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News | Top

Digital Pirates Walk Plank: RIAA corners file sharing students
By Vincent Civitillo
Published on November 19, 2004 in The Rider News newspaper

LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J. - The actions against Internet music sharing have struck Rider University as students on both the Lawrenceville and Westminster campuses have been targeted by the industry.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has notified the Office of Information Technologies (OIT) of five students, three within the last month, who have violated copyright law by using the Rider network to upload illegally pirated songs to others, said Associate Vice-President for Student Affairs Anthony Campbell.

"Nobody has access to our network outside of Rider, but the RIAA has embedded different things into their songs that allow them to monitor where they go," he said. "If it's their copyrighted material, they can track the IP address of where it goes and see that the IP address is owned by Rider University. From there, the University is required to disable their music downloading capabilities and send a letter informing the student of what has happened."

When students' downloading capabilities are shut down, the rest of their Internet access remains intact, according to OIT Networks/Communications Director Timothy Fairlie.

"We have network management tools that can, in most cases, identify the types of traffic on the network and where they are coming from and going to," he said. "These tools can usually block those specific types of traffic without shutting the user’s connection down completely."

While no legal action is taken at this point in the process, if a student is caught repeatedly breaking the policy, the person is identified and the owner of the copyrighted material is then entitled to seek monetary compensation that can exceed $150,000.

Currently, according to Campbell, none of the five Rider students have had such further action taken against them.

At this point, the letters target only those who upload, either actively or passively, allowing others to download from their shared music folder, Fairlie said. Therefore, those looking to avoid attracting the attention of the RIAA are advised to disable access to their shared folders.

"While downloading songs that you have not paid for is as illegal as stealing a CD off a store shelf, the RIAA letters refer to songs that are shared," Fairlie said. "They do not, or at least have not yet, sent us any letters about students downloading music."

However, while downloading may not currently exist as a legal issue for students, it is creating other problems, said Campbell.

"We tested the network for one hour, two weeks ago, from noon to 1 p.m. and there were about 117,000 songs downloaded in that time," he said. "That's a problem because people can't get to the Internet to do their academic work. We can go to the extreme of shutting it all down or not doing anything at all, but we're trying to find some middle ground."

Three student organizations—the Rider President's Council, the Senate and the Residence Hall Association—have been tapped for suggestions, according to Junior-Class Treasurer Melissa Tresselt, who said the Senate is in support of a ban on peer-to-peer sharing.

"Our network has been way too slow lately to a point where it takes me about an hour to download anything with streaming video in it," she said. "If the music traffic on the network came to an end, it would fly."

Many students are still in support of peer-to-peer sharing, like sophomore Adam Moltisanti, who said that so long as prices for albums remain as high as they are, people will continue to download illegally.

"Some of these CD prices are getting so outrageous that it doesn’t pay to buy them," he said. "The price to manufacture a CD is so insignificant to what they’re charging for them that the only albums I would buy are ones from 'indie' groups because they’re making so little anyway."

Dr. Jonathan Millen, a Communications professor who teaches the History of Rock 'n' Roll class, said that if part of the problem is that fans refuse to buy albums, perhaps a re-conceptualization of the industry itself is necessary.

"They should give the music away for free and stop making commercially produced CDs," he said. "Groups have done this with tremendous success going back to the Grateful Dead and recently Prince where you pay for the performance and the merchandise. They need to go in another direction because the action they’re taking is not having any impact. I always ask my classes who's still downloading and all the hands go up."

In the meantime, Campbell suggests that the problem with bandwidth Rider is currently facing could be solved by designating times where the network could be opened specifically for the use of legal peer-to-peer sharing.

"We have a way of prioritizing so that academic things prioritize over non-academic things, which we've been doing for years," he said. "What we're looking at now is maybe creating times where there would be extended access to downloads. Maybe there are times when students are not typically doing their homework that the server could be used for more recreational purposes."

Features | Top

Campus organization strives to support those in need
By Vincent Civitillo
Published on December 6, 2002 in The Rider News newspaper

For students making the transition into a college environment, acceptance amongst peers can be a difficult thing to attain. However, it can be even tougher when a student feels as though they are different because of their race, personality or sexual orientation.

Rider F.L.A.G. (Friends of Lesbians and Gays) is an organization on campus, which according to junior Gio Buscetta, hopes to provide those in need of a friend with somewhere to turn.

"F.L.A.G. is something I hold very important because it is a safe haven for me," he said. "To me, it is more than just a support group. It gives me a sense of pride, a sense of belonging and a sense that I'm not abnormal."

President Kyle Zack said that the organization acts as a means for students to find support in a friendly atmosphere that they may not be able to find elsewhere.

"If you're made fun of for being black, you have a black family to go home to; if you're made fun of for being Jewish you have a Jewish family to go home to; if you're made fun of for being gay though, you don't have any one to turn to unless you have a gay friend," he said. "Unlike a lot of other minorities, homosexuality is not something you can physically see in people, so you can't just see a group of people like you hanging out somewhere that you could make friends with."

According to Zack, the weekly meetings are run in a "laid back," relaxed format so that students can feel comfortable coming to have a good time.

"Some weeks we'll hit on serious issues and other times we'll have pizza, game and movie nights," he said. "We had a sex battle game once where I tested their knowledge on sexually transmitted diseases and gave out condoms for points. Another time I had a coming-out story-night on National Coming-Out Day and we painted a banner and put it up in the Student Center."

Because of the relaxed, fun atmosphere Vice-President Jason Wooden said that meetings are not just open to lesbians and gays, but to anyone.

"There are many 'friends of' that come because F.L.A.G. is not people who are gay sitting around talking about being gay," he said. "We're not living a lifestyle, we're living a life just like you're living a life and people are tolerant of that. We've had meetings where the amount of 'friends' outnumbered the amount of 'out' gay people in the room."

Still, throughout all the fun and games, Zack said the ultimate goal of F.L.A.G. is to provide support for students in need, even when they may be too timid to come to a meeting in person.

"We have an e-mail address, RiderFlag@hotmail.com, and we're actually going to start a thing where people who are still 'closeted,' and don't necessarily have someone to turn to, can anonymously e-mail us for whatever support we can provide," he said.

However, one obstacle Rider F.L.A.G. must still overcome, according to Zack, is their lack of university funding.

"We have such a very ambitious board that would like to get so much done, but it's hard to plan things because we don't have a budget," the president said. "So it's hard to say what we can and can't do, but we're putting in a budget proposal for next semester and crossing our fingers."

Zack said that included in the organization's goals for next semester is their continuing battle to rebuild their name in the Rider community and get better recognition on campus as the resource they are.

"What brings an organization money is their membership and their presence on campus, so we want that because L.A.S.O. (the Latin American Student Organization) and the Black Student Union have a huge presence here," he explained. "These are minority groups for people who may not feel comfortable and need support, and I want F.L.A.G. to have the same thing."

Wooden said that in addition to just being there for other people in need, members could help their cause in many different ways.

"It's not like pledging a fraternity, it's just an organization, so we just encourage people to come to the meetings and be involved however they feel comfortable," he said. "Whether it's getting behind a table at Awareness Day, speaking in public or even just being artistic and making a banner, you can contribute in any way that you feel you can. What you put in is what you can take away, and the best benefit that you can get from it is friendship."

Reviews | Top

Green Day reclaims its place in 'American' culture
By Vincent Civitillo
Published on November 12, 2004 in The Rider News newspaper

How Green Day, a simple punk/pop band out of northern California, has managed to stay in the pop-mainstream for ten years, amazes even me (who defended that they would do just that to every skeptical adult I knew when I was 12 years old).

Although the band never reclaimed the success they found with their eight-times-platinum masterpiece Dookie, Insomniac was a strong follow-up and "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" attracted enough sales to keep Nimrod afloat before the disappointing Warning took the band out of the spotlight for a few years.

However, their 2004 effort American Idiot, while still not quite capable of capturing Dookie's raw charm, is an interesting piece in its own right. A ballad that marries their classic '70s punk-inspired chords with a more political Billie Joe Armstrong, Idiot takes the band in a new direction that perhaps their downward spiral of success suggests they should have taken years ago.

The opening/title track, where Armstrong belts out "I'm not part of a redneck agenda / Now everybody do the propaganda / And sing along at the edge of paranoia," is an attempt, that resonates throughout the album, to show a more mature Green Day in a post-9/11 America.

The lyrics suggest that the band we knew over the past decade, whose most popular subject matter tackled dementia, masturbation and boredom, have uncharacteristically grown up alongside us. They are openly against the war in Iraq, and fiercely against the media's role in it, which is a long stride from many of their songs in the past about simply being stoned.

Although tracks "Jesus of Suburbia" and "Whatsername" are also powerful, American Idiot's highlight comes about a quarter of the way through with "Boulevard of Broken Dreams."

The cut is a superior redux of Nimrod's "Walking Alone" with a slower pace that also works for the personal "Wake Me Up When September Ends" later in the album. Like "Walking Alone," "Broken Dreams" is sung from the viewpoint of a desperate outsider looking in, "My shadow's the only one that walks beside me / My shallow heart's the only thing that's beating / Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me / 'Til then I walk alone." As a punk band, Green Day's target audience has always been those that feel like outsiders, but "Broken Dreams" is an especially good fit here during an era where Americans feel more paranoid and detached than ever.

Surprising as it is, few mainstream bands have recently hit on the events of 9/11 and the resulting war, but even fewer have made an attempt at vocalizing what it's like living in a paranoid America as a result of them.

While the themes in American Idiot may not seem typical of the band that gave us "Basket Case" years ago, Green Day has stayed loyal to their punk roots while producing an intelligent and socially relevant piece that proves this once-fading group clearly has more to offer.

2.5 of 4 stars

Opinion | Top

Life's Lessons: Gone too soon
By Vincent Civitillo
Published on September 26, 2003 in The Rider News newspaper

I knew a girl in high school named Stephanie. We weren't best friends or anything, but we swam together for our school's team and she could always manage to cheer me up when meets went long or races didn't really go my way.

She was smart, funny and always a lot of fun to be around. She's the kind of girl that I know would be having a ton of fun in college right now with all sorts of friends, except that she's dead.

One night over the summer before our senior year, Stephanie went to a party and had a little too much to drink. Nobody was really around while she was driving home, so nobody could really help her when she crashed her car into a tree.

I was on vacation at the time, but when I came home and saw the stack of newspapers that had accumulated at our door, I'll never forget the story with the picture of her on the front page of the one on top.

I couldn't believe it; in fact, my first reaction was to think it was some kind of really sick and distasteful joke. I mean this wasn't some random person from TV or anything, this was someone I knew. This was real.

We were only 17 years old at the time. I could never have imagined 8 and a half could be considered middle-aged. It's just not the way we look at life. We expect to grow old and retire as senior citizens with kids of our own with kids of their own. But in truth, Stephanie taught me that every day we have is a gift because you never know when tomorrow won't come.

I have a number of friends who drink, and every one of them will tell you that stories like this are few and far between. They say that they're all just made up for Truth.com commercials or alcohol awareness speeches. But I assure you, they're not.

These kinds of tragedies happen everyday to people we all know and love because as much as we'd like to think that we're invincible and that we'll always find our way home in the night, no matter how much fun we've had, sometimes it's just not true.

Sometimes it takes a person like Stephanie not coming back to school for senior year to open our eyes and show us just how silly we can all be when we go out and party until we can't remember the night.

Is it really worth it when there are so many other things we can be doing with our time? I know studying can get boring real quickly and it can seem like there's little to do on a campus that shuts down over the weekend, but there's got to be something better. Watch a movie, grab some friends and play soccer, work out or even read a book.

It's been about three years since she left and now that I think about what Alcohol Awareness Week means to me, I know without reservation why it is I don't drink. Thank you Stephanie, for teaching me one of life's greatest lessons, and thanks for always making those long meets a little funnier.

Sports | Top

Dream Season Ends in Triumph: Swimming, diving make splash
By Vincent Civitillo
Published on February 28, 2003 in The Rider News newspaper

Both the women's and men's Rider swimming and diving teams took the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Championships by storm this weekend in Baltimore, placing first and second overall, respectively, and setting three new individual records.

Co-captain Melissa Michalov was named the women's Most Outstanding Swimmer, setting MAAC records in the 100 backstroke (59.05) and the 200 backstroke (2:06.94) and sophomore Brad Lacey was named the men's Most Outstanding Swimmer after setting a new MAAC record in the 1,000 freestyle (9:34.97) and winning the 1,650 free with a time of 16:10.06.

However, despite being the women's second MAAC title in three years, Most Outstanding Diver-recipient Erin Moore said that the team did not go in expecting a first place finish.

"We thought Marist was going to take the MAAC, but we really wanted it," Moore said. "Everybody went out there to win, but what really got us going was the support from the rest of the team, we were up on the deck cheering for the guys during every one of their races, and they were up there cheering for us too."

The men, who finished second to Marist with a score of 961.50 to 798.50, were shooting for a first place ranking, but according to Lacey, were satisfied with their performance.

"A couple of things didn't go our way; a few of the calls the refs made disqualified a few of our swimmers that really shouldn't have, but we had a great meet anyway," he said. "We expected to win, but we're definitely happy with the results and we're going to really train hard to make it up for next year."

Highlights included, senior Rob Baier winning his fourth Most Outstanding Diver Award by winning the 3-meter (514.55) and placing second in the 1-meter (250.2), and the awarding of five additional gold medals to sophomore Sam Engle for the 200 backstroke (1:49.48), senior Cliff Young in the 200 breaststroke (2:23.87) freshman Kristen Enoch in the 200 breaststroke (2:23.87), sophomore Briana Cohen in the 200 butterfly (2:10.98) and the 400 freestyle relay team of Michalov, freshman Jen Feenstra, co-captain Melissa Morrissy and Cohen, who came in at 3:35.26.

"With the winning of that 400 relay, everybody was just so excited and it just made an amazing season come to a really fitting end," Michalov said. "For me, being a senior, seeing everybody pull together like that and do so successfully as a team, made my last year with the group just so much better."

Contributing to the team's depth were second place finishes by Morrissy in the 200 breaststroke (2:25.29) and the men's 400 freestyle relay, Engle, co-captain Brandon Pierce, freshman Daniel Burgass and Young, who touched out at 3:08.64. Sophomore Bobby DeSandre and freshman Lindsay O'Shea placed third in the 200 butterfly and 1,650 free with times of 1:53.91 and 17:49.88, respectively.

However, in addition to eight of their members, Michalov, junior Catherine Stafford, Cohen, sophomore Lisa Ferragano, co-captain Brian Tokar, junior Andrew Shore, Engle and DeSandre, being named to the MAAC All-Academic team, the swimming and diving squads have even more to celebrate, as they will head out to the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Championships at the University of Pittsburgh, March 1-2.

"It's a big honor because individuals need certain qualifying times to make it in to the meet," Michalov said. "Last year the women only ranked about 18th at the ECAC, because we only had about four of our girls go, but this time we have about half the team competing, so we expect to do a lot better."

Editorial | Top

Women's liberties in danger
By Vincent Civitillo
Published on October 1, 2004 in The Rider News newspaper

With the first Presidential Debate behind us and only a month to go before the big election, it is important to look at where the candidates have been to see where they're likely to go over the next several years.

With that in mind, analyzing President Bush's legacy, whether his term ends in a few months or a few years, it is likely that afterwards he will be most known for his offensive strikes. However, with the focus on the ongoing war in Iraq, one of the victims of Bush's strategic maneuvers has likely gone unnoticed; the American woman.

Only last year women celebrated the 30-year anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade case that secured a woman's right to have an abortion if she so chose, but this April when Bush used the public's fixation with the Scott Peterson trial to sign into action the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (otherwise referred to by Bush as "Laci and Conner’s Law" to entice the sentimentally inclined) it became his most recent step in a campaign that has endured as long as his war on terror.

In one of his first maneuvers in office on January 22, 2001, Bush reinstated the Mexico City policy that denies U.S. money for international groups that support abortion. "It is my conviction that taxpayer funds should not be used to pay for abortions or advocate or actively promote abortion, either here or abroad," he said.

In addition, Bush placed strict restrictions on human embryonic stem cell research, extended state health coverage to "unborn children" and signed the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, making the late-abortion procedure illegal.

The tragedies of Laci Peterson's murder, as well as the family's loss of the unborn child, are not atrocities to be ignored. Indeed, the murder of a mother-to-be is a monstrosity of human indecency that goes undeniably without debate, but using an innocent woman's death to advance your own agenda is low even for a president who started a war over imaginary weapons.

It is possible that in the years to come, using the Unborn Victims of Violence Act as a precedent, the decisions of Roe v. Wade could be overturned and a woman's right to choose whether or not to abort a pregnancy could be deemed unconstitutional. After all, the specific wording of the act refers to an unborn child as a "member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development." Thereby, using that definition as a basis for appeal, one could easily define abortion as murder in the first degree as the intentionally orchestrated murder of a member of the human species.

Perhaps worse than Bush's campaign against pro-choice proponents though, is the fact that these laws are consistently changing from presidential administration to administration. The previously mentioned Mexico City policy was announced by former President Ronald Reagan in 1984, only to be rescinded by Bill Clinton in 1993, only to be restored by Bush in 2003.

It is a known fact that presidential candidate John Kerry voted against both the Partial Birth Abortion Act and the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which then beckons the question, if elected, will Kerry try to "right the wrongs" of his predecessor and rescind Bush's pro-life legislation?

The issue of abortion is too sensitive to be juggled around from president to president every four years simply because of an elected official's personal views on the subject. When a leader accepts a position of power and influence it is not their duty to change every aspect of their organization or country to meet their own personal agenda.

Therefore, people should begin to realize that taking up the mantle of President of the United States comes with a certain level of responsibility and does not entitle them to overturn 30 years worth of legislation simply because of their own beliefs, be they liberal or conservative.