UTC Students are Going Broke Due to Textbook Prices

By Taylor Ellis

CHATTANOOGA, TN (The Loop / UTC) – Over the past 30 years, college textbook prices have increased over 800 percent.

During this time, according to the Huffington Post, the growth of textbook prices outpaced the growth of home prices and doubled the rate of inflation. For the typical college student at a four year university, the cost of simply learning the material will reach somewhere in the tens-of-thousands by graduation. With education prices ever increasing, more and more college students are running out of money and time.

On average, a typical college textbook will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $200. Multiply that number by four, the average number of classes a student takes per semester, and you’re already up to $800. This cost alone can break the bank of the typical student, but the spending is far from over. When you take into account the supplemental materials, books that may not be required but are suggested as companions, a student may be looking at $1000 in books per semester.

But where does a student’s textbook dollar go after it is spent? Many students simply do not think about this while they’re walking out of the University bookstore with empty pockets. On average, the actual book store receives a very small percentage of every dollar that is spent


According to the National Association of College Stores, around 21 cents of every dollar goes back to the campus book store. That 21 cents helps to supply the store, pay for labor, and go towards general upkeep of the facilities. Around another penny per every dollar goes towards the shipping cost associated with the book. The remaining 77 cents goes back to the publisher.

Here’s another way at looking at where you’re textbook dollar goes:

  • 21 cents / dollar is returned to better the University
  • 1 cent / dollar is used to ship the book to the student
  • 77 cents / dollar goes back to the publisher

    A typical college student will spend close to $1000 a year on textbooks.

    A typical college student will spend close to $1000 a year on textbooks.

With what the publisher receives from each dollar, they are able to pay the book’s authors, purchase the raw materials needed for book production, and also afford the general administrative costs that are encounter each year.

As a result of the increasing price of textbooks, many students are looking for alternate ways of getting the books that they need. One such method that has grown in popularity recently is the e-textbook. Available as a digital download, the e-textbook is a much cheaper option for many college students that have tablet devices and smart phones.

In addition to the rise of e-textbooks, many other companies are looking to gain the attention of frugal college students. Companies such as Cheeg  and Skyo offer textbook rentals that are available for a fraction of the cost of purchasing a new textbook. Also, online stores like Amazon are offering students the option to purchase either an e-textbook or a print copy for much cheaper than the University bookstore.

Dhruv Rathod, a sophomore from Chattanooga, has been attending UTC for two years now. This past semester, Dhruv purchased all of his textbooks from the University bookstore and spent a little over $900. Only two of the books that Dhruv purchased were required texts for his classes.

“I feel like it’s a lot cheaper,” Dhruv said when talking about buying his books online. “In the past, I’ve always done that. I would say it’s a lot better [buying online] because you’re saving a whole lot of money.”

Where do you get your textbooks?

As textbook prices are rising, more and more students are looking at alternate ways of getting what they need. Many are deciding to stray away from the University store, opting for cheaper options online, while others are simply going without. If the trends continues, students in the near future will not know what it means to have a printed textbook.

One thing is for certain, however. If the price of books continues to increase, the backlash from the students will monumental. Money conscience students will find a way to get by, with or without the required materials.

Looking for cheaper books? Check out the links below:

Affordable College Textbook Act

Why pay for textbooks you don’t need?

Bookstore Buyback




“Blade Runner” trial marches on

By Taylor Ellis

CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee/PRETORIA, South Africa (The Loop/AP) — Stifling sobs, Oscar Pistorius took the witness stand Monday in his murder trial and apologized to the family of the girlfriend he shot dead, describing himself as traumatized and now on antidepressant medication, and sometimes waking from nightmares to the “smell of blood.”

Pistorius’ voice quavered so much and was so low at the start of his testimony that Judge Thokozile Masipa asked him to speak up as, standing and addressing a packed courtroom, he talked of his remorse for having killed Reeva Steenkamp on Feb. 14, 2013.

Pistorius said he mistook her for an intruder when he fired four times through a locked toilet stall door in his home. Prosecutors said the double-amputee Olympian shot his lover as she screamed in terror after they had an argument in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine’s Day.

PIstorius and ex-girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

PIstorius and ex-girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

“There hasn’t been a moment since this tragedy happened that I haven’t thought about your family,” the star athlete said as Steenkamp’s mother, June, looked straight at him in the courtroom, stone-faced.

“I wake up every morning and you’re the first people I think of, the first people I pray for … I was simply trying to protect Reeva. I can promise that when she went to bed that night she felt loved,” Pistorius said after asking for permission to make the apology at the start of his testimony.

Prosecutors allege Pistorius, 27, murdered the 29-year-old model with premeditation by shooting her in the head, arm and hip after an argument and have sought to paint him as a hothead with an inflated sense of entitlement and an obsession with firearms.

Attempting to counter that, defense lawyer Barry Roux led Pistorius through an account of his life, with Pistorius describing some of the hardships he faced after having his lower legs amputated as a baby, the positive role of his mother, Sheila, and his grief when she died when Pistorius was a teenager. Pistorius also spoke about the sacrifices he had made for his athletics achievements, his work with charity and how religion was important to him.

The accounts contrasted with that of prosecutors who, through witness testimony, have painted a dramatically different picture of Pistorius, a man they say was often angry, who cheated on a former girlfriend and who shot a gun out of a moving car in 2012 after an altercation with police and then laughed about it.

Pistorius said he has been taking medication since the week after he killed Steenkamp and has trouble sleeping. He described one night when he went to hide in a closet after waking up in “a panic.”

“I climbed into a cupboard and I phoned my sister to come and sit by me, which she did for a while,” Pistorius said.

PIstorius during his trial

PIstorius during his trial

His testimony on day 17 of his trial in Pretoria came on the same day his defense opened its case. Legal experts said it was crucial to his case that he testify to explain why he shot Steenkamp. Pistorius faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of premeditated murder for Steenkamp’s killing.

His voice broke again and he struggled to speak when he described how Steenkamp was “a blessing” in his life. Yet in cellphone messages revealed by the prosecution, Steenkamp had once said that Pistorius scared her.

Apart from his emotional apology at the start, Pistorius didn’t directly address the killing of Steenkamp. He will return Tuesday to continue testifying after the judge granted an adjournment because she said Pistorius looked “exhausted.” Pistorius said he hadn’t slept the night before.

“I’m just very tired at the moment …. I think it’s a lot of things going through my mind,” Pistorius said. “The weight of this is extremely overbearing.”

Pistorius’ testimony also addressed previous instances of crime that affected the runner and how he felt vulnerable because of them, an attempt to explain his claim that he reacted to what he thought was a dangerous intruder in his bathroom by shooting his 9 mm pistol.

He described how his family had “security concerns” when he was young and his mother slept with a gun under a pillow on her bed.

Pistorius said his family had been targeted by criminals over the years, citing incidents of house break-ins and carjackings, and said he had sometimes been followed by unidentified people while driving home. Pistorius also referred to an incident in which he was allegedly assaulted at a social function in late 2012 and had to have stitches on the back of his head.

At the start, Pistorius spoke in a soft, shaky voice while making his apology and describing what he said was his fragile state. Later, he grew more settled and confident as Roux led him through the questions about his childhood, his family, his track career and how he overcame his disability to run at top track meets.

Pistorius’s life story is one that impressed many people around the world, before he killed Steenkamp.

He was also asked by Roux to talk about a 2009 boat crash when he suffered serious facial injuries. He said the accident had a “massive impact,” and that it made him become fearful, withdrawn, more vigilant about personal safety and more focused on his running.

Prosecutors have provided a contrasting picture of Pistorius, with evidence indicating that he had been reckless with firearms in public and asked a friend to take the blame for him when a gun fired under a table in a busy restaurant while he was handling it weeks before he killed Steenkamp.

Is Pistorius guilty?


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

NYC inmate ‘baked to death’ in cell

By Taylor Ellis and Nick Porter

CHATTANOOGA/NEW YORK (AP/The Loop) — Jerome Murdough was just looking for a warm place to sleep on a chilly night last month when he curled up in an enclosed stairwell on the roof of a Harlem public housing project where he was arrested for trespassing.

A week later, the mentally ill homeless man was found dead in a Rikers Island jail cell that four city officials say had overheated to at least 100 degrees, apparently because of malfunctioning equipment.

The officials told The Associated Press that the 56-year-old former Marine was on anti-psychotic and anti-seizure medication, which may have made him more vulnerable to heat. He also apparently did not open a small vent in his cell, as other inmates did, to let in cool air.

“He basically baked to death,” said one of the officials, who all spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not permitted to discuss specifics of the case.

The medical examiner’s office said an autopsy was inconclusive and that more tests were needed to determine Murdough’s exact cause of death. But the officials, all with detailed knowledge of the case, say initial indications from the autopsy and investigation point to extreme dehydration or heat stroke.

Advocates for mentally ill inmates in New York say the death represents the failure of the city’s justice system on almost every level: by arresting Murdough instead of finding him help, by setting bail at a prohibitive $2,500 and by not supervising him closely in what is supposed to be a special observation unit for inmates with mental illnesses.

Department of Correction spokesman Robin Campbell said in a statement that an internal investigation will look into all circumstances of Murdough’s death, “including issues of staff performance and the adequacy of procedures.”

Campbell acknowledged that the temperature in Murdough’s cell was “unusually high” and that action has been taken to fix mechanical problems to ensure safe temperatures, “particularly in areas housing vulnerable inmates.”

Murdough’s 75-year-old mother, Alma Murdough, said she did not learn of her son’s death until the AP contacted her last week, nearly a month after he died. His public defender was told of the death three days after the inmate was found, the DOC said.

“He was a very lovely, caring guy,” said Murdough, adding that her son had bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and that she had not seen him in about three years.

“He had beer problems. Drinking beer. That was his downfall. Other than that, he was a very nice guy. He’d give you the shirt off his back.”

Family members say Murdough grew up in Queens and joined the Marine Corps right out of high school, doing at least one stint in Okinawa, Japan.

When he returned from the service, his family said, both his mental illness and thirst for alcohol became more pronounced, and he would often disappear for months at a time, finding warmth in hospitals, shelters and the streets.

“When he wanted to venture off, we let him, we allowed him to come and go,” recalled his sister, Cheryl Warner. “He always came back.”

Murdough’s criminal record included 11 misdemeanor convictions for trespassing, drinking in public and minor drug charges, said Ivan Vogel, a public defender who represented him at his arraignment on the trespassing charge.

According to the city officials, Murdough was locked alone into his 6-by-10 cinderblock cell at about 10:30 p.m. on Feb. 14, a week after his arrest. Because he was in the mental-observation unit, he was supposed to be checked every 15 minutes as part of suicide watch, they said. But Murdough was not discovered until four hours later, at about 2:30 a.m. on Feb. 15. He was slumped over in his bed and already dead.

When Murdough was found and his cell opened, his internal body temperature and the temperature in the cell were at least 100 degrees. Those temperatures could have been higher before he was discovered because the cell had been closed for several hours, the officials said.

Dr. Susi Vassallo, an associate professor at New York University School of Medicine and a national expert on heat-related deaths who monitors heat conditions at Rikers Island, said psychotropic medications can impair the body’s ability to cool itself by sweating, making it retain more heat than it should.

Exposure to intense heat for a couple of hours by someone on such medications could be fatal, she said.

Last year, only three Rikers inmates died from non-natural causes, according to Department of Correction statistics.

Of the 12,000 inmates who make up the nation’s second-largest jail system, about 40 percent are mentally ill, and a third of them suffer from serious mental problems the department said. Advocates and others have long argued that correction officers are not sufficiently trained to deal with mentally ill inmates whose needs are complex.

Catherine Abate, a member of the New York City Board of Correction, an agency charged with overseeing the city’s jails, suggested at a recent public meeting that Murdough should have been referred him to psychiatric care, not to Rikers Island.

Jennifer J. Parish, an attorney at the New York-based Urban Justice Center’s Mental Health Project, said Murdough appeared to be a man in need of care.

“So Mr. Murdough violated the trespass law. So he suffered the consequences by going to jail,” Parish said. “But the jail system committed more serious harm to him. And the question is, ‘Will they ever be held responsible?'”

Wanda Mehala, another of Murdough’s sisters, said the family wants an explanation.

“We want justice for what was done,” she said. “He wasn’t just some old homeless person on the street. He was loved. He had a life. He had a family. He had feelings.”


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

No charges filed in baseball stabbing

By Taylor Ellis

CHATTANOOGA / SAN FRANCISCO (UTC /AP) — Prosecutors have decided not to prosecute a man in the stabbing death of a Dodger’s fan during an altercation after a Los Angeles-San Francisco baseball game last year.

District Attorney George Gascon said in a statement Friday that prosecutors wouldn’t file charges against Michael Montgomery because they didn’t believe they had enough evidence to prove that Montgomery didn’t act in self-defense when he killed Jonathan Denver on Sept. 25.

“While it is not clear how the fatal encounter started, what the evidence shows was a physical confrontation between the victim, the victim’s brother and Mr. Montgomery,” Gascon said. “The totality of the evidence revealed that during the physical confrontation, Mr. Denver punched Mr. Montgomery.”

At about the same time, Gascon said, Denver’s brother struck Montgomery in the head with a collapsible aluminum chair, and Montgomery then inflicted a single fatal stab wound.

Denver and his brother outweighed Mr. Montgomery by 50 and 100 pounds, respectively, Gascon added. Witnesses have corroborated this version of events.

“With multiple sources indicating how the event transpired, it makes it impossible for us to meet our burden and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Montgomery was not acting in self-defense,” Gascon said. “We are ethically obligated to decline to prosecute this case.”

The stabbing was the latest incident over the years stemming from one of the most passionate rivalries in sports. Nearly three years ago, Giants fan Bryan Stow suffered permanent brain damage when he was attacked in Los Angeles.

Police have said Denver and his group, many wearing Dodgers garb, got into a shouting match over the Dodgers with Montgomery and his group — at least one of whom was wearing a Giants cap — a few blocks from the stadium.

Montgomery’s father said his son was jumped and stabbed Denver in self-defense after they yelled “Giants suck.”

Denver’s brother disputed that Montgomery acted in self-defense.


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

New sculpture installation hopes to revive North Chattanooga

By Taylor Ellis

CHATTANOOGA, TN (The Loop / UTC) – A recently approved ordinance will allow Graffiti art gallery a permanent art installation on the sidewalk just outside the studio on Cherokee Boulevard.

The work, which was the idea of owner David Jones and sculptor Bryan Rasmussen, will be installed outside the gallery in the upcoming weeks and will be a permanent resident of 505 Cherokee Blvd for at least the next year. The plans for the sculpture, which will be somewhere close to 10 feet tall when completed and weigh close to 1000 pounds, was first submitted to the city sometime in late November 2013. “I wasn’t sure who to even contact,” owner David Jones said about the beginning of the project. Eventually, the blueprints for the installation and photos of the work were submitted to the city engineer’s office where they waited to be approved.

Several weeks later, representatives from the city’s transportation department inspected the site for the sculpture to make sure there would be plenty of room for sidewalk traffic and cars alike. “I’ve been really impressed, even though it’s taken longer than I had hoped,” Jones said. The resolution for the installation was signed in early March, making it an official project scheduled for completion in the upcoming weeks.

“Harvester” during its creation.

“I’m hoping within two or three weeks we’ll have it up,” Jones said about the latest addition to his gallery. This will be the first commissioned piece that the gallery will feature outside the normal floor space. “The appeal to us was that it’d give us more street appeal,” Jones said, later adding that the the size of the sculpture would help to add more visibility from the street.

The work, which is called “Harvester,” is another in a long line of sculptures by local artist Bryan Rasmussen. In addition to his work outside Graffiti, Rasmussen’s works can also be seen on the campuses of Red Bank High School and Chattanooga State.

Rasmussen grew up in North Georgia and did not have any aspirations to be a sculptor in his early life. However, as an art student at the University of West Georgia, a required sculpting class changed his outlook and his life. Rasmussen has contributed many works to the studio at Graffiti, and has worked under acclaimed sculptor John Henry. 

A work by Bryan Rasmussen at Red Bank High School

A work by Bryan Rasmussen at Red Bank High School

Some of Bryan Rasmussen’s sculptures include:

Originally, the installation of the outdoor sculpture was planned for late February to coincide with a gallery show Rasmussen was featured in at Graffiti. However, the process of approval for a city project proved to be a much longer process that initially thought.

“Everybody has been really helpful with the city, it just had to go through multiple people.” David Jones said about the entire process from idea to approval. “I think it’ll be neat in giving this end of Cherokee Boulevard some more prominence.” In addition to the installation of the sculpture, several other activities are planned for the upcoming spring to help and draw attention to this area of North Chattanooga.

In late March, students from the Savannah College of Art and Design will display their photography in the studio at Graffiti. The group of student call themselves #ArtNomad, and their show entitled Symbosis has already been well received in two previous gallery shows in Atlanta.

For more information on other events coming to the area in the near future, be sure to check out the links here, here, and here.




Bode Miller breaks down during NBC interview

Bode Miller was obviously emotional after winning the bronze in Sunday’s super-G, showing tears in his eyes in virtually every photo taken of him.
Bode Miller and his wife Morgan Beth after the race

Bode Miller and his wife Morgan Beth after the race

The surprise medal came after a long year in which Miller lost his younger brother. From CBS Sports:

The guy who for years and years insisted results don’t mean much to him declared he actually did care about this one. The last year has been a difficult one for Miller: the death of his younger brother, Chelone, in April 2013; the court fight over custody of his infant son; the work it took to come back from left knee surgery and return to the Alpine apex.

“It’s almost therapeutic for me to be in these situations, where I really had to test myself, so I was happy to have it be on the right side of the hundredths,” said Miller, who grew up in New Hampshire and is now based in California. “Some days … medals don’t matter, and today was one of the ones where it does.”

He wiped away tears in the finish area after someone mentioned Chelone, a charismatic snowboarder who was 29 and hoping to make the U.S. team in Sochi when he died of what was believed to be a seizure.


Fighting back tears, Miller joined NBC reporter Christin Cooper for a post-race interview and things went off the rails as Cooper asked multiple questions about Miller’s dead brother as the skier became more and more upset.

Watch the video: Bode Miller on TODAY



Deadspin published a transcript of the interview, which left Miller bent over the fence in tears.

Cooper: For a guy who said the medals don’t really matter, they aren’t “the thing,” you’ve amassed quite a collection. What does this one mean to you in terms of all the others?

Miller: This was a little different. With my brother passing away, I really wanted to come back here and race the way he sends it. So this was a little different.

Cooper: Bode, you’re showing so much emotion down here. What’s going through your mind?

Miller: A lot, obviously. Just a long struggle coming in here. Just a tough year.

Cooper: I know you wanted to be here with Chelly experiencing these games, how much does it mean to you to come up with a great performance for him? And was it for him?

Miller: I mean, I don’t know if it’s really for him. But I wanted to come here and…I don’t know, I guess make myself proud.

Cooper: When you’re looking up in the sky at the start, we see you there and it looks like you’re talking to somebody. What’s going on there?

Cooper is taking heat for her rough interview tactics.

Bode Miller is overcome with emotion after his bronze-medal run

Bode Miller is overcome with emotion after his bronze-medal run


Miller is taking the high road, asking via Twitter Monday morning for people to ease up on Cooper.


And he clearly wasn’t holding the interview against NBC, Miller made an appearance on “Today.”

Graffiti: Contemporary Art for Urban Spaces

By Taylor Ellis

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (UTC The Loop) – In 2010, while counting homeless people for the United States Census, Chattanooga native David Jones saw something that sparked an idea.

Jones, who lives just a few blocks from the gallery’s new location at 505 Cherokee Boulevard, said he ” saw a bunch of graffiti that people wouldn’t normally see, and I really liked it.” What has emerged from an idea in 2010 is Graffiti, a contemporary art gallery featuring modern works from many local artists.

The current space, which is much larger than the original location off the beaten path in North Chattanooga, offers street artists from Chattanooga and surrounding areas a place to sell their artwork. The regular gallery features both artwork and 3D installations from six resident artists, and the back of the gallery boasts a public graffiti wall for any artist to “tag.”


The Graffiti Wall is a public space where any artist can add his or her work

The Graffiti Wall is a public space where any artist can add his or her work


Happenstance, a UTC Senior art student collaborative

Happenstance, a UTC Senior art student collaborative 

Of the 50 or so pieces in the studio, a hand full are creations of UTC   students or graduates.  One of the gallery’s featured artists, Ellyn Bivin, is a Chattanooga native and graduated from UTC with a degree in painting and drawing. Along with Bivin’s pieces, the work Happenstance is a UTC Senior art student collaboration. The work is just one of many pieces currently in the gallery that have a direct connection to UTC.


The current artists feature in the gallery include:

– Bryan Rasmussen

– Ellyn Bivin

-Eddie Graham

– David Jones

– James McKissic

– Renel Plouffe

– Jim Tucker

– Derek Williams

– Larry Young


Many of the works that are featured at Graffiti are not there for long. All of the works on display are for sale. As David Jones playfully put it, Graffiti is all about sales. “We’d like to be the place that is you have a modern building, or a modern house,” Jones said, ” that if you came here you’d find a piece of artwork.”

When new pieces are added to the gallery, it’s not without celebration. In the upcoming month, new installations by artist Bryan Rasmussen, who previously worked with renown sculptor John Henry.

A work by artist Josiah Golson

A work by artist Josiah Golson

In addition to the new 3D pieces, many new paintings from Graffiti’s resident artists and special guest Josiah Golson, who is a young artist showing his work for the first time in a gallery setting.

Graffiti is located at 505 Cherokee Boulevard, and is open to the public. On the first Friday of the month, the gallery hosts new exhibit opening receptions from five to nine p.m. Graffiti is owned and operated by David Jones, and specializes in contemporary art for urban spaces.

Pigeon Forge fires threaten 20 homes, cabins

20 homes and cabins were evacuated during the forrest fires

20 homes and cabins were evacuated during the forrest fires

By Taylor Ellis

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (AP / The Loop) — Authorities say a brush fire on the outskirts of Pigeon Forge has forced the evacuation of at least  20 cabins and homes.

Lt. Kevin Nunn with the Pigeon Forge Fire Department said the fire started around 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

He said most of the evacuations involved cabins and that the fire had not reached any of the structures.

Nunn said the fire was at one point being driven by winds of up to 30 mph, but later said the winds had decreased and that firefighters were “getting a handle” on the blaze.

“They’ve got … better control than they had,” he said. “They are feeling a lot more positive about it.”

Nunn said the fire was not a threat to Dollywood theme park, which is to the east of the blaze.


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.