Monday, November 29, 2010

USC Students Learn to Balance Academics and Extracurriculars

Chelsea Corriveau, a junior, business management major at the University of South Carolina, has learned to utilize her time management skills in order to succeed both in and outside of the classroom. In addition to a 15-credit course load, Corriveau is involved in a laundry list of extracurricular activities. She is a member of the executive board for University Ambassadors, on social committee for Phi Mu Sorority, along with being involved in intramural sports and volunteering as a Special Olympics coach. Of all her extra curriculars, however, her most time consuming is being an active member, social chair and concert chair for the Cocktails, the university’s first and only all female a cappella group.

During a regularly scheduled week, Chelsea practices with the Cocktails for two hours, two nights a week and performs weekly concerts. “It’s a really big time commitment,” said Corriveau, “I feel like I work on it as much as I do my school work.” In addition to the weekly responsibilities associated with the Cocktails, Chelsea’s schedule has the potential to get even busier. Recently, for example, the Cocktails were 1 of 6 schools chosen out of fifty to compete in the Soja A Capella Festival, the biggest a capella festival in the Southeast. Preparation for the festival required the girls to attend rigorous daily 2-hour rehearsals.

With the amount of time these extracurriculars require, Corriveau finds herself having to make sacrifices in order to fit it all in. She admits it is sometimes unavoidable for these activities to cut into study time, causing her to cram for tests last minute, and not score as highly as she knows she would have if she gave her full attention to the material. In addition, Corriveau finds her busy schedule cuts into her social life as well. “I don’t get to spend as much time with my friends or roommates as I want to, because if I have free time it’s usually spent working on my Cocktails music or catching up on schoolwork.” Although Chelsea is faced with the challenge of juggling multiple activities, she is certainly not the only student at USC who must make these sacrifices.

With a diverse and abundant array of student organizations offered at the University of South Carolina, it is quite common for USC students to be involved in activities outside of the classroom. There are over 300 registered student organizations offered to student life. The Student Organizations website states, “Students on Carolina’s campus have created groups with interests in everything from the appreciation of techno music to playing winter sports, from politics to dance, and from foreign language to community service.” Considering the large number of students involved in these organizations, each program offers tools to help students like Chelsea manage their time in order to get the most out of the programs offered while still succeeding academically.

Each student organization is required to have an advisor through the Department of Student Life who is selected from full-time faculty or administrative staff members. Each advisor’s goal is to encourage positive interaction between teaching/administrative staff and students involved in student organizations. Advisors are instructed to engage in periodic discussions with student leaders about their expectations of the advisory relationship. Both the advisors and leaders/officers are asked to set expectations ahead of time about the level of advisor-involvement in the student organization as well as their preferred methods of communication between students and staff. It is the advisors’ hope that by encouraging communication between students and staff they will not only prevent miscommunication, but also keep members of the organization engaged.

Through her personal experience, Chelsea Corriveau has utilized tools such as these, along with the guidance of older Cocktails members, to learn how to juggle her responsibilities. She admits the reason she is willing to take on the responsibility of so many activities is because she actually enjoys the rush of her demanding schedule. “I’m the type of person who needs to be busy in order to feel balanced. I get different satisfactions from all the different things I do. I play intramural sports to satisfy my competitive side. I volunteer at the visitor’s center because I love to interact with people and to come home at the end of the day knowing I helped someone.”

Corriveau did not choose to participate in Cocktails solely to occupy spare time, however. Like many of her peers in student organizations, she chose the program to pursue a passion of hers she has been interested in her entire life. Growing up, she was involved with music-oriented activities, and planned to pursue it at a collegiate level. “I love to sing and I wanted to major in something having to do with musical theatre but they didn’t have a program for that here. I was in chamber choir and musical theatre my whole life-it is my favorite happy thing to do. Through Cocktails I am able to pursue my passion everyday and I know I wouldn’t be as happy without it.”

Though her schedule is hectic, Chelsea Corriveau is one of many students at USC who has successfully achieved a balance between academic responsibilities and extracurricular and social activities. Through student organizations such as Cocktails, she is able to continue pursuing passions in college she could not have otherwise and is confident she will be able to act as a role model for future students who aspire to do the same.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

SLED's Shift in Focus from Student Safety to Busting Underage Drinkers

Kayla Gasbarro


The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, most recognizable to USC students when referred to as “SLED”, works alongside USC Campus Police and Columbia City Police to help keep Five Points and the surrounding areas of Columbia safe. Their objective is defined on their website, stating, “The primary mission of the State Law Enforcement Division is to provide quality manpower and technical assistance to law enforcement agencies and to conduct investigations on behalf of the state as directed by the Governor and Attorney General.” SLED is composed of a number of divisions, a few of which being Alcohol Enforcement, Homeland Security Office, Private Investigations, Sex Offender Registry and Counter Terrorism. The division also features an Amber Alert section, which explains how the South Carolina Amber Alert works, where it originated, and how it plays a role in the community to help prevent abductions and locate missing children. This section contains Amber Alert forms, where you can report a child who has gone missing in the state of South Carolina. It also offers abduction and kidnapping prevention tips for parents. Their website also includes a “news and press” section that features major news stories that SLED has played a role in, from undercover investigations to community service projects to numerous arrests.

With all the good SLED is doing for the community, it was surprising to discover most USC students only associate the law enforcement division with one thing: busting underage drinkers. There is no doubting that underage drinking is a renowned past time for college students and prevalent among students at USC. On the busiest night of the week, Thirsty Thursday, the streets of Five Points are flooded with hundreds of students eager to take advantage of dollar beer and liquor specials at bars such as Village Idiot, Pour House, Dr. Rocco’s and Parrot Heads. It is common among these individuals to use fake-IDs to get into bars, and until recently, they had been getting away with it.

SLED officers have been cracking down on underage drinking and making their presence more prominent in Five Points. SLED has been known to utilize methods such as bar raids and undercover operations, where young officers dress as USC students and approach under-agers at bars. A sophomore student who prefers to remain anonymous considering the nature of her situation, recalled her experience with an undercover SLED officer at Parrot Heads in Five Points,

“A normal-looking guy dressed like everyone else approached me while I was sitting at the bar and asked if I wanted a drink. As soon as I agreed, he asked me for identification. I thought he was joking, so I handed him my sister’s ID I had used to get into the bar. He then told me he was a police officer and that I had to come outside with him. The next thing I knew I was being cuffed and thrown in the back of a police car.”

She spent the night in Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center and was charged with various misdemeanors for underage drinking and possessing a fake ID.

Although underage drinking is unlawful, students are beginning to question whether undercover task forces such as these are taking it too far, especially considering the recently escalated crime rate in Five Points. The general consensus among USC students is that they do not feel safe downtown despite the abundance of police officers on duty every night.

Haley Parler, a junior electronic journalism student at USC expresses her concerns about student safety in Five Points, and the precautions she has taken since her most recent personal experience downtown.

“I don’t feel safe there. The only time I went to Five Points this year was after the UGA game and someone got shot. I’ve noticed after a certain time Five Points seems to get ridden with more and more of these people in gangs, trying to corner you and talk to you as you are walking.”

She discussed the issue further, elaborating on SLED’s reputation around campus, saying,

“I think many students at USC see SLED as the enemy who is trying to bust them, hand out tickets and take away their IDs. If SLED were to relax on the underage drinking and focus more on keeping students safe we would probably have a more favorable representation of them.”

Peter Boland, a fourth-year economics major offers another perspective on the situation, because he deals with it nightly. Peter works as a bouncer four nights a week at Pour House, one of the most popular bars in Five Points. When asked if through his nightly observations of the crowd in Five Points he thought it was a safe place for students, he raised an eyebrow, laughed as if the question was intended to be sarcastic and knowingly replied, “No, not safe at all.”

He expressed his opinion on SLED, saying they don’t seem to care about students getting from bar to bar safely, only about giving people tickets for drinking. Although he does not feel personally threatened by the criminal activity in Five Points, he agrees with the student consensus stating,

“I could see why everyone feels unsafe here with all the gang activity and shootings that happen, especially on the weekends. The cops don’t seem to care. People sit around the fountain bother students by yelling obscene things as they walk by. The cops don’t say anything to them even though they could easily ticket them for loitering, at least to get them to leave people alone.”

Overall, the student perception of SLED seems to be unfavorable even with all the good they are doing among the community. When asked what students thought would change their perception of SLED, the general feeling was that they wanted to see undercover officers change out of their disguises and pursue the criminal activity that is jeopardizing students’ safety.

Boland commented on this point stating,

“They should focus more on what is going on outside the bars than inside them, and not just target the students, because they usually aren’t the ones causing all the trouble.”

Jennifer Marsh, a third grade teacher and graduate of Duquesne University in Pennsylvania, recalled her memories from college. She remembers 25 years ago when she would use a fake ID she made herself to get into bars in downtown Pittsburgh. She says police were not nearly as worried about underage drinking as they are now, stating,

“The most they would do is if you were falling down drunk, they would give you a ride home to make sure you got back safely. If you gave them a hard time they would call your parents and have them deal with it, then drop you off at your dorm and go out to deal with the real criminals out there. I don’t think it is a serious enough issue for kids to be getting thrown in over-populated city jails for. It’s like they have shifted their focus from making sure kids are safe when they are on their own and away at college, to how much money they can rack up in fines any given night.”

It is safe to say the popular past time of college students will remain despite SLED’s efforts. The students would prefer to see SLED concentrate on the crime that is already so prevalent in Five Points and punish those who are intentionally and directly threatening the safety of students, rather than distributing fines and misdemeanors to unsuspecting under-agers.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

"Cherish your solitude.

Take trains by yourself to places you have never been.

Sleep alone under the stars.

Learn how to drive a stick shift.

Go so far away that you stop being afraid of not coming back.

Say no whenever you don't want to do something.

Say yes if your instincts are strong,

even if everyone around you disagrees.

Decide whether you want to be liked or admired.

Decide if fitting in is more important than finding out what you're doing here."

-Eve Ensler

Sembra una cartolina...