutdowns along the East Coast.

Jon Robbins, a senior justice administration major and supervisor at UPS said that because the company has contingency plans in place, the hub in Louisville was not overly crowded, “the additional volume is going to create more work, but it’s not anything that’s going to be an outrageous amount,” said Robbins. “They’re not going to expect an outrageous commitment from workers.”

UPS operations in Philadelphia resumed Tuesday night, according to UPS

Paul Coomes, a emeritus professor from U of L’s school of business said that besides energy price blips, insurance claims and the cost of construction materials, “I don’t expect any of it to affect the annual performance [of the economy] here in Louisville.”

The hurricane did little to affect flight times. On Monday  12 flights were canceled at Louisville International airport due to weather conditions.

Dowling says that because of it’s location inland, Kentucky is easily secluded from hurricanes, “Kentucky’s one of the safest places in the world in terms of natural disasters,” Dowling said. “We don’t really get direct hits from hurricanes.”

Dowling says that hurricanes are important for the state because, “Kentucky gets a significant amount of its rainfall from hurricanes.”

The hurricane also had an effect on the presidential election. Candidates Obama and Romney both canceled campaign stops in Ohio. The slow-down in the campaigns were done as way to show respect to the those affected by Hurricane Sandy. President Obama took a three-day hiatus to manage federal response to the hurricane damage. Governor Romney held a donation drive to collect food and other supplies for the victims of the hurricane. Both candidates resumed campaigning on Thursday.

Photo courtesy louisville.ky.gov

Barbara and Carlton Molette

Black theatre: Premise and presentation

By James El-Mallakh–

Two theatre directors held a town hall-format speech at U of L’s Thrust Theatre about race in the performing arts on Oct. 25.

Barbara and Carlton Molette are a husband and wife team, who both hold Ph.D.s and have taught drama at the college level. They have written and directed numerous plays including “Prudence” and their most recent play, “Presidential Timber.” They have written a book called “Black theatre: premise and presentation” which will be in its third edition. The Molettes centered their 14-minute speech around the fact that race is a social construct as opposed to a biological one.

“To appreciate African-American art, one must recognize and acknowledge the most pervasive and external force affecting the cultural perspective of African American artists: racism,” said Carlton Molette. “The core concept of racism is that the world is populated by people of different races.”

The Molettes’ speech read like a duet between the two, with each exchanging the floor to deliver their respective parts of the same speech. After the speech they had a question-and-answer session with the 16 members of the audience.

Several questions came from Hank Bullitt, a program assistant in the theatre arts department. Bullitt said, “I loved what you said about the social construct of racism verses bigotry … I find that in the general populace there is no real understanding of the difference between the two words … how do we reconcile that?”

“Whether we like it or not, it’s an evolutionary process,” said Molette. He explained that as races become more intertwined, and as race in an individual becomes harder to distinguish, people will put less significance on race. “People will have to come to grips with the fact that this term ‘race’ doesn’t mean anything,” Molette said.

The conversation about race in performing arts was initiated by Deana Thomas, the director of U of L’s African American Theatre Program. She said that some of her early performances during her career were not well received because of the approach that she took. She said that Black theatre is highly oriented to people’s emotions, “If you look at African Americans, that [emotional history of slavery] is the history of who they are and they respond to what has been happening to them.” Thomas said that “[African-Americans] are perceived as being too emotional and we’re told that more restraint is needed.”

Another comment came from William Flood, a graduate student in the theatre arts program, who said that he encountered difficulty in a traveling production of “The Wizard of Oz” when he was cast as the cowardly lion. Flood said that the color of his skin against the lion outfit made his skin look “orange,” which the acting company agreed was problematic. “Fortunately the director was on my side,” said Flood, an

d he was able to persuade the theatre company to introduce a new outfit that accommodated his skin tone.

During the question and answer session, Carlton Molette said that one of the misconceptions that inspired him to write his book with his wife was “the notion that black people do not know how to behave when they go to the theatre; they talk back. Both of my grandmothers used to talk back at church … so it started to dawn on me that maybe the problem is that Black folks, when they go to the theatre, it looks a lot like going to church. There’s somebody up there emoting and we’re sitting out here in the audience so maybe what we’re supposed to do is the same thing.”

The question-and-answer session lasted for more than an hour and was intimate due to the small audience size. The Molettes’ speech is one of two speeches hosted by the African American Theatre Program. The next will feature Kenny Leon, a Broadway and regional theatre actor who recently produced an all-black cast of “Steel Magnolias” for Lifetime TV. He will speak at the playhouse from 5 – 8 p.m. on Nov. 5.

Photos by Val Servino/The Louisville Cardinal


Pink panties trumps people power: Why your Pink Brand panties are putting mine in a knot

By James El-Mallakh–

Near the end of September two events were held outside U of L’s Red Barn within two days of each other. The first was the annual Take Back the Night or TBTN. Its purpose is to raise awareness for acts of sexual violence acts that occur on campus and teach students how to stop them. The other was the Pink Tailgate Tour, a promotional event held by Pink, an offshoot brand of Victoria’s Secret.

I walked onto the Pink event by accident and was disappointed; there were twice as many people at the Pink event than there were at Take back the Night, two days earlier. My insecurity had been reinforced again: the insecurity that perhaps people my age really don’t care about issues affecting them.

As our culture continues to set the bar lower for young people, we seem to be ever-capable of achieving that new low. Who would have thought that more women would turn out for an event that caters to how well they dress rather than one that addresses their safety.

Pink certainly looked fun. There was a game called the panty scramble, which was a word scramble on a touch-screen. You won some Pink brand underwear if you unscrambled the words in time. The word scrambles were of the phrases that often appear on the back of Pink brand underwear like, “Love Pink.” There was also music and other games and a bunch of giant inflatables. The whole thing was very colorful, and the Pink spokeswomen at the event were charismatic and high-energy.

But don’t assume TBTN wasn’t fun. It wasn’t an uncomfortable environment at all even though the issues being addressed are uncomfortable by nature. TBTN puts these issues in the context of empowerment and openness, which is just what’s needed. There was a table for temporary tattoos and a table where you can make your own empowerment-slogan poster.

Guest speakers talked about their experiences and survivors could go up to the podium and talk about how they’ve overcome their experience with violence. When the sun set everyone got together and marched around campus, chanting powerful slogans. “We have the power, we have the right, the streets are ours, TAKE BACK THE NIGHT!”

So why were there so many more women ready to advocate for Victoria’s Secret before they were ready to advocate against silence on issues, like rape and abuse?

The problem is not with the women; it’s with the culture, the culture of misplaced values. It’s a culture that puts value into shallow, worthless objects when it should be putting value into substantial and substantive actions.

There is nothing inherently exciting or stimulating about shopping. There are cultures in the world that would be baffled by the concept that we seek to buy things we want, rather than things we need.

This concept of shopping for satisfaction is uniquely western and has been built up by companies, like Victoria’s Secret, for decades. They spend tremendous amounts of money to persuade young people- particularly women- that satisfaction can be easily gained through the excitement of buying a trendy product. That is exactly what the Pink Tailgate Tour is, a way to associate excitement and satisfaction with a brand name.

But satisfaction is not so easily gained, and it cannot be won through means of immediate gratification.

Real satisfaction takes time and energy. Real satisfaction comes in the form of hard work and devoting oneself to solving tough issues to try and make a difference in the community you live in. It comes in the form of working for something you believe in even if it’s controversial or unpopular.

TBTN, for example, takes devotion and energy. Not everyone agrees that these issues should be discussed in the open and not everyone agrees that you’re making a difference. Because of this, it takes a more conscious effort to get into it.

Some may argue that there is a distinct difference between the Pink event, which is more suited to a carefree, fun environment, and TBTN, which is about addressing concerning issues. I think the differences between them are less sharp. TBTN was all about fun. Once again, it puts these issues in the context of empowerment, and it’s definitely thrilling. Moreover, the reason people turn out to these events is less about fun and more about finding satisfaction. People think they can’t be satisfied by committing their time to controversial issues; this is wholly untrue.

So let’s be honest: the Victoria’s Secret Pink Tailgate Tour offers us nothing. It is literally a mobile, interactive, in-your-face commercial that comes to where we live and tries to convince us that we can be rewarded right now by owning their product. To me, the Pink Tailgate Tour is offensive and pitiful.

On the other hand, Take Back the Night is an event in which people who share a common goal can come together to actually change the community they live in.

And what about the idea of wasted potential? If every woman who waited in line at Pink turned out for Take Back the Night, they could help turn TBTN into a tremendous event. It could be so big that it could be broadcast on local news stations that reach thousands of people. Is it possible that one of the women seeing that potential news program could be influenced to speak out that she was raped or in an abusive relationship? You bet it’s possible.

TBTN is worth something and that’s why I volunteered for it. Because of the selfless work that we TBTN volunteers did, I know the community is better for it, even if it’s by a microscopic amount.

The solution to misplaced values occurs when people have the courage to question popular belief and reassess their value systems. Of course women don’t really care more about underwear than issues affecting their health, but it’s so much easier to buy into the culture of materialism. It’s easy to do this because we’re bombarded by it. It’s also uncontroversial, popular, easily accessible and offers the illusion of instant gratification.

So the solution is easy, even if pursuing it isn’t. Find what you truly think is worthwhile, and go for it even if it isn’t conventional, popular or easy.

Photos: James El-Mallakh/The Louisville Cardinal


U of L faculty and staff gather at open forum to voice concerns

The panel of administrators fields questions concerning various topics; from the campus smoking ban to the faculty and staff’s fiscal concerns about U of L.

By James El-Mallakh–

On Thursday, Sept. 20, the Universityof Louisville administration held an open forum for faculty and staff members to voice any questions or concerns to top members of the U of L administration.

The panel of administrators included President James Ramsey, Provost Shirley Willihnganz, Dr. David Dunn, the Executive Vice President for Health Affairs and William Pierce, the Executive Vice President for Research and Innovation. For an hour and a half, they fielded questions from the roughly 140 audience members in the Floyd Theatre.

Once the floor was open, the first issue that was raised was the fact that there is still smoking on all parts of campus despite U of L’s smoking ban. “[The smoking] is worse than ever this year,” said Beverly Edwards, a lecturer in the communications department. “In my opinion, I think we should go back to designated smoking areas.”

Willihnganz responded that returning the university to designated smoking areas was a possibility. Ramsey said that enforcing the no smoking ban would cost the university around $58,000.

Faculty and staff voiced fiscal concerns about the university. The questions and comments centered on the universities’ decisions regarding the fiscal state of U of L.

The first fiscal question came from Carol Hanchette, an associate professor in the department of geography and geosciences. Hanchette said that 10 percent of the department’s staff positions remain frozen due to U of L’s hiring freeze in January and that it has negatively affected them. “We are simply at the end of our ropes,” said Hanchette.

Willihnganz responded by reminding all those in attendance that individual overrides to the hiring freeze are possible. “If there is a real need for it, we have been approving [requests to hire],” said Willihnganz.

A discussion about salary increases also took place. Dawn Heinecken, an associate professor in the women and gender studies program, initiated the conversation. She expressed her concern over the university’s “piecemeal” method of deciding salary increases on a yearly basis.  She asked of it were possible to “revise [U of L’s] systems of how we give raises.”

President Ramsey acknowledged pay raises for faculty and staff as a “huge area of concern.” Ramsey said part of the way raises are given is due to larger problems in the budget. According to Ramsey, the biggest problem is the successive statewide budget cuts that Kentucky universities have endured for 13 years. When discussing U of L’s financial circumstances, Ramsey often cites successive statewide budget cuts as the greatest area of concern for U of L’s budget.

“We’ve experienced eight budget cuts since 2008,” said Ramsey. He spoke about the question of allowing salary increases to occur while laying off employees to offset the cost.

“We as a campus community have come together and one of our budget principles has been to forgo salary increases to try to protect our employees [from layoffs],” said Ramsey. The University of Louisville laid off 12 workers over the summer, according to the director of media relations Mark Hebert, in a separate interview.

Ramsey and, in the past, Vice President for Finance, Mike Curtin, have attributed these layoffs to the decisions made by each department, not the administration.

Some of the  other issues voiced by members of the audience were the incomplete nature of the online faculty and staff directory, a feeling that some faculty were disrespecting staff, the parking office being managed like a business with a minimal regard to customer service and a lack of  grant allotments for Ekstrom library to update its inventory.

The audience spent slightly less than half of the time submitting questions and comments. The amount of time Ramsey and other three members spent answering questions occupied slightly more than half the time.

This is the first open forum of this type to be held by the U of L administration. The question and answer formats preceding this were mostly about U of L’s budget, with Ramsey presenting a PowerPoint and speaking for most of the time. Ramsey said this format is an attempt to get away from that. “That’s the only reason we’re here today. It’s to hear from you.”

“One thing I noticed was how appreciative everyone was,” said Hebert. “There wasn’t any anger. It was all sincere… I was pretty impressed.”

“I thought it was great,” said Pierce, one of the four panel members. “I think a lot of [the concerns] are problems that we know about. They’re just difficult to handle and equity and pay is always going to be a big one, as it should be.”

“A lot of these things boil back down to either policy decisions or resource allocation decisions,” Pierce continued.

Vicky Tencer, a unit business manager at the college of education, felt that the answers to the questions were generally on point. “I think this was a great start in listening and I think if [the administration] continues to do this it’ll make a difference.”

There is another meeting like this scheduled for Oct. 12.

Photos courtesy of UofL Today


Board of Trustees meets again for hospital merger negotiations

By James El-Mallakh–

The University of Louisville board of trustees held a closed-door meeting to discuss the ongoing negotiations with potential partners to merge with University Hospital. The board members were given “information associated with the selection of a partner for the University of Louisville and University Medical Center,” said Gary Mans, a spokesperson for U of L.

There are several potential merger partners the university is in negotiations with, according to an article on the university’s news website, U of L Today. No final decisions were made at the meeting.

The university has not disclosed what potential partners the university is negotiating with. Mans said, “State Procurement rules prevent me from providing any detail.”

The rules that Mans is citing are the rules according to the Request for Proposal process. Kentucky law prevents the negotiating parties from revealing their identities or how many negotiating parties are involved.

The meeting that took place on Sept. 5 is the second closed-door meeting that the U of L board has had in two weeks to discuss the negotiations regarding potential merger partners. The previous meeting was held on Aug. 30.

The expected date for a final decision on University Hospital’s merger partner is Sept. 28. However, that deadline is flexible and can be pushed back.

Dr. David Dunn, the executive vice president for health affairs, said that a partner is needed for University hospital to assist in terms of finance and operations.

The university began accepting proposals from merger partners in February. University Hospital was expected to merge with Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare and Saint Joseph Health System in December but that deal was rejected by Gov. Steve Beshear. In a press release, the governor stated his concerns were “the influence of a religious entity on a publicly-owned institution, especially regarding reproductive issues” and “the loss of control of a public asset.” Beshear’s approval will also be necessary for a future merger.

No other items of discussion were on the agenda for the board’s meeting. The next board meeting will be held on Sept. 13.

Photo: Nathan Gardner/The Louisville Cardinal