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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hertz so good?

Is this too good to be true? The University has been approached about participating in the Connect by Hertz program. Essentially, several cars will be left on campus, and students who are pre-approved can reserve the vehicles for $12.99 per hour. Participants are given a swipe card that allows them vehicle access. The attraction for colleges is that the program allows 18-year-olds and international students vehicle access, as long as they are pre-approved. What this means for Trinity students is that those from out-of-state, from across the globe, or with no vehicle can have access for short term use. There is also a daily rate.

The Residential Life Office currently funds a program through the dorm fee run by International Programs that offers a shuttle every other weekend. ASR would like to see that program operate every weekend and is considering supporting the Hertz program as well. What do you think? Take the poll at right.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Half Marathon Challenge 2010 ROCKS!

The 3rd Annual Dean of Students Half Marathon Challenge and Food Drive is officially in the books. The program has grown from 40-some participants, to 80, to 100 over three years. What's more, some of the people who have done the half in previous year have come back to participate in the full marathon. Trinity's team won the city-wide Get Fit Challenge in the large group division of the San Antonio Rock 'n' Roll Marathon!

There were about 50 regulars who trained with the group at various times, and our biggest training run had 33 participants. The others trained off-site (parents and alumni out-of-town) or trained on their own, but signed up through the Get Fit Challenge, attended the pasta dinner on campus, and/or purchased the official Trinity running shirt from the bookstore.

Over 1,000 food items and $600 were donated to the San Antonio Food Bank. Special thanks to the Trinity University bookstore, Athlete's Foot, Coach Derick Lawrence, and the YMCA for supporting this program.

I want to personally congratulate the runners for their awesome spirit, drive, and enthusiasm. It is a great pleasure to get to know people over both easy and grueling runs throughout the city. Our training took us past mansions and homeless shelters. We saw the Riverwalk, the Alamo, the the Tower of the Americas, and ran through a market and around a lake. Nevermind that a guy in a turkey costume passed me at mile 11. See the slide shows at right for a sense of the experience.

Next year's race is scheduled for November 13, 2011.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Strides: Mother and child reunion

This is a series on runners participating in the 3rd Annual Dean of Students Half Marathon Challenge on November 14, 2010. The final feature is about a new student from San Antonio, Arlyne Martinez - above left, and her mother, Yvonne Martinez (Class of 1976) - above right. Yvonne was diagnosed with stage four cancer five years ago. She is a tough cookie. Try running with her. They answered the questions independently by e-mail.

Why are you running the half marathon?
I am running the half marathon because my daughter encouraged me to do so. I really was only going to run the half marathon relay, but didn't have someone to run it with. I had decided I would run next year. Then my daughter, Arlyne e-mailed me not to forget about the early registration deadline. This is a challenge I never thought possible five years ago when I could barely walk.

Arlyne, your mom is running to keep cancer at bay. You motivate her. How does she motivate you?
My mom motivates me because shes does what she wants. She isn't pushy and tells me to just do my best.

What do you feel lucky about?
I feel lucky that I am a cancer survivor. I see life with a different perspective (almost as if I am living on borrowed time). This ordeal has brought our family closer together. I am so lucky to have my family.
Arlyne: I feel lucky about a lot of things; I have a lot of good things in my life, like my family, my friends, my cell phone, and much more. I’m very happy that I have what I have, and am able to do the things I do. Even like simple stuff: walking, seeing, eating, reading, some people can’t do those things.
Editor's Note: Really Arlyne? Your cell phone? Kids...

What about the other person makes you smile?
A lot of things about her make me smile, like how small things make her happy and how proud she is of our little dog.
Yvonne: Arlyne makes me smile when she is happy, successful and silly.

Mother, daughter or friends?
I’d say we’re both. She is always my mom and does mom stuff for me, like make me food. But I tell her stuff and she tells me stuff like friends do.
Yvonne: My role in Arlyne's life is of a mother first. We are close and I will be there also as a friend. Arlyne is my only daughter and there will always be a special bond between us. She has been my companion and my inspiration in much that I do.

Why did you each decide to go to Trinity?
I decided to go to Trinity because it is a good school. It will get me where I want to be in the future.
Yvonne: I decided to go to Trinity because of faculty and student ratio and its reputation.

Strides: Hunger, drive

This is a series on runners participating in the 3rd Annual Dean of Students Half Marathon Challenge on November 14, 2010. Laura Yeo Perez graduated in 2006 with a BA in Sociology. She grew up in Houston but lives in San Antonio now. Laura is an LMSW, works as a case manager at Haven for Hope. (Laura is pictured above after finishing the marathon in 2009. She is on the right with Trinity alum Elyza Sanchez, shown left.)

Your job overlaps directly with out food drive mission as the charity we do for our run. What do you do at Haven for Hope?
I work with about 45 single adult men and women, helping them navigate their way out of homelessness by working with them to create a vision for what they would like their lives to be, establishing a plan on how to get there, taking action on that plan, and eventually transitioning out of homelessness.

What is it like working there?
Never a dull moment! The homeless individuals that I work with are all incredibly diverse and have very different needs, but I am lucky to be a member of a great team of case managers, and part of an incredible network of partners that provide everything from counseling to resume writing to culinary arts training.

How important is it to feed those in need?
Without the proper fuel, it's impossible to search for a job, go to school, go to work... anything. The meals that the San Antonio Food Bank provide to the members at H4H as well as to the community of San Antonio are intended to be a catalyst for self improvement and reaching goals for a better future.

What connection do you see between running and the food drive?
We have a running group at Haven, called Street2Feet. The physical and emotional benefits to the homeless members of this group are AMAZING.... and a huge part of it is the lifestyle shift to conscious healthy eating, which the food bank provides through their meals and donated food to the community.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Counter inTUitive 11.5.10

This is a regular feature to examine the information in the weekly Trinitonian editorial. I love the Trinitonian and the students who run it. Sometimes, however there are more nuances to the issue than they have space for. Besides, electronic media allows for there to be "watchdog" watchdogs. Editorials are rated by "hits," as in blog hits, with one being worst and 5 being best. If they are published on-line I will provide links.

5 blog hits

Bugs may bug us, but not time for panic
So, let's see... There was a health department report that gave demerits to dining services. You were set-up perfectly to seize on the sound-bite and knock the competence of ARAMARK. So what do you do? You go and defend them?! Your reasonableness and perspective are shocking. Nicely played. (As a bonus, note that we are still on schedule to look at some major changes in dining services. Be patient. You will be among the first to know anything!)

Note: I can't find the on-line edition to link the story and the editorial, but will if it goes live... or I find it!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Strides: Happy Feet

This is a series on runners participating in the 3rd Annual Dean of Students Half Marathon Challenge on November 14, 2010. Today's post features Phil Beyer. He graduated from Trinity in 1999 with a BS in Physics. Phil is training for the full marathon. On one nine mile training run he showed up with nine miles already under his belt. Phil trains in FiveFingers running shoes (gloves for the feet!). He is cheerful.

The background
I was then and am now, mostly a science nerd. I love exploring the universe... small, large, close, and very far away. These days my learning takes the form of securing information from prying eyes in the professional world, and teaching my children how to learn and explore for themselves.

When did you start running and why?
I started running to chase my lovely wife, Jean (Higdon) Beyer '96, but I slowly grew appreciate its effects (read: it took a few years). A little over a year ago, I felt moved to give long distance running a try, so on a Saturday morning, I just ran as far and as long as I could. For future reference, I don't necessarily recommend that 2.5 hr experience to anyone, since my lack of training, a good pre-run meal, and any water resulted in significant pain. However, I did emerge with a new found enjoyment of the practice. I've been running farther and faster ever since.

What is something that other half marathon Challenge runners don't know about you?
Half Marathon last year... Marathon this year... Ultra Marathon next year... Ironman after that... Grand Slam of Ultrarunning... Badwater...

What is it like to be an alumni running with the Trinity group? Strange?
The runs have been quite fun. I expected it to be more awkward, but instead, it has turned out much the way I hoped... comfortable, social, educational, a little nostalgic, and marked by a subtle intensity. We all have our sights set on a respectable goal, requiring focus and a little levity from time to time.

What advice would yo give non-runners?
I recommend running to just about anyone who is willing to listen. It is a rewarding activity that returns in health and energy much more than the time you put in. Start slow, very slow, and just keep going. If running with other people helps, there are groups all over the city, state, country, and world who can motivate you. If it's inspiration you need, read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall or watch Spirit of the Marathon .

Editors Note: Links by Phil.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Ice Luge: Let it slide?

When a fraternity member asked ARAMARK dining staff what they charge for an ice luge, the staff did what they are supposed to. They told me. I affirmed their answer: No - we won't make a block of ice with rivulets to add a sporting element to doing shots. Upon follow-up, the student clarified to Greek Life staff that the request was for an ice sculpture, not a drinking device. Whatever. The real question is, should we even care about this at all? (Weigh in at the poll to the upper right.)

The "luge" pictured above left was from an old fraternity Web page several years ago that has since been unpublished. When I was a college student I would have wanted an ice bobsled. The reaction to the recent request isn't about prudish denial of someone's fun. It is about safety and responsibility and control (or our lack of it). Really, this isn't about the luge. It is about looking at an old issue that needs handling once and for all so we stop going over old ground. Or ice.

As the Greek Council and the administration look at the issues of off-campus events with alcohol, however, the underlying question is how far should the reach of the campus extend. It is the University that is initiating this conversation. By policy, we have the right to deal with off-campus behavior. But frankly, I am tired of the friction created by parties that sometimes put students at risk and require staff time to investigate -- and be lied to. Maybe there is no incentive to tell the truth - and that's on us. Usually, we learn of the events because something bad happens back on campus following an unregistered loosely monitored event. So, we are left with responding to groups only when something bad happens. That confounds our students, who see that approach as unfair. The incentive for them is to cover-up bad things. We want the opposite. We want to help when things go south. But we want honesty too.

On GreekTalk an alum recently lamented that it is impossible for the University to monitor the behavior of 18-21 year-olds off campus and we should stop trying. I couldn't agree more. The law compels us to care, as do the attorneys of families when bad things happen to their kids. Still, the same law that says we have foreseeable risk is indifferent when deputies from the county are paid to keep gate-crashers out of parties. This while underage drinking happens under their noses.

We know that turning a blind eye puts us at risk. We also know that close monitoring doesn't work. In the meantime, students want clarity. They want to know what makes a party a party and what makes an activity a club event or a personal one.

A student sub-committee is to make recommendations in the next week or so. I hope those recs go as far as I want them to. For one thing, the administration (me) can't have it both ways. If events are group-sponsored at homes off campus, we can't sometimes decide they are private events and sometimes group activities, all based on whether or not a problem arises. There are challenges to be sure. When neighbors are disrupted I get the call and the issue is that they can't believe the behavior of our students. We should care about that. But should we act?

For another thing, we need to be all in or all out regarding our philosophy that "we care deeply about student health and safety." In other words, in the spirit of what our Greek consultant suggested earlier this fall, we need to do the right thing. That may mean whatever happens with the law and liability will happen. It happens anyway.

What I foresee from the students, is a statement with guidelines on what constitutes a group event versus a private event. We have provisions for students to host lawful events with alcohol for those of age. If groups don't choose that option, then they are responsible for what happens in privately-owned residences. We have never been able to control those parties and never will. But we can and should go a step further in helping educate our students at-large about alcohol, personal, and sexual safety when they do what college students do. But does that increase our liability? Do we care? Extending the responsible friend (Good Samaritan) policy off campus and to groups may also be a good place to start.

The ice luge, however, represents our biggest challenge. If we care about student health and safety, then shouldn't we investigate when we suspect a block of ice will be used to expedite the drinking of hard alcohol? Or should we know that this will happen anyways, maybe at another house on another weekend, whether we accidentally learn of a luge or not? Maybe we should coach them on why the luge isn't safe and leave it at that. The question is indeed a slippery one.