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Students Hold Sit-in Protesting Lack of Minorities at UMass

By Dan McGuire
News Editor

Students at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst staged a sit-in in the controller's office last week. Estimates of the number of protesters varied from 60 to 175.

The students were protesting the university's lack of minority students and professors. A list of demands issued by the protesters called for a scholarship fund for low-income students. "We wish the administration would act more promptly on this," said Cassandra Jean-Dennis, a sophomore, via cellular phone from inside the building.

University spokesman Patrick J. Callahan said that minorities now accounted for 16.3 percent of admitted, up 5.3 percent since 1992. Callahan also said that the university had also hired more minority professors.

[The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 14]

Amherst ends early orientation

Amherst College has decided to eliminate its staggered early orientation period and will instead have all incoming students arrive on the same day. Previously, students had arrived at different times to take part in activities sponsored by cultural and special interest groups.

Some new students complained that different arrival times made the orientation period too "disjoint." "We have worked to revamp orientation so it's a common experience for all," said Molly Lyons, a member of the Orientation Committee. The administration said that will shorten the university's orientation period to make additional time for group events.

"Students of color and international students are not starting out on common ground in real life, so why have a false pretense of unity when it does not exist in the real world," said sophomore Mabel Lajes. "People fought [to establish] early orientation in the 1970s, are we just going to let be taken away from us," she added.

[The Amherst Student, March 5]

Georgia Web site faces fine

A Paris court decided to delay ruling whether an English-only World Wide Web site operated by a French branch of the Georgia Institute of Technology was in violation of French law.

Two groups, the Future of the French Language and Defense of the French Language, sued Georgia Tech under a 1994 law which says that French should be used in all aspects of supplying goods and services in France.

The case is being closely watched by legal experts because it represents the first legal action to be taken on the Internet on the basis of language.

If founds guilty, Georgia Tech will face a fine of 1,000 francs for each day that the site remains unavailable in French and will be forced to pay 10,000 francs to each plaintiff.

[Georgia Tech's Technique, Feb. 28]

Yale students dislike move

Students with YaleUniversity's Chicano, Puerto Rican, and Asian American cultural houses were disappointed with university plans to move them from their current dilapidated buildings to small townhouses in York Square Place.

The roof of the Asian American Cultural Center collapsed in May as a result of severe water damaged. All of the cultural houses' current buildings have been condemned by New Haven and are scheduled to be sold to the British Art Gallery.

The new locations, however, will give groups half the space that they used to have. The largest rooms in the new facilities can hold only 30 to 40 people, while the old meeting rooms could hold as many as 60.

"The houses were made to be residential homes and not designed or equipped to function as cultural centers," said Tom Nguyen, a member of the Cultural House Relocation Committee. Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg said that it would be virtually impossible to find alternative spaces.

If the groups decide to stay at their current site, Yale will have to renovate the buildings for the students' use before tearing them down in preparation for the gallery takeover.

[Yale Daily News, March 6]