Journalism Capstone: Technology on campus

Capstone: Technology in a College setting

Technology manifests itself as both recreational and educational tools in college settings. There are the physical devices that come to mind when technology is mentioned: desktop computers, projectors, printers and scanners.

There are the technologies that students equip themselves with, like cell phones and laptops. A 2010 Pew Research indicates that 96 percent of undergraduates own cell phones and 88 percent own laptops.

Universities develop technology specifically for students and faculty, such as Desire to Learn, or D2L, on the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater campus. E-mail platforms, online teaching and blended classes are all growing on campus. UW-Whitewater’s website claims to offer more than 100 online or hybrid classes each semester. The school’s mission to stay modern is not one without costs.

Aimee Arnold, budget director at UWW, said the school receives $1.5 million for internal software alone. This figure includes only the financial system, human resource system, budget system, software contracts for companies such as Microsoft, and library resources.

“There are projects across campus happening all the time that involve remodeling and upgrading of facilities and classroom or laboratory modernization which involve technology and equipment and personnel resources.” Arnold said.

Implementing and keeping up with new technology in a university is more than just a financial endeavor. Continue reading Journalism Capstone: Technology on campus

The criminalization of first-offense DUIs in Wisconsin

With nearly 5,000 alcohol-related crashes in Wisconsin each year, penalties for first-time drunk drivers are an issue for voters to consider Nov. 4.

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Wisconsin is currently the only state where first-offense drunk driving is not a crime. According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s website, the first offense of driving while intoxicated is a $150-$300 fine and a 6-9 month license suspension. As a municipal offense, first-time drunk driving is comparable to a traffic ticket in the state.

Gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke said first-time DUIs should be criminalized as a misdemeanor in Wisconsin. Opponent Scott Walker said he would prefer to focus on toughening penalties for repeat offenders. Attorney general candidates Sue Happ and Brad Schimel both said there is no evidence to support the criminalization of drunk driving as an effective deterrent.

Some Wisconsinites favor Burke’s stance on the making first-offense DUIs misdemeanors. Recent polls showed up to 56 percent of participants in favor of criminalizing first-offense drunk driving. Judi Visco is a Kenosha, Wis. resident who supports making first-time drunk driving a misdemeanor.

Visco was driving to the grocery store on Halloween 2007 to get a candy bar when a drunk driver hit her vehicle. The collision shattered her arm from her shoulder to her fingertips. Visco underwent four surgeries to reinforce her bones with titanium and implant a neural transmitter into her spine to help with the pain. She now has to wear a prosthetic elbow since hers was damaged beyond repair.

Visco said taking away a drivers’ license isn’t enough to keep drunk drivers out of their vehicles. She also said jail time isn’t enough of a deterrent; if it was, people wouldn’t be committing their 10th DUIs.

“First-offense drunk driving needs to be criminalized. This is something that should follow you forever. I mean, it followed me forever,” Visco said.

Elizabeth Trudeau of Burlington lost her father when he was hit by a drunk driver in 1997. Trudeau supports the criminalization of drunk driving. She said punishment should be based on the severity of the incident, factoring in property damage and injury to others. She said jail time would serve as a warning to other potential DUI offenders.

“There would be more people that understand that driving while intoxicated is a very severe offense,” Trudeau said. “There would be more people alive if offenders didn’t think they could get away with it.”

Trudeau also said rehabilitation programs, mandatory Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and a temporary alcohol ban should be enforced for offenders.

Attorney Todd Terry said the official criminalization wouldn’t actually change much for first-time offenders. Terry is the prosecutor for Kenosha and Racine counties and deals with drunk driving cases most of his workdays.

“I don’t know that it would have any more of a deterrent effect than it does now as a municipal offense,” Terry said.

Terry said the penalties for first-time offenses as a crime or a misdemeanor would be similar: paying a large fine, losing operating privileges and disclosing the offense to potential employers. The only real difference he noted was being labeled a convicted criminal.

“From my perspective, for the first offense, the goal is to wake people up and educate people,” Terry said.

Terry said the criminalization of first-offense drunk driving would overload the courts. He handles 15 cases each month, and he estimated his partners handle another 50, which doesn’t include those who plead guilty. That number would increase if all DUIs were misdemeanors instead of municipal offenses. The current law allows municipalities to handle offenders locally.

Terry also said there are a lot of forces working against implementing a new law, from the expense to the Wisconsin Tavern League.

“No matter who’s elected or what they try to do, change never comes easy,” Terry said. “And it definitely doesn’t come without complaints.”

Attorney Todd A. Terry