Crimson Café starts dialogue

By By Michael McFall

By Michael McFall

As temperatures dropped and the first snow of the year fell on campus Tuesday night, discussions among students were heating up about important topics of the day.

Students expressed their thoughts about current issues from global warming to man purses at Crimson Café, an open mic night organized by the Associated Students of the University of Utah and Residence Hall Advisory Board.

Fears about global warming dominated much of the discussion.

A majority of students who spoke said that global warming is real and affecting the world for the worse.

“I remember when I was a kid, I could play outside on Halloween and see the white mountains, but currently the mountains are a shade of dry brown,” said Suneil Bhambri, a sophomore business major. “Global warming is to blame for this.”

Elyse Arrington, a senior in English teaching, expanded on the global warming topic by pointing to decreases in honeybee populations around the world, which she said could be blamed on pollution and CO2 emissions disorienting the bees, causing them to lose track of their hives.

However, not every student was in agreement with the rest, and the open environment of the night allowed anyone to openly disagree with peers.

After Arrington was done speaking, Gary Furnish, a math major, made his way to the mic and said that the loss of honeybees is linked to bacteria or viruses, not the environment. The audience met his comment with supportive applause.

Students felt the freedom to question the nature of the discussion itself.

“The general debate about global warming is (that) it just becomes sort of a pseudo-scientific debate,” said Bob Kubichek, a junior in political science. “Maybe we should talk about the policy implications we’re making. I would like to know what kind of alternatives people have on the subject of global warming other than having a ‘scientific showdown.'”

In response, Furnish proposed that the United States switch to nuclear power, which he said is a clean and safe energy source, despite what opponents say.

Students also butted heads over issues close to home, such as campus gun control.

Several students supported an open gun policy, but Zachery Fountain, a senior political science major, objected to the idea.

“There are hundreds of us that live in these dorms alone,” he said. “Do we want to deal with the fact of people loading firearms in such a close community?”

Some members of the audience responded with understanding murmurs.

Kubichek agreed, arguing that this is Salt Lake City, one of the safest major cities in the country, and there is no need to carry a weapon.

However, Furnish was just as quick to call that “a bad argument,” saying, “(Violence) has absolutely nothing to do with the average crime rate in an area, it can happen anywhere, with no warning.”

If there is any issue the room of college students could agree on, it was the perceived unfairness of some of their professors.

Randy Wood, a senior German major, questioned why professors are able to enforce their political agendas in the classrooms by grading papers according to personal viewpoints.

Several students complained about professors who don’t give out A’s.

“It’s a problem in education that you can’t stand up to a teacher,” said Leland Thompson, a chemistry major.

The open mic night presented an opportunity for students to object to university rules. Ryan McQuilkin said he thinks fewer students would smoke marijuana at school if alcohol were allowed on campus.

“I’ve been gathering cardboard, me and my friends, we want to strap on these cardboard suits and drink beer, then fight each other, and we’re just not able to do that here,” he said. “I do think that’s kind of a shame.”

In a spontaneous poll of the audience, McQuilkin found that most of the several dozen students in attendance favor having a wet campus.

ASUU plans to hold more events like Crimson Café. Future discussion topics will be geared toward students’ responses to a survey that was passed out at the end of the event.

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Michael McFall

Leland Thompson shares his views on global warming during the Crimson Café open mic night Tuesday in the Heritage Center.