What's Eating Crow?

Arizona State University president Michael Crow's stepped up his campaign to turn the most populous main campus in the nation into America's most sterile institution of higher learning.

Having already neutered ASU's unruly fraternity community and squashed any display of politically oriented window decorations in dorm windows (because college kids should be studying quantum physics, not promoting a safer environment or backing a political candidate -- what do they think this is, the '60s?!), the pugnacious prez has set his sights on making sure students keep their rooms neat and tidy.

Last month, officials from the university's Residential Life division pumped up inspections of campus dormitories and began nosing around for sanitary, security and safety violations. Where these pop quizzes previously occurred during winter break (when most students have taken their trashy selves back home to Mommy), ResLife officials now plan to sniff sheets once every semester.

Don't believe what you hear about birds of a feather flocking together, because Crow didn't return any of this prying pigeon's phone calls on the subject. Crow crony (and Associate Vice President for Public Affairs) Virgil Renzulli referred this acerbic avian to Residential Life spokesperson Susan Mulligan, who blathered that "President Crow wants to enhance safety, security, and sanitary conditions all around campus, so [the inspections] are an initiative we undertook to address that."

Mulligan says ResLife is on the lookout for grimy countertops, spoiled food, and piles of trash (read: the contents of most college dorm rooms) more than it is weapons, drugs, or alcohol (read: all the things that make college fun). Does this mean Joe College can hide his bong in plain sight? Potential scofflaws, Mulligan claims, will have a week's notice to disappear any unkempt or illicit activities.

In other words, stash your stash, kiddies! Students who don't will be subjected to an Orwellian behavior education system that requires paying a fine and completing multi-hour interactive computer courses on the evils of drugs, alcohol and other college staples.

Dorm rat mutterings have been heard, most of them pertaining to this "invasion of privacy," which this middle finger extended takes to mean the kids are angry because -- just when they thought they'd gotten away from Mom and chores! -- they still have to clean their damn rooms or be grounded.

"And anyway," The Bird can imagine these teens whining, "where will we find time to devote to Emperor Crow's big-money scientific studies if we have to take the trash out?"

Indeed. And shouldn't Crow and company be less concerned with turning out good little housekeepers and more concerned with Big Brother's latest attempts to muscle his way onto campus?

Word has reached The Bird that the computer nerds from ASU's Information Technology division are being bullied by both the U.S. Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission into a billion-dollar systems upgrade that would permit wiretapping of computer networks at universities nationwide. Because, as any fool knows, the best place for a potential terrorist to hide out while he plans the destruction of our nation is in Professor Goldfarb's Anatomy 101 class.

William Lewis, ASU's chief disinformation officer, says America's favorite party school has jumped onto a multi-college lawsuit filed in the federal court that will make ASU exempt from this nosy upgrade.

But Lewis, like all the college kids who must shirk their studies in favor of housekeeping duties, is wasting his time. Doesn't he know that Commander Crow sits on the board of trustees for In-Q-Tel, a nonprofit research organization created by the CIA to find and develop cutting-edge technology?

If The Bird were running this dirty-dormed school, it would just call Crow's connections and ask the feds to back off from potentially sorting through ASU students' e-mails. Or maybe, instead of asking students to change their underwear more often, ASU eggheads could use their recent research in implanting microchips into the brains of rhesus monkeys and zap them into the noggins of average college slobs.

Well, Hello, Dalai!

No doubt about it: His Holiness the Dalai Lama has had a hell of a run, what with marauding Communist Chinese chasing him out of Tibet and killing thousands of his friends and followers in the process.

In fact, if the Chinese had their way, "Mr. Lama," as a local TV station recently dubbed him, would be in another phase of his eternal reincarnation: He'd be dead.

But here he was this fall, a delightful and brilliant older gent spinning ancient yarns and considering eternal truths in the tony surroundings of Tucson's J.W. Marriott Starr Pass Resort. Tickets for the long-awaited three-day event sponsored by Arizona Teachings, Inc. started at $285, a price tag that didn't dissuade the thousands of supplicants who filled the huge banquet room for six two-hour sessions.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela