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CS Shortage Makes Labs Harder to Use

From University Wire

Students going to computer labs at university campuses may be finding it more and more difficult to get help.

The Information Technology Association of America recently surveyed large and medium companies and found one out of every 10 computing jobs at information-technology companies is unfilled due to a nationwide shortage of suitable workers.

Colleges and universities may be having the toughest time in the shortage.

The primary concern among universities is having adequate computer lab support, according the Sept. 5 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Fewer students are getting computer science degrees. In 1986, about 42,000 people graduated with computer science degrees in the United States. But in 1995, only 24,404 people went through computer science programs, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

The fact that there are fewer students in the computer science field may be the least of university worries. Universities also must compete for well-educated lab technicians in the tightening market.

Many technicians are finding that using their talents in corporate America is much more lucrative. Corporations can offer more money to computer technicians.

David Hoisve, division head and manager of microcomputing at the University of Utah, said he doesn't necessarily look for someone with a degree, but someone who has a "demonstrated track record of productive change." He needs people in the labs who can really do things, not just manage the lab and make sure everything is in working order.

[Cynde Cerf, Daily Utah Chronicle, Oct. 6]

Study finds racism affects health

University of Michigan researchers have discovered evidence that even small acts of discrimination can negatively affect the physical and mental health of black Americans.

"In essence, we found that after controlling for or accounting for important health factors such as income and education, African Americans were still more likely to report poorer health than whites," said associate sociology Prof. David Williams, a research scientist at the university's Institute for Social Research.

The study measured two types of discrimination: major discriminatory experiences, such as abusive encounters with police; and everyday discrimination, which include receiving poorer daily service than whites or name calling.

The study found that major discriminatory experiences had little affect on the physical and mental well-being of those sampled - but everyday racism was found to cause health concerns.

"Notably, major experiences of discrimination were unrelated to self-assessed ill health," Williams said. "Experiences of everyday discrimination, on the other hand, were positively related to ill health."

Researchers said daily prejudices and acts of discrimination, such as name calling, could cause long-term health concerns because they are much more prevalent in society than major racist acts.

According to the study, 33.6 percent of blacks said they had been the victim of at least one major discriminatory act during their lifetime. More than 90 percent of those sampled reported they had experienced some form of everyday discrimination.

The study was conducted by professional interviewers from the ISR and University graduate students.

The researchers also considered other variables that could affect health, such as household size, chronic stress, education, financial stress and family income. But researches concluded that these variables proved not to be fully responsible for poorer health in blacks.

"Even if we take all socio-economic factors into account, blacks were still doing worse at equivalent levels," Williams said.

[Kristin Wright, Michigan Daily, Oct. 6]

Brown debates free speech

Since the American Civil Liberties Union and the Brown University College Republicans announced their alliance to combat what they term a "hate speech code" in the rules of student conduct, a campus discourse on the issue has emerged, with proponents of both sides coming forward.

While the ACLU and the Republicans maintain that the university should not be allowed to punish students based on any form of speech, some members of the Brown community have publicly supported some speech standards.

Karen McLaurin-Chesson, director of the Third World Center and assistant dean of the college, feels that in order to build a community, some standards for behavior must be set, including standards of appropriate speech.

"Certain speech sets people down," McLaurin said. "Within the context of free speech, we must be responsible, respectful and hospitable."

However, McLaurin also feels that establishing these parameters for responsible speech must be done, even if they seem to violate "free speech."

"If we put forward proper guidelines and community standards, we can certainly abridge free speech," McLaurin said.

When announcing their effort, Luc Morris '00, spokesperson for the Republicans, brought up the case of Douglas Hann, whom Morris said was expelled after shouting racial, religious and homosexual epithets on Wriston Quad. This case sparked a large debate about free speech on college campuses which is still going on today.

Regarding the Hann case, Mark Nickel, director of the Brown News Bureau, emphasized that Hann had been found guilty of other violations, and had previously been on probation for disorderly behavior. He said that the fact that there was no physical violence doesn't necessarily make it a case of free speech.

Robin Rose, Dean of Student Life, said it is necessary to draw a distinction between hate speech and harassing behavior.

"At a place like Brown, academic freedom and freedom of expression is absolutely fundamental," Rose said. "However, we are also legally committed to an environment where harassing actions are not tolerated."

Rose pointed out that many times, these commitments collide. She said that it is very difficult to find a balance between the two, but specified there are definite circumstances under which hateful speech may be considered harassing behavior.

"What someone says must always be taken in the context of what they are doing," Rose said.

[Gregory Cooper, Brown Daily Herald, Oct. 3]