August term starts off well, leaves growing room


This year marked the beginning of a brand new program at Transylvania.

August term has replaced first-year orientation and University 1111. The class of 2016 arrived on campus Aug. 10 and participated in three weeks of a credit/no credit “First Engagements” critical reading course. While the program concluded without any major mishaps, this year is merely a starting point for future improvements.

Academically speaking, August term was a success. With a low failure rate and positive feedback from participants, the program is off to a strong start. Everyone involved should be commended for the hours put in last semester and this summer to ensure that the program ran smoothly. Residence Life staff, faculty members and upperclassmen scholars brought enthusiasm and creativity to August term.

Though in its inaugural year, August term certainly did not get by without criticism from the wider Transy community. For first-year athletes, the schedule did not leave time to rest; students were rushed between three-hour classes, required sessions and multiple practices each day. The first week was especially busy. Students unpacked, scheduled their fall semester and attended longer classes with information sessions every afternoon.

This complaint was recognized by the administration and will be under revision as planning for next year’s August term begins. John Svarlien, classics professor and director of August term said that Transy was very ambitious in its planning, but over-scheduling was “fatiguing.” There is already talk of “pulling back,” especially during the first week of the program.

Another concern from observant outsiders was that the newest group of first-years developed an exclusive class identity. Some have remarked that providing this class of around 330 students with an exclusive environment may have turned this program with stellar intentions into an extension of high school… complete with cafeteria cliques and all.

With a campus empty of organizations, Greek life, and general mixing and mingling, students were quick to form cliques that survived past Labor Day Weekend and upperclassmen move-in. This may be a natural outcome of such a program, but it should not be encouraged.

One noticeable aspect of August term was the nearly non-existent influence of upperclassmen. While actions were taken to prevent any negative influence on first-years, this also kept away any potential positive influence from existing. For the most part, the only upper-class students admitted on campus for the full three-week term were Resident Advisors and August term Scholars.

This naturally presents a sort of culture shock for the students who had entered into a nearly-empty campus that catered to them and soon had to adjust to one full of unfamiliar upperclassmen, ready to take their new place in the hierarchy of a collegiate community.

Read more of this post


‘Rambler’ vows to continuously improve

by Jake Hawkins

The Rambler is an important, integral part of the Transylvania community. We bring news to your attention, ask important people important questions, highlight outstanding organizations, and, on the opinion page, weigh in on important campus issues in an effort to provoke further thought.

We can always be better.

We have a talented, diverse staff representing multiple majors and many backgrounds. They work every day to plan, interview, write, research and edit. We meet often to hash out ideas and capitalize on our team synergy.

We could use more people.

In the past, we’ve broke stories to you about land acquisitions, administrative transitions, new programs and more.

We’ve missed some leads.

At The Rambler, we epitomize the spirit of ‘kaizen,’ a Japanese concept of continuous improvement and change for the better. Every year, every semester and every issue our biggest goal is to improve. To get better. Without a journalism program, we’re self taught and self driven. We learn by doing, asking and reading.

We want to learn more.

We’re challenged, as students of the liberal arts, to connect and integrate knowledge and to question everything. What better medium to put the liberal arts in practice than journalism?! Throughout the year, we’ll strive to ask important people important questions, tell engaging stories, highlight unique events and inform you of vital information. Every story you read in The Rambler will be accurate, relevant and engaging. If something goes wrong, we’ll take swift action to correct it.

We absolutely guarantee that.

We are a student newspaper at heart, and for this heart to beat we absolutely have to have more students. We need a large, versatile staff of writers and photographers to keep stories printing. Being on staff is a valuable experience that teaches many skills, and it is an absolute blast.

We love what we do.

We also need your input. We have a Facebook, we have a website, and we have an opinion page. For The Rambler to exist, we need you to ‘Ramble On’ and contribute to all of these. Is there an important story that you think we missed? Tell us. Are you angry about the way people at Transy treat a certain issue? Use The Rambler as a medium for your voice. Ultimately, The Rambler will be what students make it, what we make it. We are limited by the passion of our student body, our kryptonite is your apathy.

Help us make The Rambler a true pioneer in student journalism.

Brock signs off: Lessons from TU

This is the seventh year I’ve worked on a student-run publication—and the last. I’ve done a lot of different things while I’ve been at Transylvania, but a core part of my life here has been dedicated to The Rambler. It will be hard to say goodbye to the life of a student journalist, but it will be somewhat of a relief to no longer have such responsibility on my plate all day, every day (Good luck, Jake!). So for the last column you all have to endure, I thought I’d share some of my kitschy wisdom with you.

Transy taught me who I am, and what I want in life. Have I sometimes felt like graduation couldn’t come fast enough? Yes, often. The past four years have put me through some incredibly awful times, but they have held some of the most amazing experiences, as well as provided me with an incredible support system of friends and mentors. Transy taught me how to deal with the highs and the lows in life by giving me the tools to cope with the bad, to appreciate the good and to have confidence in myself and my abilities. I know that the future holds both good and bad, and I’m OK with that—because Transy taught me that I am capable of battling whatever comes my way.

Good journalism isn’t easy. If it was, everyone would love The Rambler—and clearly, that hasn’t been the case during my time here. After spending hours every week helping to put together this publication, or scrambling to post a breaking story online, someone always has to spot a blemish. Sometimes, it really gets me down, but critics have just as much of a right to have their voices heard as we have a right to put our opinions on this page. Still, it would be nice if complaints were housed in logic and thought instead of half-cocked critiques, as is all too often the case. We put together this paper for this campus, and as long as we do the best we can with the  oh-so-limited resources of one journalism class, a quarter-credit practicum, and a part-time adviser, we’ve succeeded—30 statewide awards this year alone prove that. Hard work and doing the right thing do pay off; thank you, Terri McLean, for teaching me this important lesson.

A liberal arts education is attractive for many reasons, with which we are all familiar. Before I came to Transy, I was led to believe that such an education would leave me better prepared for a job in the “real world”—but that’s not always the case. It seems that experience is what companies want, and so an education that leaves you well-rounded is great, but just not enough. While we are led to believe that coming to a college like Transy (and paying nearly $30,000 in tuition alone) will put us miles ahead of the competition, we need to realize that the burden of securing internships and jobs in our desired fields falls on us; we can’t ride on the coattails of a Transy diploma in this day and age.

“It will look good on your resume” isn’t a sound enough reason to commit yourself to doing something. Transy students are notoriously over-involved, either because we feel like if we don’t do it, no one else will, or we want to pad our resumes, or we genuinely care about a couple of the causes we involve ourselves with. I’ve learned that committing time to a cause is only worth it if you will really enjoy it, because if you enjoy something, it shows, and you can utilize all sorts of skills with one organization rather than joining 20.

You can only eat so many chicken fingers from the Raf until you start to suffer from malnutrition. We all know that Transy cuisine isn’t the most exciting food we’ll ever eat, but it has gotten a lot better in the four years I’ve been here—with the exception of the nixing of the 1780’s cheese bread, which I still miss. I’ve often wished that we could use our Crimson Cards at restaurants around town like UK students can. But, then again, going to McDonald’s wouldn’t be the same as visiting Eugene in the Raf or talking to Rosie, Cortez and Vic in the 80.

Sometimes, authority figures don’t utilize their positions or behave in ways you agree with, but there’s nothing you can do about it. Throughout life, we will have to work with, befriend or even tolerate people of every temperament, background, mindset, etc. It’s a fact that you won’t agree with everyone and they won’t agree with you, and this is especially true for people who are socially or organizationally above you. It’s been said that you can do what’s right all the time, or you can be successful. It’s a hard choice, but sometimes you have to pick your battles.
Procrastination isn’t necessarily evil—actually, it’s like most things in life: good in moderation. I have written hundreds of pages of papers during my time here (actually, I’d rather not think about it) and I wouldn’t have survived without those random trips to Walmart for Cheetos at 3 a.m. or spending hours making Memes or playing Sushi Cat with my roommate trying to avoid that 10-page paper. These seemingly inconsequential nights are the ones I’ll remember best.

True friends are few and far between and that’s why you should NEVER take them for granted. Sometimes, people can be truly awful. But sometimes, they can surpass every expectation and hope imaginable, so when they do that, appreciate it.

Writing, Rhetoric and Communication is the most useful major at Transy because it is the epitome of a liberal arts education—it forces students to take information from different disciplines and integrate it into tangible products that encourage others to think outside of the box. Gary Deaton, Martha Gehringer and Dr. Scott Whiddon are incredible professors who truly care about their students and their futures. Without their support and encouragement, I wouldn’t have been accepted to three academic conferences, nor finished an extensive senior seminar project, nor done the good work of a writing center (with the immense help of Becky Mills), nor had a rewarding internship at Business Lexington, nor would I be attending a top-rated Master’s program in Rhetoric and Composition in the fall, and most importantly, I wouldn’t love and appreciate Transy’s academic culture. WRC deserves the respect of this campus and should be placed in a position where it can grow—and I think that’s a battle worth choosing.

McLean’s service endorsed

The Rambler, which began publishing in 1915 as the Crimson-Rambler, has had a varying history. For the past four years, however, The Rambler has enjoyed immense success (as evident by scores of intercollegiate press awards, including 30 this year alone), and while she’ll defer accepting any credit, this is thanks in large part to Student Media Adviser Terri McLean.

McLean, who was the first person with the primary designation of Transylvania’s student media adviser, recently announced that she’ll be leaving the university with “mixed feelings.”

Student Media Adviser Terri McLean has instructed Rambler staffers for four years.

“I fell in love with Transy when my son walked into Old Morrison in 2002 on a visit,” said McLean. “On a board in President Shearer’s office, was scribbled ‘Welcome Brad McLean. President Shearer would like to meet you.’”

In addition to advising The Rambler staff members on how to become better journalists, McLean also oversees The Crimson, Transy’s yearbook, and she assists in the public relations office by writing faculty and alumni profiles.

McLean brought an exuberant and contagious amount of enthusiasm to the position, in addition to over 20 years of experience. Before coming to Transy she worked at the Lexington Herald-Leader from 1980 to 2001, after which she worked as a freelance journalist and high school journalism teacher. Then, in 2008, Associate Vice President for Communications and Public Relations Sarah Emmons approached McLean with the idea of becoming media advisor.

“I like to say that the job of student media adviser fell into my lap…Sarah called and asked if I was interested in the job. The interesting thing was, at that time The Rambler had ceased to publish and was in a state of flux,” McLean said.

The state of flux didn’t last long, as McLean quickly came on board and resurrected the paper.

“In a couple of weeks we had a staff of seven to get us started. The only qualification was desire – desire to give students a voice on campus,” said McLean.

With the help and advice of McLean, The Rambler has grown well beyond the staff of seven and maintained a consistent campus presence. During her tenure, McLean saw the volunteer-only, tightly staffed weekly newspaper of Transy receive over sixty awards from the Kentucky Intercollegiate Press Association.

On a personal note, McLean has impacted my life more than any other person on this campus. Her love for journalism – for finding the truth and light in every story – has rubbed off on me and shaped my future. I’ve spent more one-on-one time with her learning, hands on, about writing than anyone else. In addition to teaching me, she has been a friend and an advocate who would put herself on the line to defend what we both knew was right.

In her own words, McLean calls it the “greatest privilege to mentor some of the most accomplished students and watch them grow as student journalists and as people.”

The true privilege, however, belongs to the staffs of The Rambler and broader campus community. McLean, with her office in the basement of a men’s dorm, isn’t the most visible person on this campus, but the positive effect she leaves behind will affect students for years to come.

I am proud to offer her this, my final endorsement as managing editor.

Lawson condemns resume-padding

Dear Editor,

It’s time we stop saying, “It’ll look good on your resume,” especially if we want to cultivate civic responsibility that goes beyond four years at Transy. It is no secret that resume padding seems to be the incentive in joining organizations, primarily honoraries. Granted, with honoraries one must usually pay a fee to join after having met the academic qualifications. I’m beginning to think this act is symbolic, in that it appears students must buy their honors in the case of service oriented honoraries since the group effort to do service is almost nonexistent and in many cases it seems there is no consequence to the student for failing to uphold the values of the organization. The student will still wear those cords proudly on graduation day regardless.

I know at Transy we are all incredibly busy. Most of us are involved in several organizations. However, is that because we genuinely care about the causes and purpose of the organization, or because we know the more things we have on our resume, the more likely we are to look professional and be a great candidate for a job or graduate program? My time at Transy has made me feel that the latter rings the truest in general.

I’m advocating a change in our language. Instead of discussing how great our credentials will look in the future with the more offices we hold in organizations, let’s talk about the goals of the organizations we wish to join. I believe students should be genuinely interested in the aims and scope of the club. In terms of honoraries, perhaps instead of GPAs being the main criterion for admission, an effort criterion should be added to the list. However, even here we run the risk of falling into the “I gotta log my hours for my volunteer position” instead of “I am going to volunteer because I enjoy spending my free time giving back to my community…”

My proposal is not a simple task. I know how hard it is to avoid that mindset; the problems I’m raising are cultural. However, I look forward to the day that students engage in civic activities because of passion and not due to our achievement-driven-competitive-gotta-have-a-star-resume culture.

—Monica Lawson, ’12

Library hours critiqued

Dear Editor,

This isn’t one of those things you can generalize so I’ll just speak from personal experience (with a few admitted asides, of course).  I am currently writing the week before finals (and, yes, happily procrastinating). I am also a bit of a late-to-sleep, late-to-class kind of guy (working on that one). I live a few blocks away from campus.

I know you aren’t reading this till May term but, as this is a flourish, I’ll keep it as promised (personal and reactional). Next week is what our schedules and the Registrar’s office so cynically refer to as “Finals”. Regular class times are shifted on this Finals week. We have a new schedule.  We have a “Reading Day” built into this schedule. The library stays open later on this schedule.

But, I am turning in two term papers this week. Last week I was (sort of) writing them. This week I stayed up most of the night (I know, bad form) to finish a ten pager. It happens, though, ya know. Sometimes I stay up too late. But, in some ways, I really like working at night. Less distracted (I guess that is to say: I like to work some nights, others I write letters to the editor…).

I think that Finals week is not my busiest week in the semester. In fact, I don’t even think it’s my second. We’ll give it a competitive third as weeks go around here.

Why is the library not open till at least 2 a.m. for all three of my busy weeks? Or perhaps this is the wrong question.

I think the right question is: Why isn’t the library open till 2 a.m. every night of every week (holidays and such excluded)? Let me rephrase real quickly: Why isn’t the library open till 2 a.m. every night – Sunday through Thursday – of the week (etc.)?

There are two possible answers. One, “the administration” (like “the council of they” only closer and more benevolent) doesn’t know some college students study past 12 a.m. (except on Finals week, of course). Or, two, the library is too expensive or “unsustainable” to maintain till 2 a.m.

Whatever the answer – this needs to change.

I realize a slight shift in library hours won’t solve the world’s problems, but I also believe there are others who study past 12 a.m., study at the library, prefer Transy’s Gay to U.K.’s Willie, and, would, like me, like to study into the a.m. on our turf.

—Charlie Zwischenberger, ‘13


Cheers and Jeers

Cheers to everyone who played a role in the production of the Silly T. Scholars comedy show. It was a highly entertaining event.

Jeers to running out of bonus points on your Crimson Card. I realize that this isn’t an issue for some, if not most, but for all of those who enjoy frequent visits to Jazzman’s and the 1780 Café, it is a very real tragedy.

Cheers to the Keeneland Spring Meet that began this past weekend. If you haven’t been able to make it out yet, I would highly recommend it; as a current resident in the state of Kentucky, you are obligated to experience it at least once. On another Kentucky note, …

Cheers to No. 1-ranked recruit Nerlens Noel (and his flattop) for signing to play basketball for the University of Kentucky next year. Thankfully, the state has a replacement for both Anthony Davis and his unibrow. However, …

Jeers to No. 2-ranked recruit Shabazz Muhammad for thinking that the University of California at Los Angeles is a better place for him to hone his basketball skills. However, the joke will be on him when he realizes that forest fire concerns prevent couch burnings out there. John Calipari always gets the last laugh.

Cheers to the acceptance of failure by Rick Santorum. Political affiliations and beliefs aside, no one who brings a dead child home from the hospital should be allowed to run our country. (And I’m not making that up — it was in The Economist.)

Cheers to sophomore Clay Hinton, senior Chris Bloch and first-year Elizabeth Young for earning Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Week honors in golf, baseball and softball, respectively.

Jeers to finals week, but …

Cheers to May term. (I realize these are both painfully uncreative, but I felt they were valid nonetheless.)

%d bloggers like this: