April 30, 2007

SUNY Cortland shows support —

Students send comforting message to Virginia Tech


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Organizer D.J. Holton, left, coordinates a living Virginia Tech memorial via cell phone Saturday at SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex. Fellow student organizer Josh Merlob, right, lost a friend when Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people on the Virginia Tech campus April 16.

Staff Reporter

CORTLAND — Nearly 200 SUNY Cortland students had one brief message for the students of Virginia Tech on Sunday.
“SUNY Cortland supports Virginia Tech!” the red- and white-clad group shouted from the bleachers of the Auxiliary Field grandstand at the sports stadium while forming a giant “VT.”
D.J. Holton, 21, a junior business economics major at SUNY Cortland, came up with the idea. He said he wanted to do something simple to show support after gunman Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people on the Virginia Tech campus April 16 before killing himself. Holton organized the effort in part because his roommate, Josh Merlob, 19, lost a friend in the shooting.
“She was such a good person and she wanted to make a difference,” Merlob said of high school classmate Caitlin Millar Hammaren.
Hammaren, 19, of Westtown, Orange County, was among 30 people Cho shot and killed in Norris Hall. Merlob said he knew Hammaren in high school and he wanted to do something in her memory and the memory of the other students who were gunned down.
Once Sunday’s group — mostly made up of students with a few faculty members present — was in place in the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex stands, Holton made a brief speech into the camera before a student cameraman panned off him and to the students, who then shouted their message.
“Not too long after 9/11, President Bush said we need to stand together,” Holton said into the camera, explaining that SUNY Cortland students want to show their unity with Virginia Tech.
Theresa Hoyle, a Virginia Tech spokeswoman, said Friday that as far as she knew, the college had not received a video with students forming a VT from another college.
She said there are possibly thousands of gifts from other colleges spread out in buildings across the campus and that Virginia Tech officials have not determined how many gifts the college has received, she said.
SUNY Cortland Student Government Association President Katie Boyes, who helped organize the effort, said she hoped for a little larger turnout at Sunday’s event but was happy with the show of support.
“Overall it’s great to see everyone came out,” said Boyes, 21, a sports management major.
She and Holton said they chose to use the human VT display at the stadium because of the visual impact it would have, and because “Cortland” is painted on the wall just above the bleachers where the students were standing.
“I wish more people would have showed up,” said Jennifer Garcia, 21, who was seated at the bottom of the V with her friends Christen Cruger, 20, and Recel Bregaudit, 21.
“I’d want people to do the same for us,” Cruger added.
Holton and Boyes said they are going to upload the video to and will send a copy of the video, a book signed by all the students and faculty who attended, and a plaque from the school directly to Virginia Tech.
Staff reporter Christine Laubenstein contributed to this article.


College revises code of conduct

Staff Reporter

The SUNY Cortland College Council passed a revised Code of Student Conduct Friday afternoon after eliminating a reference to knives as dangerous objects and amending the definition of hazing.
“We are constantly trying to improve our Code of Student Conduct,” Nanette Pasquarello, director of judicial affairs, said before presenting the suggested changes to the document, which is reviewed annually.
One of those changes, the addition of knives in the list of dangerous weapons, drew some questions. Pasquarello said a student suggested listing knives in the policy rather than leaving the terminology vague with the phrase “other weapons.”
Hence the policy will not change from its current reading under the category “Dangerous Objects,” which specifies “illegal or unauthorized possession of any firearms, explosives, other weapons or dangerous chemicals” as dangerous weapons.
Walter Farnholtz, a council member, said the policy should include a blade size if it specifically bans knives. Kimberly Potter Ireland, a council member, said she carries a lady’s pocketknife.
Karla Awles, who will chair the Faculty Senate next year and was introduced to the council during the meeting, said the suggested policy change says “any knife.”
Pasquarello said the “spirit” of the code is any knife that could be used as a weapon.
Ireland said knives did fall in the category of other weapons so eliminating knives from the description of dangerous weapons would not eliminate them from the list.
The other change was made to the hazing section, changing “may” to “can” so the sentence reads: “Hazing can occur regardless of the participant’s willingness to participate.”
Council Chair Dorothea “Dottie” Fowler suggested the change. That section was also revised to include that hazing constitutes any activity that “humiliates, degrades, abuses” in addition to activities that endangers mental, emotional or physical health, which was already in the policy. Pasquarello said this was added to clarify hazing after several minor hazing cases were handled during the fall 2006 semester.


Boaters take to the water in annual race

Staff Reporter

Dan Leonard and Joel White absorbed the first-place cheers with their oars held over their heads in victory late Sunday morning at the 36th Annual YMCA Cortland Canoe Classic.
Although the two teens finished the race first, what most of the cheering onlookers did not know is that Leonard and White were not part of the official competition.
The two broke teenagers, both seniors at Cortland High, had an hour head start and didn’t pay the entry fee.
“It was 20 bucks a pop,” Leonard laughed, explaining that neither him nor his friend had a job.
“It was the first time we had every really been in a canoe,” White added.
The teens said it took them a little less than an unofficial three hours to finish the 15-mile race, which began in Truxton and ended in Cortland at Yaman Park.
Both teens said they enjoyed the day and that next year they hope to be among the paying, official competitors.
“Yeah, definitely, we had a great time,” White said. “We did better than we expected to.”
The official winners of this year’s race Matt Belknap, 37, of Cortland, and Andrew Melnychenko, 44, of Ithaca finished the race in 1 hour 35 minutes. The two were entered in the category of two-person amateur men under 50, in which they logged the fastest time of the day overall. The also won the race last year in the same category.
“It was a little squirrelly water this year,” Melnychinko said. “I did a bad job steering.”
Both men said they were not feeling their best. Belknap said he was a little sick and Melnychenko said the hamster of Belknap’s daughter kept him up the night before.
One of the event organizers, David Loparco, said the conditions were great for the race.
“The water level was perfect,” he said. “It gave the racers a lot of choices. Almost all the races were pleased.”


East End resident proposes kiosks to connect businesses, buyers

Staff Reporter

East End resident Jim French had begun thinking about a way to connect businesses in his neighborhood to potential customers and to each other, and he decided that a kiosk with flyers, business cards, and menus would be a good way to get the word out.
“Initially, I wanted to do it in just the East End, but then I looked at it and said, ‘That’s not going to work,” French said during a recent interview.
French, who is retired, is active in the East End Community Center.
The kiosks, which would be scattered throughout the county, would be paid for through donations from businesses. French has volunteered to set up an assembly line for cranking them out — he envisions roughly 8-foot tall kiosks constructed of either metal or wood, with two hinged, weather-proof doors that open from the center. Inside, information about local businesses would be available.
French has visited about 150 business and has only heard “no” five times.
“I’ve had people say ‘Well, I don’t deal with the public,’ and I said ‘Well, you do business-to-business,” French said. “I think the local people, once they realize it’s there, will utilize it.”
Local events, such as sporting tournaments or festivals, could be advertised in the kiosks, as well.
“The overall goal is to keep the costs to the businesses as low as possible,” French said. Businesses would be able to sponsor a kiosk and have their advertisement placed on the outside.
French said he hopes a local agency would be able to administer the program.
Garry VanGorder, executive director of the Cortland County Chamber of Commerce, said he had learned about French’s initiative at an East End forum at the end of March.
“I think there was some real interest in hearing more about it,” VanGorder said. “Once we get through the business showcase week, I will give him a call and we can flesh it out more. It’s an idea with some merit, that’s for sure.”