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
Volume 110 • Issue 60 • 14 pages
A Texas A&M Tradition Since 1893
Thursday, November
A&M diversity draws debate
By Sonia Moghe
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
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
of Texas, dis
cusses the
issue of affir
mative action
with fellow stu
dents atan
action bake
sale hosted by
YCT on
YCT gathered
to protest the
addition of a
new presi
dents of insti-
t u t i o n a I
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
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
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
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
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
— T. Andy Vestal
associate director
Prosecution rests
Students: Marijuana should be legal
case in plague trial
By Betsy Blaney
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
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
“This is not a safe,
See Trial on page 2A
By Natalie Younts
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
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 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
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
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
• 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.