Thursday, March 31, 2011

Orange is Going Green... or is it?

These days everyone is "Going Green." It looks great in the media. The problem is, when you get down to it, many companies that claim they are "going green" are only doing it for the sake of money. They don't want to do it because it's the right thing to do. And better yet, some institutions that claim they are going green actually are not going green.

At UT, you see fliers and displays everywhere that claim how UT is going green, but then they say things like "Be sure to turn off your lights!" etc, etc. This is not UT going green. This is UT's students going green. UT is just taking all the credit for the student's work.

It's nice that UT offers things like recycling all around campus, and it's nice they are reminding students to be green, but how can you honestly say that you're going green when you do irresponsible things like leaving giant spot lights on Ayres Hall all night, every night? I wonder how much electricity it wastes by leaving those spot lights on. Yes, yes, I understand that you want your building to look pretty, but if you're going to be so apathetic to those lights, then don't you dare try to steal credit away from your students by saying you're the ones going green. We're the ones doing it.

A few weeks ago, my friend and I snuck into a building after hours and turned off all the lights we could find (since they were all on). We probably saved the university a good deal of money that night. Imagine if we did that every night. Then imagine if we did that in every building, every night. We would save UT quite a bit of money. Why is this not already being done? At the very least, why are the lights not on timers?

Also, where are we supposed to be seeing all these savings? If UT is saving money by being green, then how come the Computer Science building still isn't finished because of a budget deficit? It was supposed to be finished over a year ago. And how come tuition is still going up every year? Sure, UT goes green... They take all of our green money. This is is just another case of UT not caring about their students and hoping no one will notice, and I'm just about fed up with it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Crumbling buildings

Over the past few weeks, a regularly traveled path by some was blocked off by orange construction fencing. Most of us didn't really know what it was they were doing, so we figured they were doing some work on the sidewalk like they've been doing all around campus for the past few years. However, upon returning from spring break, we found that the temporary fencing had been replaced by a more permanent, bolted down, chain-link fence with a sign that read "Danger. Keep out."

Yesterday, I was informed that some loose bricks had fallen off of the dorm building nearby, and thereby created a hazardous walking area. I'd like to know what genius contracted the construction of this building and/or who was designated to maintain the integrity of it. This sort of thing is really unacceptable. Someone could have died or been seriously injured had they been in the path of the falling bricks. To add to this, bricks also fell off the building in another place. Moreover, I'd like to know what else is wrong with this dorm. If I were a resident of that dorm (one of the largest dorms on campus), I'd demand relocation, because I fear for my safety due to the apparent lack of structural integrity of the building.

That is all for now.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Housing Screw-up

This past week was time for all of the students to register for housing if necessary. After living in an "old-fashioned" dorm for the past 2 years, my room mates and I decided that we wanted to upgrade to an apartment style residence hall. I can't speak for them, but my main reasoning for this was not only because of the increase in personal space, but also because we would have a kitchen! We all can't wait to be able to cook for ourselves since the meal plan at UT is a complete scam, but that's a story for another post.

Anyways, here is where the road became significantly less paved for us. Registration for housing is a process that takes place entirely online. We were not well informed of our registration window, so we just had to infer from the vague time slots that were posted on the horribly designed UT website (also a topic for another post). First of all, to have a set window for registration completely defeats the purpose of having an online registration system; unless, of course, the windows are used to give priority to the upper classmen... Well, they aren't.

We had been attempting to choose our room well before what we had determined our time slot to be, in case the system decided to be nice to us, but it hadn't been showing us the link. We logically assumed it was because we were not yet in our time slot. So we continued to wait on into the next day.

We had narrowed down our potential time slots the day before and formulated a plan to sign up the next morning. My room mate was supposed to wake up 15 minutes before the first time slot opened up and try to sign up. If he could get in, he'd wake me up, I'd sign up, and then I'd go back to sleep in anticipation of my impending midterm. However, this didn't happen. As the system denied him every time he tried for several hours, it was clear that there was no success to be had.

Our friend who had been able to register came over and logged into his account so that we may view the availability of the hall we wanted. Upon inspection, my room mates found out that there were only 6 rooms available, and they each only had room for one person. After receiving this news, I was promptly woken up by my room mates. I was a little pissed at first that they woke me up, but then that was overshadowed by the fact that there were no rooms available.

Now that I was awake, we began to look for off campus apartments and houses to rent. This is something that I didn't want to do, but our only other option was to live in a regular dorm again, which was NOT going to happen. We looked at several different places. It wasn't looking good.

As one of the last time slots came about, we tried to register one last time, but it still wouldn't let us pick a room. I was pretty fed up with their system at this point, so I phoned the housing office to try to see what it was that was preventing us. I explained to the lady that it wasn't presenting us with the "Choose your room" link, so she looked up my records. She informed me that, contrary to our prior beliefs, we were actually allowed to sign up the day before. That gave me a chuckle, albeit a slightly annoyed one. "Why is it that we were allowed to sign up yesterday, yet it didn't allow us to then, and it still isn't allowing us to now?" I asked her. She obviously flat-out didn't know, because she said she would have to look up more records and such and call me back.

Around 45 minutes later, I received a phone call from the housing office. It was a different person this time. This lady told me that she thought she knew what the problem was. She said that it was because I was trying to sign up for a room with 3 room mates, but it wasn't letting me because there wasn't that much space available in a single room in that building. She told me, "Just go ahead and sign up for a backup dorm, and then sign up for a waiting list for Andy Holt, [the dorm we were interested in]." Somebody obviously didn't pass along the correct message. I said in response, "No, you don't understand. We can't sign up for any room at all. The option is nonexistant for us." She said she would have to call me back.

Again, around 45 minutes later, I got another call. This time it was from a man. He gave us 3 options. He named 3 different dorms that he could put us all in, none of which were the one we were trying to get into. Mind you, we still could not sign up for a room at this point. I told him we did not want those dorms. We wanted Andy Holt and we still could not sign up. So, the man told me that he would make us an appointment with the housing director, Timothy Johnson. I told him what my schedule was like, and it was set.

I then proceeded to go take my midterm, which I likely failed from the stress of this whole housing situation.
After the midterm was finished, my room mates and I went over and met with Mr. Johnson in the student services building. We talked for a little while, and he asked us questions pertaining to the situation to try to figure out what was going wrong. He came to the conclusion that this whole thing was 50% our fault and 50% their fault. It was completely untrue, but I nodded and agreed since he was the only person who could help us at this point.

Mr. Johnson was able to find a room in the apartments that only had one person registered for it and another room that had three people registered. Since they are four person rooms, that single was going to have to find three other room mates. Mr. Johnson said that he might be able to contact the single and convince him to move in with the three other guys so that we could have a room. He said he would have to work on it later, though; so we were left in suspense, waiting for a phone call.

It got to be semi-late (for business calls anyways), and I began to wonder whether they were even going to call like they said they were. But, sure enough, I received a phone call. My fingers crossed, I answered and was met with good news. The man on the other end of the phone told me that they were able to secure us a room on the second to top floor. We were all thrilled to hear that we got a room, but we're all a little annoyed that it's so high up in the building.

So, kudos to Timothy Johnson for being the only person in the housing department that I talked to that was able to do their job and while doing it well. If it hadn't been for him, UT's horrible housing system would've given us the "Big Orange Screw" just like so many other things have.

As a side note, my posts on this blog probably won't usually be this long, but I felt that it was necessary to give a proper story on this.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Welcome to the Blog

This blog will encompass all of my bitching about the University of Tennessee and other general Tennessee and university issues. Expect at least 2-3 blog posts per week. Trust me, if you don't already know, UT has plenty of things to bitch about.