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Saturday, December 12, 2009


Per the Watauga Democrat: "Mike Steinback, chairman of the [Appalachian State University Board of Trustees'] business affairs committee cited the current economic climate and uncertain state funding levels as reasons for" ... For what? Wait for it ... for raising tuition and fees the maximum allowable amount in the 2010-2011 term.

This makes sense? "The current economic climate" is so dismal that ASU finds it advisable to raise tuition 6.5 percent on the very people suffering from that climate?

The tuition increase is nothing compared to the proposed gouging on fees: "The trustees also want to increase fees by $350 per year." Ouch.

This bizarre policy still has to pass the University system's Board of Governors, so maybe Jim Deal can offer some different perspective.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Conspicuous Consumption 

At least they've got their priorities very, very straight ... "luxury boxes," gourmet catering, the odor of privilege.

Meanwhile ... We doubt the budget cuts will hardly impact the availability of canapes nor the flow of alcohol.


Monday, August 17, 2009

That Morning Bloated Feeling 

A News & Observer analysis of University of North Carolina data reveals that, system-wide (which includes Appalachian State University), the ranks of administrators have grown by 28 percent. "That's faster than the growth of faculty and other teaching positions -- 24 percent -- and faster than student enrollment at 14 percent," writes the N&O.

Those new administrators -- Vice Chancellors in Charge of Sitting By the Door? -- earn inflated salaries at a time when the system is supposed to cut $73 million in line with the new budget passed by the General Assembly. The upper ranks would appear to offer many targets of opportunity: "The number of people with provost or chancellor in their titles alone has increased by 34 percent the past five years, from 312 in 2004 to 418 last year. The cost was $61.1 million, up $25 million from five years before."

We noticed the corporate management model taking hold at good ole ASU years ago and never much liked the trend. Perhaps Erskine Bowles' mandate to the institutions in the UNC system, to cut "senior and middle management positions" first, will do some good.

Or not.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

The New Wind Generator at ASU 

Went up on Friday. To get a sense of the scale, that's a man standing at the top of the tower.

Starting in 2004, the students at Appalachian State University have voted overwhelmingly to "tax" themselves $5 per student per semester to fund the Renewable Energy Initiative (REI), its mission "to reduce the environmental impact of Appalachian State University by replacing the university's existing sources of energy with cleaner forms of renewable energy...." Some 82% of students voting in 2004 supported the initiative. Last year 93% of students voted "yes!"

This wind generator is the latest installation on campus funded by that $5 assessment. Previous projects have included biodiesel/solar/photovoltaic projects, with more to come. This generator will produce an estimated 150,000 - 200,000 kilowatt hours annually, enough to power 10-15 homes. (Lots of technical background info at this REI page, including some very cool simulated movies of how the generator will look to a person driving up Rivers Street and a 360-degree fly-around of the site behind the Broyhill Inn.)

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Buzz in Boone 

None of the local high-fiving about the rehiring of Buzz Peterson as ASU's basketball coach has a peep about what was rumored on April 16 in the Charlotte Observer: "The source said Peterson had been strongly interested in the Appalachian position, but logistics of the move to Boone would be difficult for him, including disposing of his Charlotte-area home in a poor real estate market. Appalachian State is planning to return with a sweetened offer that might include help with disposing of Peterson's home."

That is, buying Peterson's home for $1 million plus? (Some are saying $1.5 mil; others, $1.2 mil.)

Apparently, with Big Banking executives fleeing the Queen City as fast as they can buy bus tickets, million-dollar mansions are just not that easy to unload. Except to regional universities with a Big Sports fetish.

Spokespeople for ASU have been quite vocal in claiming that Peterson's salary will actually be less than former coach Moore's, but that looks like a new species of buffalo dust, since none of this accounting has much to do with perks and "deal sweeteners" and house buyouts.

Ironically, on the same day that this news bubbled up, Chancellor Peacock was writing to retired faculty and staff, telling them that the annual luncheon honoring their years of faithful service has been canceled ... in the interest of budgetary prudence.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pauleroids Live! 

Intercepted e-mail, from the Ron Paul remnant on the ASU Campus (and all hail, student action!):
From: appliberty
Date: Sun, Mar 22, 2009 at 7:48 PM
Subject: Action Item

Hello members of political action clubs,

This is an announcement of an event taking place on April 15th, 2009 (Tax Day). Various people with differing opinions have at least one thing in common: they don't like the direction our country is going in. Whether it is the bailouts, the ballooning national debt, the dollar crisis, the encroachment of the federal government on individual liberties, the failure to hold the Bush and Obama administrations accountable, increasing taxes, the deployment of troops on American soil, or the failure of our government to represent the people's interests, we can all agree that there are huge problems with our nation's current trajectory.

So "We the People" have an option to legally and effectively make our voices heard. We will do this by striking at the real power structure of the current system, economic dominance by fiat money, financiers, and the wage system.

Here is the plan. On April 15th, all participants will do at least one (hopefully all) of the following:

1) Refuse to go to work.

2) Refuse to go to class.

3) Do not buy anything.

4) Withdraw all your money from the bank and keep it withdrawn for a couple of days.

5) Send a tea bag to your representatives in government, from the highest to the lowest. They will get the message.

6) Wear a white armband or wristband on you right arm to show that you are participating.

Two thousand years ago, a Roman Senator suggested that all slaves wear white armbands to better identify them. "No," said a wiser Senator, "if they see how many of them there are, they may revolt."

Members of our club will be participating, and it would be great to see people from all different political and social backgrounds coming together, despite their differences, to bring the message to the government that "We the People" are not happy and that the ultimate power over the course of our nation belongs to us.

--The ASU Campaign for Liberty

I'm down with taking it to the streets. If we can agree on who's responsible for this fine kettle of fish. The ASU Campaign for Liberty uses a curious choice of words to describe "the enemy" in the memo above -- "fiat money, financiers, and the wage system." Well now, I'm totally ready to burn those guys at the stake!

Fiat money. I don't think they're talking about a certain Italian automobile company, but who they mean, we dunno.

Whoever they mean by "fiat money" specficially, they're talking against Obama generally, because he's not Ron Paul, and therefore he's the proximate cause of everything that's just wrong. Sorry, but I can't go there. The ASU Campaign for Liberty doesn't like the president, and I do, although I care a good deal less for the Wall Street dudes the president's hired to advise him. Getting him unstuck from those particular men-in-suits may be difficult, though protests like this might help. Who knows? Might not, too. Because this particular call to arms seems a trifle ... blunt-edged, if you know what I mean. "Burn the whole place down" has never much appealed to me as a tactic, even back in the 1960s when, indeed, they were burning the whole place down. Didn't much work then, either.

The line that might give the ASU Young Republicans some pause, prior to buying in to this protest against Obama: "the failure to hold the Bush and Obama administrations accountable." "Bush and Obama"? That's a lopsided formulation if there ever was one, since Bush had eight years to be held accountable for, and Obama, a few weeks, but the ASU Liberty Fighters have balanced the two presidents as pure equals in evil in that particular sentence. And that's a problem, dudes, if you're really looking for bipartisan involvement in your protest.

First you slap a Republican ("prosecute Bush"), and then you hug a Republican with that mention of sending a tea bag to our public officials. That tea bag gesture is a pure piece of grand larceny from the conservative Republican playbook. The only federal Rep. we have is Virginia Foxx, and she's not going to like getting a bunch of tea bags.

There's just one other phrase in the call to action that has me a little concerned: "the deployment of troops on American soil." Uh, where? Are we talking Green Beret assault on the Ron Paul compound in Texas, or just some National Guard action in the flood zone in South Dakota? That's a phrase that can't just be allowed to slip by unquestioned.

Whatever. Have a productive Tax Day, and we hope your employers are liberals.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Furloughs Coming to ASU? 

UNC President Erskine Bowles says he's going to ask for authority to furlough university employees in response to cuts in state appropriations. The Chancellor of NC State jumped in and said that "faculty leaders" at his institution are willing to volunteer for unpaid furloughs in order to save support staff jobs. Mighty nice of 'em.

Hard times comin' for the North Carolina higher education workforce ... as for everyone else.

Meanwhile, Virginia Foxx and the Mummy Party say (a) the American economy can still basically take care of itself and (b) it's all the Democrats' fault.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Charges Dropped Against the ASU Six 

Last April six Appalachian State University students (actually, five students and one non-student) were arrested during a sit-in in the administration building over the university's policies regarding licensed rah-rah clothing made in third-world sweatshops. Background here.

A few days later five UNC students were arrested at a sit-in in the chancellor's office in Chapel Hill over the same issue.

Both ASU and UNC administrations pressed charges. In August, the five UNC students were convicted of trespass. But we have received word from one of the students involved that Appalachian State has now dropped charges against the ASU Six.

More, as we learn it.

In the meantime, here is additional background on the ASU Six. And here.

It was the judge who dropped the charges against the ASU Six, apparently on the grounds that the arresting officer has been deployed to Iraq.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008


Ridiculous racists across the South apparently feel that the Obama victory on November 4 was their call to expose their ridiculousness to a national audience. The Charlotte Observer has a story up this a.m. about nasty outbreaks of racist opinion, including one at N.C. State University, but no mention of similar expressions reported at Appalachian State University. Democracy Now of the High Country has that story.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Republican Welcome Wagon: ASU Students & Teachers are "Alien," "Nuts," "Carpet-Baggers," "Not Welcome Here" 

The regular Republican bloggers at are resurrecting some juicy rhetoric that we had thought belonged only to defeated Republican county commissioners of Times Past -- and to Sarah Palin -- that there's a true American part of Watauga County and an un-American part of Watauga County, namely university people. These posts below are not by anonymous anybodys but by the anonymous SOMEBODYS who manage the site and represent the thinking of the local Republican Party:
They [Wataugans who carried the county for Obama] are known as carpet baggers not the smart people. They are aliens. (comment thread)

This area of the country, with the exception of the outsiders at the University, is rock solid conservative. (comment thread)

Love the outsiders line about the university - they are, and they are nuts. I am sick and tired of "outsiders" trying to take over Watauga County. "They" are not welcome here. (same as above)

Jeez, guys. Turning on the charm this way is likely to reverse that Democratic tide and sweep in your next team of university-haters!

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Dewey Estes and the Real Woman 

EAST FERGUSON, N.C. (AP) – The cancellation of an expected Sarah Palin campaign rally on the campus of Appalachian State University has left a Caldwell County Republican not only bitterly disappointed but also holding an expensive bag.

When news that Palin might come to the ASU campus tomorrow for a massive campaign rally leaked out from secret contacts between the McCain campaign and the ASU Student Government Association, Caldwell County gun dealer and Republican precinct chair Dewey Estes got busy organizing a special demonstration of affection for Palin that he hoped would involve scores of Palin enthusiasts and also attract national media attention.

In anticipation of the rally, Estes purchased 12 gross (144) inflatable female sex dolls, all with lots of brunette hair, and was planning to hand these out at the Palin rally to men to wave from the crowd. “We thought it would be a real tribute to a real woman. We just wanted to show the world how we felt about our Sarah,” Estes said.

“Hell, I would have even volunteered to blow them all up,” Estes said.

Estes was also planning to add extra real lipstick to each inflatable doll. But then the bottom dropped out of his plan: the McCain campaign discovered that ASU students would be leaving on Wednesday for Fall Break, so the rally was canceled.

Estes’ frustration at not being able to present a colorful tribute to Palin is nothing compared to his frustration at being stuck with 144 inflatable sex dolls. “Make that 143,” said Estes. “I ruined one of them with an acetylene torch. My bad. The others are still in their boxes. Maybe I’ll have a yard sale and donate the money to the Palin campaign.”

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Now That the Voting’s Over... 

The Watauga County Board of Elections was loudly criticized for scheduling the liquor-by-the-drink vote yesterday. They were accused of conspiring to deprive Appalachian State University students of their rights, because the BOE set the date of the liquor election "a full week before classes resume at Appalachian." David Mofford, the president of the ASU Student Government Association (who is incidentally registered to vote in Catawba County), was particularly colorful: " not allow students their right to vote is nothing short of a deprivation of democracy."

Whoa, dude. The BOE acted according to the law. How did it "not allow students their right to vote"? When an ASU student registers to vote in Watauga County, that student is declaring Watauga County his/her legal residence for voting purposes, and it's that voter's responsibility to deal with any inconveniences attendant on a special election date. There are a couple of legal remedies: request an absentee ballot, take advantage of more than two weeks of early voting, or make sure you're "home" on election day. The rest of us registered voters take care of these details, rescheduling vacations, writing in for an absentee ballot, setting the alarm clock.

In other words, grow up.

For students to yell "deprivation of democracy" because they've, uh, "gone home" for the summer waves a red flag about where "home" really is and furthermore sounds like whining, because it is whining, and gives aid and comfort to those people who don't want students voting at all. The Supreme Court settled the issue of where students may declare residence for purposes of voting, though the local Republican Party has a permanent case of indigestion over it. Students crying over the "inconvenience" of a special election date gives ammunition to those who really would disenfranchise you, especially in a year when Barack Obama is running.

Having said that, the people pushing for liquor by the drink were not at all confident in the outcome yesterday, which is why they too criticized the BOE for the chosen date of the election. They thought they might need the student vote. The BOE actually did them a favor, since with the referendum passing easily – and without major student involvement – their victory is much less open to the carping and backbiting that would have followed a student-fueled voter turn-out. If you catch my drift.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

What the Boone Area Planning Commission Ought to Say 

To Appalachian State University, seeking another rezoning so it can build a development that will impact another residential area of the town of Boone...

The planning commissioners ought to say:

Sorry, but we won't be rezoning any more properties until there's a town-gown master plan, a master plan which ASU promised it would work on in cooperation with the town.

Instead of a master plan that both town and university can agree on and adhere to we get more ad hoc, spur of the moment demands for major changes that catch neighborhoods off-guard and create situations that clearly benefit one party only.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Local Filmmaker Memorializes Bush's War 

Matthew Robinson, a professor of political science and criminal justice at Appalachian State University, has produced a fairly astounding and patient accounting of the run-up to the Iraq War that's now posted on YouTube. Because of its length (just under 20 mnutes), it's broken into three parts. The first two are highly detailed memory joggers about what we were and were not told by the Bush administration as it sold us on preemptive war. The third section doses on the outcome of that salesmanship ... images from that war set to music by the Dave Matthews Band ("The Last Stop" and "Don't Drink the Water"). While the first two sections are dispassionate pieces of history, the third unleashes an emotional reaction to the blood that's on our hands.

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Sunday, May 04, 2008

ASU and an Ex-President 

Faculty members at Appalachian State University, and some astute students too, were asking questions last week that are both pertinent and ... no surprise here ... unanswered by the ASU administration. As we have learned over many months now, the current leaders of that institution are not in the habit of stooping to answer questions from mere mortals.

1. The visit of ex-President Bill Clinton to the ASU campus last week went unacknowledged on the ASU website and unannounced on the general-alert e-mail system.

2. A large and offensive photographic display, featuring billboard-size blowups of aborted fetuses, attempting to equate abortion with genocide was announced (and some say promoted) through the ASU e-mail server to all subscribers.

3. When some asked administration officials about this puzzling disparity, the only official response we've seen said it would be inappropriate for the university to use the e-mail system to "promote a political candidate." Apparently, an announcement that an ex-President of the United States would be visiting campus would constitute promotion of a political candidate, while promotion of an anti-abortion display would not be a political statement. Well, okay then.

4. What do you call an institution that couldn't find its ass with both hands and a head-start?

5. Graduating editor of The Appalachian newspaper, Clair Baxter, perhaps feeling finally beyond the range of institutional recrimination, was courageous enough to ask some highly pertinent questions and, wisely, did not tarry for answers:
A club can sponsor a potentially offensive “Genocide Awareness” group to come fill the center of campus with billboards of unborn children while our faculty members are being asked to remove books and posters from their office walls for fear they may offend one student somewhere down the road.

Is there a double standard here?

Do we believe in free speech or not?

I think as a university we need to do some self-reflection.

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