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Campus Informer, December 20, 2006 | The Nation

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Campus Informer, December 20, 2006

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Annika Carlson

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Wednesday, December 20

White majority protected by ethnic scholarship

Boston University

The Boston University College Republicans (BUCR) knows how hard it is for a white guy to make it in America today. Targeting that underprivileged, overlooked group, they established BU's first-ever "Caucasian Achievement and Recognition Scholarship" this fall.

Following in the footsteps of flamboyant conservative mouthpiece, Jason Mattera, who used a similar scholarship ploy in 2003 at Roger Williams University, BUCR offered the scholarship "to trigger a discussion on what we believe to be the morally wrong practice of basing decisions in our schools and our jobs on racial preferences."

The scholarship required that applicants be at least 25 percent Caucasian, maintain a 3.2 GPA, and submit two essays: One about their Caucasian heritage and the other on "what it means to you to be a Caucasian-American today." Only eight people applied. Sophomore Nicholas Doucette was announced as the winner in early December. "I thought about it, and I wrote that being a Caucasian-American just means to be an American," Doucette said. He received $250 for his whiteness, which he said he would put toward buying books for his semester abroad in Germany.

Though the award drew national attention, people on campus largely dismissed it. "Most people I talk to think it's silly and kind of just want to ignore it," said BU College Democrats (BUCD) Vice President Joshua Gee. The Massachusetts GOP distanced itself from the BUCR, calling the scholarship "offensive."

Other student leaders noted that while racial preferences aren't ideal, minority scholarships encourage diversity. "Our country oppressed people of color for centuries while everyone else who was ‘preferred' continued to succeed and lead our country in all aspects," said La Fuerza co-chair Sara-Marie Pons. "The goal of a university in striving to admit more students of color is a positive movement to increase the diversity of its institution."

Conservatives suck at satire

Tufts University

Nothing says "Merry Christmas" like an ethnically offensive, poorly-written piece of satire. The Primary Source, Tufts' conservative student journal, ran a series of "satirical" Christmas carols in a recent issue. The carol in question, "O Come All Ye Black Folk," targeted black students and affirmative action. The carol repeatedly draws attention to the "52 black freshmen" enrolled in Tufts this fall. It's destined to become a holiday classic:

O Sing, gospel choirs,
We will accept your children.
No matter what your grades are, F's, D's or G's
Give them privileged status; We will welcome all.

Some students petitioned the student government, calling for a cut in the Source's funding. An editorial in the Tufts Daily noted that while the carol was offensive, censorship was a worse offense. Rather than encouraging conversation, said the Daily, publication of the carol was "counterproductive for the exercise of free speech, and it treads dangerously close to the line separating free speech from hate speech."

Responding to student outcry and negative media attention, the Source pulled the carol from its website and released an apology. In typical conservative fashion, however, the apology blamed readers for misunderstanding the carol's satire. " We have articles and we have satire," said Douglas Kingman, who will edit the Source next semester. "And sometimes students have a problem discerning the difference." The Source, it seems, continues having a problem discerning the difference between political satire and thinly-veiled racial attacks.

You gotta fight for your right

Boston University University of Massachusetts at Amherst

...to smoke pot in your dorm room without getting caught. And your Constitutional right to privacy. That's what students at UMass are doing in response to questionable new policing tactics and skyrocketing student convictions.

After a 20/20 news report called UMass a "dangerous school" because of its partying, administrators implemented changes to reverse that reputation. The policy in question encourages police officers to enter residence halls more frequently than in previous years, and encourages them to get search warrants immediately, rather than relying on student consent to search dorm rooms. Barbara O'Connor, chief of police and director of public safety, reported, " In 23 years of work here, this has been one of the quietest semesters," attributing the change to "the fruit of [the department's] labors."

Some students don't think the benefit is worth the decrease in privacy. Jon Werner, co-co-president of UMass' Cannabis Reform Coalition (CRC), received complaints from students that young officers dressed as college students were patrolling dorms and gaining access to rooms before revealing their identities. "They will go up [into dorms] for reasons that are very flimsy, and along they way they will arrest other people," said Werner. Justin Sawyer, also CRC co-president, said, "It's like a police state," where police actions "are creating a culture of fear and paranoia."

Werner attempted to meet with the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Michael Gargano to discuss the policy changes, but two meetings were cancelled by Gargano, who said he could not change the policy. According to the Boston Globe, the CRC held a rally to protest the policy and presented the administration with a petition signed by over 2,000 students that calls for policy change. "It really infringes upon students' individual rights if they feel like they are being monitored," said Elvis Mendez, president of UMass's Student Government Association.

Student denies existence of leprechauns, gets expelled

Art Institute of Portland

The age-old feud between atheists and leprechauns recently reared its ugly head in Portland. Student and self-proclaimed atheist Bob Averill says he was expelled for questioning another student's belief in leprechauns. No, seriously.

In a student discussion after class, one student mentioned her belief in astral beings and energy layers. "I jokingly asked her if she believed in leprechauns. It turns out, she does. They live on another energy layer," wrote Averill in a blog entry that he has since erased.

He proceeded to ask her how she knew leprechauns existed, not trying to disprove her beliefs but " to convince her not to insist that they were scientifically proven." The student complained to a professor about the conversation, and it was later cited as a contributing factor in Averill's expulsion.

Averill met with the school's president, Steven Goldman, to appeal his expulsion. Goldman upheld the decision, but, according to Averill, "He offered to re-admit me if I underwent--get this--psychiatric evaluation."

Goldman stated that the school has "never suspended or terminated or disciplined or otherwise troubled any student at any time about religious issues." Administrators cite Averill's history of policy violations as the cause for his expulsion, not just his heinous discrimination against leprechauns.

Anti-Sweatshop hunger strike ended

Purdue University

Purdue students ended their 27-day hunger strike this week, declaring that although they did not reach their ultimate goal--getting the university to adopt the Designated Suppliers Program (DSP)--they made enough progress to end the protest.

The DSP is a program designed to help universities implement policy to ensure that university logo apparel is sweatshop-free. Among other requirements, factories that make logo apparel must adhere to "internationally recognized labor standards" and pay employees a living wage, according to the program description on the DSP website. Students at Purdue pursued adoption of the DSP for 18 months before beginning the hunger strike, working in conjunction with United Students Against Sweatshops, a national organization. Thirty American universities have already adopted the DSP.

Purdue President Martin C. Jischke announced on Tuesday, Dec. 12 that the university would not adopt the DSP, citing lack of information about costs and consequences of policy changes. "I cannot, in good conscience, make a university decision when so much doubt exists," he said. The university pledged to continue looking at other sweatshop regulation options, and plans to send a representative to an inter-collegiate meeting where ramifications of the DSP will be discussed.

The day after that announcement, health concerns and small victories contributed to the lifting of the hunger strike. Mark Francoise, a Purdue senior who participated in the strike since Nov. 17, noted that strikers started "to show signs of malnutrition and starvation," which, coupled with the administration's willingness to continue discussion, prompted the end of the strike. Eating pita bread and smoking cigars, strikers celebrated their protest and planned for the future. "The awareness of this issue is 10 times greater than it was before," said freshman Amanda Jones. "The movement is as strong as it has ever been."

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