A look inside the lab

first_imgAnyone who’s ever wondered about the sort of cutting-edge research that takes place in Harvard’s labs will now have the chance to find out.The Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ Division of Science recently relaunched a popular lecture series, aptly titled “Science Research Lecture Series,” which is aimed at introducing the broader community to research conducted by Harvard faculty. The talks will be held once a month in the Science Center, and will be open to the public.“I am pleased that we have been able to resurrect this lecture series, thanks to the efforts of a group of faculty led by Melissa Franklin, Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics, as a way to highlight the exceptional work of Harvard faculty and students,” said Dean of Science and Mallinckrodt Professor of Geophysics Jeremy Bloxham. “These talks, geared toward a lay audience, make the cutting-edge research taking place in Harvard’s labs accessible to the general public, and represent an opportunity for both the Harvard and local communities to get informed about and excited by the groundbreaking work that takes place at Harvard on a daily basis.”The series began last month with a talk by Jeff Lichtman, the Jeremy R. Knowles Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Santiago Ramón y Cajal Professor of Arts and Sciences, who described his efforts to produce the “connectome” — a wiring diagram that shows how all the neurons in the brain are connected.“There is a huge amount of interest in the brain right now,” Lichtman said. “So it’s worth considering why this might be a special organ system.”Where other organs, like the kidney, liver, or lungs, have a clear relationship between their structure and their function, Lichtman explained that the same cannot be said of the brain.“There are diseases of the brain, many of which are incurable not simply because they’re hard to cure, but because we have no idea what’s wrong,” he said. “We don’t know what’s wrong because the underpinning of the cellular structure of the brain is not well understood at all.”To get a better understanding of that cellular structure, Lichtman and colleagues in 2007 developed a unique imaging system, dubbed Brainbow, that uses combinations of red, green, and blue fluorescent proteins to mark neurons with different colors, allowing researchers to trace the path of individual neurons and begin to form a wiring diagram of the brain.Even that system, however, was no match for the brain’s complexity.Using the system to label every neuron in the brain quickly became unfeasible, Lichtman said, because the sheer number of cells made it impossible to understand how they all connected.  The solution, developed by Lichtman, is an automated serial electron microscopy technique that allows researchers to capture high-resolution images of brain tissue, which can then be stitched together using computers to form a 3-D image of how various neurons are connected.“If you want to understand the brain, you have to understand details at the level of the electron microscope, at the level of the light microscope, all the way up to the level of the functional MRI (fMRI),” he said. “That’s a trillion-fold range. No matter how you slice it, that’s a big number, and that’s just to get the information about how the brain is organized.”If researchers are able to overcome such obstacles, Lichtman said, the potential payoffs for science and medicine could be enormous. In addition to potentially uncovering clues to the treatment of a host of diseases, the results could shed new light on how the brain works to store information through learning and memory.The next lecture of the series will be held tonight at 7 in the Science Center, and will feature Scott Edwards, the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, and Curator of Ornithology in the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University, who will give a lecture titled “Birds: Evolution and Innovation in a Changing World.”last_img read more

Biden named Class Day speaker

first_imgJoe Biden, the 47th vice president of the United States and a six-term U.S. senator, will deliver the annual Class Day address to the graduating Class of 2017 at Harvard University on May 24.“I am honored to be invited to be a part of this special day at Harvard,” said Biden. “Today’s generation of students is the most engaged, the most tolerant, and the best educated in the history of the United States of America. I am grateful for the opportunity to speak to this year’s graduating class about the great power they hold to shape our nation’s future.”Biden entered public service shortly after graduating law school in 1968. In 1972 he was elected to his first term in the U.S. Senate, where he represented the state of Delaware until January 2009, when he became vice president. Since leaving that office earlier this year, Biden has continued his longtime commitment to public service by establishing a foundation along with his wife, Jill Biden, that provides educational programming and policy analysis on a variety of topics central to their decades of public life.“It is an absolute honor to welcome Vice President Biden to Cambridge for Class Day,” said Avni Nahar ’17, co-chair of the speaker selection committee. “His decades-long career in public service is incredibly inspirational for all of us as we consider the impact we want to make in our communities as citizens and citizen-leaders post-graduation.”“The senior class is incredibly fortunate and excited to hear from such a distinguished speaker on Class Day. We have watched him serve our nation with diplomacy, humility, and humor throughout our time in high school and at Harvard,” said Victoria Jones ’17, co-chair with Nahar.Harvard College seniors have invited a guest speaker for Class Day since 1968. Prior to that, the honor was given to University affiliates, such as deans, faculty, or classmates. The first invited guest was Martin Luther King Jr., who accepted the invitation shortly before his assassination. His widow, Coretta Scott King, delivered the speech in his absence and also became the first woman to give a Class Day address at Harvard. Since that time, speakers have spanned fields including politics, social activism, journalism, film, comedy, and more.“While Commencement is officially the last time we gather as an entire class, I think the penultimate assembly on Class Day holds a special place in the hearts of graduating seniors. It’s a day for us to celebrate one another — the people we’ve spent these last four years with,” said First Marshal Riya Patel ’17. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to not just look toward our future, but to reflect on the memories we’ve created together.”In addition to Biden’s address, Class Day includes award presentations and student orations. All of the events will take place in Tercentenary Theatre in Harvard Yard beginning at 2 p.m. and will be streamed live online.last_img read more

Fighting for humane mental health treatment

first_img The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news. The two organizations run a variety of programs whose aims are to let mental health service users remain in the community and to thrive. They encourage the acquiring of skills, so that those with mental health conditions can avoid dependence. Kamili for example, provides microfinance to people with mental health conditions, while Tinada provides scholarships and job training. The organizations foster peer support, and encourage clients to remain near family and friends.“They run a holistic model of mental health care to ensure people with mental health conditions can live lives like everyone else,” Mahomed said.The organizations also run campaigns to fight stigma and emphasize appropriate use of medication as a support to psychosocial interventions rather than overuse of psychotropic drugs. Less than 1 percent of their clients, Mahomed said, have to be referred to a psychiatric institution.A rights-based approach should also give people who’ve experienced mental health conditions a seat at the table where care is being designed, Mahomed said. Mahomed, who has struggled with depression himself, said his experience has informed his views, though as a psychologist, he’s avoided many of the negatives.“I am in a fortunate position. I’m educated in mental health, so I didn’t have the experience of having my own rights violated,” Mahomed said. “As a clinician, I worked in mental health institutions. I sometimes felt the institutionalization process can be quite brutal and in some ways it was not the best way to go about actually helping a person.”After graduation, Mahomed plans to continue his work on the issue at the Open Society Foundations in New York, where he fulfilled his doctoral program’s required practicum.Mahomed said his years at Harvard allowed him to work with leaders in the field, such as Visiting Professor of Law Michael Stein, who played a role in drafting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and his dissertation advisor, Jacqueline Bhabha, professor of the practice of health and human rights and research director at Harvard’s Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights (FXB Center).Bhabha said Mahomed reached out to her shortly after arriving at the Chan School and was a student fellow at the FXB Center. She described him as “a forceful intellect” and said Mahomed has identified an issue that is an enormous problem around the world and growing worse, with an increasing incidence of adolescent suicide and depression among women.“He’s got a much more nuanced and thoughtful way of thinking about what a human rights approach means. … He doesn’t just trot out the articles in the various U.N. conventions that are relevant,” Bhabha said. “He thinks about what mental health means to people, to the actual stakeholders, and how to assess efficacy in a way that’s meaningful. It’s not just ticking a box that’s numbers in your clinic or how many swallowed your antidepressants.” This is one in a series of profiles showcasing some of Harvard’s stellar graduates.When Faraaz Mahomed surveys the global health landscape, one area jumps out at him, an area where stigma and misinformation maintain a grip, where outdated attitudes hold sway, and where coercion is a routine part of treatment: mental health care.Mahomed, graduating this spring from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s doctor of public health program, has spent the last three years focused on how mental health care is provided around the world, particularly in resource-poor settings, and on how that care can be improved through an emphasis on the human rights of those using mental health services.“Traditionally what we’ve seen in the mental health system is there’s a lot of coercion, a lot of involuntary treatment,” Mahomed said. “People’s rights have generally not been very well respected if they’ve had mental health conditions.”Mahomed, a clinical psychologist, is originally from South Africa. He came to Harvard as a way to merge his interests in mental health care and human rights. Mahomed said a movement to apply human rights-based approaches to mental health care has been slowly emerging, but that movement suffers from a lack of research, few examples of successful programs as models, and even a lack of clarity about what “a human rights-based approach” is in the first place.“Part of the challenge with rights-based approaches to mental health is that we don’t necessarily understand them very well,” Mahomed said. “Part of my work was defining what they are.”Traditional mental health care entities often ignore the needs and desires of those they serve, Mahomed said. They are frequently coercive, favoring what caregivers think is best while discounting the desires of those most directly impacted. There tends to be an over-reliance on medication and on institutionalization. And, regardless of the approach, care is often under-funded.“The focus of a rights-based approach is on autonomy and on people being able to make decisions for themselves and being able to determine their own care, their own treatment, and where they live, what they do, etc.,” Mahomed said. “Even when people have quite acute mental health conditions, it’s not necessarily the case that they need to be removed from the community. What we’re seeing increasingly is ways to address their needs in the community.”Research into rights-based approaches has so far occurred mainly in rich countries, Mahomed said, and his doctoral research focused on how similar approaches might work in low-income settings. He examined two community-based organizations in Kenya: the Nairobi-based Kamili Mental Health Organisation, and the Tinada Youth Organization in Kisumu. “I sometimes felt the institutionalization process can be quite brutal and in some ways it was not the best way to go about actually helping a person.” — Faraaz Mahomedlast_img read more

SMC ends varsity swim program

first_imgKaren Johnson, vice president of Student Affairs at Saint Mary’s, informed students March 19 of the plan to end the varsity swimming program, a decision made by College President Carol Ann Mooney and her cabinet in collaboration with director of athletics Julie Schroeder-Biek. The varsity swimming program began in 1975 and since then, five students have received a total of 12 all-conference individual awards. “The elimination of swimming as a varsity sport was a difficult decision and one that was not taken lightly,” Johnson said. “However, waning interest in participation, the lack of appropriate on-campus facilities and the recent resignation of current coach Mark Benishek led the leadership of the College to this conclusion.” The lack of an on-campus pool was the main factor leading to the elimination of the varsity sport, Johnson said. For the past four years, the team has used Notre Dame’s facilities for both practice and competitions. “Because of his position at Notre Dame, Coach Benishek was able to assure our team had practice time at the Rolfs Aquatic Center,” Johnson said. “Prior to that, our swimmers practiced as late as 10 p.m. or at a local high school. Facing the uncertainty of practice facilities and the potential hardship on our swimmers and our concern for their safety was a key consideration in this decision.” Benishek, who left at the end of the season for a job in Seattle, said his job at Rolfs did not influence his ability to acquire practice times for his team. “I worked at Notre Dame, but there was not preferential treatment given to me or the Saint Mary’s swim team, at least any special treatment I knew about,” he said. “I had to apply for pool times like any other group or club looking for pool times would have to.” Though Saint Mary’s never had its own pool, Benishek said the swim team always found a way to get past that challenge. Another major factor behind the decision to end the program was the lack of students interested in swimming next season, Johnson said. This deficiency was due to various events, such as study abroad, senior graduations and an uncertain number of incoming swimmers, she said. Benishek and Liz Palmer, a senior swimmer, said the College may have underestimated the number of walk-ons it receives every year. “I was never recruited,” Palmer said. “I just walked on. A lot of girls did that.” The College has received “very little feedback from the community” about the end of the swimming program and does not anticipate the decision will deter future applicants, Johnson said. “I think that this decision will discourage very few from applying to and coming to Saint Mary’s,” she said. “Our swim program is small and we haven’t met with many possible recruits this year.” A number of current swimmers said they wished they knew the program was going to be eliminated because this decision may have affected their decision to attend the College. “Had I known that Saint Mary’s would not have a swim team for all four years I would … be here, I would not have come,” first-year Carolyn Neville said. “Swimming was a huge part of my college search. I do not want to transfer schools now because I have made great friends and enjoy being here, but I definitely want to find a way to keep swimming competitively.” Benishek said he is disappointed other Saint Mary’s girls will not be able to experience being on the team. “It is not just a sport,” Benishek said. “It is an opportunity to form relationships that go beyond the four years on campus. My heart especially goes out to the juniors, sophomores and freshman that will not be able to finish out their careers at Saint Mary’s. It really is a shame.” Despite the College’s decision to end the swim team, Johnson said every intercollegiate sport is an asset to the school. “Athletes become leaders and build strong communities,” she said. “We are proud of all of athletes. Additionally, on our campus, athletes have strong academic careers. Johnson said the College will not sponsor a swim team until the College has a pool on site and “at this time there are no plans to build one.”last_img read more

Higher diversity and retention rate in Notre Dame class of 2023

first_imgIn the past year, more than 22,000 high school students have submitted an application to join the Notre Dame class of 2023. At the end of a long process of discernment by the Office of Admissions, 3,515 of those students were admitted to the University. Of that group, about 2,055 accepted Notre Dame’s offer of admission and are expected to arrive on campus this weekend as the class of 2023.Don Bishop, the University’s associate vice president for undergraduate enrollment, said the class of 2023’s yield rate — the number of admitted students who decided to come to Notre Dame — of 58.4% is a full percentage point higher than last year. This increased yield rate comes in spite of the fact that 90 fewer students were admitted this year as compared to last year.Diane Park | The Observer “We were able to admit fewer students and get our class goal,” Bishop said.Bishop said the school has sought to recruit an applicant pool comprised of students who have a competitive chance of admission. He attributed the University’s record low acceptance rate of 15.8% last year to the higher quality of students in the applicant pool.“The admit rate was 15.8%. That’s the lowest admit rate we’ve ever had. I don’t want us to celebrate that. We are not out there trying to accumulate applicants that don’t have much of an opportunity in the pool,” he said. “… We always are trying to improve the applicant pool in the quality of students and that quality definition extends beyond test scores and high school grades.”But we really looked to increase the applicant pool with students who have the credentials that at least give them a 50/50 chance of admission. This year, the applicant pool went up 9% over the year before, but it went up 23% in these types of what you would call ‘higher profile’ applicants.”From a demographic perspective, the incoming freshman class is more diverse on several different scores, Bishop said. The proportion of the incoming class made up by students of color from the United States is 29%, up from last year’s 26%. The class of 2023 includes 318 students that are either international citizens or dual-citizen American students raised abroad by one American parent or one foreign parent.“We’re six percent pure international, no connection to America whatsoever,” he said. “Another three percent are … born and raised in another country, but they have an American parent, so they’re able to claim dual citizenship.”Those two groups, along with permanent residents of the United States and American students raised abroad, constitute 16% of the class, Bishop said.Bishop said 21.3% of students are children of alumni, while the number of students in the class of 2023 who are either first generation college students or recipients of Pell Grants are up “by about 30” individuals when compared to last year. They also represent about 16% of the class, Bishop said. When the number of students receiving significant financial aid from the University is included, that figure jumps to about a fifth of the class.“If you add in the attribute … of lower income students that would need more than tuition and fees as a scholarship to come here — so they can’t pay a dime of tuition and fees and yet we’ve provided them with the support — when you add in first [generation], Pell and receiving more than tuition and fees, it’s around 22% of the whole class.”Bishop said the University prioritized recruiting a diverse class, although admissions staff operated under a wide definition of diversity as they built the class.“We did make an effort and recruit more diversity. ‘Diversity’ as defined in the broadest way — socioeconomic diversity, cultural diversity,” he said. “The largest number of students came from public high schools — 43% — the next percent are Catholic [schools] — I think it’s 38% — and then 19% for private or charter schools.”Though the school has become more diverse, its share of Catholic students has stayed consistent at about 80%.“We’re 81.5% Catholic. We’ve always been around 80% to 80-some odd percent [Catholic]. I don’t think that’s new news,” Bishop said. “But if they saw the diversity numbers going up as dramatically as they are, they might’ve said, ‘Well, did the Catholic numbers go down?’ No, we have found more students of color, more lower income Catholics, than ever before.“So that effort for diversity continued to attract the top Catholics from those diverse backgrounds, actually even more successfully this year than ever before. That’s gratifying. It’s a goal of ours; we want to go out to all these diverse communities and find those who really believe in Notre Dame and the benefits of Notre Dame.”Geographically, the class is drawn from across the country. The most represented region in the United States is the East Coast, contributing 24% of the class, followed by the Central Midwest at 20%. The West and Southwest, Midwest and South round out the American portion of the class at 19%, 15% and 13% respectively.“We’re the most nationally diverse university. The average first year student comes from a median distance of 750 miles,” he said. “The gates of Columbia University and the gates of Notre Dame are 702 driving miles apart … So if you’re a New Yorker, you live closer to Notre Dame than the average student who comes to the University.”Bishop said about a quarter each of the incoming class has decided to study in the College of Arts and Letters, the Mendoza College of Business, the College of Science and either the School of Architecture or College of Engineering.“I think there’s a real creativity available at Notre Dame to be whatever you want,” he said. “There’s not a sense we’re looking for conformity at all. We’re looking for very different mindsets.”Bishop said that when considering applicants, the University weighs heavily what might lie behind a student’s successes. In other words, the underlying motivational factors of a student’s accomplishments is an important piece of the admissions puzzle.“The more that the application numbers go up and the academic profile of the applicant pool goes up the more we feel we can be holistic in our approach, more creative. We’re looking at a student’s motivation for success as a heavy decider,” he said. “And that’s not easy to do. We do our best as we read the file to read it and get a sense of what motivated the student to reach those levels of accomplishments. The accomplishment itself is not sufficient for admission. It’s the whole story.”Motivation for success, Bishop said, is considered in part because it is closely related to determining which applicants will utilize all of the opportunities Notre Dame has to offer.“One way you can look at it is why somebody has gone as far as they have and how far they’ve gone from where they were [gives] a great deal of predictive value in predicting how far they will go with what they get here,” he said. “How will they use Notre Dame?”I think one of the great considerations when we’re picking an applicant pool for the enrolled class is ‘Which students will make the best use of the resources that have been put together at Notre Dame?’ I think more and more our students each year are engaging the academic, the social and the spiritual side of Notre Dame, the mission side of Notre Dame, more than any class before. So we are more selective, but we’re also more on mission.”Christy Pratt, the University’s director of admissions, credited the admissions staff for their work in seeking to enhance the incoming freshman class. She also noted that this incoming class has one special attribute: it is the last class recruited under retiring director of admissions Bob Mundy.“The credit goes to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions staff that is reading all of these applications, they are on the road and going to all of these different locations and schools,” Pratt said. “… It’s a lot of work and dedication, and we have an amazing staff that is continuing to meet these goals and really enrich the class in finding these students that are going to come and be a great addition to the Notre Dame community.”Bishop said the incoming class will increase to the dynamism of the University.“Each year Notre Dame has advanced its mission to attract a powerful group of young scholars from across the nation and across the globe. The class of 2023 not only impressed our admissions committee — they also inspired us,” he said. “This is the strongest group of intellectually creative and resourceful students we have ever attracted. They come from an increasingly more diverse set of geographic, cultural, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds as well as fields of academic interests. It is an exciting time to be at Notre Dame.” Tags: Admissions, Diversity, Don Bishop, Enrollmentlast_img read more

Student government department reviews

first_imgExecutive ControllerJunior Jack McClintock heads this department that is responsible for the student government budget. Currently, student government is spending less money than there is in the budget, he said. The department is working on two big initiatives at the moment: a personal finance website with resources for students and an event “centered around personal financial wellness in collaboration with McWell.” McClintock said the website will be up at the beginning of next semester. In collaboration with vice president, junior Patrick McGuire, McClintock said they changed the University’s New York Times subscription to a digital platform to save money and promote sustainable efforts by cutting down on paper use. Grade: A- Department of Academic AffairsSenior Katherine Wallace assumed the director position of this department, which addresses the academic needs of the student body, after a leadership change in October. Wallace had already been a member of the department. She said her experience, combined with the support of senior leadership helped ensure a smooth leadership transition. Wallace’s top priority is to improve the University’s Course Instructor Feedback surveys, or CIFs. She recently met with the Office of Strategic and Institutional Research to discuss how the University could improve the CIF system, giving students more time and opportunities to share their feedback. As the system currently functions, students have a short period of time to submit their CIFs, and Wallace said the short timeline prevents some students from submitting their feedback. Although Wallace said the department likely cannot extend the CIF deadline, she believes they can create a window for additional feedback after the deadline passes. She also wants to emphasize the importance of CIFs in the Moreau First Year Experience Curriculum. Additionally, Wallace wants to improve the printing system for Notre Dame students, making mobile printing easier and possibly adding new printer locations on campus. Grade: B Community Engagement and OutreachThis department, which supports student civic engagement and promotes outreach to the South Bend community, is led by senior Alex Yom. The department’s biggest initiative this semester was its “South Bend Adventure Guide.” The guide, which launched in August, is what Yom calls a “one-stop-shop” for navigating South Bend. It lists various restaurants, natural sites to see, events and activities in the South Bend area. The department has been promoting the guide through its “South Bend Scavenger Hunt” challenge, encouraging students to visit some of the locations listed on the guide. Yom wants to foster stronger ties between Notre Dame and the South Bend community, and his department is currently developing a “South Bend module” for the Moreau First Year Experience curriculum. Additionally, the department has been supporting voter turnout and civic engagement among the student body. In partnership with ND Votes, the department helped register 700 new student voters. Yom said he was disappointed that his department couldn’t do more to engage the campus community with the South Bend mayoral race. The problem, he said, was that some candidates were reluctant to speak on campus because Notre Dame is technically separate from incorporated South Bend. By strengthening ties between the two communities, however, Yom hopes to bridge this divide.Grade:  A University PolicySenior Nick Ottone is the leader of this department focusing on initiatives and collaborations with the administration and other departments with student government. (Editor’s Note: Ottone is a former Scene writer for The Observer.) As a part of Race Relations Week, the department collaborated with different organizations and clubs on campus to host Notre Dame Unfiltered. Along with the department of student life, this department helped host the Student Safety Summit. Ottone said the department is working with NDPD to form a committee to provide feedback and a space for dialogue. The department plans to look into the parietals amnesty clause within the Title IX code “to look at what it means and publicize it more regularly,” to create a digital pamphlet about freedom of speech policies and practices on campus before the election cycle in the fall and to look into clarifying the medical withdrawal policy. Grade: B+Tags: Student Government Insider 2019 Department of Social Concerns Senior Beth Steiner directs the social concerns department. She entered the semester with the goal of focusing on specific committee member concerns and engaging more genuinely with the South Bend community. There was a recent social justice listening panel called “Growing Together” to discuss Notre Dame’s relationship with the South Bend community. The department has been in discussion with the administration about changing the cigarette policy on campus in the hope of ending traditional cigarette use on campus and aims to add questions to the campus climate survey concerning vaping on campus. Another initiative includes bridging the discrepancy between students of a lower socioeconomic standing that want to do service and those that have an opportunity to do service in South Bend. With the Department of Technology, they are working to launch a ride-sharing app for both traveling for breaks and to service opportunities in South Bend. Next semester the department will host the annual Back the Bend service project and hopes to facilitate more conversations between Notre Dame and the South Bend community and engage more with the Center for Social Concerns. Grade: A- First Undergraduate Experience in Leadership (FUEL)Sophomores Jim Broderick and Alix Basden head up this first-year-only student government department. (Editor’s Note: Broderick is a News Writer for The Observer.) Basden said the department works to acclimate leaders at Notre Dame by forming a first-year cohort that works on policy together. FUEL also works to ensure first-year interests are represented in other areas of student government by placing their members in other Student Government departments. Most of the fall semester focused on this process rather than actually drafting policy since students have to apply and interview. FUEL does have specific plans for the spring involving first-year interest. One example is an improved system of Moreau course feedback, potentially involving a survey of upperclassmen regarding the most and least helpful parts of the class. Basden also mentioned an upcoming student senate resolution to introduce more first years to members of student government via matchup survey. Look for more activity from FUEL in the spring semester. Grade: B- Department of Student LifeSenior Abby Smith and junior Connor Whittle head this wide-ranging department with the goal of clear communication between the administration and students. One of their main goals is to help Residential Life on policy communication with students on the off-campus differentiation policy as well as dorm renovations, dorm equity and more. Smith and Whittle also focused on equipping the sophomore class to facilitate dialogue with Residential Life and hope to find a more technical solution with the ID swipe access next semester. Smith and Whittle are working on development within campus dining to be announced next semester. Big events of the semester included Flick on the Field, which had the highest turnout to date, and the Student Safety Summit. The department collaborated with GreeNDot to give out GreeNDot towels at Flick on the Field. The department also hosted a student government tailgate to provide an alternative to typical game-day tailgates. Next semester, the department will launch expaND, a speaker seminar centered on the theme of change. Speakers will include faculty members, members of the South Bend community and students. The theme is inspired by the Gandhi quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”Grade: A Department of Faith and ServiceSenior Meenu Selvan heads this department directed at meeting the “spiritual needs of all students.” Selvan said in an email that she aims to emphasize the universality of the Catholic faith, herself being a Hindu student who grew up at Catholic schools. Interfaith initiatives this year have included a “What If I’m Not Catholic?” lecture at Welcome Weekend, a 9/11 prayer service including Jewish and Hindu readings and an Interfaith Road Trip for some members of student government to experience different faiths. Ahead, the department plans on launching “Teaching Masses” as dorm events to help Catholics and non-Catholics better understand the Mass. These will take place as brother/sister dorm events. Selvan also plans on helping First Undergraduate Experience in Leadership (FUEL) with the upcoming first-year retreat. Sevlan declined to comment on her department’s non-engagement with the Church sex abuse crisis, focusing instead on her interfaith initiatives.Grade: B-center_img Department of AthleticsSophomore Philip Quinton heads this department, which represents student athletic needs. Quinton said the department hopes to increase turnout to Notre Dame sporting events and support the athletic needs of both student athletes and non-student athletes alike. Before this year began, the Leprechaun Legion, an independent student organization that has historically led cheers at Notre Dame sports games, was looking to revive its presence on campus. Quinton believed the group could help energize the student section, so his department has supported the Leprechaun Legion’s board as it made a resurgence. Additionally, the department is focusing on student mental health and wellbeing. This semester, the Student Athletic Advisory Council — along with the student-athlete-led Irish Strong movement — has coordinated mental health events for student athletes. The department wants to work with the student athlete community next semester to open this mental health initiative to the entire student body. This semester, Quinton was disappointed that his department was unable to organize GreeNDot sexual assault prevention training for all student athletes, but he hopes they’ll be able to implement the training next semester. Although the department is pushing many promising initiatives, it lacks a grand strategic vision connecting its various agendas.Grade: B- Department of Diversity and InclusionThis department, run by senior Kenzie Isaac, engages on issues of student identity, ranging from race to gender to mental health. Isaac said she targets intersections of identity, supplementing and engaging with work from other departments. Over the summer, the department helped provide the student government’s South Bend Adventure Guide with restaurants, salons and places of worship geared towards minority groups on campus. Isaac also began work with the diversity council on a “Know Your Rights” handbook that would summarize duLac policies about protests and policing for students who engage with NDPD. This semester, the department hosted events during the Race Relations and First-Generation, Low-Income Students Weeks and was the force behind bringing Yusef Salaam, one of the “Central Park Five,” to campus. Most policy changes next semester will be geared towards the presidential debate in the fall, including dorm-specific diversity training and “Conversations Across Diasporas” lunches to create dialogue between minority groups before the debate. In light of protests this semester by student groups against hate speech and parietals, Isaac said she wants students to take the lead on addressing their issues and then look to streamline with current Student Government initiatives. She said she hopes to “avoid redundancy” regarding student programs that already exist. Grade: A- Department of Gender RelationsSenior Anne Jarrett focused their department towards GreeNDot training and expanding student resources, especially with respect to the LGBTQ+ community. Gender Relations passed a student senate resolution requiring all 275 student officials to receive GreeNDot training and continued prior efforts to bring the training to local bars. The department is “currently reviewing SpeakUp ND to streamline the online reporting process” regarding sexual assault, Jarret said in an email. They also co-sponsored the third annual GlobaLBGTQ+ Film Festival, this year bringing the event to Saint Mary’s and the greater South Bend community. Coming up next semester, the department negotiated for free menstrual products in several buildings on campus. They plan on sponsoring a Pride event for the LGTBQ+ community next semester, showcasing art and music. Regarding protests over parietals, Jarrett said Gender Relations aims to reform and expand the language used in duLac to make them more true to “the spirit of parietals” and spread awareness of relevant University policy.Grade: B Department of Campus Technology and InnovationSenior Nick Marcopoli leads this department, which oversees student concerns regarding information technologies. Going into this student government term, the department hoped to implement four main initiatives. The first, a campus technology awareness campaign, is already underway. The department is in the process of publicizing the availability of resources such as Microsoft Desktop. The second initiative, a “mega-calendar” of campus events, is already available to some select student groups. Once fully developed, the calendar will aggregate all the various events occurring around campus, helping student groups decide when to schedule their upcoming events. The third initiative, a rideshare coordinator, will connect students interested in hailing an Uber or Lyft to Chicago. Marcopoli said the coordinator is on track to launch before spring break. The department has struggled, however, to implement its fourth initiative: a sexual assault reporting service. The service would allow students to anonymously report sexual assault perpetrators, and it would use a database to discover repeat offenders. Marcopoli said the “bureaucracy” of the University administration has slowed the development of the reporting service. Nevertheless, Marcopoli said he’s hopeful the service will be available by the end of next semester. Grade: A Department of Health and Well-BeingSophomore Natalie Munguia focused her department’s efforts to partner with McDonald Center for Well-Being (McWell) and the University Counseling Center (UCC) to connect more students with resources offered by the University. The department has worked with McWell’s Healthy Campus Coalition to help their efforts in reaching and engaging students. The department was successful in implementing a well-being tab on Sakai this semester. It links students to care and wellness consultants, McWell, Sara Bea disability services, the UCC and University Health Services. To better connect students with the UCC, the department hosted a pop-up stand with bagels and flyers to advertise the UCC’s new policy of drop-in mental health counseling sessions which started at the end of October, Munguia said. The department has plans to continue engaging students and plan a mental health walk-in April to increase mental health awareness and reduce stigma. Grade: A- Department of CommunicationsAfter the abrupt resignation of junior Aaron Benavides in October, senior Tiffanie Cappello Lee took over this key department. Cappello Lee said the department, which facilitates communication between student government and the student body, has a strong team dedicated to the cause. She credits Benavides — along with student government senior leadership — for supporting the department through the leadership transition. She admits, however, that the initial adjustment was a challenge. By next semester, Cappello Lee hopes the department will be fully recovered from the transition said she’s looking forward to upcoming initiatives. Currently, the team is developing a spotlight series that will profile different members of the Notre Dame community. They plan to publish the stories on social media and the student government website. Additionally, Cappello Lee said the department is exploring a revamp of the student government website. She hopes a more user-friendly interface would enhance communication between student government and the rest of the student body. Despite its promising agenda for next semester, the department has been bogged down by its disruptive leadership shift.Grade: Blast_img read more

Lindsay Mendez, Andy Karl, Jarrod Spector & More Sing at Broadway Salutes

first_img Andy Karl The Tony Awards are great, but what about the fabulous stagehands, press agents, ushers, make-up artists, dressers, ticket sellers and musicians that keep Broadway shining bright all year long? Tony-winning actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein hosted the sixth annual Broadway Salutes celebration on September 23, presented by the Broadway League and the Coalition of Broadway Unions and Guilds. Featuring guest performances by Tony nominee Andy Karl, Beautiful star Jarrod Spector, Wicked vet Lindsay Mendez, and Broadway mainstay Adam Heller, the tribute to theater professions of all kinds was helmed by Beautiful director Marc Bruni. Congratulations to the whole Broadway community! Star Files Lindsay Mendezcenter_img View Comments Jarrod Spectorlast_img read more

Fight against Terrorism Main Focus at 2014 Conference of Ministers in Peru

first_img Among the topics of discussion that Peru intends to address during the conference, “the fight against terrorism is an aspect that the South American nation is strongly determined to confront, with the government of president Ollanta Humala,” Cateriano told the press in the closing ceremony of the 10th Conference of Defense Ministers in the Uruguayan coastal city of Punta del Este. “This is also a sensitive aspect in the international arena (…) and we expect that soon, together with Ecuador, we can build a bi-national agency capable of offering services according to past experiences, not only for the United Nations, but also for any institution that requires it.” Peru will host the next Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas in 2014, and seeks to analyze the fight against terrorism, stated Peruvian Defense Minister Pedro Cateriano on October 10. “For Peru, this is a very important subject, and we hope it is among the defense matters to be discussed,” he added. “Additionally, we also hope to expand on all (issues) discussed during this conference,” he said. Cateriano celebrated that, on the sidelines of the conference, he and his Chilean counterpart Andrés Allamand committed to respecting the ruling of the International Court of Justice in The Hague on the maritime dispute between Peru and Chile. The issue of terrorism has raised a lot of concern to every individual across the globe. I begin to wonder if the leaders of the world would not drop their policies and try to develop more encompassing policies that would take care of everyone’s interest. Vested interest has produced conflict more than consensus. Socialization of basic norms and values seem to be lacking in all the youth of the world today. The United Nations should look for people that read sociology and engage them to develop statutory as well as emergent policies that could help to bring peace to the world. It is pathetic that human lives no longer mean anything to his or her neighbour. I will like to be invited to deliver paper on this topic in your conference if given the chance, using Boko Haram group in Nigeria. “We have also emphasized the important joint work between Peru and Ecuador in demining our border,” declared Cateriano. By Dialogo October 12, 2012last_img read more

Brazilian Service Members Train for Unprecedented Exercise in the US

first_imgFirst semesterFour JRTC instructors and an ARSOUTH representative led Operation Stream I. “The U.S. team presented JRTC’s methodology in this type of exercise [troop simulation and training] and exchanged experiences and practices that the center currently uses,” EB Social Communication Center (CCOMSEx, in Portuguese) said.Seventy members from the 25th Airborne Infantry Battalion and 27 OCA service members took part in the first training. “OCAs observe all activities and record any incidents to identify, in the end, best practices and opportunities for improvement,” EB said.The airborne platoon and OCAs had separate training sessionsfollowed by a joint simulated ground exercise. This included paratrooper jumps and ground assault, combat marches, contact with another troop traveling in armored vehicles, and an attack by enemy forces, within a simulated urban environment.Operation Stream II reinforced those activities, presenting similar challenges to service members. Before the ground simulation, units participated in a virtual simulation, based on a Virtual Battlespace 3 software scenario. The training tool, which the U.S. military also uses, allows for the creation of different environments, taking users through planning, communication, and decision-making in a wide-range of situations.“We hope that as a result of these activities, the EB personnel who will participate in combined Exercise Culminating 2020 will acquire the knowledge that will help the Brazilian land force make progress in its preparation for multinational exercises,” CCOMSEx concluded. Brazilian and U.S. delegations met in Brasília during the sixth training planning meeting for Exercise Culminating, in May 2019. (Photo: Brazilian Army)other units will also participate as training observers and controllers (OCA, in Portuguese).The team will train alongside service members from the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division at the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) during Exercise Culminating. Located in Fort Polk, Louisiana, JRTC is one of three combat training centers of the U.S. Army. Each year, thousands of units from U.S. combat brigades and the National Guard train at JRTC, which is known for its rigorous activities to prepare for real-life conflicts.Operation Stream II split service members’ training into two phases, a virtual simulation and a ground simulation. (Photo: Brazilian Army) By Andréa Barretto/Diálogo August 12, 2019 Brazilian service members will have a busy second half of 2019, as they prepare for Exercise Culminating, which seeks to train an airborne company of the Brazilian Army (EB, in Portuguese). The exercise scheduled for 2020 represents the culmination of a series of activities EB and U.S. Army South (ARSOUTH) developed. The activities are part of a five-year plan to strengthen relations between the armed forces of Brazil and the United States, and increase their capacity to operate jointly. The plan kicked off in 2016 and will conclude in 2021, with an analysis of the exercise’s results. Service members taking part in Culminating began preparations for the execution phase in the first half of 2019 with Operation Stream I, May 6-15, followed by Operation Stream II, June 3-14. Units will carry out two additional and similar trainings in 2019, and two more in 2020, before the exercise.In May, officials conducted the sixth training planning meeting for Exercise Culminating, bringing a delegation of five U.S. service members to Brasília. The team met with the EB delegation to discuss details of the operation, and to define operational requirements, objectives, and deadlines for the preparation cycle.About 200 units from EB’s 25th Airborne Infantry Battalion will travel to the United States. Sixteen EB service members fromlast_img read more

A Sheldon Silver Mystery: Did He Betray New York Renters?

first_imgWhen New York enacted a major rent regulation law in 2011, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver celebrated the passage of the legislation as a victory over real estate interests.“Despite fierce and well-financed opposition to working families in New York City, we were able to secure important victories for tenants,” he said at the time.But the bribery case against Silver unveiled by prosecutors last week raises questions about whether Silver pulled his punches in negotiations on that 2011 bill, potentially at the expense of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who live in rent stabilized apartments.A little-scrutinized section of the criminal complaint alleges a luxury developer implicated in the Silver bribery scheme requested changes to the law. The changes were ultimately adopted.The complaint has tenant advocates who lobbied on the bill, known as the Rent Act of 2011, wondering what really happened. For now, it’s a mystery: U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara hasn’t specified what change Silver made on behalf of a developer who was part of the alleged bribery scheme.“It’s hugely important,” says Benjamin Dulchin of the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development. “I hope Preet Bharara tells us someday.”The complaint itself provides only a bit of detail.With the legislation pending, it says, “the Lobbyists met, on behalf of Developer 1, with Silver in his State office to advocate for certain proposed terms for the new Real Estate Legislation. The legislation that was enacted included Developer 1’s recommendations in substantial part.”“Developer 1” is widely reported to be Glenwood Management, the politically influential firm of centenarian developer Leonard Litwin.So what might Glenwood have wanted out of the legislation?The heart of the fight that year centered on rent regulation, which limits rent increases on about a million units in New York City, including some of Glenwood’s. The state law governing rent regulation comes up for renewal periodically.Landlords can deregulate apartments and begin charging market-rate rents under certain circumstances, such as when an apartment becomes vacant and its rent passes a threshold, at the time $2,000. As a result, over 200,000 units have become deregulated over the past 30 years. In the 2011 negotiations, tenant advocates wanted to stem the flow of units out of the program by tightening the rules. Another focal point was the formula that governs how much landlords can raise rent on regulated apartments when they invest money in improvements.There were other matters the legislation dealt with that could have been of interest to Glenwood Management, including tax exemptions for new development. The firm did not respond to a request for comment.Silver has said he will be vindicated when the case is aired in court. His lawyers did not respond to a request for comment.The ultimate rent deal struck in 2011 among Silver, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and the state Senate did not please tenant advocates.“Both Cuomo and Silver tried to spin the 2011 bill as a great victory for tenants when in fact there were very minor improvements,” says Michael McKee, the treasurer of the Tenants Political Action Committee, who lobbied on the bill.He says even at the time—long before the alleged bribery scheme between Silver and the developer was known—it wasn’t clear where exactly Silver stood.“Silver was not forthcoming about what he was working to achieve,” McKee says. “Silver always presented himself as pro-tenant, but who knows what happened behind closed doors?”While Silver is seen as more pro-tenant than many others in Albany, including Republicans in the state Senate, tenant advocates have long viewed him as an unreliable ally.The New York Times story reporting the eleventh hour deal on the 2011 law noted that it fell “well short of what many Democrats and tenant activists had hoped for.” Silver was also quoted saying it was time to stop fighting for a stronger package. “I think the days of pushing are over,” Silver said.In last week’s criminal complaint, prosecutors also quote an internal memo from an unnamed real estate developer association.  The memo concluded “in connection with the 2011 rent regulation reauthorization that Silver was considerably more favorable to the real estate industry than expected.” The memo said that “though he may never be the owners advocate, given that the Governor wanted [certain proposals] off the table and wanted to restore his reputation with tenants, it would appear that he (Silver) could have successfully pushed for more.”If the Silver case goes to trial, prosecutors will likely have to flesh out the episode.“Some more favorable treatment specifically by Mr. Silver towards the developers in question will have to be proven, something more concrete than speculation that he was less unfavorable towards the real estate industry in general than he could have been,” says Robert Walker, a government ethics law specialist at Wiley Rein.Have information about this story or a tip? Email me at justin@propublica.org.ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter. Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York last_img read more