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Short Takes - BU Freshman Commits Suicide

By Dan McGuire
associate news editor

Boston University freshman Brooke Pointkes died March 21 after jumping in front of a commuter train near the Carlton Street overpass. Friends were stunned by the apparent suicide, saying that Pointkes had seemed fine just hours before the act.

Friends described Pointkes as easy-going, extremely unselfish, and loving. "She had the best laugh - it was contagious," a close friend said. "I think that's what constitutes a real tragedy - when no one knows why and no one ever will," said another friend. Pointkes, who was a student at the University's College of Arts and Sciences, did not leave a suicide note.

[The Daily Free Press, March 27]

BU, Boston to merge hospitals

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino announced a plan Wednesday that would merge the Boston University Medical Center and the Boston City Hospital by July 1.

Both the city and the university agreed to fund to the new Boston Medical Center, with the city contributing $56 million over the next five years and BU spending $7.8 million over the next year. Both will contribute to improvements in the hospitals' facilities.

City officials said that the new hospital will have 30 to 40 percent less staff and about half as many beds as the number of in-patients drops and out-patient therapy becomes more common.

[The Boston Globe, April 11]

Yale students sue university

As the strike by the Local 35 Service union stretched on, members of Yale University's Student Labor Action Committee announced last Monday that they would launch a class-action suit against the university for services not rendered because of the lack of service staff.

As the strike continued into yesterday, union workers maintained their demand that union work should not be subcontracted to lower-wage workers.

Students on the committee also said that they would try to disrupt the school's fund-raising programs. Participants said that they would withhold their tuition and place it in a trust fund for the duration of the strike. Committee members also said that they were calling alumni and asking them to withhold donations to the Yale's quarter-century fund. Administrators are calling the actions "regrettable."

[Yale Daily News, April 1, 11]

Harvard, Princeton return funds

Princeton and Harvard Universities agreed Wednesday to return investment profits to the Foundation for New Era Philanthropy. New Era attracted donations from colleges, universities, and other non-profit groups by promising to double their investments with gifts from anonymous donors; the gifts were in fact donations by other organizations.

A federal investigation into the collapse of the Foundation resulted in a lawsuit against those companies that had managed to profit from the scheme. Princeton, which made $2.1 million, and Harvard, which made $467,000, both agreed to return their profits to creditors in return for not being named in the suit.

[The New York Times, April 11]

Harvard finance VP departs

Harvard University Vice President for Finance Allen J. Proctor surprised the community when he announced he would resign on last month after only 17 months at his post.

"The number of people involved in a decision here is large and varied," Proctor said, "I'm not comfortable working in that kind of environment."

"This job requires someone who likes developing consensus to me, it's usually pretty apparent what the solution should be. I feel like we should implement it and move on," Proctor said.

Proctor leaves during Harvard's unprecedented $2.1 billion fund raising drive and a major overhaul of its financial system. Proctor is the third person to occupy the post in the last five years.

[The Harvard Crimson, March 21, 22]

Harvard randomizes dormitories

Harvard University released statistics last Tuesday on the results of its attempt to randomize housing assignments. House masters hoped that the plan would increase the diversity of interests in the houses and help them break out of their traditional images.

The data released, however, indicated that the new system was not flawless. Although the sophomore class is 55 percent female, one dorm, Pforzheimer, was given a population that was only 30 percent female. Other dormitories showed similar gaps. The Committee on House Life is looking into re-implementing gender-balancing in next year's lottery.

[Harvard Crimson, April 3]