‘Good Neighbor Policy’ affects students’ off-campus partying

By Katie Conklin

As students arrived at the Kappa Alpha Order fraternity house, off-campus on Patterson Avenue, on the evening of Oct. 15, they were greeted by Mac, a member of the fraternity and one of the residents of the house.

On this particular evening, it was Mac’s job to monitor the front door while his three housemates kept an eye on the number of people congregating in the backyard and made sure the music was not too loud. Everything was going well until a City of Richmond police officer arrived around midnight.

“What seems to be the problem, officer?” Mac asked.

Within minutes, campus police had arrived, Mac was in handcuffs and two students were being cited for underage drinking.

All four residents of the house were charged with maintaining a common nuisance and were required to meet with Patrick Benner,  associate dean for resident life, which resulted in each of them being sentenced to year-long conduct probation, in addition to 15 hours of community service.

After hearing stories like Mac’s, University of Richmond students have found themselves fearful that, because of this year’s stricter enforcement of the school’s “Good Neighbor Policy,” they too could end up facing legal and administrative consequences as a result of their weekend festivities.

Even though the Good Neighbor Policy was implemented in 2007, many students had no knowledge of it until this year. Mimi Mudd, a member of the Westhampton College Government Association Security Committee, said that the policy was actually an agreement between university officials and residents of nearby neighborhoods that had been signed before the football stadium was built on campus.

“The university had to implement this policy because the presence of an on-campus football stadium was bound to lead to more tailgating, partying, drinking and, therefore, noise,” Mudd said.

The different components of the Good Neighbor Policy are listed within a special-use permit that was issued by the city council and granted the university permission to construct and operate Robins Stadium. The policy focuses on parking and drinking regulations.

In the hopes of preventing disturbances on game days, spectators have been encouraged to avoid neighborhoods and park their vehicles in the designated, on-campus lots. Furthermore, it has been made clear that the consumption of alcohol in public is illegal, and drinking laws will be enforced.

So how did this three-sentence clause about game-day conduct become a governing guide for parties held in off-campus houses?

David McCoy, the University of Richmond Police Department’s assistant vice president of public safety and chief of police, said that the existence of the Good Neighbor Policy has led to the creation of a Good Neighbor Hotline, which operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“This really opened the gates for interaction between neighborhood residents and the university,” McCoy said.

This hotline was established to allow neighbors to report any game-day disturbances or policy violations, in the hopes of keeping residents engaged in and satisfied with their relationship with the university. But as time passed, the hotline began to receive complaints about student conduct and activity that was unrelated to sporting events held in the stadium.

“Some of it had merit, and some of it did not,” McCoy said. “I mean, a little bit of noise is one thing, but we were getting reports of 2 a.m. parties with loud music and hundreds of students.”

Therefore, coming into this semester, McCoy met with his staff and had a discussion about what to do to address and resolve these complaints. At this meeting, it was decided that campus po;ice would partner with Henrico County and  Richmond police inn order to create a “Party Patrol” program.

McCoy used the primary concerns of each police department to explain the reasoning behind the creation of this program. He discussed how the police in Henrico and Richmond have the interests of their neighborhoods in mind and, while University of Richmond students who live off campus are technically part of these neighborhoods, they are generally perceived as an issue and liability to the community. Meanwhile, campus police focus on student interests, and view neighborhood support as a secondary concern. Based on these distinctions, it was decided that it would be beneficial to combine priorities in an attempt to reconcile differences and handle these issues.

This initiative, which went into effect at the beginning of this school year, showed immediate results. Within the first two weeks of the semester, the Party Patrol broke up four parties at off-campus sites: three in Henrico County and one in Richmond.

This rapid succession of terminated parties caused quite a stir on campus. Austin Butler, a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, felt that students were primarily confused by what had happened.

“I think this degree of strict enforcement really took students by surprise,” Butler said. “At the time, it seemed like both the police and the community were pointedly attacking off-campus partying, a facet of campus life that had previously existed without any major issues.”

After those first two weeks of pandemonium, though, things quieted down substantially. McCoy said that since he early incidents there had been  only one other, which was a return visit to a previously reprimanded group.

“I think there was a lot of discussion about those first four incidents because they occurred within a two-week timeframe,” McCoy said. “Since then, we haven’t received calls from the neighbors. Really, except for that one repeat location, our off-campus issues have gone away.”

Howard Norton, campus police’s operations commander, attributes this improvement to the police department’s ability to work with the students and talk through issues until they are resolved.

“We have some great students and 99.9 percent of the time things are going to be worked out equitably,” Norton said.

Some students, however, may beg to differ.

The off-campus location that received two police visits this year was the KA house on Patterson Avenue that Mac and his three other fraternity brothers live in. After the first police visit, which was prompted by a noise complaint, the residents of the house felt confident that they had learned from their mistakes and that, if all the necessary precautions were taken, their next party would be more successful. They informed their neighbors that they would be having a party on Oct. 15 that would begin at 10:30 p.m. and last until around 1:30 a.m.

“Our neighbors had no problem with our plans to have a party that night and actually seemed surprised that we were even telling them about it,” said Mac (who requested that his full name not appear in the story).

Despite attempts to monitor noise levels and make sure party guests remained inside the house, a city police officer arrived around midnight. Mac said the officer implied that there had been a noise complaint, but did not provide any details or explicitly state why he was there. The officer then asked Mac to let him into the house and Mac refused.

“He asked me if I wanted him to go get a warrant and then come back and arrest everyone at the party,” Mac said. “I told him I would be more than happy to let him into the house if he returned with a warrant, at which point he put me in handcuffs and began escorting me to his car.”

On the way to the car, the officer said he was going to report Mac to campus police for refusing to help put an end to the party. Mac said he had clarified that, although he wanted the officer to have a warrant before he entered the house, he was more than willing to shut down the party if it meant people would not get in trouble. They walked back, entered the house and the officer immediately gave out two citations for underage drinking. Campus police arrived shortly thereafter.

As a result of this incident, Mac is on conduct probation for the rest of the year, must complete 15 hours of community service and will appear in court in Richmond on Dec. 14.  His housemates received similar sentences. From their perspective, these consequences seem to fall somewhat short of the “equitable” standard that Norton described as the norm in situations like these.

What can be done to improve the relationship between the students and the police?

Katrina Goulden, WCGA’s police liaison, said she believed the key was communication.

“As far as I know, until recently, members of the student body were not aware that the Good Neighbor Policy even existed,” Goulden said. “I think students deserve to be told what the policy is, what it entails and what is expected of them, considering it affects them in such a big way and they were given no say in its implementation.”

Mudd expressed a similar belief.

“I think it is really important to advertise the policy because if people had a better understanding, there would be less blame putting, which would alleviate some of the tension that currently exists between the students and the police,” she said.

The campus police could not agree more. McCoy said that he would be the first to admit that he should have engaged the student population in discussion about the policy before he took action.

“In my background there is a kind of expectation that you should already know the rules of the road,” McCoy said. “However, in this situation, the students are right on the money.  Instead of doing things and then explaining them, I should have explained them before they had an opportunity to occur. I definitely think that engaging beforehand is the key to controlling the issue.”

McCoy repeatedly mentioned his desire to work on building a relationship between the campus police and the students, especially those who live off campus. He said he was hopeful that they would someday reach a level of comfort that  would allow for open communication and mutual respect. Although the development of this relationship is one of McCoy’s top priorities, he is not under the impression that simply talking about these issues will eliminate them.

“Obviously, when it comes to solving problems and fixing issues, there are many factors to consider,” McCoy said. “I think the academic calendar, for example, plays an important role in this situation.”

He believes that, regardless of how clearly the rules and expectations are communicated, certain times of the year are going to remain perpetually problematic. He cited the beginning of the school year and the first week of warm weather in the spring as particularly troublesome times, while pointing out that the party scene is likely to calm down during midterms, finals and when the weather is cold.

How have students responded to the Good Neighbor Policy and its repercussions?

Jack Sandler, a member of the Theta Chi fraternity, adamantly opposes the policy.

“The way the police are interpreting and enforcing this policy is completely counterproductive,” he said.

Sandler said that the strict regulations not only fail to promote safety, but actually create a more dangerous environment. He said the Good Neighbor Policy would ultimately push off-campus locations farther and farther away from the university, which would consequently increase the distance students must travel to attend these parties. He said it was his belief that this situation would create a greater potential for mistakes and accidents.

When asked if he could see the validity behind the complaints of neighborhood residents, Sandler did not hesitate.

“If you lived next to an airport, would you complain about the noise?” he asked. “No. You wouldn’t, because you chose to live there. This situation is very similar. The University of Richmond has been here since 1830 and, therefore, anyone who lives in a neighborhood near this campus should be prepared to deal with the repercussions of that decision.”

Butler presented a different outlook on the policy, saying that he definitely supported the university’s collaboration with Henrico County and the City of Richmond, but would have appreciated a more straightforward explanation of how the policy would influence student conduct.

“I think the collaboration is great, but, at the same time, it is very difficult to rise to the occasion, and fulfill an expectation, when you have not been informed of the standards,” he said. “I think open communication between students and police is a pivotal and proactive way to make this policy function properly.”

Junior Julia Dearchs questioned the policy’s delayed enforcement.

“Since the Good Neighbor Policy was implemented in 2007, why is it just now being used to direct student conduct?” Dearchs asked.

Goulden attributed the change to McCoy’s appointment to the position of campus police chief, which occurred in March. She said the new police chief had a much stricter interpretation of campus police policies and regulations.

When asked for his opinion on why the policy is just now surfacing, McCoy said that he could only speak for what had happened since he had arrive on campus.

“When I get a complaint, I like to act on it quickly,” McCoy said. “I wanted to take a really active role in being personally involved with the issues on campus. We’re always going to have some bump-and-rub because we are a university located in the middle of a beautiful area, but I really think that if we work through this, the interactions do not have to be completely negative.”



Females are more affected by campus stress than males

                                         By Maggie Burch

Nora Tocheny, a first-year Westhampton College student, said she felt the need to keep up appearances during her first semester of college.

“As a freshman,” she said, “you want to come in always happy, always willing to meet people.”

Tocheny felt as though she should always try to keep a positive attitude, even though she knew coming in to college that there would be times “when things are gonna be hard.”

She has not even taken her first college exams, though. “It’s the anticipation of the stress that’s really getting to me now,” she said.

Even though there is a general consensus about the stressful aspects of college for everyone – from moving in and making friends to final exams – why did Tocheny  think she should not show any anxiety she might be feeling?

This aspect of college life has created a stigma of perfectionism present on the University of Richmond campus that has resulted in more negative effects for women than men, such as higher self-reported levels of stress.

The unbalanced results of striving for perfection have led to a gender gap concerning the emotional health and well-being of students on campus.

The people Tocheny was trying to impress included some of her new friends at Richmond. Tocheny admitted that it was difficult at first to confide in new friends.

She said that moving in and meeting new people was stressful, so she found herself often turning to her best friend from home. “She was going through the same thing. It was definitely easier talking to her,” Tocheny said.

In accordance with Tocheny’s desire to appear happy, the perception students have of one another might be more important than the reality of other students’ lives.

When asked how her female friends’ and her own levels of stress compared to those of their male friends, Tocheny did not think they compared.

“They’re a little more worried about the partying,” she said.

To Tocheny, it did not seem as though the male students she knows were as stressed academically.

Opposite of that opinion is Dan Kelly, a Richmond College sophomore.

When asked whether he perceived his female peers to be more stressed than he and his male friends, Kelly sincerely asked, “Why would they be more stressed?”

Kelly  said he believed his academic demands to be equal to those of any female or male student taking a normal course load at Richmond.

Allie Miller, a senior and president of Westhampton College Government Association, is another woman who believes the men she knows are much less stressed than she and the women she is around.

“Maybe they have worries and some anxieties about the future,” Miller said of her male friends, “but it doesn’t seem to me that they would describe it as stress.”

One reason women may believe the men on Richmond’s campus are less stressed than they are is that the men are less vocal about the stress they experience.

Peter LeViness, the director of Counseling and Psychological Services at Richmond, said that men tend to not vocalize their feelings of anxiety or distress.

LeViness said, “Many men are socialized not to ask for help, not to be vulnerable, to always be in control, and always tough it out.”

Kelly described the reality of LeViness’ belief. “If you go sit down at the lunch table and start complaining about how much work you have,” he said, “then everyone is just going to call you a girl and tell you that they have the same pressure.”

In addition to agreeing with Kelly’s comments on men keeping feelings to themselves, Eric D’Agostino, another Richmond College sophomore, also said he  believed that women were more likely to vocalize their stress.

“You’re more likely to see a girl running around, being like, ‘I’m so stressed! I have all this work to do,’ than you would see a guy doing that,” D’Agostino said.

This idea of men suppressing their feelings correlates with the number of men seeking help at CAPS compared to the number of women, according to LeViness. 65 percent of students coming to CAPS are women.

“There is greater incidence of some issues in women than in men,” LeViness said, “but also, women are more likely to seek help than men.”

Along with being more willing to ask for help from a professional, women are also more likely to confide in other women, according to LeViness.

Confiding in others is not always a successful stress-reliever, however. LeViness said that mutual complaining, or co-rumination, can detract from the well-being of all of those involved.

“If it leads them to say, ‘What can we do about it?’ that could be positive,” he said.

Miller said she and her friends had learned to try to balance talking about the stress they were experiencing with discussions of how to move beyond the stress, or to handle it better.

“Last year, my roommate and I would talk about our stress all the time,” Miller said, “and it almost became negative, so this year we’ve been so much better about, like, designated time.”

Many of the studies conducted by CAPS provide statistics to support the gender gap in many psychological aspects of life for men and women at Richmond.

In a 2006 survey assessing the mental health needs of first- and second- year students, women reported a higher frequency of concern by 10 percent or more in the following areas: difficulty coping with high anxiety during tests; feeling anxious, tense, or worried; feeling overwhelmed by all the academic work I have; concerns about my physical appearance; and difficulty coping with perfectionistic tendencies.

In the same study, men reported a significantly higher frequency of concern than women in two areas: getting drunk and having low motivation for academic work.

Both of these areas were relevant to Kelly. “I think the way that I relieve stress is the weekend, and drinking alcohol, to be quite honest,” he said.

Kelly also said that any motivation he did have to do schoolwork could be easily dissuaded by an opportunity to socialize with friends. Compared to high school, he said, the social pressure in college is much greater.

“There are so many people trying to distract you actively,” Kelly said. “It’s hard to keep focused with people around you who are trying to bring you down.”

It is difficult to turn down opportunities to spend time with your friends at college, especially during your first year, when finding close friends is so important. Juliette Landphair, dean of Westhampton College, said, “It’s stressful for any student – the pressure to make new friends. They’re feeling like they’re the only ones here.”

Tocheny noted this pressure during the first few days of orientation.

“It was definitely weird being so far from home and making friends,” she said, “at the same time, everyone is in the same boat.”

Landphair also noted that women have a harder time going far away from home than men do. “The family tends to be a little more protective of the female students than male students,” she said.

In the long term, however, Landphair says the experience away from home has proven to be beneficial for women. “The further female students go away from home,” she said, “the more – over the span of their college experience – the more self-confident they are.”

Richmond students are agreeably go-getters, over achievers. Academics were important in high school to students, and a selective university such as this is typically only a good match for those willing to take on a challenging workload.

When recalling her own college experience at Tulane University in New Orleans, Landphair said the stresses she did experienced there could not compare to what she understood to be typical now.

“I napped almost every day,” she said. “College was just this big, kind of relaxation thing for me.”

Landphair is particularly interested in the lifestyle of Westhampton women, and she has done research and has had an article published about the stigma of perfectionism among college-aged women.

In her 2007 article “Never Perfect Enough: The Private Struggles of College Women,” Landphair discusses the idea of “‘effortless perfection’: the expectation that one would be smart, accomplished, fit, beautiful and popular, and that all this would happen without visible effort.”

LeViness also noted the relevance of the pressure on college-aged women to be perfect. “It’s like trying to be super, super excellent at everything that they’re doing,” he said. “Sometimes when they’re listing all the things they’re involved in, I start feeling stressed. Human beings have limits, and most of us can’t juggle that many things.”

In the 2006 CAPS study mentioned above, 38.5 percent of women reported frequently having concerns about the difficulty of coping with perfectionistic tendencies, compared with 20 perent of men.

Kerry Boland, a Westhampton College sophomore, said that most of the pressure she fel to succeed was self-imposed, but also that part of Richmond’s atmosphere encouraged hard work.

“I feel like there’s also kind of – especially at Richmond – a kind of pressure, because everyone is doing so many different things,” Boland said.

Miller agreed, saying, “I think Richmond attracts students who want to do well, so students strive to do well regardless.”

Landphair also referred to Richmond as a selective university whose students have been over-achievers in their lives up to this point, and expect to do just as well in college.

For females, Landphair said, “There’s the pressure that they feel – self-imposed or outside-imposed – to do well. There’s the academic stress and pressure.

“There’s the physical pressure to look – weight-wise and face-wise and dress-wise – a certain way. There’s the stress of ‘what is my life going to be after I graduate?’ The seniors are starting to feel that anxiety.”

Statements such as these by Landphair, and statistics such as those gathered by CAPS make it appear as if Richmond women actually are harboring more stress and anxiety than their male counterparts.

But, as Kelly said, women are essentially facing the same academic pressures as men, so why should they be any more stressed?

For women, it might be more than simply academics causing the stress in their lives.

Kelly said she believed there was more of an expectation for girls to be perfect than guys. “I think girls are expected to be more perfect in every single area of their lives,” he said. “I don’t know any girl on this campus who would admit to having bad grades to anyone. Externally, it seems like girls are always on top of their stuff.”

LeViness said that the “stuff” women do is typically more demanding and more responsibility-driven than the things in which men are involved.

“It’s courses and double majors,” LeViness said, “student organizations and volunteering.”

Linda Sax, in her book “The Gender Gap in College,” concurs with this idea. She says being overwhelmed by responsibilities can affect both men and women, but it is a more significant source of stress for female students.

“This is likely due to the range of responsibilities that women undertake,” Sax says, “volunteering, participating in student clubs, fulfilling household commitments, studying – more frequently than do men.”

Miller said that her senior year had been exponentially more stressful than her past years at Richmond.

“I wouldn’t say that the activities themselves are stressful,” Miller said.  “It’s just the lack of time that makes it stressful.” Miller is also in charge of all of the finances for her sorority.

The way men comparatively spend their non-academic, leisure time might be the key to their lower, self-reported levels of stress.

“Men are more likely to build (into their days) things like video games or athletics,” LeViness said. “You could think of those as time wasters, but I also think of them as stress relievers.”

Landphair concurred and has her experience as dean to back up  those ideas.  “Women students don’t deal with stress very well,” she said. “Male college students, they veg out more, they go throw the Frisbee.”

Kelly credits playing video games as an effective, short-lived distraction from schoolwork.

“I think it’s better if I play one game of FIFA and then get to my work,” he said, “than if I procrastinate on Facebook for three hours and then get to my work. It’s better to just completely forget about it for a little while, and then come back to it.”

Aside from video games, LeViness strongly advocates participating in some kind of physical activity. It is an important element contributing to students’ physical and emotional health.

He described from a psychological point of view why physical activity is important in times of stress. “It’s the flight or fight reaction,” he said of your body when experiencing stress and anxiety.

“Your body is being mobilized to take physical action,” he said, “but for most of our modern stresses, physical action isn’t an appropriate response.”

Unfortunately, even though students tend to know physical activity is beneficial for them, it is one of the first things students will sacrifice when they begin to feel swamped with responsibilities.

D’Agostino said that for most of this semester he had been able to go to the gym frequently, and that he recognized that exercising helped relieve stress; however, “in the past few weeks,” he said, “as the workload has increased, the first thing to cut is the gym.”

The other aspect of a healthy lifestyle that is not respected by college students is proper sleeping habits,  LeViness said.

“I think college is the single-hardest time to regularize your sleep in any way, shape or form,” LeViness said, “ but the more you can get closer to that, the better you will feel.”

Something students might not expect is LeViness’ comparison of trying to do work on multiple nights of minimal sleep to trying to do work after drinking a six-pack of beer.

“Most people know that wouldn’t be a good idea, but they do that to themselves with sleep, yet that’s just as impairing,” LeViness said.

Landphair said that women didn’t deal with stress very well, except perhaps in the way it drove them to further push themselves.

“That’s why women are thriving academically compared to men,” she said; however, more concern for academics may lead to academic success, but it will not necessarily lead to a stress-free life.

In her book, Sax says, “One thing is clear: the more time students spend trying to meet academic demands does not reduce the pressure they feel to meet those commitments.”

Campus tour guides play important role in showing UR to visitors

                                                 By Chrissy Wengloski

When Addy Asante, a junior tour guide, asked the five prospective students in her tour group about their academic interests, four of them mentioned pre-med studies.

Asante therefore shared some of her personal experience as a pre-med student with the students while they stood in the Gottwald Center for the Sciences. She talked about the helpfulness of the pre-med advising and the advantages of the program. She also listed other science programs housed in the building.

In contrast, Asante’s description of the social science departments within Weinstein Hall was limited to: “pretty much all the different social sciences you can think of.” She immediately moved on to discussing the environmental sustainability of the building.

The content of campus tours at the University of Richmond has sparked intense conversations among School of Arts and Sciences faculty members and admissions officials this fall.

A predominately email-based discussion stemmed from the art departments and elicited responses from other members of the Arts and Sciences faculty. The conversations were led by professors who have observed tours, such as Tanja Softic, an art professor.

“Several of us in the arts, the chairs of the art departments, we were disappointed to not see any tours in the Modlin Center,” Softic said. “I think that not including the Modlin Center, or sometimes just a mention of the Modlin Center and the strengths of our arts programs, I don’t think it’s in our interest as a university.”

Kathrin Bower, professor of German Studies, also discussed how her department is poorly described on tours when it is mentioned at all. Her program is housed in the Carol Weinstein International Center, which is frequently visited by tours because of its proximity to the admissions office.

According to Richmond’s website, the German Studies program not only provides students with language skills, but also introduces them to “German culture and history through courses on literature, film, theater, history and philosophy.” On the tour, the program is often simply referred to as a “language program,”  Bower said.

There are “many people in my department who would find that to be overly reductionist,” she said. Lacking descriptions “can affect the students that are interested in Arts and Sciences adversely,” she said.

Bower believes that overly simplified descriptions of programs, or neglecting to mention certain arts and sciences programs at all, can cause prospective students and families to assume the programs must not be strong or valuable. Arts and Sciences professors are concerned tour guides often group their programs together with phrases such as “the humanities,” “social sciences” or “science majors.”

“I don’t believe that any admissions tour can give a full picture, that would be unfair…but I think it’s the first face of the university; it’s the first smile, the first welcoming gesture,” Softic said. “And therefore I feel it should be representative of the school in its totality.”

Another major concern of arts and sciences professors is what some say is an unbalanced portrayal of the Robins School of Business and the Jepson School of Leadership Studies over the School of Arts and Sciences.

David Leary, a psychology professor and former dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, pointed out that “it’s not a surprise that people ask about the leadership school,” considering people are unfamiliar with the concept. He also said that the majority of top liberal arts colleges do not have business schools. Therefore, both the leadership school and the business school would be key points of interest on a tour, but they are not more important than arts and sciences, Leary said.

Leary was also quick to point out that E. Claiborne Robins, the namesake of the business school, was an English major during his undergraduate years at Richmond.

Members of the arts and sciences faculty who are aware of imbalance problems on tours are nonetheless supportive of student tour guides. Political science professor Stephen Long called tour guides bright, intelligent students. Softic described them as highly trained and committed.

The role of tour guide is valued among these faculty members. Leary said perceptions of campuses are ultimately “up to the attitude of the tour guides and what they know.”

On Richmond’s campus, the tour guide is the point at which content, effectiveness, and emotions concerning the tours revolve. The tour guide is often the first University of Richmond student with which a prospective student and family come into contact.

“I think they get to associate a face and an experience, kinda get to step into my shoes for that hour or so that I’m with them,” said Carolyn Dombrowski, a sophomore tour guide.  “They get to experience my passion, my love for the school. Facts, rankings, all that sort of information is very important when you’re giving a list of schools, but in terms of actually differentiating one school that you really love and really want to go to – I think it’s the tour that seals the deal there.”

The tour guide role is highly desirable on Richmond’s campus. Tour guides are a part of the Spider Key Society, Richmond’s society of tour guides. In the fall of 2011, 130 students applied for about 50 new tour guide positions, which were added to the existing 80 tour guides. The applicants went through a series of group and individual interviews. One particular interview required them to dress to represent how they felt about the university. T-shirts, sundresses, and Spiderman costumes were among their choices, according to students who went through the application process.

Amy Gray, the undergraduate admission counselor who oversees tour guides, said that they look for tour guides who are academically responsible, have a good way of explaining things on campus and have a strong ability to connect with other people. She called it a very qualitative process.

Richmond tour guides are given a manual that is about an inch thick. Gray said they spend the time from their hire date in November to spring break training in group and co-tours, before they give their first solo tour. The admissions office also brings in a group called TargetX to work with the tour guides on “story-telling.” Richmond’s Speech Center helps them with handling hard questions such as those about the diversity, party scene, or drug use on campus.

“They do give us stats,” Dombrowski said. “They give us a whole book on stats for us to pull out if anyone has a question like, ‘Okay, how many students go abroad’ you know, ‘What’s your percentage of minorities on campus?’ questions like that, we do have those resources.”

After finishing campus tour at Richmond, Christie Denicola, a mother of a high school junior from New Jersey, called tours the “most valuable information you can get.” She also said tours allowed for her to have “at least a face and a person…who can answer the questions later.” She indicated that she and her son only wanted general information on the tour, but planned to ask more detailed questions at a later time, if they found they were interested in the school.

Although parents and prospective students may not have detailed and specific questions while on their tours, tour guides often ask for special interests of the prospective students.

“I make the special effort to make everyone go around in the group and introduce themselves, say where they’re from, what year they are, maybe what academic interests they have and then pay special attention to those when I go on the tour,” Dombrowski said.

On her tour with the group interested in pre-med studies, Asante demonstrated how the different academic departments within the University of Richmond may be highlighted.

The first stop of the Saturday morning tour was Queally Hall and the Robins School of Business.

“The business school does offer some of our top majors on campus,” Asante said. “The professors here are absolutely amazing.”

Moments later, she admitted to not understanding the stock tickers on the wall, when one parent asked about them.

In the main academic quad, Asante mentioned that the history and English departments are housed in Ryland Hall. According to the Richmond website, 70 percent of students choose to stay in the arts and sciences upon declaring their major, but Asante simply mentioned that a lot of students will have classes in Ryland because history and English are general education requirements. She then began to discuss the movies and television shows that have been filmed on Richmond’s campus.

The School of Arts and Sciences has 22 academic departments and 11 interdisciplinary programs, yet the majority of programs in Weinstein Hall and Richmond Hall were vaguely described. More time was spent discussing the Speech Center and the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) than the academic programs in each of these buildings.

Although the tour group walked up the hill toward the Greek Theater, past the Modlin Center for the Arts, no stop was made. Asante did, however, identify the building to her group.

Softic wants students to know they can receive great art education at Richmond, but Asante pointed out during the tour that there was not time to show all of campus. Skipped stops on this tour included the Carol Weinstein International Center and the Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness.

Concerning which stops to make, Alex Eisenach, senior tour guide and director of marketing for the Spider Key Society, said tours should “market to each person as well as possible.”

Antoine Waul, vice president of the Spider Key Society, also emphasized the personal touch added to tours as something that makes Richmond tours unique.

“The Office of Admission really stresses that we’re supposed to tell our individual stories, things that do make the tour memorable,” Dombrowski said. “I do think that maybe if you do just repeat rote responses it doesn’t give the university much personality.”

Bower wondered if the personal preferences and experiences of tour guides might leave them unequipped to discuss certain programs or departments with their tours.

Dean of Admission Gil Villanueva said that “we try to make sure they’re armed with all that good information,” when referring to specific departmental facts. Villanueva also discussed how the admissions office has moved beyond personalization of recruiting and into customization.

Nancy Tessier, the vice president of Enrollment Management, said in an email interview, “Our goal is to provide…information that is increasingly customized to the specific interests of a prospective student as she or he becomes increasingly interested in the university.

“Tour guides are trained in all aspects of the University, since no student can have had direct experience with every aspect of the University.”

Both Villanueva and Tessier emphasized that neither the Office of Admission nor the Office of Enrollment Management highlight any one of the schools at Richmond more than another.

“We train our tour guides to be good representative of all the schools that we have,”  Villanueva said. “There is no one in my department who can say we value one school over another.”

The admissions office does not audit its tour guides. They instead rely on comment evaluation cards to be filled out by prospective students and families after tours. Gray said  they had faith in the tour guides which helped them grow.

Bower, Softic and Long all suggested greater faculty participation as a way to better highlight arts and sciences programs. They, and others like them, have offered their services to the admissions office.

“The faculty are the ones that are going to have these students in their classrooms,”  Bower said. “Arts and Sciences faculty should be given a chance to contribute.”

Softic and members of the art departments met with admission representatives about their concerns and had a “really good meeting,” Softic said.

Villanueva said the Office of Admission is striving to make sure they continued to embrace their programs with good information from faculty.

“I’m all game and green lights,” he said about improving the current system. “We are constantly thinking about how we can improve upon what our work is.”

Bower pointed out that the concerns of faculty members are not unique to Richmond. She did, however, say,  “it’s creating an unnecessary tension between the faculty and the admissions office.”

While the concerns about content, faculty roles, and balance between the three undergraduate schools remain, the tours carry on. Prospective students continue to see Richmond for the first time. They continue to interact with their tour guides. And they continue to make decisions based on what they encounter on campus that day.

“A lot of my students have said the tour made their mind up, that they were going to come here. And that’s the best thing I could hope for,” Dombrowski said.















Alcohol policy can have a strong influence on students

By Reilly Moore

Alcohol policies are different at colleges and universities around the country, but depending on the policy, it can influence prospective students as well as current ones.

At the University of Richmond, the student handbook says, "The use of alcoholic beverages on the campus is expected to be in compliance with federal, state and local laws as well as University policy." Because the legal drinking age in the United States is 21, this policy theoretically prohibits drinking by the majority of Richmond students.

But the policy is not always enforced, resident assistant Josh Huffines said. Students often drink in small groups in dorm rooms or the University Forest Apartments, but these types of incidents are too hard to prevent, he said.

"If I wrote people up every time I knew people were drinking, I would be writing incident reports all night," Huffines said.

When students are caught for routine alcohol violations, such as possession of alcohol in a residence hall room, the consequences for a first offense are not severe, he said. The resident assistant relays the information to the area coordinator, who then deals with the incident further. The police and the student's parents are rarely contacted for a first offense, he said.

The primary focus of the current policy is to prevent large-scale parties and binge drinking, Huffines said. Recently, enforcement of the alcohol policy has become stricter, he said.

"The policy is definitely enforced more this year than it was last year," Huffines said.

Evidence of the crackdown on large-scale drinking was shown before this year's Festivus, formerly known as Pig Roast. A flyer was posted on the door of every University Forest Apartment warning that any alcohol-related violations during that weekend could result in immediate evictions.

University police have also been taking a firmer stance on alcohol violations, Huffines said.

"The police are writing up more students than the RA's," he said.

Richmond College freshman Dan Alper, received a written arrest from university police after an incident earlier this year, he said.

Alper had been drinking in his residence hall room and decided to go to the apartments with some friends, he said. Along the way, one of the people in his group gave him an open beer can, he said.

As the group approached the apartments, Alper saw a University police officer and tried to dispose of the can, he said. The officer stopped him, took his information and gave him a written arrest.

Alper received sanctions from the school as well as the police. He met Patrick Benner, associate dean for residence life, who punished Alper with a $50 fine and 15 hours of community service.

Alper also had to appear in Henrico Country court for an arraignment in April and must attend his hearing at the courthouse on May 6, he said.

"I have to stay in Richmond for five extra days to go to court," Alper said. "One half-empty beer can is causing me a big hassle."

Though Huffines said enforcement of alcohol-related infractions had increased, Richmond's policy was lenient compared to some of its competitor schools.

Furman University in Greenville, S.C., is one example. The school, which had been a dry campus, permits alcohol in only four areas on-campus, according to the Furman web site.

The web site reads, "The ban on alcoholic beverages in the campus residential and educational facilities reflects the reality that too many college students, often legally and underage, drink to excess….The possession and or use of alcohol beverages is prohibited in all campus locations except [the four] listed below."

Unlike at Richmond, where students 21 and older can possess alcohol and register parties, Furman's alcohol ban applies even to those students older than the legal drinking age, according to the website.
For prospective students and their families, questions about different alcohol policies are frequent, especially on tours, freshman tour guide Mary Morgan said.

"I get asked about the alcohol policy or how easy it is to drink on every tour," Morgan said. "Usually, the parents ask about the police or how strict the enforcement is and the students ask how big the parties are and how much drinking happens on campus."

Rather than make a firm stand on the issue, Morgan said she was trained to respond to question about the alcohol policy by telling students and their parents that the university abides by all state and federal laws.
"I'd like to just be able to say, €˜Almost everyone here drinks and it isn't hard to find alcohol,'" Morgan said. "But alcohol policy is such a sensitive issue with some parents."

At the end of tours, when the tour guides informally take any questions from the students or families, the questions about alcohol are answered more honestly, Morgan said.

"If a kid comes up to me alone and asks, €˜Is it really easy to drink here,' I am much more likely to give them a real perspective without having to be careful about what I say," Morgan said. "That actually happens a lot."
The actual admissions officers at the school face the question of alcohol less frequently, admission officer Kate Wheeler said.

"Prospective students rarely reveal to admission officers that they desire a campus where alcohol is free-flowing and there is no enforcement of the law," she said in an e-mail interview. "It may be the case for many that they do want this, but they aren't going to say it to the people who read their applications."
The parents of prospective students are usually the ones to ask the admission officers about the alcohol policy, Wheeler said.

"I don't know if it's a reflection of student interest or unease with the topic," she said.

Wheeler said that she didn't think there would be a decrease in applications if Richmond advertised more restrictive alcohol rules.

Applications and enrollment do not suffer because of the dry campus policy at Furman either, Furman admission officer Woody O'Cain said.

"For the typical, everyday life of a student, the campus is still considered dry," O'Cain said. "However, this does not seem to be a deterrent in students applying and enrolling, especially as every year the size and quality of our applicant pool increases."

Because Furman and Richmond are both competitive schools with difficult academic programs, students who are concerned only about drinking tend not to apply, O'Cain said.

"Classes are rigorous," O'Cain said in an e-mail interview, "and it would be difficult to be academically successful if a student's first priority happened to be drinking. Those students who perceive college as a place to party for four years (classes optional) would not be a good fit for Furman."

O'Cain also said that though the campus was dry, students and prospective students knew that drinking still occurred.

"If students wish to include alcohol in their socializing, it can be found," O'Cain said, "even as the dry campus policy is enforced by administration and RAs."

Though the evidence, such as the increase in applications mentioned by the admission officers at both Furman and Richmond, indicated that alcohol policies do not act as a deterrent to all students, for some students, the party scene at a school was a deciding factor.

"I wanted to go to a school where I knew I could have a good time," high school senior Elizabeth Donaldson of Avon, Conn., said. "I applied to schools because of their academics, but breaking the tie between schools came down to little things like the party scene and alcohol policy."

Donaldson applied to Richmond, University of Maryland, Elon University and Syracuse University. She decided to enroll at Syracuse partially because of the party scene, she said.

"I know people who go there and say it's a great time," Donaldson said. "The other schools were good options, too, but Syracuse is good academically and socially."

Another high school senior, Jack Hodil of Hampton, Pa., who will attend Richmond in the fall, said that he didn't initially consider alcohol policies when applying to schools, but was glad that Richmond's policy was not too strict.

"It didn't affect my decision at first," Hodil said, "but I consider the drinking policy a major addition to Richmond's positives."

Other students were not as worried about partying as Hodil and Donaldson, but were still happy that Richmond was not a dry campus.

Keely Naughton, a senior from Atlanta, said she planned to attend Richmond in the fall. Her decision was not at all based on drinking policies, she said, but she chose not to isolate herself from alcohol completely.
"I don't drink," Naughton said. "I know there is substance-free housing for girls, but I didn't want to participate in that. I didn't think it was healthy to completely isolate myself from €˜substances.'"

For some students, the more casual party scene that Richmond offers is a positive. Naomi Mayeux, a high school senior in Tarrytown, N.Y., is still deciding between Tulane and Richmond.

"What I like about Richmond," Mayeux said, "is that it's more like my private high school€”not a rowdy party scene, but more of a house party or frat scene. I actually like that the school seems more serious about academics and less about drinking/partying."

Naughton said: "When I was visiting schools and tour guides were throwing around terms like dry campus I wasn't entirely sure what I wanted. But then I found Richmond and I just fit, so it doesn't matter what the alcohol policy is."

Though some students disagreed with Naughton, most students believed that the college-selection process is more about academics and fitting in than drinking and partying.

New Strategic plan deals with five areas of University life

By Stephen Utz

There is a sense of urgency to institute the strategic plan, University of Richmond President Ed Ayers said in May.

The strategic plan outlines five areas that the university wants to improve. They include increasing affordability, diversity, increasing community involvement and creating a cohesive environment between schools and linking student life with all of these, Ayers said.

The five-point plan he released early in March is still in its draft stages. How each principle will be addressed is still being determined. The university released a draft of the plan and is creating working groups composed of administrators, faculty and students to create a specific plan to accomplish the five principles, Ayers said.

The working groups will meet all summer through conference calls to develop strategies to achieve the goals that they have set out to reach, he said. It is their job to define the metrics of success for each goal, he said.

A new draft will be presented at the beginning of classes in August and the final plan should be announced in October, he said. This is a five-year plan that will be coupled with a new capital campaign that will be implemented in a year or two, he said.

Other schools have recently instituted strategic plans that are similar to the University of Richmond's. "We didn't look at other plans," Ayers said. Diversity and affordability are issues that all colleges are facing, he said. Other schools' plans were not looked at because the University of Richmond is a unique institution with specific needs to address, he said.

As Ayers traveled the country, welcoming alumni and donors, he kept asking one simple question, he said. "What do we want the University of Richmond to be known for?"

The responses repeated the same objectives, he said. An emphasis on diversity and affordability was important to donors and alumni, he said.

The rising cost of college is a problem, he said.

The university is reviewing its financial-aid policies to make sure it has the best policy for its students, Ayers said in an interview with news writing students. The tuition increases must end, he said.

The strategic plan will address the issue of diversity. "The University will be a diverse community, strengthened intellectually and socially by the range of knowledge, opinion, belief, and political perspective as well as background (race, ethnicity, gender, age, religious, economic,
geographic) of its members," according to the strategic plan.

The lack of diversity on campus has been a predominant stereotype about the University of Richmond.

Students have described Richmond as a homogeneous place with one race dominating all others. African-Americans make up 10 percent of the campus population, Ayers said. That is consistent with the average throughout the rest of the country, excluding the historically black colleges and universities, he said.

The most common stereotype about the population demographic is that the university is made up of rich, white, Northerners. Ayers said that was not the case, but students believe that was the truth so the stereotype has persisted. "People are willing to believe the worst about themselves," he said.

Even though Richmond's population is consistent with the rest of the country, there is room for improvement, Ayers said.

Another area of importance to Ayers is increasing the connectivity between the schools on the campus, he said. "How do we maintain contact with the liberal arts?" he said.

"The University will have an academic enterprise that will be connected, innovative, rigorous, and personal with the intent to foster faculty growth and ensure student success," the plan said.

Business majors should be able to take other classes that interest them, Ayers said. They should not be secluded in the business school without access to the school of arts and sciences, he said.

Faculty will be in charge of the curriculum that will bring the schools together, he said. The curriculum should be challenging for both the students and the professors, professor David Leary said. "In the end, you want something that everyone can agree on," he said.

The draft of the strategic plan also calls for increased community involvement by the university. The university will "shape, both educationally and experientially, its students and as a means to contribute its skills, energy, and goodwill to the identified needs of the larger community," according to the plan.

The university already contributes to Build It and other programs in the community, Ayers said. Students build a house for a family as part of the Build It program. He noted in his Inaugural Address that students are very active in community service.

The strategic plan will determine what the university will do to increase its community involvement for students, faculty and administrative staff. "What aspects of community engagement will ensure that our students develop an ethic of service that is transportable to any community worldwide?" according to the plan.

Each point of the strategic plan is intertwined with the others, if one progresses the others will also be successful, Ayers said.

The success of the plan will create an identity for the University of Richmond, he said. "No school has been on as rapid an ascent," he said. The school has not had time to forge a new identity as it has thrived, he said.

"It's within our power to define what we want to be known for," he said.

The increased cohesion between schools will make the university unique, he said. That will create and identity as a strong liberal arts school combined with a graduate program that is exposed to undergrads.

"Our peers have to recognize that Richmond is a leader," he said.

Schools similar to Richmond have released plans that have goals that are comparable to Richmond's. Wake Forest University and Furman University are trying to increase affordability and diversity. Wake Forest is trying to link the liberal arts with the professional world in a similar way to Richmond.

"We have a tremendous opportunity to build more productive connections between and among arts and sciences and professional schools in law, medicine, business and divinity," Wake Forest President Nathan Hatch said in his state of the university speech recently.

Students like the proposals set forth by the draft. "I'm optimistic and hopeful that with the new leadership of Dr. Ayers and his staff that we are ready to move the university forward, and also focus out attention on student life and how they perceive the university as undergrads" sophomore Brendan Schlauch, a Richmond College senator, said.

Mike Murray, a sophomore senator, was cautiously optimistic. "I like the increased voice that the students' have, but I want to make sure the administration follows through and listens to students throughout the process," he said.

Other students have hope that the strategic plan will create a new identity for the university. " It should be a well-respected, liberal arts school that students like to attend, a place where prospective students want to be, and alumni want to give to," sophomore Josh Huffines said.

The school may need to do a better job of educating everyone about the strategic plan. "I haven't heard about anything, and I feel that generally I am an educated student about what goes on," freshman Justin Nguyen said.

Improving student life is one of the principles of the plan. "I love that it is a 24-hour strategic plan that focuses on life in and out of the classroom," Steve Bisese, vice president for student development, said. The school has begun to integrate itself with the Living and Learning Communities, which allow different students to come together to discuss topics outside of class, he said. The Living and Learning Communities are programs that are centered on a class that everyone involved in the program must take, and then they must do projects together outside of class as well. There are many different programs offered, including Civic Engagement, Campaign 2008, and language across the curriculum program that have brought students together, he said.

Richmond is at a crossroads, Ayers said. Ayers is excited about the prospects for the future, and is ready to forge an identity for the school, he said.

Two campus clubs raising awareness of environmental issues

By Fred Shaia

Graphic pictures don't affect people anymore; organizations have to get in people's faces to generate a response and make a difference, Carly Vendegna, co-head of the RENEW Club, said recently concerning the "No Tray for the Day" initiative proposed by Dining Services.

This initiative promoted water and waste savings during Earth Day on April 22.

During the past two years, Richmond has been undergoing a slow, but noticeable environmental shift toward becoming a greener campus. The Richmond Environmental Network for Economic Willpower and the Sierra Club, two independent environmental organizations, are planning a merge, uniting all students dedicated to protecting the environment and raising awareness about monumental environmental issues on and off campus, Vendegna said.

During the fall semester, RENEW petitioned President Edward Ayers to sign the Presidential Climate Commitment, conducted two Heilman Dining Center waste surveys, initiated the Eco Spider competition, promoted recycling and held an apartment energy conservation contest among other activities this year, Andrew Essington, a freshman member of RENEW, said.

The PCC commits Richmond to becoming more environmentally friendly by tracking and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Essington said. This means the president will perform projects toward a greener campus, Essington said.

RENEW achieved its main objective this year when Ayers agreed to sign the PCC, Michael Olson, a freshman member of RENEW, said. The school is making environmental changes a priority, Olson said, and greenhouse emissions are being monitored.

The PCC ensures that all future buildings will be LEED-certified and officials are working to replace heating in the apartments with a more energy efficient system, Essington said. A building that is Leadership for Energy and Environmental Design certified meets design and construction standards set by committees of
the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED certified buildings are nationally accredited for their environmental sustainability by the USGBC.

The Weinstein building is already using low-flush toilet systems to conserve water and some campus vehicles are using bio diesel to be more economically friendly, Essington said.

During Environmental Awareness Week, which began on Nov. 5, 2007, RENEW and Dining Services conducted a waste survey in which several members collected uneaten, solid food from trays and weighed how much food would have been thrown away. After one day, the club collected about 1,760 pounds of food waste, which could give thousands of people a meal, Vendegna said.

On April 22, 2008, RENEW worked with Dining Services for a second waste survey. This time, the club promoted Earth Day by having "No Tray for the Day," Cathy Moran, purchasing manager of Dining Services, said. By opting not to use a tray, students saved water, wasted less food and consumed a more balanced meal, Moran said.

"The football players were mad at us for not having trays and they did not like having to place their food waste in the trash can," Vendegna said.

Although some of the athletes did not respond well, there was 372 pounds less food waste than the November waste survey, Moran said.

"Many, many colleges are doing things like this to reduce food, water and energy waste," Moran said. "I think that no trays should be implemented daily, but we need student support."

"I am proud that the Heilman Center has been certified as a Virginia Green Restaurant," Ayers said. "This honor recognizes the university's exemplary efforts in the areas of recycling, water conservation and energy efficiency."

RENEW Club recently met with Ayers to discuss future plans for the club. "We are fortunate to have a very cooperative administration and a president who is actually interested in our initiatives," Vendegna said.

RENEW discussed building bike ramps around campus to promote using bicycles as opposed to driving to and from campus, Vendegna said. There was also talk of moving the bus stop to the commons to make public transportation more accessible.

"RENEW received a grant that was used to install a monitoring system so that we can examine how much energy each dorm uses," Vendegna said. "We plan to hold competitions between dorms to promote energy reduction."

Next year, RENEW plans to merge with the Sierra Club to be called the RENEW-Sierra Student Coalition, Vendegna said.

"Whatever change happens to the environmental organizations at UR, it must be a positive change that leverages our collective organizing power better than we are doing now," Jason Levinn, the founder of RENEW, said regarding the potential merge.

RENEW also plans to have an informational session educating students and faculty on green curriculum, Vendegna said. "People don't realize the consequences of their actions, but it's not their fault," Vendegna said. "Our job is to educate."

Next year, RENEW will also continue documenting where recycle bins are located and plans to re-label the bins; this will ensure that the proper recyclable materials are placed in the proper bins, Vendegna said.

The Cellar and E.T.C., two food establishments on campus, are also helping the environment on campus by "going green." In the restaurant, The Cellar is using napkins and pizza boxes that are recyclables, Brendon Cristobal, a freshman employee, said. The Cellar also has special bins to recycle glass and cardboard, Cristobal said.

"When people order take-out meals, we use containers made from sugar cane instead of non-biodegradable Styrofoam boxes," Keaton Cristobal, a freshman employee, said.

E.T.C. encourages customers to bring their own bags to the store so that new bags are not wasted, Lauren Brunt, an E.T.C. employee, said. E.T.C. also recycles all cardboard boxes that package merchandise, Burnt said.

"If a customer re-uses a plastic bag, he/she will receive a five-cent discount on his/her purchase," Christina Quinones, an employee, said.

Last November, RENEW promoted energy conservation among apartments by holding a contest; members measured digital readouts behind apartments and block 1600 received a prize for conserving the most energy throughout the week, Vendegna said.

"We also participated in the Eco Spider competition and created a spider from recyclable materials," Olson said. "It was stationed outside the library."

Last October, RENEW held a three-day e-waste project to promote recycling. More than 60 organizations and 1,559 people turned in unwanted computers, monitors, printers, keyboards, cell phones and television sets, some containing toxic waste, that would have otherwise poisoned Virginia landfills, Vendegna said.

RENEW collected more than 125 tons of old electronics and transported them to a facility where all plastic and usable materials were recycled and all toxic components were safely disposed.

Last summer, the university also installed new laundry machines that save approximately one million gallons of water each school year.

"We aren't going to fulfill our goals if we don't alter the mindsets and uneconomical consumption patterns of students," Vendegna said. "We need student support to make a change."

Students have differing views on UR’s new unit system

by Anna Kuta

The University of Richmond faculty's decision to change from the hour system to the unit system has been met with both opposition and acceptance by students.

As of the fall of 2008, all classes will be measured in units. The effect of the change was first seen in the spring as students registered for their fall classes.

All courses in the arts and sciences, business and leadership studies schools are now weighted under the unit system, and student transcripts will be converted to units beginning in May 2008, according to the Academic Advising website.

The university was previously using the hour system. Under the hour system, a typical class was either three or four hours, indicative of the time recommended that students spend on work for each hour spent in class.

A unit is equal to 3.5 credit hours, Joe Kent, the interim provost, said. The primary motivation behind the change was to get students to focus on four courses per semester in an in-depth manner rather than five courses per semester, he said.

"After some compromises the total number of units required for graduation was set at 35," Kent said, "which means that during three of eight semesters a student might take five units." With AP and transfer credit, most students will only need four courses per semester to graduate in four years, Kent said.

With the change to units, the total number of courses the typical student must take during four years will be reduced, the curriculum will be simplified, staffing flexibility will be expanded, and clearer expectations across courses will be created. These goals are listed on the university's website.

The majority of private national liberal arts colleges comparable to UR have a system where students take four courses in a typical semester, Kent said. Some call them units and others measure in semester hours with most courses being four semester hours, he said.

Many of these schools have an additional short term or winter term where students take a single course, Kent said.

The decision to move to units was proposed and voted on by the faculty. Thirty-six of the top 40 colleges in a U.S. News & World Report survey required that students take an average of four rather than five courses per term, many on unit systems like the one UR is adopting, according to the university's website. The survey found that no institutions have moved back from four courses per term to five.

There has been a lot of controversy on campus about the new system. Some students said they didn't understand why the university was making the change, and many students said they simply weren't informed about it.

"I only found out through the grapevine," Kelly Larsen, a freshman science major, said, "and even then, the people that told me didn't know much about it. I know they had meetings regarding the switch to units, and specific meetings for science majors, but I was unable to attend these and therefore I still do not really know anything about units."

Emily Dowd, a freshman, said she didn't think the change was explained very well. "Everyone was complaining," she said.

Much of the resistance to the change might have stemmed from the fact that students were simply informed, one student said.

Faculty and students have a wide range of views about the unit system. Some are opposed to the change, and others support it fully.

Dr. Joseph Essid, director of the campus writing center, said he strongly supported the unit system. "We assign a lot of work at Richmond," he said. "The new system encourages more focus by students.

"Our students try to do too much, in particular pursue double and triple majors. I think anything making this harder, and encouraging minors and intellectual exploration for its own sake is good." Essid also teaches English and Core. He is among the faculty who helped make the decision about the change.

"I like that under the unit system, a lot of majors and minors got smaller," said one student who is considering a double minor.

The intent of the change may be to keep students from double-majoring or triple-majoring, but students who really want multiple majors and minors will still find a way to do it, one freshman said. Many students still plan to double-major, and they are concerned about graduating on time.

Emily Dowd plans on double-majoring in English and psychology with a Spanish minor. She said she was concerned she might face limitations with studying abroad, because she would have to find somewhere that offered classes that counted toward her major, or not study abroad at all, so she could graduate on time.

Another student who is considering double-majoring said: "Now not only is it harder to double major, but it is hard for people like me who are still undecided to figure out what they want to do. Once I do figure it out, it might be too late to complete everything under the unit system."

Other students still do not understand the reasons behind the change.

"Why fix something that isn't broken?" Elizabeth Hyman, a freshman, asked. "My major gripe with the unit system is that it changes my fine arts requirement. Under the unit system, chorus is now a pass/fail class, which means that we all have to take an extra semester of it to get credit. And I know a lot of science students are upset because it will affect their labs."

Some students are questioning the motives behind the credits-to-units change. "It seems like we are getting the unit system to be more like Ivy League schools," one student, a freshman, said. "That is not a good enough reason to switch everything up."

"It seems unfair that labs do not factor in at all to the unit system," Larsen said, "because labs tend to be the reason I can’t take some classes because of conflicting times." Larsen said she was finding it hard to fit in her COMII requirement, which is two units, on top of two labs.

Not everyone disagrees with the change. "I don't think it's a big deal," Ashley Miles, a freshman, said. Miles said she didn't know why people were upset, because the unit system would make registration easier for everyone and make all classes weighted the same.

Next semester, students will experience firsthand the differences resulting from the change.

Excessive stress can have serious health consequences

By David Larter

The typical Richmond student is working toward a double major and is involved in multiple extracurricular activities, but being overcommitted can lead to unhealthy amounts of stress that can have serious health consequences.

Neal Holly, a Richmond College area coordinator in the Residence Life office, said that students are stressed before they come to college, and that once at college they continue the patterns they learned in high school. "The students here worked hard in high school not just to get into college, but to get into €˜the right' college," he said. "They put a tremendous amount of pressure on themselves, and that continues once they come here."

Grade inflation has become an epidemic among the top universities in the country, and Richmond's high academic standards add to the stress levels, Holly said. "Students come here who had a great GPA in high school," he said. "A student might have been valedictorian in high school, but they come here and get Cs. It can be very stressful."

Peter LeViness, the director of University of Richmond's Counseling and Psychological Services said that about 12 percent of the student population go to CAPS every year and about a third of the population will go to CAPS before they graduate. "A common pattern we see among the students that come through here is that they are taking on too much," he said. "A lot of the stress they have is self-imposed. It comes from perfectionism."

Though academic standards add to stress levels, many students say that the stress comes from assigned academic work. A survey conducted during the fall 2004 semester revealed
that 45 percent of Richmond students think the heavy academic workload caused "very high amounts of stress" for them.

"I think stress is a major issue on campus," said Richmond College sophomore Tyler Morris. "Occasionally I'll have so much to do that I know I'm just not going to have enough time to do it."

Stress comes at various times in the semester and comes in several different forms, students said. "I'm most stressed when there are a lot of papers due at the same time, especially at the beginning of the semester," said Rachaphum Panichsombat, a Richmond College freshman. "I can accept it during finals, but at the beginning of the semester it's really hard to deal with."

Westhampton College junior Emily Smith said: "I think that midterm week is the most stressful time. It's just as busy as finals but you know that you are still only halfway through."
Graduating senior Ashley O'Keefe said: "The times I think are most stressful are when I have life things to do as well as academics. If I have to run a lot of errands or if I have interviews, I start to feel really overwhelmed."

Richmond students experience a whole range of stressors, LeViness said. "When we see students, a lot of times they are dealing with more than one thing," he said. "They are overwhelmed by academics, they are overcommitted with activities and they are dealing with things at home. They are getting hits from all sides and they get overwhelmed."

Not all stress is bad. There are three levels of stress. Not enough stress leads to boredom. Eustress is when a person has enough stress to motivate and to drive toward completing
goals. But distress is when a person has too much stress, and this can lead to exhaustion and other serious medical conditions, according to LeViness.

Sarah Fisher, a nurse at the Richmond health center, said that many of the students that come into the health center were dealing with stress-related illnesses. "It's difficult to document these kinds of things," she said, "but stress seems to tie in with any number of health issues that we deal with on a regular basis at the health center." Headaches, nausea, diarrhea, and, in extreme cases, pulmonary problems can all be linked with stress, Fisher said.

Insomnia is a common reaction to stress among Richmond students, Fisher said. "A lot of students that come through here with stress-related issues are having difficulty sleeping."

Students often sacrifice sleep during stressful times to catch up with work, but that will only increase stress and lead to exhaustion, said Tracy Cassalia, who is a health educator with the recreation and wellness department at Richmond. "If you are not getting enough sleep, it actually reduces your effectiveness by 50 percent," she said. "And pulling all-nighters are about the worst thing you can do if you are stressed. It takes your body three to seven days to adjust to a new sleep schedule, so you will not feel 100 percent again during that time."

LeViness compared studying while sleep-deprived with studying after a night of drinking. "Nobody would ever think about studying after six or seven beers," he said. "But students will not hesitate to study on four to five hours of sleep. Studies have shown that it is about the same thing."

Long-term, unmanaged stress can lead to behavioral, psychological and medical consequences down the road, LeViness said.

"Students often handle stress by binge drinking on the weekends or form other bad habits," LeViness said.

In the short term, high amounts of stress trigger the same reactions in the body that are used in self-defense, LeViness said. Adrenaline is triggered in the system and released into the bloodstream, but if the adrenaline is not enough to handle the stress, cortisol is then released as a long-term stress-coping mechanism, he said.

"Adrenaline is like a match," he said. "It gets the fire going. Cortisol is like a furnace that keeps burning. The problem is that cortisol, when it is in the bloodstream for prolonged periods, can damage your body."

Cortisol can cause people to gain weight under stressful situations, he said. "Adrenaline releases the fuel," he said. "Cortisol increases hunger so that the fuels can be replenished. That's why people have a tendency to eat high-carb foods and sugars when they are stressed and they put on weight."

Cortisol in the blood can also affect the brain, he said "Your memory will not work as well," he said. "Recent animal studies have shown that cortisol could be linked with brain degradation. It can cause damage to the hippocampus."

It may also explain why so many people get sick during midterms and finals, he said. "Cortisol works away at your immune system and leaves you more susceptible to sicknesses like the cold and flu."

In the long-term, stress, combined with prolonged large amounts of cortisol in the blood, can have serious behavioral and mental consequences. People under stress are prone to heavy smoking, eating disorders and alcohol abuse. Psychologically, stress can lead to sexual dysfunction, anxiety disorders, burnout and depression.

There are also serious medical risks associated with prolonged stress. Stress can cause heart attacks because cortisol has negative effects on the cardiovascular system, LeViness said. Stroke is another possible consequence of unmanaged stress. High blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome, tension headaches, ulcerative colitis, skin breakouts, and general aches and pains are all possible consequences of unmanaged stress, he said.

So what are some good ways of managing stress? Students said they had different ways of limiting stress in their lives. "I never work for more than two or three hours at a time, Panichsombat said. "I find other things to do. Going to D-hall and talking with friends are good ways I have of managing stress."

Richmond College freshman Matthew Plotzker said that he used several healthy methods of stress management. "I sleep, talk to my roommate, play videogames," he said. "Sometimes I go to the gym."

Graduating senior Ella Fratantuono said that sports helped her clear her mind and limited her stress. "Definitely athletics help me focus more," she said. "I play ultimate frisbee and that's really effective in relieving stress."

Exercise is one important way that experts say helps manage stress, Cassalia said. "Exercising releases endorphins into the blood," she said. "That is where the €˜natural high' that
people talk about comes from. Really, it relieves stress by getting your mind off of whatever it is that is stressing you out."

LeViness said that working out would not only relieve stress, but it would also increase energy. "Stress triggers the fight-or-flight reaction and all those fuels, the adrenaline and cortisol go into your body," he said. "The problem is that when you are under stress, especially in an academic environment, physical action is very rarely what is required. Exercise allows you to use and burn off all those extra fuels."

O'Keefe said that time management was an important part of relieving stress in her life. "I definitely try to schedule things as opposed to cramming them all in at the last minute," she said.

Experts agree that this is an excellent way to control the impact of high levels of stress. "The problem becomes that people, even if they schedule, will start to over schedule," Cassalia said. "People need to understand that when they make their schedule they need to schedule time for exercise or meditation, or whatever it is that they do to relax."

LeViness said that meditation could also aid in stress relief. "Things like meditation, visualization, deep breathing and muscle relaxation are all very helpful ways of managing stress," he said.

Holly said that students should be aware of the resources on campus. "Its important to realize that there are people here that you can talk to," he said. "The people that you see succeeding here, who are involved in multiple activities, are the ones who are constantly talking with people about their issues and getting help."

It’s Skype season and many are flocking to it.

By Elizabeth Hardy

A new trend is developing at the University of Richmond, and it has nothing to do with Seersuckers or sundresses. University of Richmond students are downloading a new video-chat technology, Skype.

Skype is being downloaded by more than just the UR population. At the beginning of August 2005, the Skype counter showed more than 144 million worldwide downloads, according to O'Reilly Media Network, a website about technology trends.

"Skype may not take over the world," O'Reilly Network columnist James Gaskin wrote. "However, Skype makes the world's highest-quality phone connections available for the world's lowest price: free."

More than 25 million registered users were persuaded to join Skype by word of mouth, according to the O'Reilly Network. That is how it is primarily spreading across the University of Richmond campus.

"Skype fans spread the word that Skype was a hip and free method of talking to friends anywhere in the world," Gaskin wrote in his 2005 article "What is Skype?"

So what can Skype do for UR? Students have different opinions.

"I use it to video-chat and play online games with my girlfriend," freshman Brendon Cristobal said.

Cristobal is not the only one. Long-distance couples can put on their wireless headsets and stay connected through Skype anytime they are on their computer. Skype users can play games, instant message and see each other's faces during conversation.

In a survey conducted about Richmond students' Skype usage, one respondent said, "Skype is the closest thing to actually being with the person."

Long-distance relationships are not the only relationships Richmond students can keep up with on Skype. UR was named the "Hottest School for International Studies" by Newsweek in its 2008 issue "25 Hottest Schools in America." Student panelists at the spring Study Abroad Orientation said they appreciated free international calling methods like Skype.

Of 50 randomly selected Richmond students, half said they primarily use Skype to talk to friends who are studying abroad.

"While abroad, I was able to use Skype to keep in touch with my family and friends," one survey participant said. "We used the video feature, so I was able to keep in contact better and it helped me avoid feeling homesick. Also, it is a cheap alternative to using a telephone."

Another respondent felt similarly.

"Without Skype, I don’t think I would have been able to afford calling my family as much as I did," the respondent wrote.

Survey participants also said they used Skype to talk with family members and to friends who go to different schools.

"It allows me to visually communicate with my friends who are at different schools," a participant said.

Junior Yasmin Wazir talked about the benefits of Skype as a college student away from home.

"I used Skype for an interview process," Wazir said. "The night before my interview I made my mom download Skype and she quizzed me with medical questions for two hours. It was extremely beneficial. She actually yelled at me for twirling my hair and not having good posture. It was a lot more beneficial for my mom to €˜interview' me over Skype from West Virginia than over the phone."

The wide-ranging uses of Skype prompted bloggers and journalists to explain the Skype "phenomenon."

"Why do we Skype?" journalist Phil Wolff asked on Skypejournal.com. "Off the cuff: freedom from cost, privacy from government and employers, multiple modes of communication in one conversation, and presence for avoided voicemail."

But not everyone joined Skype. It poses risks to your computer, some students said. "Skype is a joke," freshman Jesse Goss said, "It screwed up my computer and made it go so slow."

The Australian National University explained this issue in greater depth on the Information Services' "Pros and Cons of Skype" page. It listed Skype as a target for hackers and susceptible to viruses, malware and the rapid spread of malicious files. Skype bypasses network security and firewalls, which worries security experts.

The quality of Skype's video-chat software also concerned students. Senior Nicole Huetter relied on Skype's video chat to maintain her relationship with her Australian boyfriend.

"I used Skype a ton when it came out," Huetter said. "It was a pain to call Australia, though. The calls to Australia always had delayed responses."

Another senior, Diana Gallagher, agreed.

"I used it to maintain a long-distance relationship with a guy in Canada and then in Scotland," Gallagher said. "In Canada it was fine, but in Scotland the service was really bad, so it would end the call or be staticky. I could hardly hear him."

Skype continues to address these concerns, but students said that it was not always as successful at addressing its competition. Some students preferred AOL Instant Messenger, MSN or Mac's video-chat software.

"Skype's video quality is darker than and not as good as MSN," Huetter said. "Skype's calls are often dropped."

Sophomore Ally Watkins tried Skype but reverted back to Mac's video-chat.

"My boyfriend has a Mac and so do I," Watkins said. "So we use that video-chat program."

Sophomore Jacquelyn DeWolfe stayed loyal to another competitor, AOL Instant Messenger.

"I've used Skype to talk to people who have it," DeWolfe said. "But I don't make the calls, I only receive them. I haven't gotten into it yet, not like AIM."

Students preferred AIM over other forms of online communication, according to the student survey. More than 60 percent responded that AIM was their favorite form of online chat, with one person listing Skype as a first choice.

Nevertheless, self-proclaimed "Skype fanatics" like Gaskin trust in its value and its future.

"Dig a little deeper into what else Skype offers now and plans to roll out soon," Gaskin wrote. "You realize Skype is the most advanced voice communications tool available today. […] Many companies are hitching their products to the global Skype bandwagon."

UR students who follow the Skype trend agreed.

"Sometimes it is the best option when face-to-face contact is not available," a Richmond survey respondent said.

CAB plans big concert in Spring of 2009

By Lochrane Smith

The University of Richmond's Campus Activities Board is planning a big spring of 2009 concert with a headline-name band because CAB received increased funding from the Board of Trustees, sophomore Josh Huffines, vice president of finance, said at the end of the spring semester.

CAB's budget will increase from $75,000 to $90,000 because the Student Organizations, Budget and Appropriations Committee, SOBAC, received additional funding from the Board of Trustees for student events, and its members allocated an extra $15,000 to CAB, Huffines said. CAB members hope to have a big spring of 2009 concert with a group that will attract a large crowd, and members are considering Lupe Fiasco, Guster and the Ying Yang Twins as potential entertainers, he said.

"The increase in budget helps, but we're still quite a ways off," Huffines said. CAB spent only $69,000 of its $75,000 budget this year, which is good for CAB because the group benefits from rolling funds over each year to cover costs, Huffines said.

CAB members have discussed a joint concert with a rock band like Virginia Coalition opening for a rap group at a big spring concert, sophomore Natalia Sanders, special events coordinator, said. A joint concert would cost around $90,000, she estimated. To promote a big concert, CAB would call radio stations and pay for newspaper ads, freshman Jen Le, publicity chairwoman, said.

CAB's biggest problems in recent years include insufficient funding and facilities that are either too big or too small for an event, such as a concert, a comedy show or another entertainer, CAB advisers Max Vest and John O'Donnell said.

The University of Richmond does not match up with a number of comparable institutions in regards to funding, Vest said. Senior Maggie Lubbers researched student funding at other institutions and found that Davidson College has $250,400 reserved for student funding, Colby College has $230,000, Rhodes has $194,000 and Wake Forest University has $200,000. Of these institutions, Davidson, Colby and Rhodes have no more than 2,000 undergraduate students and Wake Forest has just over 4,000 students, she said.

CAB has a budget of $75,000 for the year, and it replaces money lost in previous years' events by charging admissions, though the admissions typically make no more than $5,000 a year, Vest said. Last year Matt Nathanson's concert, for which students paid $7 per ticket, sold out, but Robert Randolph and the Family Band, which cost $20 per ticket, lost $20,000, Huffines  said.

CAB's biggest limitations include having a facility and a time for an event, Vest said. Because the university plans to renovate the floor of the Robins Center in the fall of 2008, CAB will not have that space available for a large-scale concert or event, he said. In the past, CAB has used the Robins Center for large concerts, such as Robert Randolph and the Family Band in the fall of 2007, Vest said. In previous years, CAB has brought to campus Yellowcard, Guster, Ben Folds and Maroon 5, he said.
"It's college.  People expect a big concert with a headline name," junior Mary Colleary, CAB president, said. "People don't take CAB seriously because of our lack of ability to bring that big concert."

On average, concerts lose $30,000 per show, Vest said. Kenny Loggins, Dave Mason, George Clinton and Ben Folds did, however, make money for CAB, he said.

Folds, whose concert profited CAB, attracted a 75 percent non-UR crowd, as evidence that CAB concerts need the support of the Richmond community because usually around 1,000 students attend, Vest said. CAB needs about 3,500 people in the audience to break even, he said.

Many students who have attended CAB-sponsored concerts in the past have enjoyed themselves. Sophomore Liza Billington attended the Matt Nathanson concert in the spring of 2007 because she had listened to his music before she heard he was coming to campus. "The venue [Modlin] wasn't that big, but it was packed," she said. "Half the people had heard of him, and those who liked him just spread the good word."

Freshman Amelia Vogler attended the Robert Randolph and the Family Band concert in the fall of 2007 and said, "It was a good concert, and it seemed like a lot of people were there, but apparently they didn’t sell as many tickets as they would have liked to have sold€¦ maybe because it was on a Thursday night, and the fact that Robert Randolph is usually an opening act for bigger bands, not just a solo act."

Robert Randolph and the Family Band invited audience members on stage during one part of the show, sophomore Hillary White said.

"The Robins Center is not really equipped for a show," Vest said. The university needs to rent generators, a stage, lights, sound and security and to promote the event by advertising in roughly six or seven student newspapers, he said. "You need to hire it out because students have classes," he said.

CAB members attribute poor attendance to not enough students recognizing the artists, different tastes in music and the wrong timing in conjunction with other activities, Vest said. "The availability of the Robins Center is the big factor as they are limited one to three dates a year," he said. "Lining up the date and talent is the prime challenge." Concerts have been poorly attended in the past because students have other obligations during the week, and with limited funding CAB cannot attract an expensive headline group to appeal to all students, Vest said.

Because Camp Concert Hall holds 600 and the Robins Center holds 5,000, CAB struggles to juggle the two options, Colleary said. The Greek Theater seats roughly 1,200, but CAB needs a back-up facility in case of rain when planning events there, she said.

O'Donnell said, "In my opinion, we shouldn't be doing major concerts here." O'Donnell tends to have a pessimistic attitude toward CAB, Colleary said.

CAB puts 75 percent of its budget on the line when it sponsors large-scale events, such as concerts, O'Donnell said. To break even or pay off debt from a poorly attended concert, CAB will hold off on other events, he said.

"We get around 900 to 1,000 students and need to attract 2,000 plus non-students to break even," Vest said. "The cost of a large concert is $100,000 plus, and CAB can only loose so much money."

Few small private schools can afford to hold events on a regular basis, Vest said. Although it is not a small private school like Richmond, "VCU virtually does nothing," he said.

CAB has looked into other alternatives for concerts, and next year it hopes to better promote Toad's Place in Shockoe Bottom in downtown Richmond, a venue for concerts that holds roughly 1,700 people, Vest said.

In addition to concerts, CAB plans movies every week in the commons, the student organization fair, orientation events and comedians, and it donates money to other organizations, such as Alpha Phi Omega, the university's service fraternity, Vest said. CAB usually puts on 30 events throughout the year, he said.

During orientation, hypnotist Tom DeLuca consistently attracts from 1,200 to 1,500 students, just as comedic magician Craig Karges has a large turnout of roughly 500 during family weekend, O'Donnell said. The Cellar also does between 25 or 50 events per year with grants up to $100, he said.

The comedian Zach Galifianakis did well, as did Stephen Lynch, Vest said. Comedians from Comedy Central or comedians whom students recognize from other television shows usually attract large crowds, he said.

Steve Starr the Regurgitator comedian attracted so many people that some had to stand in the back, Colleary said. Comedians have been sold out for the past three years, she said.

Next year CAB members plan to capitalize on Fall Festival, which will have a fair atmosphere on the Westhampton green during the day, and a band will cap off the night, Vest said. Student groups can perform to keep costs at a minimum, he said.

Student groups can sponsor different events, however big or small the groups would want, Colleary said. "It's a work in progress right now," she said.

CAB members are more seriously looking into a big concert in the Greek theater, for which CAB would need a back-up location other than the Robins Center, Colleary said. CAB could work around a smaller-named band because of the expected cost and turnout size, she said.

Sanders planned Taste of Richmond, and she will plan the fall fashion show and a cookout on the James River. CAB members are even looking into bringing in a portable ice-skating rink, she said.

CAB members are also planning a trip around Richmond for freshmen to museums and different venues downtown, which is scheduled for Sept. 27, in addition to a trip to Washington, D.C., in October or November and a trip to the outlet malls in Williamsburg, freshman Colby Sheffer, the trips and travel planner, said. "As a freshman, I didn't have that experience of getting outside the UR bubble," she said.

Commenting on the funding required to maintain so many student organizations, Vest said, "We need to do a little bit better job to work the groups together." Nevertheless, groups like individuality and working separately as long as there is money for them, he said.

As the president of CAB, Colleary meets with members of the executive board for one hour weekly in addition to constant email correspondence, she said. "As president, my foremost goal is to bring what the students want," she said.