The Battalion. (College Station, Tex.) 1893-current, November 20, 2003, Image 1

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Accielife: Come on, ride the train • Page 3A Sci-Tech: Shut up and listen • Page 5A I HE Volume 110 • Issue 60 • 14 pages A Texas A&M Tradition Since 1893 www.thebattaIion.net Thursday, November A&M diversity draws debate By Sonia Moghe THE BATTALION Student groups gathered Wednesday to protest and support Dr. James Anderson taking office as vice president and associ ate provost for institutional assessment and diversity. One student group, the Texas A&M chap ter of Young Conservatives of America held an affirmative action bake sale in protest. “We’re out here today to show our objec tions to this new administrative position,” said Mark McCaig, communications director for theYCT. After YCT announced its intentions to hold the bake sale, the Department of Multicultural Services urged multicultural student organizations to show their sup port for Anderson by setting up tables at Rudder Fountain. Several organizations rallied against the bake sale outside the Academic Building. “This is probably the most diverse group of students I’ve ever seen on cam pus,” said Nick Anthis, president of the Texas Aggie Democrats. The bake sale, not meant to raise money but merely raise awareness about affirma tive action, offered store-bought baked goods for sale at prices based on race. Asians had to pay $1 for baked goods, whites 75 cents, Hispanics 25 cents, and African Americans 10 cents. The reason for the pricing was symbolic; those who paid the most at the bake sale paid the most because of affirmative action. Asians paid the most because they are put at the greatest disadvantage by affirmative action, McCaig said. “I’m offended by the way (the YCT) approached the situation,” said Rebekah Sanchez, a member of Delta Xi Nu. “They could have been more politically correct — I think they focused too much on shock value.” The YCT’s position is that the hiring of Anderson deprives A&M of funds that could otherwise be used to fund student activities, lower tuition costs and help sup port dying departments, such as the depart ment of journalism. Other groups, such as the Texas Aggie Democrats, see Anderson’s appointment as a move in the right direction. Anthis said he was shocked when he first came to A&M as a freshman by how much the school lacked diversity of race, religion and ideas. “We support the University’s attempt to diversify A&M,” Anthis said. “We don’t want to see this small but vocal group ruin that.” Matt Maddox, President of the YCT, said the bake sale, although offensive to some, benefits the campus because it allowed stu dents of different ideological backgrounds to get together and debate their opinions. “We’ve engaged in spirited debate, but nothing violent has occurred,” Maddox said. “We just wanted to encourage Anderson to look past superficial characteristics such as race in attempting to diversify A&M and instead look to diversify intellectually.” Weston Balch, left, of Texas A&M's chap ter of the Young Conservatives of Texas, dis cusses the issue of affir mative action with fellow stu dents atan affirmative action bake sale hosted by YCT on Wednesday. YCT gathered to protest the addition of a new presi dents of insti- t u t i o n a I assessment and diversity to A&M's staff. For more photos, visit www. thebat- talion. net. Hanging tough Sharon Aeschbach • THE BATTALION Senior electrical engineering major Michael Hall hangs on a trapeze dynamics. Venture dynamics, taught by Grant Irons, is held at the ropes after climbing up and jumping off a 30-foot pole during his venture course off Harvey Mitchell, Parkway and Gabbard Street. A&M scientists aim for safer food By Dan Orth THE BATTALION Scientists at the National Electron Beam Food Research Center are working to improve the safety of foods through a method that uses common elec tricity to irradiate foods. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5,200 people die from food-bome illnesses each year and 323,000 are hospitalized. Children between the ages of 1 and 14 are most at risk. Food safety is a problem that scien- a tists using this technology may address through reducing pathogens such as E. coli, listeria and salmonella so that food-bome illness es are minimized. Although this technology is use ful and deemed safe by the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. T. Andy Vestal said the biggest challenge in the wide spread acceptance of irradiation technologies is the public’s neg ative connotation toward the word irradiation. Vestal, an associate director and Texas Cooperative Extension Specialist at the Institute of Food Science and Engineering, said irradiation is not synonymous with nuclear energy. “When people think of irradi ation, they think of nuclear radia tion and incidents like Chernobyl. Texas A&M’s electron beam irra diation process uses common electricity,” Vestal said. The Electron Beam facility was brought to A&M’s Research Park through a $10 million part nership with SureBeam Corporation. Use of the facility is split between test market com mercial processing and A&M research. SureBeam built the facility, then deeded it to A&M in a 2002 ceremony. SureBeam is a provider of patented electron beam systems and services to the food industry. Vestal said the facility has the capacity to irradiate ground beef at up to 40,000 pounds per hour, but the A&M contract governs process ing to 25 percent of this capacity to ensure the facili ty’s role in research and test marketing rather than commercial processing. Advantages of decreasing food losses, improving shelf life and controlling food-borne illnesses come from irradiating foods. Killing the pathogens inside the food product con trols contamination, infestation and spoilage. The electron beam process begins when the product enters the chamber on a conveyor belt and passes through the two linear accelerators. These acceler ators shoot electrons, similar to a flashlight beam, at almost the See Scientists on page 2A When people think of irradiation, they think of nuclear radiation and incidents like Chernobyl — T. Andy Vestal associate director Prosecution rests Students: Marijuana should be legal case in plague trial By Betsy Blaney THE ASSOCIATED PRESS LUBBOCK, Texas —The prosecution rested Wednesday in the trial of a researcher charged with numerous felonies stemming from his report of missing vials of plague bacteria. Texas Tech University pro fessor Thomas Butler, 62, is accused of lying to the FBI about the missing vials in his January report, which prompt ed a bioterrorism scare in this West Texas town. Butler later admitted he accidentally destroyed the vials, according to testimony. In testimony Wednesday, the final prosecution witness talked about Butler shipping plague samples to Tanzania after confirming the bacteria tested positive. Among the other charges Butler faces are smuggling, theft, embezzlement and fraud. Biosafety consultant Barbara Johnson testified that transfers of the unlabeled con tainers of bacteria are a national security problem because ter rorists are known to operate in Tanzania. Johnson, who works for the private consulting company Science Applications International Corp., also demonstrated how fragile petri dishes can be by crushing an empty one with her hands. Butler used petri dishes to trans port plague samples to a U.S. Army research facility in Fort Detrick, Md., according to testi mony. “This is not a safe, See Trial on page 2A By Natalie Younts THE BATTALION Seventy students gathered in Rudder 701 Tuesday night to watch a former High Times mag azine editor and a former nar cotics agent debate about legal izing marijuana during a live satellite broadcast. Marijuana should be legal ized because it is “part of my culture” and “locking people up for substance use or abuse is not a good thing in my opinion,” said Steve Hager, who edited High Times magazine about marijua na usage, for 15 years. Robert Stutman, a former U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency agent, said marijuana should not be legalized because it “con tributes significantly to acci dents” by harming depth percep tion. Dr. Billy Martin, a professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Virginia Commonwealth University, attempted to set things straight with a non-biased scientific perspective. He point ed to a 1999 report from the Institute of Medicine called “Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base.” “For most people the primary adverse effect of acute marijuana use is diminished psychomotor performance,” the report says. “It is, therefore, inadvisable to oper ate any vehicle or potentially See Marijuana on page 8A Mental health concerns colleges By Jenna Jones THE BATTALION The anxiety of college life and its effects on students’ men tal health have been accentuated and scrutinized after a recent flare-up of suicides at New York University. Three NYU students commit ted suicide during the first two months of the current semester. Michelle Glucagon’s death on Oct. 18 was preceded by Stephen Bohler’s Oct. 10 suicide and the death of John Skolnik in September. The recent string of suicides at NYU, in addition to other high-profile suicides at col leges throughout the country, has re-emphasized the need for stu dents’ mental health awareness to become a priority on college cam puses. Paul Knipscheer, an affiliate relations associate at The Nation’s Voice on Mental Illness, said sui cide now ranks as the third leading cause of death among college stu dents, as more than 1,000 American students between the ages of 18 and 24 commit suicide each year. Texas A&M’s Student Counseling Helpline Coordinator Susan Vavra said issues dealing with relationships are the most common concerns counselors help See Health on page 8A Mental Illness iffreta on Young Adult* Due to an increase in suicides at colleges across the country, schools are focusing on students' mental well-being. • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among college students. • More than 1,000 American students between the ages of 18 and 24 commit suicide each year. • More than 27 percent of young adults have a diagnosable form of mental illness. Ruben DeLuna • THE BATTALION Source : NATION'S VOICE ON MENTAL ILLNESS