Tag Archives: UWF Argonauts

Making instructor evaluations mandatory was a poor decision

By Spenser Garber

Contributing Writer


This is what students see when they log in to MyUWF – links to online evaluations of all their instructors.
Photo by Spenser Garber.

It’s that time of the semester again – time to fill out Student Assessments of Instructors (SAIs). It is the last thing on any student’s mind as exams and post-semester plans take up their attention.

Unfortunately, beginning this semester, the SAIs are mandatory for all students, according to an e-mail sent out to University of West Florida faculty and students. This comes after a drop in SAI completions resulting from the switch from paper to online evaluations a few years ago.

In an effort to boost completion rates, grades and transcripts now are being held hostage until a student fills out his or her assessment of the instructor. While it only takes a few minutes to fill out the SAI, it is unjustifiable to force students to fill out assessments to acquire their grades and transcripts when the class has already been paid for and the work has already been done.

Even though the evaluations are labeled as mandatory, after a threshold of 90 percent has been passed, the whole class can then view their grades and transcripts. From my experience, many of the students will just think they’ll be part of the 10 percent and not complete the SAIs. Similar to the bystander effect, students will think that “someone else” will come along and do the work that needs to be done. Also, the grades are only held until the first day of the next semester, so many people won’t be fazed by the “mandatory” SAIs.

To combat the bystander effect, some teachers are providing incentives to entice students to fill out their SAIs. The concept of incentivizing students to fill out SAIs is nothing new. I have taken several classes in which the teachers offer extra credit for completing evaluations without them being mandatory.

Along with these issues affecting students, the instructors can’t see their evaluations until the first day of the new semester, even if 100 percent of their SAIs have been completed. This gives no turnaround time for the instructors to modify and improve their classes to provide a better classroom experience for the students.

The establishment of mandatory SAIs was not a great decision by the University of West Florida administration. I would be surprised if completion rates went up by more than 10 percent.

The cards we live by: What you might not know about your Nautilus card

By Tom Moore

Contributing Writer



Image courtesy of http://uwf.edu/admissions.

According to a recent poll by McGraw Hill, the average American carries eight credit cards with them at all times. This does not include state ID cards, driver’s licenses, insurance cards and social security cards that are usually also carried. There are cards for work, pleasure, gym cards, dining cards, frequent flier cards. It’s true. Americans carry a lot of cards.

However, the card of interest here is the UWF Nautilus card. Every student knows of it to a varying degree. Yes, that’s the one – that blue and white card with “UWF Nautilus Card” printed on the top, then your picture and student ID number. This card serves a variety of purposes. It can be used to gain access to certain events; for services for UWF students; and for access other services, such as dining, copying and printing.

While this card serves its specific purpose very well, it does have a weakness within the system itself.

“Once the funds are deposited to the card, we cannot get these funds back off the card,” Joyce Hughes, manager of Student Card Services, said. “The good news is, these funds can be spent on any of a wide variety of items in the bookstore, dining area, or other on-campus services our students need.”

University Card Services does not actually service the cards themselves, nor do they service the automatic teller machines that allow students to add money to their cards.  In other similar systems, such as vending machines, the company servicing the machines has a key to get into the machine and retrieve the money, or get the customer his or her drink. There is a phone number prominently displayed on the front of the machine which can be used to call the company if there are problems.

But the Automatic Deposit Machines, or ADMs, are totally different. While they allow deposits to the card, there is no way to withdraw funds from the card. And there is no information printed on the machines. All they say is: “University OneCard System, Automatic Deposit Machine.” Then on the bottom: “General Meters Corp, Colorado Springs, Colorado.”  No other information is given. No address, no phone number, no information of any kind. So, this then begs the question: What if, heaven forbid, a mistake were made. What if a student were to deposit more money on the card than they intended?

In a world obsessed with outsourcing, subcontracting and farming out services, certain things fall through the cracks and are never addressed. This is what seems to have happened with the ADMs for UWF ID cards.

However, money does not simply evaporate into thin air. If a bill is inserted into a machine, that bill can be removed from that machine. The bill is still there, sitting in the machine’s innards, waiting to be retrieved by this mysterious “University OneCard System” run by General Meters Corporation.

Founded in 1979, General Meters has grown into a leading provider of campus card solutions for universities and colleges nationwide. Its University One-Card System unites a range of functionalities – including security access, on-campus dining and vending, employee record keeping and copier/printer/fax control – onto one ID card for students, faculty and staff.  It truly is the “one-stop-shop” for a huge variety of campus services.

“Our ADMs are serviced by a third party,” Kennyattah Cox, manager of the Commons desk services and ticket center, said. “If we were to deposit money here at the desk, we could use our key to open the desk drawer and retrieve your money.” But don’t deposit any more money on your student ID card than you want to use, because Card Services cannot open the ADMs. “Unfortunately, no one on campus has the keys to the ADMs.” Cox said. “Only OneCard, does.”

For more information on your Nautilus card, including quick reference guides, visit the Business and Auxiliary Services website.




A tribute to history and tradition, Alpha Males make their mark on the yard

By Kaitlin Lott

Staff Writer


 Alpha Phi Alpha members hosted a yard show on April 18 to entertain and educate the UWF community about their fraternity. Photo courtesy of Reginald Watkins.

Alpha Phi Alpha members hosted a yard show on April 18 to entertain and educate the UWF community about their fraternity.
Photo courtesy of Reginald Watkins.

As a crowd formed outside the Commons, spotlights hit five men dressed in black and gold awaiting their moment to show UWF who they are and what they stand for.

On Monday, April 18, members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. hosted a yard show at their bench as participants of Diversity Week at UWF.

Organizations that are a part of the National Pan Hellenic Council (NPHC) host yard shows to not only entertain but also to educate others about their fraternity or sorority. These showcases might also include stepping, strolling and chanting information as related to their history and traditions.

“The Yard Show ‘Mu Theta’s Very Own’ was to share a culture with the University of West Florida that they have never experienced, while at the same time working to establish Greek unity on our campus,” Kali Richardson, a senior exercise science major and secretary of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., said.

Members of NPHC Greek refer to being on the “the yard” as the campus community an organization is on. However, Mu Theta has not been on the yard at UWF very long. The Mu Theta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. was reinstated on campus on Aug. 5, 2015.

“I was excited to see Mu Theta established on our campus as a member of the NPHC, because I want to experience being on a campus where there are more diverse Greek organizations and where we can have more events like yard shows,” Alexis Covington, senior major and member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., said.

“The Mu Theta Yard Show was a tribute to the brothers that came before us,” Shareef White, senior public relations major and member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., said. “We were honoring the past and pushing forward towards the future.”

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated was founded on Dec. 4, 1906, in Ithaca, New York, on the campus of Cornell University. The early beginnings of the fraternity served as a study and support group for minority students who faced racial prejudice educationally and socially at Cornell. The Jewel founders, with the help of early leaders, laid the foundation for Alpha Phi Alpha’s principles of scholarship, fellowship, good character and the uplifting of humanity.

The men of Mu Theta are actively working to raise the standards of everyone around them to encourage the campus, organizations and individuals to grow together and create a united front. To that end, the chapter is always looking for quality men to add to their ranks and keeping those men as lifelong members in their communities.

“Every goal we have set for ourselves we have reached — having the highest fraternity GPA on the campus, being recognized on both a district and regional level — and our goals currently are to not only to keep raising the bar but to also consistently top ourselves and push ourselves to display what is means to be an Alpha Male,” Richardson said.

For more information about Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated visit Alpha Phi Alpha or for local chapter information visit Pensacola Alphas.




A tiny house can be a big step toward being debt-free

By Kelsi Gately

Staff Writer

 University of Texas design major Joel Weber designed and built his 145-square-foot tiny house for less than $15,000. Photo courtesy of Tech Insider.

University of Texas design major Joel Weber designed and built his 145-square-foot tiny house for less than $15,000.
Photo courtesy of Tech Insider.

 Tiny homes have become a social movement that has spread across the country recently. “Living small” has been featured on television shows and in blogs and stories on the internet. This new style of living could be a key to college students saving money and graduating with less debt.

Housing on campus and off can be expensive for a full-time student. This new alternative, basically homes on wheels, allows students to have financial independence and to move freely when they get a job after college.

“Tiny houses,” as they are called, have 500 square feet or less in living space and include everything required for comfortable living, including electricity, plumbing and basic, though small, appliances. Many tiny home owners install solar panels and decomposition toilets to make their homes completely off the grid.

“Tiny homes are a great option for people who are working with limited funds,” Colleen Puchalski, UWF junior international studies major, said. “If more college students made the financially savvy decision of lowering their costs of living by saving thousands of dollars on rent or housing costs, maybe we wouldn’t be known for maintaining an existence off of Ramen noodles. It provides students with a home that would last long beyond graduation, and also provides great life experiences in the construction process.”

In May 2014, David Friedlander published an interview with Jay Shafer in Life Edited in which he attributes Shafer as the inventor of the tiny house in the late nineties. Shafer said he wanted something more suitable for year-round habitation than the 100-square-feet Airstream he had been living in for two years. His design was awarded the “Most Innovation Design” in Natural Home Magazine’s 1999 House of the Year Contest. Soon afterward he began making a living designing and building tiny homes. He later drew up the first plans for the mobile houses on wheels.

Today, as founder of Four Lights Tiny House Company, Shafer provides not only plans for tiny homes, but also compact furnishings. Workshops are also available to those who wish to build their own tiny house. The tiny house movement has grown out of a reaction to homes in the United States growing exponentially in size over recent years.

In an interview with Tech Insider, University of Texas student Joel Weber said, “The return on this kind of investment is one of the best choices I’ve ever made.”

Weber built his tiny home from scratch for $15,000 and plugs into a house where he exchanges babysitting services for electricity.

Weber isn’t the only person building his own tiny home; others across the nation are learning to live small and saving money in the long run.

After graduation, the tiny home can be moved easily to any city where you find a job. A simple Google search will turn up many listings all over the country, as well as websites from bloggers about their experiences with living in tiny houses. For starving college students, this small movement could be a big thing.

New item to add to the UWF Campus Master Plan: Tiny House Park.


A whirlwind of service in just three days’ time: How UWF students give back through ASB

Mackenzie Kees
Opinions Editor

 A group of UWF students from the 2014 ASB trip to Memphis, Tennessee enjoyed their Spring Break by giving back to the community. Photo courtesy of the UWF ASB Facebook group.

A group of UWF students from the 2014 ASB trip to Memphis, Tennessee enjoyed their Spring Break by giving back to the community.
Photo courtesy of the UWF ASB Facebook group.

While most UWF students spent their Spring Break relaxing at the beach, a group of service-oriented students did the opposite: They volunteered. Earlier this month, The Voyager covered a story about one group of students who worked with Habitat for Humanity in Boca Raton. However, another group of students went a bit more north – to North Carolina.

“The [North Carolina] trip was mainly focused on environmental concerns,” said Janine Velez-Vazquez, a senior trip leader double majoring in International Studies and Biological Anthropology. “But [we] had a mixture of different components.”

The UWF students spent their jam-packed three days volunteering by cleaning up parks and roads, working with a no-kill animal shelter and helping to organize a crisis center.

The crisis center, Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry (ABCCM), helps clothe people in the community. Brother Wolf, the animal shelter, provides refuge for animals by providing resources and programs aimed at creating a no-kill community. The volunteers also worked with Riverlink to help clear the roadways by two major rivers, as well as cleaned up two parks at their housing location, Christmount Christian Assembly, a retreat nestled in the North Carolina mountains.

Both the Boca Raton and North Carolina groups shared more than just their drive to volunteer; they also shared the method through which they volunteered: UWF’s Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program.


A group of UWF students from the 2014 ASB trip to Memphis, Tennessee enjoyed their Spring Break by giving back to the community.
Photo courtesy of the UWF ASB Facebook group.

The goal of ASB is to involve students in social justice issues by “training them in an active way in the areas of citizenship and common purpose within diverse cultures and environments,” according to their UWF website page.

“I highly recommend participating in the ASB program,” said Marianna Autrey, a senior majoring in health science with a concentration in allied health, about her experience volunteering in Boca Raton. “I made friendships I hope last, enjoyed my break in a positive way and came back with a better mindset.”

Autrey said she already has a few ideas for next year’s trip, and she plans to apply for a leadership position to implement them. “I like to work with building public health and attacking community health disparities through change initiatives,” Autrey said. Students who apply to become a Trip Leader have the chance to choose the type of volunteer work in which they would like to participate.

In order to partake in next year’s Alternative Spring Break, a few requirements must be met: Participants must be enrolled in at least six credit hours; a fee of $75 must be paid prior to departure; and a cumulative GPA of 2.00 must be maintained. If a student is interested in participating, the application is due by Feb. 3, 2017. Applicants will be interviewed and notified of the final selection by Feb. 13, 2017. The volunteers also must attend all three pre-trip meetings as well as one post-trip session.

Another Boca Raton volunteer, SGA University Outreach Chair Zac Laczko, said, “I plan on participating again. I would be interested in a public health campaign or environmental conservation, but as long as we are doing service, it really doesn’t matter too much to me.” Laczko is a graduate student at UWF working toward a degree in Early American Studies.

Students interested in learning more about the ASB program can find all the pertinent information on the program’s homepage. A link to the application for becoming a Trip Leader within the program is also provided on their website’s homepage, but it can also be found directly on ArgoPulse.

GrooveBoston provides beats at CAB After Dark

By Sara Agans
Staff Writer


GrooveBoston brings “electro-awesome” show to CAB After Dark.
Photo by of Sara Agans.

Friday’s CAB After Dark event was highlighted by GrooveBoston, an “electro-awesome” experience that creates large-scale events on college campuses.

“GrooveBoston really isn’t an artist or band – it’s an experience,” said Chris Dutton, brand director for GrooveBoston. “For the past seven-plus years, we have combined in-house, resident talent with world-class production to create legendary events on college campuses across the country.”

According to the website, www.grooveboston.com, “Our mission is to make people happy by delivering the most intense, engaging event your campus has ever seen. To pursue our mission effectively, we realized that the traditional concert model would need to be completely reinvented. A concert needs to be an EXPERIENCE, not a spectator sport.”

The current tour is the Ethos Tour.

“While traditional ‘concerts’ tend to focus on a single artist, we’ve found that it takes a lot more than that to create sustained, widespread engagement at a college concert in an era where we all have Spotify and decent headphones,” Dutton said. “Our approach is to eliminate those musical limits and focus on the experience as a whole – creating something uniquely authentic, engaging, and powerful. What that means is that we don’t prepare a specific track list built around a particular genre or artist, but dynamically adjust the flow in real-time based on what we think will hit the hardest.”

“At first I was really unsure as to what GrooveBoston was,” said Jordan Ference, a UWF senior majoring in nursing. “If it’s a DJ, then the music was as good as any DJ. The atmosphere was good, the lights made the aesthetic. They played popular songs and edited versions. It was good.”

Bria Bellamy, senior psychology major, said, “Though I didn’t get a chance to catch the musical side of the show because of working at the Commons for CAB After Dark, it seems as though students really liked the musical guest. Snapchat doesn’t lie, and from the different stories that I saw, it seemed as though everyone that came out to the event really enjoyed themselves.”

“I’ve been working with GrooveBoston for almost five years now as one of their live artists,” said Jay Nightride, one of the two headlining DJs at Friday’s event, along with Dutton. “I spend a lot of time with our music team assisting in track preparation and selection and live theatrics.”

“The GrooveBoston production model is designed to focus on the total integration of all individual parts that comprise a great event,” said Bianca Mauro, the Production Director for GrooveBoston. “Beginning with the initial concept phase, and continuing throughout the designs of the staging, lighting, audio, video, and special effects, we are always searching for the best ways to synthesize our mission with the spirit of the school and, most importantly, the students. Every show is built for and inspired by you.”

For more information on GrooveBoston and a better sense of what they are all about, check out www.grooveboston.com or their Facebook Page.

UWF Singers to perform songs of hope and rejoicing for final concert of semester

By Sydney O’Gwynn
Staff Writer

 Many guest artists will join The UWF Singers in the spring concert on April 18. Photo courtesy of uwfsingers.com

Many guest artists will join The UWF Singers in the spring concert on April 18.
Photo courtesy of uwfsingers.com

Leonard Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms” will be the focal point of The University of West Florida Singers and Chamber Choir’s spring concert “A Prayer for Peace” at 7:30 p.m. on April 18 at the First Baptist Church of Pensacola.

“The program features a number of songs written in circumstances of oppression or circumstances where there is no hope,” said Peter Steenblik, conductor for the UWF Singers and Chamber Choir. “But they are songs of hope and rejoicing.”

The concert will also include African-American spirituals; John Lennon’s “Imagine”; “Hope for Resolutions” about the South African movement with Nelson Mandela; and an Academy Award winning piece from the 1980s film about feminism, “Working Girl.”

Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms” was written about the Holocaust and are all in Hebrew. Senior UWF Singers President Rebekah Pyle said learning how to sing Hebrew wasn’t as difficult as one might think. “Dr. Steenblik made it really easy,” she said. “We learned it very specifically in a way that would make it successful when we put it back to the music.”

The movements in the piece are dancelike, but also hold raw emotion.

“The concert carries a powerful message,” Steenblik said. “I am so excited about the concert.”

The Pensacola Children’s Chorus also will join The UWF Singers and Chamber Choir. UWF faculty members also will be involved, including the chair of the Department of Music, soprano Sheila Dunn; voice instructor Hanan Tarabay, mezzo-soprano; and visiting artist Corey McKern, baritone. Other featured musicians are Nicholas DeMeo, tenor; the Pensacola West Percussion Ensemble; Christopher Powell, organ; and Bolton Ellenberg, piano.

“This is a huge collaboration effort,” Pyle said.

Pyle said that, while the “Chichester Psalms” was written as a commentary on war, she said she believes the piece could also be a commentary on humankind’s struggle against evil. She also said that without the percussion, the piece would not be as successful. “The percussion adds such a huge element to the piece,” she said.

This will be the final concert for the seniors in the choirs, including Pyle.

“I’m really glad that this is the stuff we’re singing for my last concert as a UWF student,” she said. “The last three years have flown by, and we’ve gotten to sing some incredible music, but I think that this concert — the entirety of it — is my favorite.”

“I hope it’s a concert they can be proud of,” Steenblik said. “Things we learned in August are being displayed next week. I hope it’s one that will display the best of what we all can do.”

Pyle said she is excited not only to perform the concert, but for the concert to be heard.

“People are going to come and they are not going to walk away unmoved by the performance,” she said. “It’s impossible; even if you come in with your mind and heart completely closed, it will be opened and you will be moved by what you hear.”

The concert is free and open to the public. For more information about the concert or the Department of Music, visit the website.

My experience with dual enrollment: a head start on college credits

By Sydney O’Gwynn
Staff Writer

 UWF offers high school students the opportunity to be dual enrolled here and at their high school. Photo courtesy of WVTF.org.

UWF offers high school students the opportunity to be dual enrolled here and at their high school.
Photo courtesy of WVTF.org.

I can still remember my first day of college. I packed my books into my backpack and trekked across campus, struggling to find my classes and not understanding why buildings of similar numbers weren’t always right next to each other. I felt like a small fish in a big pond, but I also felt a newfound independence.

My first day in college sounds like a lot of other students’ except for one difference: I was a dual enrollment student.

“Dual enrollment is an opportunity for qualified high school students to take college courses that will enable them to not only meet the requirements for high school graduation, but it’s also a way for them to earn college credits early,” Eddie Rogers, associate director of Enrollment Affairs at the University of West Florida, said. Rogers acted as my connection to UWF. He helps students register for classes, something he has done for the past four years.

“They have to meet certain requirements,” Kelli Lowe, a guidance counselor at Pine Forest High School in Pensacola, said. “You have to have at least a 3.0 GPA for Pensacola State College and UWF, and you have to have certain test scores.”  The test scores I had to have, since I decided to dual enroll at UWF, were those of the ACT.

Lowe was my adviser when I attended Pine Forest and helped in ensuring the classes I signed up for were not only meeting my college requirements, but my high school ones, as well. We would pick out the classes together and then, after the paperwork was signed by her, my mom and I, she would send it off to Rogers and he would register me for classes.

There are several advantages to being a dual enrollment student, the arguably biggest being that the student does not have to pay for tuition or books.

“It’s free college,” Lowe said. “You can’t beat that.”

I had to get my books through the UWF bookstore, but once I picked out the books, all I had to do was sign paperwork and I received my books at no cost to me. The only thing I had to pay for was the parking decal and the transportation to get to the college.

“The biggest benefit to dual enrollment is certainly getting that head start in earning college credits,” Rogers said. “Financially, it’s a way to get college credits without coming out of pocket.”

Not only did I have to have a 3.0 GPA, but I had to maintain it every semester I was in college. From that moment on, I had to have the mindset of a college freshman, not a high school junior.

“You always have to make sure that the students understand that they have to prioritize,” Rogers said.

When I decided to dual enroll, I decided to stop going to high school altogether and spend my days fully at UWF. I remember having to really think about it, since this would mean I would miss out on some high school experiences.

“You’re not actually attending high school,” Lowe said. “You might miss some of the things that go on, especially in senior year.”

But students do have the option of dual enrolling part time, where you spend half the day at your high school and half the day at the college. This way, you get the college experience while also holding onto high school memories. This also allows students in high school programs, such as band, ROTC and chorus, to stay in the program while still being able to get exposure to a college campus.

“There are pros and cons, but I think if a student really wants to get both they can go part time and still get both sides of it,” Lowe said. If a student decides to go full time, however, he or she has the ability to receive the associates degree at high school graduation, Lowe said.

Some high schools offer dual enrollment courses at the high school to go along with their Advance Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses, but Rogers said that UWF courses can only be offered at the university.

“For those students who don’t have those accelerated methods, sometimes dual enrollment students are ahead of the game,” Rogers said. “They are also more comfortable in the college environment.”

Unlike when I dual enrolled, where the program was only open to high school juniors and seniors, students as early as freshman can now start taking dual enrollment courses.

Once you complete registration and step foot on campus, you are a full-fledged college student.

“The instructors really don’t know the difference between who’s dual enrollment and who’s a regular student,” Rogers said.

And that was true. Though I registered differently, I was at the same level as every other student on campus, just like when I walk across that stage April 24, I will be walking across that stage with my peers.

When I signed up for this program, I had no idea just how it would impact my entire life. It wasn’t always easy; I saw my high school friends slowly disappear and there were times I felt alone. But I wouldn’t trade my time college experience for any high school memory. I might have missed out on a part of my life, but, in the process, I developed a better future for myself.

And some people may think they are missing out on too much by dual enrolling full time, and there is nothing wrong with that. Dual enrollment, especially full time like I did it, isn’t for everyone. I certainly believe that if you have the opportunity and are considering it, dual enrollment is definitely the way to go; because I may be two years younger and my beginnings may be different, but my degree will be the same.

America, the ‘Land of the Free’?

By Tom Moore
Contributing Writer


“O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.”

For the last 85 years, these famous words from our National Anthem have exemplified the foundation that America has been built on since our forefathers “brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived of liberty, and in which ‘all men are created equal.’”

But are they really? And is this truly the land of the free? On the surface, it certainly looks like it. The Constitution and Bill of Rights seem to offer the average citizen sweeping protections, from the right to free speech, the freedom to assemble, freedom of religion, separation of church and state, the right to keep and bear arms, protection of illegal search and seizure, the right to a public trial, and possibly the most quoted one of all: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.”

Yes, that is the Miranda Rights, over quoted and often misquoted on nearly every cop or law show in the country. That is the good news. The bad news is that even with all these protections in place, the United States has the highest level of incarceration in the world.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, as of 2015, 2.2 million people, out of the total 323 million people in the United States, are incarcerated. That is a staggering number. That means that one out of every 100 American adults is behind bars. That’s a scary figure. When broken down into demographics, the figure gets even scarier. According to a 2008 study reported in the New York Times, one in every 15 black adult males is incarcerated, and one in every 100 black females (“1 in 100 Adults Behind Bars,” Adam Liptak).

“Too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long, and for no truly good law-enforcement reason,” United States Attorney General Eric Holder said. On Aug. 14, 2013, Holder made this statement before Congress, demanding this situation be addressed and immediately corrected.

Between 1995 and 2009, America saw the biggest growth of imprisonment in U.S. history. Probably the biggest driver of this growth has been ever-harsher drug penalties. In response to the crack epidemic of the 1980s, Congress and state legislatures began passing laws that meted out mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related crimes. These were intended to help nab major traffickers, but the sentences were triggered by the mere possession of tiny quantities of drugs. Just five grams of crack resulted in a mandatory minimum sentence of five years. Conspiracy laws made everyone involved in a drug-running operation legally liable for all of the operation’s activities: a child hired for a few dollars a day to act as a lookout at the door of a crack house was on the hook for all the drugs sold in that house, as well as all the crimes associated with their sale. These are the sorts of laws that have kept America’s prison population growing, even as the overall crime rate has gone down.

Since his statement, Holder and Congress have been putting into effect measures to counteract the drug laws of the 1980s.

Once marijuana was legalized in Colorado and Washington, state attorneys were instructed to bypass mandatory minimums by simply not recording weight of amount of marijuana under 20 ounces.

Of course, this is only one case in two states, and with just one drug, but, maybe, just maybe, it might be the point where we finally turn away from the horrible trend of locking people up for nonviolent crimes.

“There should be no sentences, let alone mandatory minimums,” said Peter McWilliams in his 1993 bookAin’t Nobody’s Business if You Do: The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in our Free Country.”

McWilliams advocates legalizing all drugs, prostitution, gambling and pornography (except for child pornography). In his book he advocates personal freedom, personal choice and personal responsibility, something he says our society is sorely lacking. “Criminalizing these so-called ‘consensual crimes’ is not only unconstitutional, it’s also counterintuitive from a law-enforcement prospective,” McWilliams claims. “Catching the ‘criminals’ involved in victimless crime is an expensive affair, and this pursuit draws funds manpower away from crimes that do hurt innocent parties. Crimes like murder, rape, human trafficking and domestic violence. Meanwhile, the enforcement of these laws are not consistent enough to be an effective deterrent,” he said.

Only when these pursuits are decriminalized and fully legalized can America once again truly be the “Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.”

New coach has high expectations for 2016-2017 cheerleading team

By Sara Agans
Staff Writer

 The 2016-2017 UWF cheerleading team had tryouts and was announced April 9. Photos courtesy of Kathleen Mills.

The 2016-2017 UWF cheerleading team had tryouts and was announced April 9.
Photos courtesy of Kathleen Mills.

Tryouts for the 2016-2017 UWF cheerleading team, which were held on Saturday, April 9, involved a lot of hard work, dedication, and even tumbling and flying.

Kathleen Mills, head cheer coach, said she had high expectations for tryouts this year because the women had already done well in the clinic. Mills said they were at the same level, if not better, than the past team was when she came to UWF last fall.

“I’m expecting this to be a much better team right off the bat than UWF has probably seen before, which is pretty exciting,” Mills said.

“I expected there to be a wide variety of talent,” said Mallory Webb, a judge at the tryouts and a former cheerleader for the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “I did expect Kathleen would find the individuals she was looking for to represent the university. I love getting to see all the talent that comes in to the school each year. It also brings back bittersweet memories of when I went through the process myself.”

Kaylee Scott, a UWF junior majoring in pre-med and a returning UWF cheerleader, said, “Before tryouts, my expectations were that this team can only get better from here. Our previous team had already come so far from where we started. I knew we had a long way to go, but we were getting there with time.”

Many factors came into play for the judges when selecting the team members. “We first went through all the scores to see who had the highest raw scores,” Webb said. “We also had to go through and make sure there was a good ratio of top girls, bases, backspots, and guys. You can’t have a team with all top girls or all bases. Someone has to be at the top of the pyramid just like someone has to hold it up. We also took tumbling, grades and overall appeal into consideration when making a final decision.”

“After hearing what the coach is expecting for next year and knowing what it takes to accomplish the coach’s goals, I made my final decision based on who has the overall package,” said LaToya Williams, head cheer coach at the University of Montevallo, a former cheerleader for the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a judge at tryouts. “Grades, skills, versatility, attitude and drive to succeed.”

cheer leaders

The 2016-2017 UWF cheerleading team had tryouts and was announced April 9.
Photos courtesy of Kathleen Mills.

Along with the cheerleading tryouts, warm-up stunts with groups, and standing and running tumbling warm-ups, there were also mascot tryouts for the next Argie.

“The way the mascot tryouts are going to work this year is that they are going to be more laid-back,” Mills said. “I have a couple people trying out for it, so while the girls are warming up and doing their dances and everything, we’ll have each mascot got through and interact with the cheerleaders so that we can see how Argie is going to interact with people.”

A new Argie was selected and the team is still in search of two more candidates for the position.

A lot of people think it is an all-female team, Mills said, but the tryouts were for both male and female, as in previous years. This year they had several men try out and make the team, so the team will be co-ed this upcoming year.

Scott described this year’s tryouts as being very organized. “Kathleen had everything set up like it should have been from the very beginning. Prior to tryouts our team hosted a college prep clinic where any potential people who wanted to try out came and attended the clinic to learn what our team is all about. It was a great turnout and very beneficial to those who had come and tried out because everything we taught from a dance and stunts was used in tryouts.”

“Kathleen and the judges made it a comfortable environment throughout the entire tryout, which was very appreciated,” Scott said. “Since the atmosphere was not as intense at tryouts, everyone was helping and encouraging each other. Don’t get me wrong, though; everyone was still nervous.”

“After judging UWF tryouts, I witnessed a lot of the new members show determination and excitement,” Williams said. “I hope they use that to be the best they can throughout the year and grow together as a team.”

Mills said the team will be more involved in the community and the university events next year. “People that have never seen us before will definitely see us at something, whereas we haven’t done too much in the past, so that’s exciting,” Mills said.

Scott said a lot of things have changed since the last year. “Our team received a new coach. Before Kathleen became our new coach, we did not have a coach, and our team was patiently waiting for one. We were not going to all the events on campus and we almost felt like the cheerleaders were not wanted. A lot of things were unorganized and not up to college-level expectations.”

“Since Kathleen has taken over the team, we have been introduced to endless possibilities. We get invited to all the events on campus, people know that there is a cheer team here at UWF and we perform at college level.”

The team usually cheers at basketball games, some volleyball games, and at least one soccer game, Mills said. With the inaugural football season fast approaching, the cheerleaders will now also be cheering at all the home games, which will definitely be something new for them.

The evening of tryouts, the names of the students who made the team were released through Mills’ Facebook and Instagram page. The team consists of: Shelbie Andrews, Emalee Bush, Taylor Carrington, Zach Devore, Alexis Downs, Faith Doyle, Collin Edwards, David Franklin, Ashlyn Howell, Abbie Huff, Kirsten Hunt, Alexia Kenney, Nicole Morrill, Rachel Neal, Dewanna Norton, Kennedy Porter, Kendal Rosebrock, Kaylee Scott, Rebecca Slattery, Ashley Stefka, Crystal Thompson, Shaina Thompson, Marissa Walker and Alex Wallerstein.

Their first practice as a new team was held on Sunday, April 10, in the Pedagogy Gym. “I think UWF has potential to be a great team,” Webb said. “I hope to see the program grow because I know they have a great leader in Kathleen.”

“The new 2016-2017 UWF cheerleading team has incredible talent,” Scott said. “I know as a returning cheerleader, it makes me happy to see how far this cheer program has gone and how it continues to keep building. Kathleen as a coach and the new additions to the team are going to take UWF cheer to a whole other level. There is amazing potential throughout the team this year, so I am very excited. Go Argos!”