Category Archives: Specialized Journalism

Articles for COMS 404

New Competition in Town

After opening in late October, Bar 24 brings more options for students in downtown Radford. New options mean possible competition for current establishments.

“The way we look at competition is it’s a positive,” said Sharkey’s manager John Peacock.

Peacock believes that with one more bar downtown, it brings in more people. It also gives more reasons to stay downtown and bar hop.  With the recession having an impact on the area’s economy the established bars adapted their prices to better suit student’s budgets.

“To be honest the last six months has been a roller coaster,” said general manager of BT’s Ken Day.

Day blames the roller coaster of business due to the economy and that more students are graduating within four years, meaning less students of the legal age. Though it’s been a roller coaster, Day reported that business is dead on sales of last year, despite the new bar in town.

Regularly updating Facebook statuses, Riley’s, Sharkey’s and BT’s keep their costumers aware of all the deals and activities happening. Bar 24 has jumped on the bandwagon including advertising through Twitter and Highlander coupons. Manager Ermias Alemu says they plan on doing more promotions to bring in more people.

“We have a unique bar and have different menu items,” said Alemu.

Senior Lauren Kluge enjoys the downtown scene with friends. They usually will spend time at Sharkey’s and or BT’s on the weekend. Kluge said she has stopped into Bar 24 once after it opened.

“The drink specials are really good,” said Kluge.

With the turnover rate of businesses in Radford high, and the economy in a slump Peacock believes that having the bar and a hookah lounge was a smart move of owner Amare Alemu.



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Student’s Percentage of Voting was Low

Like many students at Radford University, junior Helen Williams didn’t vote in this past Tuesday’s election.  Many students were registered vote and said they voted in the 2008 Presidential Election but not this year.

This has raised the question as to why students aren’t voting, when they are the future.

“I just never got around to it,” said senior Lauren Kluge, “and I just don’t really follow it.”

According to the average amount of voters aged 18 to 29 was only 11 percent across the nation. The highest percentage of voters were ages 45 to 64 with 44 percent of them voting.

Kluge and Williams both say they aren’t interested in politics right now but will maybe follow it in the future.

In Radford City there are three places for voters to vote, none of the locations are on campus, making it difficult for students to escape their day of classes.

For students that are registered in their hometown could have filled out an Absentee Ballot the Tuesday before the election. Williams who is registered in her hometown said she didn’t feel like and didn’t even know who was running.

“I’m not political enough,” said Williams.

Inconvenience and it being a midterm election seemed to be the main reasons why students don’t vote. Williams and Kluge think that they will probably vote in the next presidential election.

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Financial Future for Radford

State funding will be cut one-third by the 2012 school year. On October 7, Vice President for Finance and Administration, Richard Alvarez and Interim Provost Joseph Scartelli, lead a meeting on the financial future for the university.

Alvarez explained that due to the loss in state funding the next two fiscal years will have a tight budget. Since 2008 there has been a 33.3 percent or 16.4 million dollars in budget cuts. The university has taken a couple measures to help with the budget, for example the 2010-2011 tuition went up by about 11 percent and 98.5 jobs were cut from the university.

“We would have been in a world of hurt if we didn’t split those dollars,” said Alvarez.

With a 15.1 percent increase on mandatory fees, the university still falls below average of the remaining state colleges in Virginia. As well as falling behind in comprehensive fees and room and board. Students are paying less than most Virginia state colleges but still paying more than the state money Radford receives.

The school admits to having trouble with budgeting due to the fact that taxes are so up and down, making it difficult to know how much funding they will receive year to year. Scartelli introduced the Strategic Plan 7-17. This is the plan for the next 10 years that President Kyle put into effect.

Scartelli outlined the plan, which will bring in more money for the graduate programs, retain students, increase student finical assistance, increase staff, and correct staff salary. The salary for the 146 faculty currently falls 10 percent under the percentile of peer universities.

“The first dollar is going to fill in the holes,” said Scartelli, answering the question that was proposed earlier in the meeting.

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RU Admissions Up

Students are cramped up in three person dorm rooms this year after admissions is up by 25 percent of last fall. With the school underestimating the freshman class by about 100 students they found themselves in a housing shortage.

“I think that increasing the number of students is a bad thing because I like Radford’s current size. The close-knit community is one of this school’s best assets and having too many more people here may ruin that.” freshman Eryn Bartholomew.

 Though the rise has become a pitfall from some students, the increase of admissions has had its perks. The freshman grade point average has risen to 3.22 whereas last year it was a 3.15. Not only has the incoming number of freshman gone up about 500 students, the amount of transfer students has also enlarged.

 Dean of Admissions, James Pinnix said, “It’s a great school to come to, and they need to be proud of that.”

 As the new Dean of Admissions, he plans to that to make that his goal, to let people know how good this school really is and to not be humble about it.

 Pinnix said the advising offices worked very closely with admission offices this summer to add more blocks to the scheduling. Therefore still giving the classroom sizes to which students and professors can build a relationship.

As for the situation that has most students noticing the new increase in admissions, Pinnix believes it’s being taken care of. About two-thirds of the students that had been tripled now are living in just double dorm rooms, but with over 200 students originally in a triple it will take time.

“I hate it all my stuff is still in its suitcases and I have no room to put my stuff,” said sophomore AJ Johnson

 Johnson signed up for on-campus living  late causing him to be tripled. He was told he would be moved after about three weeks, but after five he continues as is. Since Madison and Jefferson are still going under renovation and some of the on-campus apartments have been torn down for the new business building the school gave upperclassmen new options.

 Over the summer the school bought some of the Hunter’s Ridge Apartments and Calhoun Street Apartments  to give upperclassmen another option for on-campus living. Sophomore Ashley Nester wishes the email about that option was sent out sooner, so that more students could have used that option, rather than being tripled.

 With numbers up this year Pinnix believes that in three to five years we will continue to have incoming freshman class of about 1800 to 1850.  In the long run to hopfully increase our school size to about 10,000 students.

 “I think it’s a good because when we graduate in a few years I feel like the school will have a better rep,” junior Brett Moran.

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Goodbye WebCT, Hello Desire2Learn

After 10 years of using WebCT as the online learning system for faculty and students, Radford University will be switching over to Desire2Learn in summer 2011. The Contracts and Materials Management office is finalizing the paperwork with Desire2Learn.

When Blackboard bought out WebCT, they said they would continue to honor the license agreement with Radford. Former IT director, Krista Terry, received notification that a renewal would no longer be possible.

Desire2Learn was one of the options that Terry and new IT director, Charlie Cosmato, looked into.

“Students will love the fact that if they have a decent internet phone they will be able to access it,” said Cosmato.

As well as being able to access Desire2Learn from a cell phone, it will also be more advanced than WebCT. An electronic portfolio will now be available, as well as less glitches because it is updated with the time.

“The beginning of this semester has been a big challenge,” said Cosmato.

A major issue with WebCT is that they are not updating with technology. Everything else is advancing and WebCT is not, making it a pain to use. According to Cosmato Desire2Learn will be more user-friendly.

Once contracts are signed, faculty will be able to start training with the new program. In the spring they will have the choice to integrate it in the classroom. The university will officially switch over to Desire2Learn during 2011 summer session.

“I’m still getting used to WebCT so a new program would be kind of frustrating,” said sophomore Jillian Ruppert.

Ruppert, who uses WebCT about every day for her online dance class, is iffy about starting a new program. Senior Nick Giles says if the program is better, then he has no problem learning a new one. Cosmato says there will be tutorials available for students to use and reference so they can learn how to use it.

“It’s interesting because 10 years ago WebCT was purchased because professors believed it was the way of the future,” said Cosmato. When he first starting teaching tutorials about WebCT, he was teaching how to use it, now he is teaching how to avoid glitches.

Upgrading to Desire2Learn on campus should make turning in assignments quicker. Whereas with WebCT students have had click ‘ok’ and ‘submit’ multiple of times before turning anything in, so that should be fixed.

“Yea I don’t mind WebCT but I wouldn’t mind trying something else,” said Giles.

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Link to Portfolio Website

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