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On Campus brings you stories and updates from the University of Florida campus on Tuesdays and Thursdays (And sometimes Wednesdays, on a good week).

The Great Newspaper Disappearances

November 5, 2009

When I get on campus early every morning, I go through a routine.

I get to campus around 8:15, lock my bike up, and then swing by the line of newspaper boxes on the way to class.

My usual reading list for the day is The Independent Florida Alligator and the Gainesville Sun. The Alligator I read for the sports page and the editorial page, and the Gainesville Sun for the comics.

The Sun is the only paper on campus that offers the comics. Papers like The New York Times and USA Today are far too busy being serious and important to have anything to do with those silly comic strips.

I’m something of a true believer in the comics. I grew up reading them and fighting with my brothers for the Sunday page. It’s easier to start off your day with a smile by depending on the comics instead of the tragedy and drama that fills the rest of the paper.

Recently, the newspaper crop has been mysteriously running short on the UF campus. If you go here, then you know that most of the newspapers other than the alligator are in bins that require you to swipe your Gator 1 ID in order to get the paper. In theory, that’s a great idea.

However, many of these bins have been malfunctioning lately. I’ll swipe my card 16 different ways, swear, and usually leave in frustration and distress. If I ever remember to bring a pry bar to campus, they’ll rue the day they crossed me!

Meanwhile, other bins seem completely out of service. Papers in past semesters typically do not disappear before 10:30 or so, by which time we’re in fourth period. But when I make my way around at 8:15 in the morning, some of them are completely empty!

There’s only a few solutions to this, but pretty much all of them mean we’re getting ripped off. Either the Gainesville Sun is going around, pillaging their own bins to put the papers into coin-fed ones, or they’re switching around the days of and amounts of papers that get put into each one.

There’s some kind of nefarious scheme going on here. I will not stop until I figure this out. Our comics liberty cannot be endangered.

Policemen attacked in Gainesville- 5 Arrested

November 3, 2009

I was in Leonardo’s the other day when my friend mentioned that I had missed a hippie convention while I was out of town for the weekend.

I’m glad I was gone. I hate it when people flock to town like it’s their own personal Woodstock. Which, for these people, it was. Which brings us to the story that broke yesterday. Here’s the set-up:

The big party this weekend was called Fest. For those of you who haven’t heard of it before, it’s kinda like a convention for garage bands and their groupies. A good excuse to listen to some music, knock back liberal amounts of alcohol, go crazy. That sort of thing.

The police, of course, are patrolling the streets.

As they’re doing this, they come upon a crowd dancing and partying in the street. There’s about 100, 200, maybe even 500. Stories differ.

The police didn’t try to shut down the party, or stop the show that was going on, but they did try and move people out of the street. Perfectly reasonable.

Some people were either too drunk or having too much of a good time to pay attention. Some guy dressed all in silver spandex refused to move after being politely informed to get out of the road. So Gainesville Police Officer Jones got out of the cruiser to arrest him.

Another man interfered with the arrest, and as he attacked the officer, he was quickly Tasered and slapped in handcuffs as well.

Witnesses from the scene dispute that the man attacked Jones, saying “We’re not going to tolerate police brutality in this town.”

But no one disputes that most of the “witnesses” present were not, in fact, slobbering drunk at that point. And no one disputes what happened next.

Mayhem broke loose as the drunken mob attacked the officers with “hands, fists, feet, cans, and bottles.”

This is disgusting.

The police in this town have a hard go of it. I’ve read the stories over my years here, and every time the police do anything, people complain. These are the men and women who, every day, protect the streets of this city, sometimes with their lives. Their lives!

And how do we treat them? Like ingrates.

The reaction of the police was swift. If they protect anyone the best, it is when they are coming to the aid of one of their own. That’s the kind of fierce devotion you would want of someone, were you in a tight spot.

More than 20 officers responded. Five people were arrested.

Currently, there 14 comments on the Alligator article that went up yesterday. One of them accuses police of using “cowardly methods” to arrest people, and that attacking a police officer from behind sounds like a good idea. What kind of an upside-down world are we living in, where people think it is fair to say these things?

A response to his comment went like this:

“Cowardly methods? How do you propose police do things? They have no idea if anyone is armed at any point and time. And hundreds give their lives every year for their community. If they took a risk every time and were not tactful more would die.

I am glad for all the officers do, it’s not an easy job I don’t think. I would have to put myself in their shoes.

Bottom line, people will always complain about police because it gives them something to talk about. People generally don’t like being told what to do and nobody likes to be arrested. So whether they are wrong or not, these subjects will be biased.”

Despite whatever the story is, these fools and ingrates only see what they want to see: excessive police force. What a stupid and pointless way to interpret the world around you. If you refuse to trust the people who are entrusted to protect you, where does that leave you?

“If she doesn’t scare you, no evil thing will…”

November 1, 2009

So this happened at SNAP last night:

It was almost 2 o’clock for the second time that night.

(You remember, of course, that Daylight Savings Time kicked out around 2 in the morning. So we worked until 2 a.m., it went back to 1 a.m., and then we quit at the second 2 a.m. It’s complicated.)

Anyway, at this point, I was doing what I had been doing all night long: looking for good music on the radio. I occasionally let Dispatch know that we were still alive.

We were stuck at a red light on the edge of campus when I heard the heavy metal song I was playing for mood music get a lot louder.

I looked at my driver, and then at the radio, and then at the station wagon that had pulled up next to us. It was then that I realized they were listening to the same song.

As the song ended, the girl in the passenger’s seat leaned out the window and shouted over to us:

“Hey, are you guys having a good Halloween? What are you supposed to be?”

“We’re SNAP drivers!” we chorused.This joke worked wonders on her.

“I’m Cruella de Ville,” she said, showing off furs and matching gloves. “I’m going to steal your puppies!”

(I think she worked on that line a lot)

“You can’t have my puppies!” I retorted. “But you can have my ferrets.”

(I was lying. I didn’t have any ferrets. But if I did, they would be trained attack ferrets)

“Screw your ferrets!” she screamed, clearly vexed.

(I disliked having my imaginary ferrets insulted)

“They’re nice ferrets though,” I said.

(Nice enough until you get to biting distance)

She paused to consider this.

“All right,” she said, compromising. “I’ll take your ferrets AND your puppies!”

(It seemed like a fair deal to me)

Then she and Jasper sped off, and we were left laughing as we drove off into the morning.

Working the Graveyard Shift

October 29, 2009

I’m working until 3 in the morning tonight. So today is nap day.

I already worked in a couple while I was waiting for my first class to start, and I can probably squeeze a few more in by lunchtime. I think people are beginning to wonder why I came to campus in flannel pajamas and a bath robe.

After a 6-month long epic that I don’t have the time to get involved in, I am working for SNAP (Student Nighttime Axillary Patrol), the on-campus taxi service for students who don’t want to walk in the dark.

This lends itself to all kinds of ideas for mischief.

My first, and really the most obvious idea would be to string up some Christmas lights on the inside and drag along a set of Trivial Pursuit cards. Then I’ve got my own Cash Cab, University of Florida edition.

The best part is, if they get three wrong, we say good-bye a bit early. But Discovery wouldn’t spring for the start-up cash and film crew, so I’ve had to sadly part with that idea.

Even if tonight doesn’t get me many of the thrills I’m expecting, I’m sure my second day of work will. I might have to bring some candy along with me for belligerent trick-or-treaters.

About chameleons and architecture students

October 28, 2009

I’m updating surreptitiously from my German class today.

Surreptitiously because I’m probably supposed to be studying how to write a resume in German. I’m pretty sure our Professor was joking though.

And besides, there are more important things to cover at the moment. There are rats in the computer lab.

On Wednesdays, we have our class in the Architecture Computer Lab. There’s a main lab, and a few labs to the side that can be reserved for classes.

(All German teachers have an irrepressible urge to reserve computer labs whenever possible, I’ve found. They just can’t help themselves.)

The good bit is that the desks we sit at are shaped like game pieces from Cranium, or something, so it’s easy for me to operate incognito, when necessary. But somebody removed hearts and Solitaire from the hard drive of every computer in here. A flogging offense, in my opinion.

The class before ours ends at 11:30. I come in at 11:31.

There are still architecture students feverishly working away¬† at their computers. I don’t mind this too much.

If you’ve ever met an architecture student, you know that they are, without a doubt, the most stressed students on campus. Their lives revolve around anxiety and overwork. Because of this, they develop tunnel vision.

You can recognize one because of their habit of staring blankly at computer screens. It is as if they’re desperately trying to conjure up a satisfactory assignment through sheer concentration.

Nothing exists in the world outside of their project. They rarely talk or recognize other human beings, and mumble in low, fearful tones when they do. A tapestry of anxiety and distress can be seen wafting over the Architecture building most days.

I have pity on their plight. Which is why I don’t swear at them as I trip over their belongings on the way to my desk. I’d receive only a soft whimper in penance.

11:41, and the teacher from the last class, now ten minutes over, is still helping her harried students as they swarm around her like rats from a sinking ship.

She helps the best she can, but the most of them are trodden underfoot as she makes a break for the door.

I watch them go with sorrow, not envying their predicament.

But by class time, there are a few that remain.

This, I mind.

Taking up the space that I’m paying for as a part of my education is rude. Even worse, a lot of them act as if I shouldn’t mind them being there.

They try to camouflage themselves, muttering a few words that might be mistaken for German from time-to-time.

Those get spotted pretty easy. Others prove harder to catch.

Like chameleons, they blend in to their environment to avoid detection by their natural predators. Some wear clothing that allows them to appear like their surroundings.

One student tried hiding in a very-improbably placed trash can. The lazy ones can slouch down in their chairs to an astonishing amount.

In a just world, at the beginning of class time we’d be allowed to beat any Architecture students that were still camping in our classroom with wiffle bats until they departed.

No asylum will be given until after class.

Our man Urban

October 27, 2009

In case you aren’t obsessed with all things college football, or don’t happen to live with two maniacs who are, the video below might be new to you.

Thing is, I can totally see Urban Meyer doing/saying this. It has the advertisement believability factor written all over it. Now that other ad about March of Dimes, or whatever? The wife totally volunteered him for it, is my bet.

I’m on the record as a supporter of Urban Meyer. Well, who isn’t in this town? The man is dedicated, focused, and probably scares the crap out of our opponents through his calm, businesslike manner of chewing through SEC defenses and running our opponent’s offense ragged.

His license plate is probably something like: “ICEMAN.”

Besides that, the rings are plenty iconic enough for me.

Fetch yer Paintcans and Pickaxes, we’ve got a wall to take down.

October 24, 2009

(For a cool visual presentation on the Berlin Wall, click here. It is in German, but it’s pretty neat to watch regardless)

I was at a gala Thursday evening. It was the first time I’d ever been to a gala before, and I wasn’t sure what to expect.

The dictionary defines a gala as a festive celebration. While it’s hard to imagine the Germans as a festive bunch, they certainly were on Thursday. (The Alligator covered it here)

The pretzels with mustard helped, I think.

The gala has been in the making for awhile. Since last spring. But the event we were commemorating was almost 30 years in the making.

When I first heard that we would be commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall with an actual replica of the wall somewhere on campus, I was more excited than a mongoose in a reptile shop.

I was hoping that, under cover of darkness, we would cobble together a bunch of cinder blocks and wall off the entire Plaza of the Americas from the rest of campus. Just like the Ruskies would’ve done.

Even better, I was hoping to get a chance to use my lucky sledgehammer when it came time reenact the fall of the Berlin Wall.

I was later told that no, it was only going to be an artistic replica of the wall, not a functioning one. I muttered a few choice words in the mother tongue, and canceled my Amazon.com order for high-powered searchlights and barbed wire. Red tape ruins everything.

German students also went out and painted the 34th Street Wall, which only differs slightly from the Berlin Wall. Mainly because nobody has ever been shot trying to get over it.

We actually talk quite a bit about the Wall in my German courses. My professors have plenty of stories to share about their experience, or the experiences of their family and friends.

The time of Reunification, or the Wiedervereinigung, was a whirlwind time in Germany. Everyone who lived in the East packed up and swarmed over to the West, sometimes leaving much of or even all of their possessions behind.

I’m a little hazy on why there was a rush to get out of East Germany, but one of my German textbooks helped explain the matter:

1961- Berlin Wall erected. East German government bans every type of beer except Harnburgh. The party appears to be over.

1989- East Germans, hearing rumors about the classic taste of ice-cold Spaten, knock down the Berlin Wall, party nonstop and run up a 6 million-dollar bar tab.

Sounds like a good reason to party to me.

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