Archive for April 2009
Thursday, a Campus Health Alert was issued to notify students about a suspected outbreak of the mumps after four students had recently shown signs of the disease.’
The four have had preliminary tests and thus far the results have been negative. However, they have undergone more extensive testing and results will be available next week, according to the notice.
“All four students have been vaccinated against mumps and, thus far, all lab tests are negative,” the first of four releases stated.
Two of the students recently traveled to Ireland, where there is currently a mumps outbreak, according to the Boston Public Health Commission’s release.’
The alert has now gone citywide, though as of press time no other suspected cases had been reported.
“University and Health Counseling Services is working closely with the state and city public health officials to make sure members of the community are informed and safe,” the second release stated.
On the emergency website, the university has released a mumps fact sheet to let students and faculty know the exact symptoms as well as the risks and how to get vaccinated.’
Additionally, last night an e-mail was sent out to approximately 500 students who are likely to have been in contact with the four affected students, the emergency website said.’ The message was sent to those in classes with the four students because the virus can be transmitted by the infected person sneezing, coughing or talking.’
For additional updates, check www.northeastern.edu/emergency.
Last week, The Onyx Informer hosted a series of events to help promote the publication around campus. Oversized sweaters, legwarmers and neon lights flooded afterHOURS Saturday night to conclude Onyx Week 2009.
This was the first year The Onyx Informer, which seeks to be a voice for the African Diaspora at Northeastern, hosted a week of events to promote their magazine, editor-in-chief Margaret Kamara said.
“The reason we did Onyx Week was to help people hear the name on campus again,” Kamara said. “A lot of the student population isn’t aware of the publication or what it’s about.”
This was the second year for the ’80s and ’90s dance party. Attendees dressed up in previous decades’ clothing and danced to oldies. Based off its earlier success, members of The Onyx decided to host an entire week of events and finish with the dance party, she said.
The festivities began Monday, April 6 with an alumni mixer at 6 p.m. in West Village C. A similar event was hosted Kamara’s freshman year, and she said she was glad to reinstate it.
“The events weren’t really for the alumni, but in the beginning [of the week] we wanted to connect them and start an alumni group,” she said. “So now in the future they can give back to The Onyx or mentor, or help with any type of networking.”
This focus is to make sure that The Onyx is a recognized student publication on campus, Kamara said.
“We hoped to let students know that there are different publications on campus and to expose themselves to it,” she said. “They should make an effort to let them know what we’re about.”
Through the events and new freshmen added to staff this year, Kamara, a senior, said she feels that the publication is in good hands and will continue to grow next year.
“[The new staff] is really excited,” she said. “The new people have energy and enthusiasm and they’re dedicated to promoting the magazine. They’re going to take it to another level.”
The magazine already attracts students because of promotion by the John D. O’Bryant African American Institute, as well as through networking with friends, said freshman Onyx member Danielle Howe.
“I heard of The Onyx before I got on campus and I got here and got more involved,” she said. “It exposes a lot of good and bad about the university.”
The Onyx continued to promote the magazine through its events, handing out copies of the magazine and talking with students Wednesday at a barbecue in the Centennial Commons.
“We had food and at the same time passed out our issues,” Kamara said. “We let them know that we are here and cater to minority students, but also cover issues that effect the whole student body.”
Thursday was another event where a group of students went out to dinner at Fajitas and Ritas, a Mexican restaurant in the Theater District. On Friday, there was Soul Speech Live in Frost Lounge, where there was an open mic for poets, rappers and artists, and the week was ended with the dance party at afterHOURS.
“Soul Speech and the party were [my favorites] and it was so successful,” Howe said. “Everyone was just having a good time.”
The party was at full capacity, and was a successful way to cap off the week, Kamara said.
“The party of course was the most successful,” she said. “A lot of people showed up and the fact that it hit capacity speaks for itself. It was a great event.”
On iTunes, seven songs cost $6.93.
Seven songs for Joel Tenenbaum, however, may cost him $1 million.
Tenenbaum, a graduate student at Boston University, and a team of Harvard law students led by Professor Charles Nesson are currently fighting the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
“Everyone’s talking about Joel,” said Debbie Rosenbaum, a Harvard graduate student who is handling the public relations for the case. “There’s a definite buzz in cyberspace, so it’s exciting.”
Yesterday, about 20 people gathered in Shillman Hall to listen to Tenenbaum, Nesson and Rosenbaum talk about the case and what they believe the key issues are.
“We’re not here to protect the CD industry,” Tenenbaum said. “We are here to protect the music and its future.”
The case began in 2003 when a letter was sent to Tenenbaum’s parents’ house, where he was living at the time. He was 16 years old, and the letter requested $5,250 for the seven songs he allegedly downloaded illegally. He explained his financial status as a student, and sent a check for $500, which was later returned.
He said he didn’t hear anything else until 2007, when five separate music labels filed a civil complaint, seeking up to $150,000 per song. From here, he and his mother, a lawyer, dealt with the numerous legal allegations until Nesson offered to help.
“We had been fighting for a while, then Charlie stepped in to assist me,” Tenenbaum said.
In October 2008, Tenenbaum’ attended a deposition hosted by a council of music industry representatives from Denver. After this, his parents, sister and even ex-girlfriends had to endure the same council.
“This to me is so mind-boggling,” Nesson said. “We’re talking about a kid that downloaded some songs, and for doing that his family has been infringed upon ‘hellip; It’s some kind of insanity.”
With the enormity of the case and the measures that have been taken by the RIAA legal team, the case has gained a lot of support, even globally.
“This case has become bigger than Joel or any of us,” Rosenbaum said.
Because the case has attracted so much attention and is fighting the higher-ups of the recording industry, Tenenbaum and his team are using unconventional methods like blogging about their legal strategy and asking for public input. This has generated negative feedback from many lawyers, Rosenbaum said, but isn’t illegal.
“We’re lapping into collaborative knowledge,” she said. “I realize we are pushing a lot of boundaries.”
The case has also left people divided, however, resulting in varied responses on their website,www.joelfightsback.com, and the Facebook group, Joel Fights Back Against RIAA.
“We’ve gotten two basic responses,” Tenenbaum said. “To fight the man ‘hellip; and then of course that I’m killing the music industry.”
Tenenbaum and his team, however, believe peer-to-peer sharing is actually beneficial to the music industry and needs to be adopted.
“We understand people make money in between the artist and customer,” Rosenbaum said. “The Internet has fundamentally changed how it works. Artists can now directly communicate with consumers.”
Here, they cited the ‘Radiohead Model,’ where the band Radiohead released a download-only version of their album In Rainbows for a user-defined price. Also, by low-priced or free downloads, artists can get more exposure.
“I’d like [people to] recognize that noncommercial sharing is a good thing and actually helps artists,” Nesson said.
The issues at hand in the case and what the defense hopes to achieve show how the lines are currently blurred, said junior music industry major Marc Pellegrino.
“It’s very interesting and informative,” he said. “But it just proves that nothing is clear, and it’s not black and white.”
The first hearing date has been postponed to April 30 since they are currently fighting to allow the trial be viewed online. Though it’s a constant fight, the team said they feel like they are correct in their beliefs and have the general public’s support.
“The legal battle is uphill, but I think the court of public opinion is on our side,” Rosenbaum said.
After reluctantly resigning from his position as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) shortly before the start of last semester, professor Jim Stellar is now leaving the university.
“I was not planning to step down, and anyone that knew me and what I was going to do knew that,” he told The News yesterday.
Stellar will join the staff of Queens College in New York as provost and vice president for academic affairs beginning’ in the fall semester, according to a’ Queens College press release issued yesterday following his formal resignation from Northeastern.
“After I stopped being dean, I discovered that I really liked academic administration, and that’s why I began the search,” Stellar said. “I’m a very lucky man, and I got what I thought was the more exciting job for me.”
Stellar’s resignation as dean was partially because of conflicts with newly-appointed Provost Stephen Director, said journalism professor Nick Daniloff, a friend and longtime colleague of Stellar.
“There were differences between Provost Stephen Director and Stellar,” Daniloff said. “Apparently, the provost felt he couldn’t work effectively with Dean Stellar, so essentially he asked him to resign’ his position.”
This clash occurred because the two had different ways of operating, Daniloff said.
“What I can say about Stellar is he was very enthusiastic and very open,” Daniloff said. “All I can really say is that the two of them had different management styles. Stellar’s was one of enthusiasm and it seems to me Provost Director is a more restrained individual.”
Some students said they did not know what was happening at the time, and still feel in the dark about the issue ‘-’ even those who worked with him in the on-campus neuroscience lab.
“None of us are clear as to why he was asked to step down, aside from politics,” said junior behavioral neuroscience major Natalia Diaz. “I would’ve appreciated a straight answer from the president as well as the provost as to what the circumstances were, because it was unfair. Stellar did such an amazing job as dean and a researcher. He deserved a lot more.”
Very few people knew the details of what was happening, said George Gottschalk, a student who considers Stellar a good friend.
“Jim kept me informed throughout the entire ordeal, but insisted I keep the information to myself,” he said. “He still remains admirably dignified despite the atrocity of his dismissal.”
Because of his acclaimed style and his long history at the university, Daniloff said Queens College will benefit from Stellar’s experience.
“He was very lucky to get the position of provost at Queens College, and I must say it’s our loss and their gain,” Daniloff said. “I’m sad to see that he’s leaving, but it looks like he’s making an important new step in his career.”
Students also believe the new position is good for Stellar, Diaz said.
“I was actually happy for him,” she said. “I hope Queens College is able to appreciate him the way he should’ve been at Northeastern.”
Stellar also said he was hopeful for success in his career at Queens College, and said he appreciates parallels between the school and Northeastern.
“I’m really excited because in Queens, I see a lot of the same elements that I do at Northeastern,” Stellar said. “It’s big, it’s urban, and Queens has a prominent role in the borough and the area.”
His departure may be more dismal for others, and some said they consider it one of the worst mistakes Northeastern officials have recently made.
“I would call it the worst thing that’s happened to Northeastern since I’ve been here,” Gottschalk said. “He is a brilliant man that completely understood what sets Northeastern apart from every other school out there and he was truly dedicated to involving the students in his decision making process.”
Despite his enthusiasm for the new position, Stellar said he is disheartened about leaving Northeastern.
“All of this is sad, but on the other hand, I had to leave to pursue what I want to do,” he said. “The way I explain it is, I’m graduating with you and that’s the way I’m looking at it. It feels like that, and I’ve left places before and still cared about them. Any senior can relate to this feeling.”
Through the reactions of Stellar’s students and colleagues, he said he took the responses to heart and they affirmed that he accomplished a lot here.
“I’ve tried to focus on the team, and I’m taking it as a confirmation that we built a team here,” he said. “And I’m going to try and do that again as provost at Queens College.”
Despite the New England Patriots’ Tedy Bruschi speaking Monday night, about 150 people instead gathered to see Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz screen his new film, ‘The Case for Israel,’ and have a debate with attendees about the state of Israeli and Palestinian relations.
This is the only college screening that Dershowitz has attended, and was sponsored by Students for Israel at Northeastern, College Democrats, College Republicans, Political Science Students’ Association and Northeastern Hillel.
The event began by playing the film, which was broken into six sections:’ J’accuse (outrage against a powerful person), Historical Facts, Democracy and Difficult Choices, Justice, Threats and Fortitude. These six sections outline why Dershowitz believes Israel should be its own state, and why he feels it is reasonable.
J’accuse opens the film with outrage directed toward Jimmy Carter, who is avidly pro-Palestine, and whom Dershowitz blames for ruining Israel and Palestine’s chances of peace. Historical Facts briefed viewers on the history of Palestinian and Israeli relations, and Democracy and Difficult Choices showed how the Israeli government works. The last three focused on how Israel is singled out, threatened by terrorists and more accepting than Palestine.
“This isn’t a film for extremists,” he said later during the question and answer session. “For me, it’s making the case for people that have an open mind about this.”
After the viewing, Dershowitz came on the stage and challenged students to ask their hardest questions.
“Who wants to ask the first hard, critical question?” he asked the audience.
The questions ranged from the film’s target audience to asking what he would do if he were a Palestinian. He first became heated when a student suggested Palestinians fought because they were oppressed or poor.
“So people that don’t have jobs can blow up babies?” he said. “Terrorism is targeting civilians for killing.”
From here, he argued that while Israelis try to protect people by having bomb shelters everywhere, Palestinians are more willing to sacrifice their own and do not put up such defense mechanisms for the public.
“You can’t measure the number of deaths because it won’t be proportional,” he said. “Israel does everything in its power to preserve human life.”
In response to the next question, he also argued that Israel will do anything in its power to end the conflict, including giving up Jerusalem.
From here the topics drifted toward the workings of Israel as a democracy, and how it is viewed by the world. One of the main arguments during this, as well as the film, is that Israel is the only democratic nation in the Middle East, comparing it to the government in Palestine that can murder homosexuals.
He then discussed how in Europe there are many human rights campaigns focused on being pro-Palestine, but they don’t care about any other human rights issues like genocide in Darfur. This, he said, proves that it is only because people are against a Jewish state existing.
“When the French care only about the Palestinians, its pure anti-Semitism,” Dershowitz said.
The session was concluded by a student asking when the hatred would go away, and Dershowitz shared a story about attending an orchestra performance about a year ago where the orchestra was composed half of Israelis and half of Palestinians.
“For many Israelis and Palestinians, it was a sign of what could be,” he said. “Will it happen overnight? No.”
Despite Dershowitz’s tough and confident attitude, junior electrical engineering major Bruce Kaufman said he wasn’t fully convinced by Dershowitz.
“I think he glossed it over,” he said. “But he did say that Israel isn’t perfect, and there’s some obvious controversy.”
That familiar feeling of the course registration system jamming due to traffic is no longer a problem. The new Banner Student System on the myNEU portal has been running smoothly, according to a university official.
The new system has yet to crash after two days of registration, and there have not been any major complaints, said Senior Associate Registrar Charles Price.
“It’s hard to get a sense overall how everyone is feeling,” he said. “We’ve just had the normal complaints ‘hellip; about people not being happy with their registration time, but they’re just factors of life.”
The new system is navigated differently from the old, with features that let students narrow down the search for classes with various criteria and submit all their requested classes at the same time. The Office of the Registrar put up step-by-step tutorials to try and ease the transition.
“We put up very detailed information and webinars, but I think students’ natural inclination is they see a link and they just want to try it,” he said. “Despite a lot of the information we sent out, a lot of people figured it out.”
As students adjust to the new system, Price said he was hopeful about the user reaction.
“I think as people get more used to the application and how it works, [they’ll see] it’s more user friendly,” he said.
Some students feel differently, though they admittedly haven’t learned how to use the system.
“The old one was more user-friendly,” said junior pharmacy major Matt Louie. “But I didn’t look into how to use [the new one].”
Others who took the tutorials, however, said they preferred it to the old system.
“I registered automatically and immediately. It took like two minutes,” said Tanmayi Gupta, a sophomore pharmacy major. “The only concern is it takes a while to learn how to use it.”
Another advancement with the new system is the usage of real time updates, allowing students to see the latest class availability rather than waiting for it to change overnight.
The new organization of the website makes finding things more complicated, Gupta said, but it is only a minor drawback.
“It’s a little confusing to figure out where everything is, but it’s become easier to register for classes, and the fact that it’s in real time helps a lot,” she said.
For the rest of the registration process, Price said he thinks others will remain happy with new system.
“As people use it, they seem very pleased,” he said.