Students move off campus, adopt animals


Many students at the University find a way to balance school, friends and having a pet.

The University does not allow pets in the dorms with a few exceptions such as fish or guide dogs, according to Carla Dennis, the interim director for administrative service and communication.

“There are a lot of students who have some severe or even mild pet allergies, where pet dander would greatly impact their living experience,” she said.  “Even other issues, like pest control. Some of our students have some very strong fears of different animals, and that would not make for a comfortable living and learning environment.”

Dennis said University Housing doesn’t allow for pets, with few exceptions, due to an overall concern for both students and pets.

“It is an awareness of what are the needs for pets, what are the needs of students, what are the needs of our facilities,” she said.

Because pets are not allowed in dorms, after fulfilling the first-year live on requirement, many students move off campus so they can bring animals.

Allie Merdinger, a junior pre-business major and Spanish minor from Alpharetta, feels having a pet is definitely beneficial.

Many students agree and own pets, despite increased work and having to financially support a pet by paying for food, care and pet fees.

While most people, Merdinger included, have more traditional pets like cats or dogs, she said she has heard of some strange choices.

“My best friend’s roommate has a teacup pig as a pet.  It gets up to 6 or 7 pounds, and it is supposed to be super clean.  You can train it like a dog,” she said.  “I haven’t met the teacup pig yet but it’s on my to-do list.”

Merdinger got her pet, a dog, during her sophomore year.

“I got Sarge second semester sophomore year, the Friday of spring break,” she said.  “It was just kind of a no-brainer that I would get a dog to have with me all the time.”

Merdinger said she believes having a pet adds a lot of responsibility.

“I think it’s just making sure that you are planning your schedule around the dog and not be so selfish.  You have to make sure that you do have time for a dog because you do have to take care of it.  You can’t just throw it in your apartment,” she said.

Hannah Edwards, a junior health promotion major on a pre-med track from Woodstock, also has a dog.  She moved off campus her sophomore year so she could bring her dog Atticus.

“I got him for my 16th birthday, honestly. Mom was finally like, ‘OK, you can have a puppy.’ I had always wanted one,” Edwards said.  “My mom kept him for me my first year, and he has been here last year and this year. “

She said she also feels having a dog is a lot of additional responsibility that non-pet owners don’t have.

“When you schedule your classes you have to think about your dog and your animal,“ she said. “You can’t stay on campus all day, and when you have a break you have to come home and walk your dog and feed him and take him out in the morning.  That is an extra 30 minutes you have to be up in the morning.”

Though a pet is more work, owners agreed it is worth it.

Merdinger said the extra work is well worth it and the benefits of having a pet outweigh the difficulties.

“It is a really easy and great way to meet people, just walking around my apartment complex. You have a dog, and everyone wants to be your friend,” she said. “He is a fantastic reason to get up in the morning, and it motivates me to just get everything done. If it weren’t for him, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be walking 30 hours a week.”

Edwards agreed having a pet is worth it, but said she was surprised by how many students own dogs, despite the increased responsibility.

“The students here absolutely love their dogs. Everyone loves their animals, and I would never have imagined that as many students would have dogs as they do because it is such a big responsibility,” she said. “I could not imagine living here without him.”


Now hear this!: The Welfare Liners’ ‘High on a Hilltop’ not your typical bluegrass


“High on a Hilltop” marked my first sample of The Welfare Liners. And still, no bitter aftertaste.

I was immediately intrigued by the album art; very simple, yet not quite plain. The artwork came courtesy of Skillet Gilmore, the former drummer of Whiskeytown. My interest was piqued; I popped in my headphones and gave the CD a spin.

There is no evidence of gaudy over production. No drums. Just pure, classic Appalachian bluegrass.

Bluegrass and folk music’s recent comeback doesn’t seem to influence this band’s sound. The Welfare Liners do not strike me as a bandwagon group. Their songs are rooted in something real. “High on a Hilltop” is a testament to the beautiful and innocent side of southern tradition. It is hauntingly simple, with just the right balance of polish and rust to make it authentic and pleasing. And all mastered right here in Athens, by Bright Eyes bassist Andy LeMaster.

The album rises and falls, falls and rises. Most albums do. But at times the songs just get silly. Making the first track “Easy on the Eyes” was a mistake. The song is essentially about a stupid, stubborn girl who also happens to be pretty — pretty derivative. It takes away from the impact of the majority of the rest of the record. I feel like people expect bluegrass to be silly, at least lyrically. But why submit to the stereotype?

The album tends toward repetitive, and has it’s share of low brow songs. Still, these are minor substantial complaints amidst greater music. Songs like “Trouble Comes to Me,” “I Can Hear the Reaper Calling” and “Farewell to All the Angels” are stand-outs. If The Welfare Liners continue in the vein of songs like those, I predict a very warm and rewarding sophomore album.

Out of the plethora of bands in Athens, this one appears to be doing something special. The Welfare Liners are worth watching, for now at least.

‘Kitty Cams’ study cat behavior


Researchers at the University recently paired up with the National Geographic Society to do a study on free roaming cats, known as Kitty Cams.

The project was intended to answer questions about how cats behave in natural environments without disrupting their behavior.

According to, the kitty cams were used to study both cats’ effects as predators on the environment and to try and analyze common risks faced by owned outdoor cats.

Kerrie Anne Lloyd, a recent graduate of the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University, studied the effects of domestic cats on wildlife. She did work on the project as a part of her dissertation, working with Sonia Hernandez, a leader on the project and an assistant professor in the department.

“We started working with National Geographic, they made the cameras called Crittercams back in 2009, raised the money in 2010 and got the cameras [on the cats later that year],” She said. “We have a little bit of footage [from most of the cats] that participated over the course of a year.”

There were 60 participating cats, each wearing a collar mounted with a Crittercam, going outdoors for seven to 10 days, according The cats were spaced out over a number of habitats in the Athens area and through every season.

According to the website, the Crittercams are lightweight and waterproof and are equipped with LED lights to gather night footage. National Geographic has also used them to film the behavior of other animals, like sea turtles.

Lloyd said of the 2,000 hours of footage, only about 39 hours were useable, and usable footage was only obtained from 55 of the 60 cats. All statistics are based on those 55.

“Everything on the website came out of my dissertation results. It was a lot of work but it came down to not a lot in the way of numbers,” she said. “We were looking at risk behaviors. Lots of footage, lots of work, but it came down to smaller amounts of numbers.”

Lloyd said there are approximately 9 million owned cats in this country, about half of which are outdoor cats.  There are even more strays.  Due to numbers, cats are slightly controversial.

Llyod said because cats are not native to the United States, some people feel they should be heavily controlled to preserve wildlife, but many people don’t want to be told what to do with their cats.

“Cats having an impact on wildlife is a concern,” Llyod said.

Monitoring that impact was part of the project.

Lloyd said only 44 percent of the 55 cats demonstrated hunting behavior, and that such behavior was more prevalent in the warmer months, 85 percent according to the website, because cats are opportunistic predators.

As far as risks roaming cats face, the biggest was observed as crossing the street, based on website statistics.  Other risks included encountering strange cats, exploring drain systems and eating and drinking away from home.

Increased time outside augmented the risks, and male cats were found to be more likely to engage in risky behavior.

Students like Jamilla Johnson, a sophomore marketing major from Cobb County, feel that the project is an effective way to observe cats, but the time spent on the project might not be worth it.

“[It is a good idea] because I think it’s harmless. You see them in their natural element doing what they normally do, not knowing they are being watched as opposed to putting them in an environment, so I think it’s a good idea,” she said.  “Actually, I don’t think its worth a lot of time and it shouldn’t be worth a lot of money either.”

Brittney Winbush, a sophomore public relations major from Atlanta, agreed it is an effective way of studying behavior but said she feels the project could have enough value to be worth time and money.

“I guess I would say it depends. If after a few tests are run, if the problem is really big or if it is having an immediate large effect, then yeah, it is something they should spend money on,” she said.

Lloyd said she is neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with the results, though she felt a larger sample size would have been beneficial.

“We always have bigger expectations in science, so there will always be some things that go wrong.  I can’t say I was satisfied or dissatisfied because it is exploratory research,” she said. “We actually envisioned a much larger sample size of 100 cats, but there were some limitations.”

Lloyd said she feels the project yielded a lot of information about cats in the Athens area, but more work needs to be done.

“People have been trying to extrapolate from our work here in Athens,” she said.  “Repeating the study in different geographic areas would be interesting.”

She said she is pleased with her involvement in the Kitty Cams project.

“Overall, cats are fascinating and it was fun to participate in,” she said.

Georgia club hockey team ‘exciting’ despite relative obscurity


Since the departure of the state’s professional hockey team, the Atlanta Thrashers, some Georgia hockey fans have struggled to find a team to champion. The Georgia Ice Dogs, a club hockey team, hope to fill that gap and add to the hockey culture of the South.

“Georgia has had a hockey program for 25 years now, but no one really knows about it” Georgia head coach John Hoos said.

Part of their plan has been an extremely aggressive advertising and marketing strategy, with the intention to interact and engage with fans.

“We have ads with 960 A.M. the Ref, that air on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, along with several other things this season,” Hoos told his players during a preseason meeting on Thursday night. “We are also doing something that no hockey team has ever done before; we are participating in [UGA] Picture day. All the other varsity sports will be there, we are the only non-varsity sport that will be there.”

Going into his 13th season as head coach, Hoos has adopted the marketing approach to generating interest and publicity. The players though are just excited to take the ice again for another season.

“I am excited every time I take the ice,” senior right-winger Henry Oddi said. “Whether I am skating, hitting someone or shooting the puck, it’s all exciting and a lot of fun.”

One way Coach Hoos motivated his players for the upcoming season was to schedule a match against an in-conference rival — Auburn.

“Our rivalries are just as competitive on the ice as they are off the ice, in the football and basketball programs,” Hoos said. “We have a great program with a great group of guys that are professional, but extremely competitive and want to win. They are excited for the start of the season and we can’t wait to take the ice for the first time.”

Friends market goods for the Garden


For Beverly Morton, the Friends of the Garden annual flea market has an origin close to heart.

“Eunice Robertson, who was on the original Friends board, and I were talking one day about the fact that my husband and I go to the flea markets and we find all these neat things,” said Morton, membership services coordinator for Friends of the Garden. “And, we thought we ought to have one at the garden so the Friends got together and we did it.”

Friends, a charitable, nonprofit organization formed in 1972, holds its annual flea market to benefit the State Botanical Garden. It’s the biggest fundraiser of the year, mostly due to the effort of Friends associates.
And the work is endless.

“When this flea market ends on Saturday, we’ll start talking about next year’s flea market,” Morton said. “We first solicit to Friends members who donate things and then they tell their friends and they donate things.”

Planning the event is a group affair, pulling work from Friends members and volunteers alike. One volunteer in particular, B.J. Garrett, teamed up with Morton after Robertson retired.

“Beverly and I work so well together, it just seems we think alike and things get done in a hurry,” Garrett said.

The Friends’ flea market raises $5,000 to $6,000 just in the one day event, with all proceeds from the donated goods directly benefiting the Botanical Garden. The market boasts a wide selection of items including antiques, jewelry, luggage, gardening tools, toys, electronics and books.

While Garrett doesn’t have a favorite item to donate, she loves seeing what other people buy.

“Things you think will not sell are the first things to be bought,” Garrett said. “It’s fun to watch.”

They don’t take clothing donations, but other big sellers continue to be furniture and linens. Morton encourages students looking to decorate to stop by.

“A student could come in here and furnish an apartment easily,” Morton said. “For students coming back in the fall this is a great place to come.”

The flea market is a bazaar of eclectic items that will appeal to everyone. But, it’s Friends and the volunteers at the heart of the event who really bring it to life.

“The same people have worked with Beverly and me for most of the sales,” Garrett said. “We have fun and laugh a lot. Our workers are the greatest.”

All donations can be dropped off Aug. 13 to 17 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Botanical Garden.

What: Friends of the Garden’s 8th Annual Flea Market
When: August 18, 8 am to 1 pm
Where: The Botanical Garden’s Visitor Center
Price: Free
Contact: 706-542-1244

Man On The Street: Gun Control


The University of Georgia does not allow weapons of any kind, even with a legal permit, to be carried on your person or in living quarters on campus. Students were asked whether this makes them feel more or less safe while at UGA.

Sabrina Lewis
Junior, Public Relations, Peachtree City

“It makes me feel more safe. I don’t know the legal age, but I don’t think younger people should be allowed to have weapons. They may not be mature enough to make good decisions.”

Joe Halligan
Senior, Biology, Savannah

“Although criminals may be deterred to some extent, I would feel less safe with as many students as there are at UGA carrying guns, even if they don’t have a criminal record.”

Taylor Lawrence
Sophomore, undecided, Savannah

“Probably more safe. I don’t have one. I would feel less safe with everyone else having one on campus. I think having them banned keeps us all on the same playing field.”

John Ashton
Junior, Accounting, Thomasville

“It makes me feel less safe. People who get robbed are less likely to get hurt if they have a gun, and you’re also just less likely to get robbed if someone knows you have a weapon. If I have a legal permit in Georgia, it shouldn’t change when I’m on UGA’s campus.”Edna Fuentes
Junior, Animal Health, Woodstock”It makes me feel more safe. There could be a ton of people walking around with guns when they’re not even evaluated well when they get one.”

Anna Tucker
Freshman, Pre-Journalism, Richmond, Va.

“Since I live in a dorm, I don’t ever feel threatened, but if I lived somewhere other than a dorm and I was used to having a weapon, I would feel less comfortable if all of the sudden I couldn’t have one.”

Letter to the Editor

My University of Georgia journalism degree was earned in two places: the newsroom of the student-run Red & Black newspaper and in the class of late journalism Professor Conrad Fink, a long-time advocate of all things journalism who began his class every day with a run-through of the hits and misses of our student-run newspaper. Those of us on staff would have to nervously defend our editorial decisions of the night before in class to the journalism giant that was Fink. You see, we learned on the job. We made mistakes, like any newspaper, and we made sure to correct those mistakes. The education we received by publishing a student newspaper run by students for students cannot be replicated when professional, non-student staffers are running the show. I am not surprised this unethical takeover of editorial power by the board happened after Fink’s death, but I am proud to see his legacy continue in your bold decision to stand up for everything right about The Red & Black.

The Red & Black has always been a place of learning, quality journalism, mistakes and triumphs. It was a place where I, first as a news reporter and later as opinions editor, learned not just the technical skills that a journalist needs to know but also the more important principles of ethics, the public’s need and right to know, and our responsibility to uphold democratic values. These are principles the board is clearly lacking. You cannot have a student-run newspaper that is not run by students. I hope The Red & Black’s Board of Directors and leadership, especially Red & Black Publisher Harry Montevideo and University journalism head and board member Kent Middleton, come to their senses and prioritize student journalism over their need for power and profit. I would also suggest they reread The Red & Black’s mission and bylaws. It seems they have forgotten all that makes The Red & Black great. Hint: It’s not them. It’s the students.


Yasmin Yonis
Journalism, International Affairs 2011
Former Opinions Editor/ News Reporter

When you leave


Sometimes the most important events occur not when their participants show up, but when they leave.

On Wednesday, the staff of The Red & Black student newspaper walked out of the newsroom to protest restrictive policies the newspaper’s Board of Directors plans to impose upon the paper.

In a three-page “draft” memo (which stated it was to go into effect immediately) the Board outlined its new vision for The Red & Black.

 Per the Board’s dictates, prior review of all content would be exercised by a non-student “Editorial Director.”

That a non-student should have final say over the content of The Red & Black is contrary to the paper’s history as an independent publication. It is contrary to the spirit of a student-run newspaper.

The move — to usurp students’ editorial control over the University’s most-prominent campus paper — is particularly unsettling given recent events in The Red & Black newsroom.

Over the summer, the Board of Directors began planning changes to the paper. It did not inform the paper’s editorial staff or seek their input.

More recently, editors have been pressured to assign stories they did not agree with, and online content has been changed unilaterally prior to publication.

Such actions require an extraordinary rationale, and indeed the Board of Directors made clear what it finds troubling in its memo.

“Inconsistency in design style,” reads one bullet of the poorly-formatted document.

“…Typos and other basic journalistic errors” reads another, which shares the page with a misspelling of the word “libel” (“liable” [sic]).

“Sarcastic comments,” reads a third bullet, several lines up from a sarcastic comment about the body piercings of Red & Black staffers.

And to think that through this whole kerfuffle, it was us staffers who were the alienating party.

Thus is the caliber of our self-appointed, adult saviors. The mind reels.

Implicit in their arguments, however, is a lack of trust. They do not trust student journalists to police their own ranks and create great, relevant content for a campus newspaper, as The Red & Black has in fact done for decades — without a set of adult eyes over our shoulders before the paper is printed.

The Board believes that putting themselves in charge will bolster the paper’s flagging circulation numbers. If I were to hazard my own opinion, the only thing they have managed to accomplish is to destroy their own paper in a circular firing squad.

As a result of the toxic environment the Board has created at The Red & Black, editors and staff have for the moment decided to go their own way and create a new, truly independent student-run publication.

No bridges are being burned. If and when the problem of prior review and others are resolved, staff will return to The Red & Black to produce the student-sourced, student-driven, and student-approved content for which the paper is known.

We hope to show the Board that, far from being incapable “outside The Red & Black,” we will succeed when left to create our own standards and write our own material. The Red & Black taught us that.

Still, one thing that can be said for the recent imbroglio is that it has boosted readership.

Georgia soccer team enters season opener with No. 25 ranking


The Georgia soccer team was placed at No. 25 in the Top Drawer Soccer “Tournament 64” rankings, according to a statement released Thursday by Georgia sports communications.

Georgia finds itself in select-SEC company, as one of five teams from the conference ranking in the preseason tournament field.

Texas A&M was ranked the highest among the conference schools, at No. 5, while No. 14 Florida, No. 23 LSU and No. 31 South Carolina were also included.

Among Georgia’s other accolades from the preseason was being picked to finish second in the SEC East by the coaches, and also being named a ‘Program to Watch’ by Top Drawer Soccer before that.

The Bulldogs will open the 2012 season against UNC Greensboro, at 7 p.m. at the UGA Soccer Stadium.

Check in online tomorrow night for a full recap of their opening match.

Students may deal with class changes


 Sophomore Jacob Maddox had his entire fall semester schedule figured out by April of last semester. He felt ready to advance in his international affairs major.

Then Maddox found a class schedule change notice in his email.

More students than usual may have been frustrated by “notification of class schedule change” emails from the Office of the Registrar this summer, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences adviser Clayton Foggin said.

“This is the most I’ve seen [class schedule change complaints],” she said. “I’ve never really noticed it this bad before.”

Foggin confirmed receiving “three or four” emails from students complaining that the class changes they had been notified about in some way damaged their schedules.

“They didn’t know what to do because their class time had changed,” she said. “Actually, I had one student who they changed her class time, and it was still on her schedule at the same time as another class. She essentially had two classes at 10 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, or something.”

Foggin doesn’t know for sure whether this semester has seen an increase in class schedule changes. She notes that students could just be “more vocal” this semester than in the past.

The Office of the Registrar was contacted for further clarification on the issue but were unavailable at this time.

Maddox didn’t seek an advisor when one of the two prerequisite international affairs courses he had signed up for changed times and conflicted with one of his other required, scheduled classes.

Instead, he made the decision himself to drop the class with the conflict and simply make it up during a later semester.

Then he received another “class schedule change” email saying the economics class he thought would be taught by Professor Caroliniana Sandifer would instead be taught by a different professor.

“My economics teacher was changed the day I had the class,” he said. “I knew about Sandifer. That’s why I signed up for the course.”

Freshman Adriana Vicuna also received two separate class schedule changes by email before the semester began.

“My speech class actually got cancelled,” she said. “It was kind of frustrating to try to find another class.”

Vicuna ended up dropping the class only to find that her Spanish class had been moved to a less than convenient time.

“I wanted to take it at 9 a.m., but I think it got cancelled and switched to 2:30,” she said. “I don’t like taking afternoon classes because you’re sleepy by then. It was just so frustrating because that’s the only class available.”

But both Maddox and Vicuna said they felt some good came out of the schedule changes.

The changes helped Vicuna see that she probably should not have taken on such a full course load, she said.

Maddox said although he’s worrying he might not graduate on time now, he “wouldn’t really mind” graduating a little late. The change also helped him to explore some options other than on-campus classes.

“I’ve thought of study abroad opportunities I could do instead of taking [the class] at school,” he said.

Still, Maddox said he feels as though more strictly enforced stability should be applied to class scheduling.

“I think it would be great if the University was more strict on their policies with teachers and professors about coming into the school and just having them ready before classes start,” he said.