Deaf college students pursue computing at UW

Interview: Tucker Max

Professional asshole and author of I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell Tucker Max is making an appearance at the U-Book Store tonight to promote his latest installment of wild tales, Assholes Finish First. The Daily spoke with Max about his hatred of USC and delved into his principles of breaking the law.

Q: You’re coming to the U-Book Store on Thursday to promote your new book, Assholes Finish First. How is it different than I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell?

A: “It’s not a whole lot different. It’s just new stories. Same tone, same style, same comedy, voice, everything. There’s two parts to the book. The second half of the book is a little bit different, just in that it’s about hookup stories about girls that came to me once I was famous and how that’s different. But it’s sort of like “same

s---, different day.”

Q: Do you think that your book I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell is better than the movie?

A: “I think they’re different. It’s like you can’t say pizza is better than hamburgers necessarily — they’re very, very different things. I mean, it doesn’t make any sense to compare them because they’re different mediums.”

Q: Would you tell people to read the book or to see the movie?

A: “It depends. If someone doesn’t like reading, I’d probably tell them to see the movie. If someone likes reading, I’d probably tell them to read the book. If they wanted to do both I’d probably tell them to see the movie first and then read the book.”

Q: Have you heard any stories about the UW?

A: “I was up there last year. We had a great time, actually. The second movie premiered in Seattle; it was fantastic. I don’t know much about UW, but your football team keeps beating USC which is f---in’ awesome, cause I hate those guys.”

Q: Me too. How does it feel to be known as one of the biggest assholes in America?

A: “I mean, as long as people buy my book, it’s good enough for me.”

Q: How does it feel to be one of the founding fathers of “Fratire?” [Editor’s note: “Fratire” was a term coined by New York Times writer Warren St. John to describe books like Max’s in an article published in 2006. St. John describes these types of books as “combin[ing] a fraternity house-style celebration of masculinity with a mocking attitude toward social convention, traditional male roles and aspirations of power and authority.”]

A: “I don’t know how it feels necessarily — I mean, it’s pretty cool, I guess. I guess it’s pretty cool that I invented the genre of literature, but it’s not like I wake up everyday like, ‘Boy, I’m a founding father of Fratire. I’m just invigorated to face the day’ or something.” (laughs)

Q: I know you have a law degree, so how often have you used your knowledge of the law to get out of trouble?

A: “Not as much as I would have if I had gone to class. I hardly ever went to class, and I really didn’t learn a lot in law school about legal stuff. I was too busy drinking and partying.”

Q: Did you pass the bar [exam]?

A: “I didn’t take the bar [exam]. You have to take it to pass it.”

Q: What is your philosophy on breaking the law?

A: (Laughs) “I think it completely depends on what law it is you’re talking about. Some laws I think you should absolutely break; other laws, probably not. Like I’m not going to murder anybody but uh, you know, if my buddies want to smoke pot, I’m cool with that.”

Q: Alright. What advice do you have for college students?

A: “Um, the big advice that I always give college students is that when you’re in college, you have every opportunity to take risks and explore new things and kind of go down the path less traveled, and you should absolutely take advantage of that, because once you get stuck in a cubicle, you may never get out. The only way to avoid that is to start now.”

Q: Definitely. I totally agree with that. You have this story about Ms. Vermont, I know you talk about this all the time, but how did you manage to get out of that one?

A: “I didn’t get out of anything. In the American legal system, truth is the absolute defense to libel and so — it’s very complicated — but basically because I was telling the truth about her, her case was dismissed. I was right.”

Q: How much exaggeration do you use in the stories you put in your books?

A: “Not very much, if any. I’m not writing police reports you know, so I’m not super concerned about being exactly, precisely correct about everything. But at the same time, I don’t really, like, make anything up. All the things I say happened, happened. The things that I say people said are basically what they said, at least as well as I remember it. If I was making stuff up I would make myself look a lot cooler.”

Reach reporter Al Jacobs at weekender@dailyuw.com.

UW drops lobbying for tuition-setting control

Interim-President Phyllis Wise took some faculty and student leadership by surprise in a Faculty Senate Executive Meeting report Monday, where she made it clear the UW would not pursue one of the strategies it most actively lobbied for last year — tuition-setting authority.

Last year, the university lobbied and was ultimately successful in helping Sen. Derek Kilmer (D-26th District) draft a bill that would grant three state universities tuition-setting authority: the UW, Western Washington University and Washington State University. The bill ultimately moved through the Senate but never cleared the House of Representatives in the 2009-2010 legislative session.

Wise said that instead of lobbying for the UW administration to set tuition themselves, the university is now going to pursue greater cooperation with state legislators.

“What we feel is what we really want to have is a much deeper and broader conversation [with legislators],” Wise said at the meeting. “If the state cannot support its level of support, we have got to come up with other ways to fill that gap.”

Margaret Shepherd, UW director of state relations, said the UW will move from a conversation about authority, which was a point of contention between the Legislature, students and administration last year, toward one about securing adequate funding for the university.

“Instead of talking about who sets what, we want to talk about what are the adequate resources necessary to fund our public higher education system,” Shepherd said.

The news came as a shock to many members of the ASUW Executive Board, who had already formulated their legislative agenda around lobbying against the possibility of UW tuition-setting control. The board members first learned about it at last Monday’s meeting, and are currently planning on following up with Wise about the decision and why they were never informed earlier.

The ASUW has long supported the current method, which only allows the Legislature to set tuition, ensuring greater accountability than what they feel could be promised if it were in the administration’s hands. ASUW Vice President Eric Shellan said to The Daily last year that “proximity doesn’t guarantee accountability.”

Quinn Majeski, director of the ASUW’s Office of Government Relations, said he is overall pleased with the decision, regardless of how it came about.

“We would have preferred to hear it more directly, but we’ve held this position for a while now and it’s good that the administration agrees with us at this point,” Majeski said.

ASUW President Madeleine McKenna, however, said she will reserve most judgment until she learns more about what initiated the decision.

“In some ways it is a good thing, but until we know more about the intentions behind this recent move, I would say that it is affecting what our legislative strategy is going to be,” McKenna said. She has contacted Wise inquiring about the change.

Faculty Senate Chair J.W. Harrington also said he had not anticipated the announcement.

“It was a surprise to me and to most of us,” Harrington said. “My guess, wonder, is that maybe it’s really more about messaging that we don’t want to ask for tuition-setting authority because A, we wouldn’t get that, and B, it’s not what the people of the state probably want, and it’s not what the students want.”

Wise did not fully rule out the prospect of lobbying for tuition-setting authority in the future, but said that it is “not where we want to start” when dealing with legislators.

Though the decision might not have an immediate impact on tuition, it will keep the authority in the hands of the Legislature, which currently can only raise the tuition by 7 percent annually. In Kilmer’s bill, the administration would have had the ability to raise tuition by up to 14 percent each year, but by no more than a 10 percent average over 10 years.

“Look at the five avenues of revenue [for the UW]: state, tuition, commercialization, research grants and contracts, and gifts, and we’ve got to figure it out.” Wise said. “We’ve got ingredients in this cake.”

Reach reporter William Dow at news@dailyuw.com.

Tracking Tuition

Possible tuition increases if UW had tuition-setting authority from Kilmer Bill:

A one-time 14-percent increase would mean a tuition rate of $8509 in 2011

A 7-percent annual increase starting now would mean $13,664 in 2018

A 10-percent annual increase starting now would mean $16,582 in 2010

Source: Washington's Office of Financial Management

For nine weeks this summer, 20 deaf and hard-of-hearing students from across the nation are participating in the Summer Academy for Advancing Deaf & Hard of Hearing in Computing on the UW campus.

According to the program's Web site, the academy is designed for deaf, deaf-blind or hard-of-hearing students who are older than 18 and entering their freshman, sophomore or junior years of college. The class is targeted toward students with skills in math or science who are majoring in computing fields.

Students take one class from participating programs for credit, such as applied math or informatics, as well as group animation projects where they learn about technology and techniques used to make animated movies. By the end of the course on Aug. 17, the students will have produced an animated short.

"Students work individually on their projects during lab, and I'm here in case they have further questions," Michael Carson, a co-teacher for the academy, said.

Cesar Lopez, a student in the class, heard about the program from a teacher and decided to apply. He said he really enjoyed the animation portion of the program.

"We use a program called Maya to work on our lighting project," Lopez said, speaking through interpreter Chris Lyles.

Using a model bedroom on the computer, he demonstrated how moving light outside the room gradually hid a bed in the shadows until it appeared to be night.

Bobby Jackson, another student, said he found out about the class through a high school counselor.

"My favorite part of the program would have to be animation," Jackson said, also speaking through Lyles.

In addition to classes, students have the opportunity to tour local high-tech companies. Program Co-Director Richard Ladner said deaf or hard-of-hearing professionals also come speak to students about their experience obtaining advanced degrees and pursuing careers in computer science.

Patrick Vellia, said he prefers to work on discrete mathematics instead of animation.

Discrete mathematics is a basic math class about computing that covers things computer science majors are required to know, Ladner said.

Vellia found out about the academy through his counselor and the disability services at his school.

"I came to learn about mathematics for computer science, but I like the entire program," he said, speaking through Ladner.

The number of deaf or hard-of-hearing people with doctorate degrees in computer science remains very low, Ladner said.

"This is the first of at least two years [of funding] for the academy, and we hope to make the program grow," he said. "Success comes from two things: motivation and skill. This program provides both."

Reach reporter Chris Paredes at news@thedaily.washington.edu

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