College admission should not center on standardized tests

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Aug 312006
Authors: ALEX CLARK Daily Nebraskan U. Nebraska

(U-WIRE) LINCOLN, Neb. – When I read last week about the changes in national average SAT and ACT scores for 2006 compared to previous years, I began thinking again about how the American education system’s emphasis on these sorts of scores is thoroughly rotten.

Apparently, national ACT averages have gone up from 20.9 to 21.1, which means high school seniors are getting smarter. Meanwhile, average SAT critical reading scores have dropped from 508 to 503and the math mean has dropped from 520 to 518, which means high school seniors are getting dumber.

Are you skeptical of the importance of these changes in light of their contradictory messages? Do you doubt the ability of standardized tests to say anything important and accurate about incoming freshmen’s academic abilities and value to a university?

If yes, I’d like to invite you to join me in making a one-handed “wanking” gesture to express disapproval of the cult of standardized testing’s national self-aggrandizement.

The makers of the SAT have attributed the national drop in average SAT scores to the fact that fewer people retook the test this past year, and, typically, students’ scores increase a little on subsequent retestings. The organization says it has nothing to do with the fact that the new writing section has stretched out the duration of the test by 25 percent.

For the record, Nebraska’s average ACT scores have climbed from 21.8 to 21.9. The Cornhusker State’s SAT reading and math scores jumped 2 and 4 points, respectively.

Wow, is your hand getting tired, too?

A lot of people in higher education already know to take standardized test scores with a huge grain of salt.

In a story published in the Daily Nebraskan on March 31 concerning 4,000 incorrectly low-scored SAT tests, Craig Munier, the director of the Scholarship and Financial Aid Office at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, pointed out class rank is a much better indicator of ability than test scores. He said that his office shies away from focusing too much on test scores.

More famous is the 2001 criticism of standardized testing by University of California President Richard C. Atkinson.

His speech was a key part of the reason why the SAT and ACT both now include writing sections.

In his speech entitled “Standardized Tests and Access to American Universities,” Atkinson advocated abandoning the SAT I as a requirement of admission to the UC system and a shift away from formulaic admission procedures with heavy emphasis on test scores.

He instead favors entrance tests that demonstrate students’ “mastery of specific subject areas.”

This is a superb goal and part of the reason why I see the ACT rather than the SAT as the lesser of two evils. At least when I took them, the ACT seemed less a test of “cleverness” and more a test of skills you should learn in high school.

And yet, tests of mastery rather than “aptitude” are still pretty onerous without something to give admissions staff a sense of a student’s circumstances and character.

I’ll use myself as an example. When I applied to UNL four years ago, I guess I mailed the university proof of the right magic numbers to get it to toss a little scholarship money my way.

But what the magic numbers didn’t show is that though I’m kind of “clever,” I’m a pretty awful student. I have little self-discipline, a very short attention span and poor study skills. When I have coursework, I always wait until the last possible moment to complete it, if I complete it at all. Self-motivation is not my strong point.

So a lot of what should never have been offered to me in the first place during my freshman year was yanked away abruptly when my grades proved to be mediocre.

Meanwhile, I know lots of highly organized, high-performing, very deserving classmates who never even got the scholarship opportunities I wasted because they’re bad at math.

Applying to be an undergraduate student at a university should be more like applying for a job. It should revolve around cover sheets, resum/s, personal statements, letters of recommendation and interviews.

Writing a novel just for fun, speaking four languages, building robots in your garage or volunteering for hundreds of hours on political campaigns should count more than a 36 or a 1600.

There isn’t a field on UNL’s application for undergraduate admission where you can write things like that, though there is space to indicate three dates of both SAT and ACT testing. A note above these blanks warns, “The writing portion of both the SAT and ACT is not used for admission purposes at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.”

There is an invitation near the end to send a resum/, but the application says this is only for leadership-based scholarships such as the Chancellor’s Leadership Scholarship and the Pepsi Service scholarship, each good for $1000 your freshman year only.

These are piddly compared to scholarships like the Regent’s Scholarship, Nebraska Top Scholars and David Distinguished Scholarship. These are based solely on magic numbers and much more valuable.

Shifting emphases in admissions and scholarship would require overcoming the resistance of the cult of standardized testing as well as putting huge burdens on admissions offices that are worked far beyond their capacity. It takes more time to read essays than to sort a column of ACT scores in a spreadsheet by descending order.

But America deserves the fairest, best educational system possible.

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Iran and North Korea our problem because they have problems

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Aug 312006
Authors: GRANT REICHERT Kansas State Collegian

(U-WIRE) MANHATTAN, Kan. – Remember back in July when North Korea test-fired some missiles? I bet you were thinking the exact same thing as I was – “Wait … there’s a ‘North’ Korea?”

I just couldn’t get myself to take them seriously. If Kim (a girl’s name) Jong Il can’t keep his missile up for more than 30 seconds, hey, that sounds like a personal problem.

And now Iran’s been having some “personal problems” of its own. Its prez, Ahmad-cetera, has opened a nuclear plant, which means it’s only a matter of time before he gets nukes.

Then the question becomes: will he be able to keep his missile in his plants? Or will he thrust it into the hands of some Islamic terrorist to be delivered through America’s backdoor, resulting in something horrible beyond imagination?

What are we to do about this dual-threat presented by NoKo and Iran, this menacing double entendre? Well, I say we just ignore NoKo, because I’m confident Kim “Watch me jump off the diving board – hey, watch!” Jong Il will make like Fantasia from the Neverending Story and simply disappear if we ignore him. Kim “the Childlike Empress” Jong Il isn’t long for whatever reality it is he currently inhabits.

Iran is the real threat. You know that guy that paces up and down the street wearing a sandwich board with incoherent doomsday prophecies scrawled on it, mumbling a barely discernible refrain of whacked-out conspiracies, while reeking of no-toilet-is-the-boss-of-me incontinence?

No, not your English composition instructor at an anti-war protest, I mean the sincere crazies. That’s Ahmad-cetera’s Iran for you – or at least the highly contrived, but apt, metaphorical equivalent.

The Iranians are a bunch of end-of-times religious fanatics, so diplomacy won’t work with them. I doubt even Henry Kissinger could pull off a “However many virgins Allah is offering you, we’ll double it!”

In Iran, Ahmad-cetera’s radical form of Islam not only wants the next world, it wants to use nukes on this one, turning it into an uninhabitable wasteland filled with deformed mutants, reduced to using a crude barter system in order to secure the necessities of life, all in their quasi-English pidgin-tongue.

Pardon the alarmism, but, yeah, kinda like Texas.

Ahmad-cetera’s Islamism is repelled by the lurid meat market that is the United States. Imagine Islamists from a culture where the dress code is “no shirt, no shoes, no head” laying eyes on your typical party girl with a skirt like a pelvic bandanna. Their anger must burn like the heat of a thousand red hot Jolly Ranchers.

Further infuriating the Islamists, if I may psychologize, is their inability to get some sweet infidel nookie. Their favored pickup line – “You look like a painted whore, inshallah – want to go back to my place and slip into something a lot less comfortable?” – just doesn’t cut it.

That, I think, is the “personal problem” of radical Islam and Ahmad-cetera’s Iran. It’s not the Atreyu-complex of the Childlike Empress Kim, but a response to modernity born of a sense of inferiority and hijab-swaddled sexual repression.

However, given Iran’s nuclear overcompensation and apocalyptic insanity, I’d say this personal problem is global.

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Corrections and Clarifications

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Aug 312006

The editorial board of the Rocky Mountain Collegian has discovered two instances of plagiarism that appeared in the newspaper during the Spring 2006 semester.

In the article “‘Casino crud’ worries gambling workers” published March 8, state Sen. Dan Grossman was quoted as saying, “This is first, last and always about a health issue. . It’s about protecting the people there earning a paycheck.” The quote had appeared in the Rocky Mountain News on Feb. 23.

In the article “State Senate debates witness protection” that appeared April 14, the quote, “The purpose of this legislation is to be proactive in asking the right questions,” by Rep. Mike Garcia appeared in the Rocky Mountain News on March 17. The quote “There is simply a lack of knowledge that Colorado has a witness-protection program” by Dave Thomas first appeared in The Denver Post on March 11.

The Collegian is committed to adhering to journalistic and academic ethics, and the editorial board holds its staff to a professional standard. In these instances, a reporter faltered and the Collegian failed to notice until it was too late. The Collegian apologizes to its readers.

Due to a technical editing error, a letter entitled “Emergency meeting needed,” attributed to Katrina Aspnes, appeared in the Collegian on Wednesday, though her words were not intended as a letter to the editor.

Due to a design error, the author of the article “Professor Graeme Stephens banking on $217 million satellite called CloudSat” that appeared Tuesday, was incorrectly identified as a reporter for the Rocky Mountain Collegian. Though the author is, in fact, a staff writer for the Collegian, she wrote the article for the student-run magazine, College Avenue. The piece, a preview, appeared in the Collegian to promote College Avenue’s most recent release.

To read the full story, pick up a copy of College Avenue in racks around campus.

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Ag Day marks football start

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Aug 312006
Authors: LYNDSEY STRUTHERS The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Founded 25 years ago by Thurman “Fum” McGraw, Ag Day began in the back of a truck bed.

On Saturday, Ag Day will mark the start of the school year and the first football game.

The event kicks off before the football game against Weber State in the parking lot south of Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium.

It’s set to run from noon to 2:15 p.m.

“First and foremost, Ag Day is a celebration of Colorado agriculture and all that it has to offer,” said Dennis Lamm, director of agriculture and event coordinator.

Lamm also described the event as a symbol of the three-way partnership between the College of Agricultural Sciences, the state’s agricultural industry and the department of athletics.

“The College of Agricultural Sciences as a whole tends to be extremely strong champions of CSU,” Lamm said.

The athletics department supplied the College of Agricultural Sciences with discounted football tickets, which can be purchased along with Ag Day tickets. The event has sold 800 football tickets so far and Lamm predicts they will reach 1,000.

Ag Day proceeds are used to provide students in the College of Agricultural Sciences with scholarships. Major producers donate food to the event to help generate scholarships for CSU students and promote their product.

Last year 18 scholarships were awarded to students from Ag Day proceeds.

Typically, about eight to 10 students receive scholarships every year, depending on the revenue generated by Ag Day, Lamm said.

The event will feature a barbeque that will allow local growers and producers to showcase their products. Apples grown in Grand Junction, corn raised in Olatha, beef and lamb raised in Colorado and wheat bread produced in a mill in Longmont will be served to those who attend.

This year, for the first time, grape tomatoes grown in a greenhouse in Denver will also be served.

Some believe the turnout won’t be too big.

Jonathan Martin, a political science and history major, said the fact that Weber State is a smaller school and disappointment over the Kyle Bell injury will dampen attendance.

“I plan on tailgating, so I’ll be there anyway,” he said.

K.C. Yates, a CSU alumnus, will be returning to CSU with his Morning Star Band to play live music at the event. K99 radio will also conduct a live radio broadcast.

Several organizations will have booths on display, including one set up by Gillette Anemology, which will feature cockroach races.

A limited number of tickets are still available. For more information, call 491-6497.

Staff writer Heather Hawkins contributed to this report.

Staff writer Lyndsey Struthers can be reached at

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Alumni center seeks funding

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Aug 312006
Authors: KEVIN JOHNSON The Rocky Mountain Collegian

As Chris McCoy cruised by industrial buildings on College Avenue on his way to visit CSU as a high school senior, he noticed something missing.

“I just remember it didn’t have a very open and welcoming feel,” the senior marketing major recalls.

“I think if there would have been a building like this back in 2003, it would have made my decision a lot easier and would have made me want to encourage my friends to come with me.”

The building McCoy had hoped for is now a reality, as the future Alumni/Welcome Center is set to be located just north of Green Hall, at the intersection of Laurel Street and Meridian Avenue.

The 40,000-square foot complex will cost from $18 million to $20 million, and all of it will be privately funded, said Marc Shkolnick, executive director of Alumni Relations.

“A lot of my friends went out of state,” said McCoy, addressing the alumni committee members at the Hilton Thursday morning. “If you can focus on the rich tradition of CSU, maybe students will come just because they feel proud of living in Colorado and proud that they are from Colorado.

“If we can make future students feel like this is the place to be on campus, then they will remember that long after they graduate.”

According to Shkolnick, the aim of the Alumni/Welcome building is to bring alumni and students together in a “world-class center that will represent the university.”

“I want first time students to have a ‘wow’ experience when they come here,” he said. “I want people to know, without question, that they are at CSU.”

One thing that Shkolnick and the other committee members made clear is that the Alumni/Welcome center will be just another building if students aren’t involved.

Part of the goal is to engage students as the project moves forward.

Senior marketing major Lisa Witt, whose business marketing class will be involved with spreading awareness about the center, said her class is part of the “public phase.”

“We’re promoting awareness of this project but as far as funding goes, I don’t know what involvement we will have,” she said.

And funding seems to be the last step toward getting the ball rolling on a project that, according to Shkolnick, is at least three years away from completion.

“The Alumni Board is 100 percent committed to this project,” said Bob Hix, alumni director of development. “We’ve captured the character, the essence, of the building. Now we need the donors to commit.”

Staff writer Kevin Johnson can be reached at

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Campus Blotter

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Aug 312006


Two second-degree criminal trespasses occurred in Allison and Corbett Halls. Four individuals – two were arrested in each hall – entered the buildings illegally and were trying to sell magazines.

An assault occurred at Corbett Hall. The suspect punched an individual in the face, threw him over a bike rack and then fled the scene. The suspect was then located by officers and cited on Wednesday.

Students were warned that there is no fishing in the Lagoon outside of the Lory Student Center.

A theft of a chair from Spruce Hall occurred.

A transient was found sleeping in the bushes outside of Spruce Hall, and he was arrested for a failure-to-appear warrant from Fort Collins Police Services.


A disturbance occurred in Aggie Village. A staff member observed three males fighting in one of the apartments. While officers were trying to sort out what had happened, one of the individuals, a non-student, became uncooperative and started fighting with the officers. He was arrested and taken to the Larimer County Detention Center.

A traffic stop at Meldrum and Mulberry streets led to two individuals being cited for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

An officer observed an individual defecating near a dumpster around Corbett Hall. When the officer tried to contact him he ran. The individual was caught and charged with indecent exposure, obstruction and underage consumption of alcohol. He was taken to LCDC, and it was later found that he had a failure-to-appear warrant out of Douglas County.

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New GLBTSS director takes the reigns

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Aug 312006
Authors: KATRINA TAMMINGA The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Foula Dimopoulos is used to people listening to her.

The former disc jockey for KRZA in Alamosa was the “voice for the San Luis Valley.”

But as the new director of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Students Services at CSU, Dimopoulos is now ready to be heard by the CSU community.

“I know I have big shoes to fill; Randy (McCrillis, former director) did great work for this organization,” Dimopoulos said.

“I plan to focus on social justice and social change and by doing so, continue the legacy Randy left behind, advocating change not only for the GLBT community but for all who often feel left out of the web is my priority.”

Armed with a master’s degree in psychology and women’s studies, experience with the Boys and Girls Club and Americorp, and practice in the field of social work, Dimopoulos is ready to continue McCrillis’ work.

As a program director for GLBTSS, Colin Strack, a senior biological sciences major, said the transition from the former director to Dimopoulos has been exciting.

“It’s refreshing to have a person with new ideas and a new outlook on the program,” Strack said. “Foula is really positive and in return we are getting really eager to kick off the year and start working with her.”

Dimopoulos said her main goal is to help people wrap their head around the idea that we live in a world full of differences.

“It is necessary to ask ourselves how we can make change without watering down our individual differences,” Dimopoulos said. “After all, our differences are what make us unique. We need to make the table big enough so that we are all able to sit down without having to check our individuality at the door because life and how life works extends beyond individual levels.”

Dimopoulos said she intends to work with the local community in order to build bridges and coalitions as a way of helping people understand the importance of individuality and uniqueness.

“Working for and with the community truly reflects the multiple facets we encompass as workers for social justice and social change,” Dimopoulos said.

While many of the staff members in the GLBTSS office are excited to see new leadership, others are apprehensive to turn the reigns over to a new person.

“Randy was a mentor and a very close friend, and it is going to be different,” said Kristen Singer, a senior history major who works in the GLBTSS office. “Foula does things differently than Randy did, but I do think she also has things that Randy couldn’t bring to the table, like her experience working in all different areas of advocacy.”

Now that Dimopoulos has settled into her office at CSU, she is ready to get to work. Her list of projects include expanding the Speakers Bureau Program, where several members of the GLBT community talk about their “coming-out” stories and offer a chance for the audience to ask questions at the end of the program; setting up a account for the office as a way of offering a monthly director’s chat; and creating a membership program in order to create more sustainability and a stronger sense of community.

Staff writer Katrina Tamminga can be reached at

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Researcher takes life one climb at a time

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Aug 312006
Authors: DAVID GILBERT The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Greg Newman has already made one uphill climb by beating cancer.

Now he’s out to make another one by climbing the highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere.

Newman, 33, plans on joining the CSU Outdoor Adventure Program’s expedition to climb Mount Aconcagua in Argentina over winter break.

The research associate at the Natural Resources Ecology Laboratory was diagnosed with cancer at age 28 and has been on chemotherapy for five years.

“I need to do a challenge to prove to myself I’m healthy again,” he said.

The five expedition members are planning to leave for Argentina Dec. 26 – early summer in the Southern Hemisphere – where they will climb 22,840-foot Mount Aconcagua in the Andes Mountains. They plan to return Jan. 15, spending 17 days on the mountain.

Newman has been training hard for the climb.

“Yesterday I ran 16 miles,” Newman said at his home Sunday. “Two weeks ago I did the Wild West Relay. I was captain of a team that ran from Fort Collins to Steamboat. It was pretty intense.”

A Colorado Mountain Club team leader, Newman has climbed 39 of Colorado’s 54 fourteeners and has experience with sport rock climbing.

“All my life I’ve had a draw to the mountains,” Newman said. “They build character, emotional stability and physical stability.”

The trip won’t be cheap. Climbing permits for North American climbers cost $500.

Business management major Andrew Zimmerman withdrew close to $4,000 from his savings to pay for the trip.

“My parents aren’t too happy about that,” said Zimmerman, 22. “I tried explaining it, but they don’t really understand.”

Zimmerman, who has also traveled to Europe, Australia and New Zealand, calls the Aconcagua expedition “the opportunity of a lifetime.”

“Aconcagua offers a lot of opportunity for students to test their limits,” said Jan Rastall, coordinator of Resources for Adult Learning, one of three experienced guides that will lead the expedition.

Rastall, 49, feels confident about the expedition – her third to Aconcagua.

“I have no fears. I’ve been on the mountain,” she said. “I have complete respect for Aconcagua.”

Also leading the expedition will be Rastall’s husband, associate director of Pingree Park Pat Rastall, and Seth Webb, Study Abroad coordinator.

Emergency rescue will be available for injured climbers.

“We’ve never had any emergencies on our expeditions,” Rastall said. “We have a solid record of safe expeditions.” She added that the only thing that is out of the group’s control is the weather.

The expedition will climb through the Guanacos Valley, a seldom-used route up the mountain.

“It’s a much more pristine valley, with a lot less traffic and unsightly rubbish,” Rastall said.

On her last trip up the mountain, her group saw a few of the valley’s namesake animal: guanacos, which are similar to llamas.

Despite the extreme altitudes, the group will not need oxygen tanks as climbers of Mount Everest do, Rastall said. The team climbs the mountain in a stair step fashion, by moving their gear to the next higher camp, then returning to their tents for the night. The next day, they haul the tents up to the level of the gear. In effect, this means the team will climb the mountain twice, allowing plenty of time for team members to adjust to the thinning atmosphere. The heaviest packs the team members will carry will weigh about 80 pounds.

Essential to the success of the expedition, Jan said, is the development of a close-knit team mentality.

“This will require everyone to work together and support each other,” she said.

The team leaders held an informational meeting Thursday for expedition members and interested newcomers.

About a dozen people attended, of whom four were committed members of the expedition. The expedition currently has seven committed members.

For Newman, all the planning in the world can’t allay some apprehension about the trip.

“The whole trip makes me nervous,” he said. “I’ve never been in a tent for 17 days. I’ve never hiked above 14,000 feet. I’m fine not summiting, but I wouldn’t be fine if I held up the team.

“Mountains provide a challenge, an experience that gives me perspective on the other challenges in my life. I’ll grow as a person, regardless of how I do on this trip. That’s how mountains treat people.”

Staff writer David Gilbert can be reached at


Interested applicants should contact Assistant Director for Outdoor Adventure Rodney Ley at The deadline for applying for the expedition is Sept. 8.

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Concert previews weekend event

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Aug 312006
Authors: GRAHAM BUTTON The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Native American Student Services, in conjunction with the Fort Collins Museum, kicked off Labor Day weekend with a concert outside of Lory Student Center Thursday.

“Its nice to get connected,” said Heather Vincent, a freshman health and exercise science major. “It’s beautiful.”

The concert, held in the sculpture garden on the west side of the LSC, featured local band The Atoll and Seattle singer and songwriter Pura Fe.

It served as a preview for a larger upcoming concert, the fourth annual Native American Music Festival.

“The festival grew out of the relationship between the Fort Collins Museum and several Plains Indian tribes during the repatriation process,” said history professor and event organizer Greg Smoak.

The repatriation process includes returning remains and artifacts to the tribes.

Tribal representatives suggested a music festival as a way of celebrating the survival of native cultures, Smoak said.

“The point is that native people and cultures are alive and well in the U.S. today,” he said.

Cary Morin of The Atoll organized the music for this year’s festival.

“I played the first one a few years back,” Morin said. “I’m in contact with a lot of different musicians from around the country, so the museum asked me to organize the music this year.”

The festival will be featuring a variety of Native American music and “everything from traditional to blues to folk to hip hop,” Smoak said.

Dozens of people attended the preview concert Thursday.

“This marks the second year that we have put together a CSU event in order to extend the educational outreach mission and get more CSU students down to the museum for the main festival,” Smoak said.

Ty Smith, director of NASS, liked the opening to the music festival events.

“I look forward to seeing the other events and sharing the Native American culture with the campus and Fort Collins community,” Smith said.

Staff writer Graham Button can reached at

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“Tomorrow is Today” marginal at best

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Aug 302006
Authors: JEFF SCHWARTZ The Rocky Mountain Collegian

** out of ****

“Tomorrow is Today” was the opening film at the inaugural TriMedia Festival last weekend. The film was lauded by festival co-director Francie Glycenfer as “stunning.” I have another word for it: predictable.

Mark Hefti, who wrote the film (and acts in it as a drifter with a death wish), is obviously a movie fan because his screenplay is filled with clich/s from other movies.

There’s the selfless sick girl, played with optimistic muster by Scout Taylor-Compton of “Sleepover” and “Gilmore Girls” fame.

There’s the dead mother figure who, while never actually making an appearance in the film, serves as a spiritual guide for the heroine.

There’s the long walks on the beach; the discussions about destiny versus fate; the small-town police chief with skeletons in his closet; the stern but loving father; and the flashbacks in which everything is permeated by the milky glow of nostalgia.

I could go on, but I won’t. Suffice it to say that “Tomorrow is Today” breaks no new ground with its story.

Now, clich/s don’t always have to be a bad thing.

In 2004’s “Garden State” Natalie Portman played a character who was essentially the “savior girlfriend,” which is in the same general category of clich/s as the selfless sick girl.

But Portman’s performance in that film was filled with nuance and idiosyncrasy, which allowed her character to break free of her stereotypical origins.

Not so with Compton’s character Julie Peterson who, upon encountering Hefti’s drifter on a New Jersey beach, takes it upon herself to heal him physically and spiritually.

However, I have a hard time completely condemning the film because, darn it, it’s so sincere and hopeful, which is rare for a film these days.

Compton’s Julie truly believes in the power to affect positive change in the lives of others, as does this film.

But the writing just makes you wish that these actors and director Frederic Lumiere were all working in a much better film.

Compton is a likable and effervescent young woman, but she needs better material where she can mature as an actress, something that allows her to be her naturally bubbly self while also allowing her to exhibit some depth.

Hefti, as an actor, also stands out. He exudes a caustic charm, and I think I would have liked him more had his character not been so flat and his film transformation so predictable.

While “Tomorrow is Today” is certainly not a bad film, it is not a good one either. If only it had the balls to take old movie staples and breathe some life into them.

Hopefully as the TriMedia Festival grows in subsequent years, it will begin to attract films that are bolder in both their execution and their content.

Staff writer Jeff Schwartz can be reached at

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