The New Newman Library

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Blacksburg, Va., April 20-Newman Library: Virginia Tech’s flagship library has seen the removal of nearly a quarter of its books. University officials hope to build new study spaces in their absence.

by Richard Chumney–

Veterans of Virginia Tech’s Newman Library may have noticed some stark changes in the past weeks. Dozens of shelves, on multiple floors, have been stripped empty of books to make room for new study spaces.

From Newman’s first to fifth floor nearly a quarter of all books and various collections have been moved to two Virginia Tech operated off-site storage facilities. According to Mark Kucask, assistant dean and chief of staff of Virginia Tech libraries, the decision to remove certain materials was based on the frequency of use. Books that were checked out less frequently were more likely to be relocated.

Patrons will still have access to the relocated collections, however, they will have to submit a request to the library prior to viewing their desired material.

According to the University Libraries’ website, the reorganization effort is a part of the larger Beyond Boundaries initiative.

Newman Library’s fourth floor will be the focus of most of the changes, including a complete renovation.

Virginia Tech’s library is a popular place for students to study or to complete groundwork, however many struggle to find free seating. University officials hope the recently cleared space will allow the creation of new study spaces and students labs, helping to alleviate Newman Library’s congestion.

As libraries continue to transition to digital collections the physical space required to hold collections declines. In the meantime, much of the floors within Newman Library remain dominated by shelving. No specific date for their removal has been set, however, the renovation is scheduled to last through 2017 and into 2018.

Efforts to honor cadet

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Blacksburg, Va., April 20- Capital Projects: Donors are a big reason building construction is possible at Virginia Tech. Photo: Katie Lukens

by Katie Lukens–

Virginia Tech is continuously building and expanding the university to accommodate the growth of the student body. Although Virginia Tech is a state university, only about 23% of funds for the school come from the state, according to Andy King, a Virginia Tech student. This means that the other 77% of funds comes from donors. These donations support students, faculty, academic initiatives, university programs, athletics and capital projects.

These capital projects include the new buildings across campus. “Private support is an essential component of the funding for important projects across the university” states Virginia Tech. It has been a tradition that if someone makes a large enough donation to a capital project they can have the new building named after them.
Three students had an idea to break the norm of how buildings were named and wanted to honor someone who lived out Virginia Tech’s core value, Ut Prosim. Although they saw how vitally important donors are to the university, Andy King, Nicholas Oberle, Tristan Nguyen wanted to recognize the sacrifice of Matthew La Porte, who was killed defending the lives of others on April 16, 2007.

King, Oberle and Nguyen began a petition to rename a new cadet hall after La Porte. The petition began with hopes of acquiring 5,000 signatures but it quickly grew to over 43,000 signatures.

The university took notice to the large response but has decided not to rename the new building.

King shared his frustration with the university, not because they denied the request to rename the building, but because he felt the request was not taken seriously by the officials.
The efforts of these students have not gone unseen and the memory of La Porte will continue to live on.

Students create awareness of sex trafficking

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Blacksburg, Va., April 21 – Campus Fundraiser: Members of “It Happens Here” raise money to furnish rooms in a safe house outside of Squires Student Center. Photo: Jordan White

by Whitney Turner–

Three Virginia Tech students have created an organization on campus to raise awareness of sex trafficking in Virginia called “It Happens Here.”

After working with victims of sex trafficking while on a mission trip together last spring break, Jordan White and Caroline Omland decided to use this issue as a platform for White’s homecoming campaign. When the homecoming campaign ended, White, Omland and their friend Kirsten Mitchell decided they didn’t want to stop educating people on this issue.

“We didn’t really see that people knew fully what it was or even that it existed in America or even that it existed at all,” said Mitchell. “So we really want to see people become more aware.”

In 2016, the National Human Trafficking Hotline reported that out of 148 cases of human trafficking in Virginia, 105 of them were sex trafficking cases.

In addition to education, “It Happens Here” seeks to fundraise and change legislation to combat this issue.

Having not had a haircut for over two and a half years, White used his mane to create a fundraiser to benefit Street Ransom, a safe house for victims of sex trafficking located in Roanoke, Va. By donating money to furnish rooms in the safe house, participants could vote on whether White should dread his hair, wear it as a fro, let it keep growing or get a buzz cut.

“Our initial goal was to furnish one room, $700 to $730 a room and we passed that in the first six hours,” said White. “Then we raised it to three rooms and we passed that a little over halfway through the campaign. So then we upped it to $5,000, which would furnish all of the rooms in the safe home.”

By the end of the fundraiser, White’s hair had raised $4,570 and won him a buzz cut.

White, Omland and Mitchell were surprised by the overwhelming interest and support their organization has received so far and they are hopeful that they can make a difference.

“I think people automatically assume that awareness isn’t really doing anything, that it’s not actually fighting against sex trafficking, but it is,” said Mitchell. “Because when you learn about it you’re stirred to action, you’re stirred to talk about it, you’re stirred to make other people realize this is happening.”

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Blacksburg, Va., April 25 – Raising Awareness: Kirsten Mitchell hopes to raise awareness of sex trafficking on Virginia Tech’s campus. Photo: Jun Yu

VT Thrift gives back

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Blacksburg, Va., April 6, 2017 – Founder of VT Thrift: Junior Virginia Tech student Carter Davis holding up one of his vintage thrift store Reebok jackets, which he sells on his Instagram page, @vt.thrift. Photo: Kameron Kopecky

by Kameron Kopecky–

Thrift store shopping, or “thrifting,” has become much more than a way for individuals to save money on clothing.  Over the past decade, thrifting has turned into what many would consider a “fad” or “trend.”  Individuals, mostly teens and young adults, head to thrift stores in search of vintage finds and retro threads at bargain prices.  However, one Virginia Tech student is taking it all a step further.

Carter Davis, a junior at Virginia Tech, has started a small business called VT Thrift.  Entirely operated through the social media photo sharing app Instagram, Davis uploads all of his thrift store finds to his profile and his followers can direct message him if they are interested in making a purchase.

The majority of purchases on VT Thrift come from Virginia Tech students.  However, he has sent clothes to buyers from Tennessee, New Jersey, and even Texas.  One offer even came from a follower in Germany.

A big reason Davis started VT Thrift was to give back.  He is a member of an organization at Virginia Tech called Out of the Darkness, which works with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, or AFSP, to help spread awareness of depression and prevent suicide.  The organization holds an annual Out of the Darkness Walk where individual walkers and teams walk around the Drillfield to raise money for the AFSP.  This year, Davis used a percentage of VT Thrift’s earnings to put towards his donation to the Out of the Darkness walk.

“I wanted to show that I didn’t care so much about the money.  I figured why not donate some of it to AFSP,” said Davis.

Davis donated $100 of VT Thrift’s earnings to the Out of the Darkness Walk and plans on donating a percentage of his earnings to a charity chosen every month by the VT Thrift followers.

Cadets honor April 16th victims with Memorial Guard

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Blacksburg, Va., Apr. 12 – April 16th Memorial Guard: As the 10th anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings approaches, cadets have already started preparing for their role of guarding the memorial during the candle lighting on the night of April 16th. Photo: David Jones

by David Jones–

Spring is a time for change and a time of renewing what was lost into something beautiful again. Even Virginia Tech knows exactly what it’s like to have lost and to become whole again.

April 16, 2017, marks the 10th anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings in which 32 Hokies lost their lives. Every year the university does, in many ways, its part to honor the memory of those who were taken too soon. This year will have a very special tribute in store, as members of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets have prepared to do their part during this emotional time.

The Corps found a way to honor the deceased. The candle lighting, which took place at midnight on April 16, 2017, was conducted in a ceremony featuring 32 cadets who were tasked with guarding each of the 32 stones that surround the front of the April 16th memorial which is located on the Drillfield.

Each cadet who held this privilege volunteered out of their love for the university and in memory of the individuals they’ll be guarding.

Noel Schaeffer, a senior member of the Corps, led the cadets’ role in the ceremonies. “Our presence that day will help ease someone’s feelings, might make some people feel certain ways but ultimately cadets are a part of the Hokie community as well and having such a prominent role in these ceremonies really helps to integrate every part of the community.”

“Our presence that day will help ease someone’s feelings, might make some people feel certain ways but ultimately cadets are a part of the Hokie community as well and having such a prominent role in these ceremonies really helps to integrate every part of the community,” Schaeffer said.

3.2 for 32 run preparations

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Blacksburg, Va., April 12 – Run to Remember: Signs and flyers for the 3.2 run can be found throughout Virginia Tech’s campus. The race starts outside of War Memorial Hall and ends at Burruss Hall. Photo: Haven Lewis

by Haven Lewis–

On the morning of April 15, Hokies and supporters laced up their running shoes and took to Virginia Tech’s campus for the 9th annual Run in Remembrance.

The run was designed as a memorial event for the victims of the mass shooting that took place on campus on April 16, 2007. The 3.2 miles represent the 32 students and faculty who lost their lives.

Alison Cross, the director of Recreational Sports at Virginia Tech, along with the department, created the event as a way to bring the community together in a positive setting.

According to Huffington Post, there are 13 mental health benefits of running which include alleviated depression and anxiety and increased happiness.

It’s not only current Virginia Tech students and Blacksburg residents that attend the run. Alumni travel from all over the country – California, Arizona and Florida.

Krista Gwilliam, Fitness Coordinator of Rec Sports, says that planning begins in November with the implementation team’s weekly meetings.

The event has a leadership team for each area – registration, route marshals, route set up, marketing.

The marketing staff includes 11 Virginia Tech students who design t-shirts, hang posters throughout campus, manage social media and do all they can to get the word out.

Additionally, five different fitness student staff members make up a leadership team that handle different aspects of the race on the day of the event.

The News Feed Special: We Remember

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In this special newscast, we commemorate the 32 individuals that lost their lives and remember those injured and deeply impacted by the tragic event that happened on Virginia Tech campus on April 16, 2007.

We also take a look at how the Virginia Tech and the New River Valley communities will never forget and how things have changed a decade later.

 

“Town” of Blacksburg Under Consideration

by Clare Rigney–

The Town of Blacksburg is bringing an idea off the back-burner that could greatly affect local businesses and the community. The Blacksburg Town Council is considering changing their status to a city.

According to the Roanoke Times, the idea has reappeared after being shelved years ago due to Blacksburg’s inability to buy back the former Blacksburg High School from the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors. When the county offered a bid of $3 million, an appraisal with which Blacksburg officials disagreed, Blacksburg mayor Ron Rordam brought it up once more.

“We’re a public entity, so we can’t afford commercial pricing for land,” said John Bush, who is in his third term as a member of Blacksburg Town Council.

Town Manager Marc Verniel will be responsible for presenting what steps Blacksburg would have to go through to make the conversion.

There are greater responsibilities that come with city status. According to the Washington Post, cities must have “schools, courts and jail, and constitutional officers such as a sheriff, prosecutor and Circuit Court clerk.”

A change such as this would potentially require Blacksburg to increase the real estate tax rate, but the people would no longer pay county real estate taxes. Bush also says that the town and county share responsibility for a lot of services, such as rescue and emergency services.

“Being a city would afford us some autonomy,” said Bush, “On the other hand, it might be quite trying for our schools who may be affected by the split.”

Something to consider is whether or not Blacksburg will be able to generate the necessary revenue from its population.

The prospect of becoming a city is an enticing one for many Blacksburg citizens, but Bush says that the “likelihood of that is small.”

“Unfortunately, there is some bad blood in the past between the county and the town but I don’t think it has to remain that way … There’s no sense in just continuing to hold grudges and not try to move forward because, at the end of the day, we’re bound by location. We’re neighbors,” Bush said.

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BLACKSBURG, Va. Town Council member John Bush. Photo credit: blacksburg.gov

An Uncommon Field: Women in Agriculture

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Blacksburg, Va., March 31- Women in Ag Panel: Six Virginia Tech alumni spoke about their experiences as a women in the agriculture industry. Photo: Katie Lukens

by Katie Lukens–

In an industry that is dominated by men over the age of 50, women are a minority in the agriculture industry. The image of farmers are men working the fields, not women plowing the land. Women control seven percent of farmland in American according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

“It’s a vermale-dominateded industry and a very older industry as well,” Julie McIntire Divis from PRE Brands said. “People have been there generations after generations. Their dad and grandfather worked on the same farm or in the same role.”

Divis was among the six women alumni from Virginia Tech gathered on March 31 to share their experiences, trials and triumphs in the agriculture industry. These women came from all over the industry including food science, dairy, equine and extension. They expressed their passion for their work and the importance of communicating with consumers.

Bridgett McIntosh, involved with equine at Virginia Tech, expressed her desire for women involved in agriculture to always be finding opportunities to work together. Everyone involved in agriculture has the same goal of feeding and clothing our world, so it makes sense to be working as a unified team. She also shared that feeling good about the work you’re doing matters.

“Compared with men, women don’t consider themselves as ready for promotions, they predict they’ll do worse on tests, and they generally underestimate their abilities,” The Atlantic states. This proved to be true as these women in agriculture shared their favorite accomplishments. These women had jobs to be proud of and resumes that were pages in length, but the room was quiet as they tried to answer this question.

“Being a young female coming into the agriculture industry, how do you put a stamp on the fact that I can do a good job too? Divis said. “I know what I’m talking about, I want to learn from you, but I also have a lot to provide and give. That may be new ideas and ways to do things that might be resisted in a very established well know industry that is male dominated.”

Although women are a minority in the agriculture industry, these Virginia Tech alumni were an example of the future that agriculture holds for young women perusing a degree in the field.

Divis left all women involved and hoping to get involved in the agriculture industry with an important question, “What are you going to do to highlight that women can succeed in the agriculture field, because we can.”