The Master Plan: A look at the future of Virginia Tech

Blacksburg, Va. May 3 – Squires Replacement: The Campus Master Plan for Virginia Tech includes plans to move the campus Student Center from Squires Hall to an area near Cowgill and Burchard Hall. Photo: Kallie Carson

by Josh Henry and Kallie Carson–

The Virginia Tech Master Plan was unveiled at the Town Gown meeting on April 19. The plan incorporates the past, present, and future designs of the University campus. Since the reveal, no major changes have been made to the Plan.

According to the Collegiate Times, the Plan has 8 “frameworks” that Virginia Tech is using as the main parts to the design. They represent ideals that Virginia Tech wants to keep in mind throughout the process, which include traditions, expanding student experiences, and maximizing profitable areas on campus.

Some of the plan’s highlights include moving the student center to the more analytically appropriate location of Cowgill Hall, replacing Holden and Randolph halls with new facilities, and keeping the campus walkable while expanding.

With movement around campus being one of the themes, the sculptors of the Master Plan (both Virginia Tech and Sasaki Associates) created the idea of the “Infinite Loop.” Manager of Transportation Planning and Engineering Mike Dunn claims the loop will help everything flow easier. Pedestrians, bikers, and possibly self-driving vehicles will have a main pathway to access the key spots around Virginia Tech’s campus.

The focus on movement and transportation also led Virginia Tech to create a larger transit hub on Perry Street near the parking garage.

“It is the Multi-Modal Transit Facility,” Dunn said. “What we want to do is turn [the two parking lots near the Perry Street garage] into transit hubs. Blacksburg Transit can come in and pick up folks. It helps get our Blacksburg Transit off the Drillfield.”

Perry Street would be closed down once the facility is finished. The goal of the hub is to keep pedestrians out of the flow of non-foot traffic surrounding the campus.

The Master Plan is currently in the plan revision and public comment phase. Members of both the Virginia Tech and Blacksburg communities will be given multiple opportunities to review the plan and ask any questions they may have with regards to the rollout of the Master Plan.

According to Dunn, the meetings with community members have been “well attended.” One of the main focuses of the questions directed at the Master Plan has been the accommodation for disabled members of the local community.

“The topography of this region is very hilly,” Dunn said. “We’ve looked a lot at making everything we do ADA accommodating, so everyone can have more access to the campus and everything within it.”

Most of the Master Plan designs won’t be put into effect until down the line. In 2019 students and community members can look forward to breaking ground on the Holden Hall renovation, work on the Infinite Loop, and improvements to Owens dining hall.

SCI/TECH: Does privacy exist in the digital age?

by Josh Henry, Cathrine Irvin, Miguel Pineda–

Young hipster worker typing on laptop keyboard in office
Photo via

On March 17 the world learned, again, that your private information online isn’t always kept that way. The New York Times and UK’s The Guardian reported that the voter profiling company Cambridge Analytica had hijacked information from over 50 million facebook users to create tactics used to benefit political campaigns in 2014 and 2016. Psychological profiles were amassed and passed around to the campaigns Cambridge Analytica was paid to support.

We now live in an era where breaches of privacy are becoming more and more common as technology advances and companies seek to find new ways to make money. Your smartphone can hear you, Amazon Alexa can laugh at you, and if you search hard enough for something it will eventually pop up in an add.

In this new age of technology people value their privacy more and more. In this week’s science and technology podcast Josh, Catherine, and Miguel go over the idea of modern privacy and if what is happening with technology is changing the definition of it.

Don’t Shut Up, Dribble: Speak up, Speak Out

Akron, Oh., Jan.14 – Cari Champion Interviews James and Durant: This interview spawned controversy when a Fox News Host challenged the validity of the NBA players opinions about the political climate in the United States. Video by Uninterrupted.

by Josh Henry–

Following the 2016 Presidential election, a cloud has hung over the United States. Despite social media rising to new heights, people are scared to air their political opinions more than ever. That said, prominent figures in non-political positions are trying to give people some confidence when it comes to airing grievances or agreements with the way things are going.

Two of those figures are LeBron James and Kevin Durant. Those men are two of the NBA’s brightest stars and took part in a new vodcast with ESPN host Cari Champion on January 14th. Both men spoke not only about experiences in their own lives, but also about what it is like living under the Trump administration.

One day after the vodcast was released earlier in February, Fox News host Laura Ingraham did a segment on her show responding to the players commentary. She criticized many things about both men and specifically ended her commentary telling them and other outspoken athletes to just “shut up and dribble.”

The backlash to Ingraham’s comments was swift from all angles around the country. She took time to make pointed, and possibly racist, comments regarding the two men. But the ending statement is what bothers me the most.

We are guaranteed certain freedoms by our forefathers which we hold dear. One of those freedoms is the freedom of speech. It is very rarely limited, and without it many of the foundations of our nation would crumble.

The Sedition Act was struck down in the late 18th century because it limited our speech. It is dangerous to silence a nation from speaking out against their leaders. If we can’t speak out, we are controlled and therefore no longer free.

So how in the world can anyone be forced to be silent just because of their profession? As a reporter for the News Feed, should I not be entitled to my opinion? Should everyday people who vote in our leaders but work as bankers, teachers, plumbers, etc.… not be allowed to speak up when they feel their leaders are doing the wrong thing?

To expect silence and obedience from people just because they don’t happen to have a political science degree, or more likely the case with Ingraham: don’t agree with your side, isn’t a sign of democracy. It is a sign that she would rather have an oligarchy or dictator rule with no one opposing.

No, athletes will not shut up and dribble, or stick to sports, and they shouldn’t. After all, before he was President, Donald Trump was a reality TV show host and businessman. I guess he didn’t stick to that.


11 years later Virginia Tech, other campuses work to prevent shootings

Norris Hall

 Blacksburg, Va., Feb. 5, 2018 – Norris Hall was the location of the tragedy of April 16, 2007 took place. 30 people lost their lives in the building on that day. Today, the Virginia Tech community works with the Virginia Tech Police Department to keep the campus safe. Photo – Josh Henry


by Josh Henry —

In Blacksburg, Virginia everyone recognizes the pain and horror that so many communities have felt in recent years following shootings on college campuses. It has been almost 11 years since the tragedy of April 16, 2007, and in that time shootings have risen exponentially across the U.S. on college campuses.

From 2011 to 2016, 101 shootings on or near college campuses took place, which was a 153 percent increase from the prior 5 years, according to a study by the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City. There is no definable reason for the rise in shootings, but no matter the location the effect on the community is the same.

“It felt like there was a shadow over everything after [April 16] happened,” VT graduate Henry Chang said. “There was no way to properly recover. I just remember constantly being sad. It ended up bringing us all together, but it was all incredibly hard to handle.”

Chang, the brother of current VT student Stanley Chang, was a freshman in 2007. Before April 16 he never had a reason to worry about his own security. But afterward, that changed in a hurry.

“It was hard to feel safe going to class,” Chang said. “Of course we all had to keep our normal routine to get away from it all, but like I said there was just this shadow. We all had our guard up.”

After the April 16 tragedy, multiple security changes were made on Virginia Tech’s campus and across the U.S. in an effort to prevent more shootings in the future. According to Virginia Tech Police Chief and Director of Security Kevin Foust, Virginia Tech has doubled up on most security measures.

“We [increased] the number of officers from 24 to 50 [since 2007],” Foust said. “We’ve added more Blue Light emergency phones [both indoors and outdoors]. There are more security cameras, the LiveSafe app, and the Personal Emergency Preparedness joint presentation with [Virginia Tech’s] Office of Emergency Management.”

Changes like this became more common on campuses around the country after the tragedy at Virginia Tech. Some have even been adjustments to things that have already been around for years, like the siren on the University of Texas A&M’s campus.

Nationally, there hasn’t been one discernible solution to the issue of preventing Campus shootings in the United States. Even Foust suggests there is no “correct” way to handle everything, but overall safety starts at the community level.

“Security is a personal responsibility,” Foust said. “I cannot guarantee your safety here on this campus, as I cannot guarantee my own. What we do is educate our community as best we can so that when a crisis occurs, each person can make the best decision based upon the facts and circumstances in front of them at that time. [This] community has embraced personal responsibility and remains very vigilant.”

Campus Shootings Across the Nation Infographic
Click on the Infographic to view full image

Digital News Delivery: Facebook to boost local media

Photo credit: portalgda on / CC BY-NC-SA

by Kallie Carson, Josh Henry–

According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook is taking action to help benefit and promote local news media with an update on users’ home news feed. Facebook page and post boosts have become extremely popular with businesses around the globe. Page admins are able to boost their posts or page by paying Facebook to increase their reach. Leaning on this idea, Zuckerberg plans to boost local news organizations posts for free.

For example, if a user follows their local news station or newspaper, these posts will be higher on the news feed and more prominent over other shared posts and stories. The new algorithm will be implemented in hopes to promote community involvement and spread local information rather than national .